It’s been almost 8 months since we entered into the world of foster hood, and although 8 months doesn’t seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, I feel like a seasoned vet. We’ve learned quite a lot about the rescue world and fostering since then, and for anyone wondering what it’s all about, I wanted to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.
#1 – You can say goodbye to a lot of your free time.
Between vet visits, grooming appointments, people coming to your home to meet your foster, and multiple home visits (which you may or may not opt to do), you will find your days filling up very quickly. On the flip side, your foster may come to you fully vetted without any health issues, and after going through multiple applications, you may decide that one person really stands out so you only need to do the one visit.
#2 – If you do choose to do your own home visits, you will know exactly where your foster is going.
Although these visits do take up quite a bit of your free time and can be a bit of a pain, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being able to see and visit the home where your foster may end up living helps to decrease the anxiety you feel when they leave. This is definitely one of the pluses to volunteering with a foster-based rescue over a shelter.
#3 – You will inevitably find yourself spending your own money on your fosters.
Although rescues usually will pay for vetting and food (the latter is not the case for many rescues however) you will still spend gas money driving to and from various appointments and visits. If you don’t have a car, then there is usually a volunteer driver who will take your foster dog to the vet, and a home visit team who will do your home visits.
Hopeful Hearts pays for all vetting, food, and most supplies, but sometimes those supplies run out or they just don’t have them. In those cases, we’re asked to keep the receipts and submit them. Have I ever done that? No. I’d much rather have the rescue use that money on a dog needing vet care.
Having said that, every time we bring a new foster home, we usually make a trip to the pet store. We’ve spent money on things like new collars for our fosters (Crazy Beautiful Collars is an addiction of mine), leashes, a playpen and monkey sweater for Snoopy (that he ended up hating), toys — you name it. But that’s our own choice.
#4 – There will be messes.
I have stepped in pee, poo, and puke (the three P’s) more often than I care to remember, and it feels like we’re always cleaning. Sometimes I think we have a houseful of furry babies running around.
You will come to realize that having a squeaky clean and beautiful home is not always a reality when fostering. A few days after multiple fosters arrived at our home for the first time, I had to say goodbye to our rug (it got peed on) and any notion of replacing said rug on the main floor. Between the three P’s, dirty snow and muddy footprints, it just wasn’t worth it.
There may also be damage to your belongings if your foster is destructive. Crates will become your new best friend, but if your foster has an immense dislike for crates, a great alternative is the playpen.
#5 – Your own dog’s behaviour may change.
Once upon a time our dog Halladay used to be impeccably housetrained. We would leave him alone in the house for 8+ hours, come home from work, and there wouldn’t be a single accident. Now that we have a different dog in our home every month or so, sometimes with questionable bathroom habits, Halladay has begun displaying his own less than stellar bathroom habits.
For example (yes, there is an example), the other night I was lying in bed, going through emails on my laptop. Lara was sleeping in her bed beside me, and Halladay and Wookie were wrestling. Suddenly Halladay stopped playing, went to a corner of the bedroom and began doing his poo spin. Thankfully I stopped him in time and got him downstairs and out to the backyard.
Clearly someone needs a refresher in housetraining.
On the flip side, if your dog is an only dog like Halladay used to be, you will dance with happiness when you find your beloved dog and foster getting along, and a few days later, even playing. As much as your dog loves you, nothing replaces their need for doggy companionship. It’s the same thing with humans. As much as I love my dogs, I could not survive wholly on their companionship.
When Wookie and Halladay began playing on Day #2, we really did do a happy dance. Wookie was the first foster that ever wanted to play, and I think Halladay felt like he hit the jackpot.