Our good friend Adrienne has fostered over TWENTY dogs in the past two years. She works with Hearts for Paws (our April Purchase for a Pound recipient) to pull the neediest dogs from shelters to give them a place to rest while they find their forever home.
Without further ado... here's Adrienne the hero -
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that fostering dogs is good for the soul. Especially now during many stay-in-place orders, you might be considering fostering or adopting a dog. I’m here to give you the 4-1-1 on what it’s actually like to be a dog foster parent. (Don't worry, cute before-and-after pictures included).
Frankie, age 3, who came to us severely abused and neglected. Frankie now lives on a large piece of property next to a horse farm.
Decide if fostering a dog is right for you: I was worried that I wouldn’t be a great dog mom since I work full-time. I realized that if I had a good relationship with a rescue, they could help match me with the right dogs for my lifestyle. I also have a partner and friends who can help with walks or feeding or playing if I have to work late. Ultimately, I knew I wanted endless doggie snuggles so I decided to give it a go!
Choose the right rescue for you: Before I took in my first foster dog, I did some research on rescues in my area (Sacramento, CA). City and county shelters are always a good option; they provide in-depth training, manage and facilitate all meet-and-greets and adoptions, supply everything you need like food, meds, etc, and provide you the resources you need.
Cinco, age 5, was hit by a car and left on the side of the road, ultimately ending up at the shelter. Here he is on his first day at our home, and then with his forever dad, Nick the Pawjam guy! Cinco had a few leg surgeries but healed 100%.
Small, independent rescues are a great option too. I wanted a close relationship with the organization I would be working with, especially as a newbie. Lucky for me, I found Hearts for Paws Rescue (from Instagram, naturally). It’s the type of rescue you see in video clips where corgi dogs hop in slo-mo across grass fields. Hearts for Paws was started at a working horse farm, owned and operated by a mother daughter duo. Win win! PRO TIP: Hearts for Paws rescue, located in Davis, California, is April’s Purchase for a Pound recipient! They are always looking for more Northern California foster parents, and have a ton of info here: https://www.heartsforpawsrescue.com/fosterapplication »
Find a fellow dog-foster parent: The rescue had many great resources for me, but the best help was other dog foster parents! There are so many ways to network with other fosters, like social media groups and email. I made many close friends through the foster parent network, and when I had a question about a dog, needed advice about an upcoming adoption, or even needed to find temporary dogsitters if I had to head out of town for the weekend, I knew I could count on other dog-fosters!
Mooney, age 11, posing for his Instagram feature to recruit potential adopters!
Consider an older dog: Puppies and young dogs might look cute on social media (OK, and in real life) but they are a LOT of work. They need extra socialization, extra exercise, and extra attention. If you have a flexible work schedule, a well-behaved pack, and patience for puppy behaviors, woohoo! But, older dogs are often overlooked and can spend YEARS in shelters. And unfortunately, many senior dogs do have horrible stories of abuse or neglect. I actually prefer to foster older dogs because they’re more settled into their personality, are oftentimes more well-behaved, and when they are adopted it feels like the biggest, BEST win! My oldest foster was 11 and we went on daily walks, he loved adventure, and was completely healthy!
Freedom rides make up for any bad days: Dogs, like us humans, aren’t perfect. There will be chewed shoes, escape attempts, and food allergies. But, there are way more great days that make up for the small mistakes foster dogs make. Many dogs have had really hard lives, and then spend a lot of time in shelters. Have you ever seen a dog take a freedom ride from the shelter to their new home? It is THE BEST!
Kolbee (2-ish, and the only young dog I fostered) and Macy (5-ish) on their freedom ride. Each had spent over a year in the shelter.
Goodbyes are always hard: The most common questions I get about fostering are, “Don’t you want to adopt them all?” And, “Isn’t it hard to say goodbye?” The answer to both is, “Yes, of course!” Every dog that has ever spent the night at my house is my favorite. But, being a part of the adoption process makes it easier to say goodbye because you know they’re going to a great home. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to save another dog. I always like to have my friend or boyfriend come with me on goodbye days so we can talk about all the fun memories we made! (And I secretly negotiate “custody agreements” whereby I get regular photo updates and holiday pictures from adoptive parents!)
Fostering dogs is really rewarding and well worth any late night walks you might have to give. You never know if it’s a foster dog’s first time sleeping on a couch, or first time touching grass, or first time going on an adventure. And you get to help make that happen! Foster on, friends.
And now, for some pup-dates:
Humphrey, age 8, spent over a year in shelter, on his first night on a couch! He now lives with a family that has a pool he gets to swim in on the reg.
Tori, before with some skin issues, and after, rolling in the mud at his new home in his new yard in Washington!
Kaya, age 11, on her first day out of the shelter in my yard. She now lives in San Francisco and her new owners take her to run around on the beach every day!
Buzz, age 8, was in the shelter for a year and a half. Buzz had to have surgery to remove a lot of teeth and bullets fom a BB gun that were lodged in his chest. But even after all that, Buzz was still a healthy happy boy! Buzz now, with his BFFs Freya & Tilden, waiting to play on the beach.
Thank you, Adrienne, for sharing your incredible and rewarding journey as a foster mom to all these amazing pups! We hope she's inspired a few more people to consider opening up their home as a foster parent to a dog in need.
Hearts for Paws Rescue is Wilderdog's April Purchase for a Pound recipient. For every purchase made we donate a pound of kibble to this amazing rescue. Learn more, or to have your rescue or shelter apply »
Thanks for helping us help them!