Since Molly Tamale has moved on to start the rest of her life with her wonderful new Furevers, we are “in between” foster dogs at the moment. No better time for another installment of our Fostering 101 series! Today’s post: The Importance of Support. Enjoy – and as always, feel free to chime in down in comments! ~Laura
I cannot even begin to express the importance of a strong support system if you decide you’d like to join the wonderful world of dog fostering. It’s an amazing experience, but anyone who tells you it isn’t tough is kidding you. Tough, yes – but so, so much easier if you have a strong network of people who you can lean on in various capacities.
Support from your Family
This should be a no brainer, but I’ll kick of with this one anyway – Before you decide to bring home a foster dog, it’s
important essential that everyone in your household is on board. Having a dog is a lot of work, and if you already have furry member of the family (or several), adding another one – even a temporary one – is going to add to that work load. Feeding time, play time, walks, medications, picking up toys and other, well “stuff” – as a foster parent, you’ll be responsible for all of these things. Make sure everyone in the house realizes this, and is willing to help pitch in.
Support from your Rescue
I’m going to brag on Agape Animal Rescue here for a quick moment: They. Are. Awesome.
You know all of those beautiful professional photos I am lucky enough to be able post on this blog? Agape is responsible for making those arrangements with amazing photographers like Harmony Designs Photography and Amiee Stubbs Photography.
You remember how Oscar and one of our previous fosters got into a little spat? Well, we had no idea how to handle it, and Agape sent one of their resident dog training gurus right over to the house to help us mediate the situation. Oh, and remember how our first foster dog got adopted because his Furevers saw him at an adoption fair? We never would have been there in the first place if Agape wasn’t invited to participate in the event.
I could go on and on about the benefits of being associated with a reputable rescue organization if you decide you want to start fostering – support from your rescue organization is right up there with support from your family. Your rescue should be there for you in any way that you need – do they respond quickly if you call or e-mail? If you need supplies, are they able to get them to you efficiently? If you have an emergency, are they equipped to handle it? Also – do they value you as a foster parent? Do they take your needs and preferences into account, or do they try to “guilt” you into bringing a dog into your home that oh-my-gosh-is-going-to-get-put-to-sleep-if-we-can’t-find-a-foster-for-him-right-now?
That being said, every person is different, and every rescue is different. You will have your own set of “requirements” that you will need from your rescue organization in order for you to feel comfortable, and the most important thing is that your rescue is able to support you in the way that you need them to. (Check out What is Fostering, Anyway? for a list of sample questions to ask a rescue organization if you decide you want to start fostering.)
Support from your Friends
So you took the leap, and you’re fostering your first dog – woo-hoo! You’re excited. Your foster dog did something hilarious. You feel proud of yourself – and heck, you should be. You want to share! There are lots of people that are going to be interested in what you’re doing, and getting your foster dogs exposure is the best way to get them adopted quickly. However, remember that not everyone you know might be interested in dog rescue – and that’s OK! If your friends don’t care a lick about dog rescue, you don’t want to over-burden them with your fostering escapades and risk turning them off to the experience all together. Answer questions when asked, thank people for their interest in what you’re doing, and for the love of dog: don’t preach! (Thank you Aleks from Love and a Six Foot Leash for this awesome post on the subject!)
A great place to find additional support is from the online community. I really had no idea what that meant before I started this blog, but the connections I’ve made in cyber-space have been unbelievable. I’ve found an amazing network of people in the foster and rescue community to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm solutions to problems with, and also just to tell my funny stories to. Not to mention, there is always someone who can relate to the tears when you have to say good-bye. (Thank you Kate from Twenty-Six to Life for your take on the relief that comes with sending a dog off to their furever home.)
You don’t have to start your own blog to become part of the online rescue community. The blogosphere has no shortage of blogs for you to read with great information (check out my blog roll for some of my favorites, and don’t forget to peruse the comments, lot of useful stuff down there too!), and many rescue groups have Facebook pages or Twitter feeds as well. Some folks have even transitioned virtual friendships to actual real-life ones – check out the walking groups that Two Pitties in the City and Our Waldo Bungie have started!
With a good support system in place, you’ll find that dog fostering is not nearly as overwhelming as it might seem. With the support and contacts I’ve made through the experience, personally I’ve found it to be a total blast!