Hi there! My name is Allison, and I have been fostering with DAWS since 2021. I began fostering animals while working from home during the pandemic lockdowns. I figured since I was home for much of (if not all) day and had a fairly flexible schedule, along with the room in my heart and home, it’d be an excellent opportunity to pay it forward for the dogs I and my family have adopted over the years.
When I share that I foster dogs, people immediately ask, “How can you part with them when they get ad opted?” The truth is that it does make me sad to part with each of my fosters. But, think about it like this: fostering is a time of transition for the animal in which they can, at a comfortable pace, move out of survival mode (we often don’t know the full extent of what these animals have been through) and move into a place where they can learn. Of course, that could be learning house or crate training, but many foster dogs I’ve seen move on to learn how to be themselves, a regular dog (this looks like socializing, learning how to play and barking!) This transition period allows them to move onto the next stage (adoption), where they can learn more nuanced skills now that they know they are safe.
The next question “Don’t you worry about your dogs?” That’s an easy one: No. I don’t. I owe this to Karen; she does a beautiful job of taking the information she has and matching fosters with dogs who would be a good fit. YOU CAN FOSTER WITH RESIDENT ANIMALS AT HOME! My most recent foster dog’s parent asked me, “How do you do it?” I explained to her that my resident dogs are my best tools for fostering. I have two dogs, Dakota, a 14-year-old Chihuahua-Corgi mix who is a notoriously grumpy old man, and Rosie, a 4-year-old Chihuahua mix who we adopted from DAWS (foster fail) in 2021, and they help make it possible. When we have a new foster dog, they will watch and follow Dakota outside (we have a doggie door) and learn from him to go out, go potty out there, and do the routine. As the grumpy old man, Dakota is not bashful about correcting a young dog who needs help with social skills (like respecting person space). Rosie takes care of everything else: she is the one who will take the foster under her wing and show them the best, comfiest places to sleep, show them the routine, and will teach them how to play. I also imagine that when a foster experiences anxiety because my husband and I are at work or out, my two resident dogs give them a look and say, “Don’t worry. They’ll be back.”
To know if fostering with resident animals is right for you, you must know your animals. I think Rosie and Dakota make great foster siblings because they are confident and independent. (This is helpful because a new foster often needs extra attention and TLC). It also helps that they are well-behaved and house-trained, which lets me know I can trust them to teach a new dog.
Although every pairing is unique, I encourage everyone interested in fostering an animal to do it. You are giving these animals the gift of safety and dependability, especially considering how the world and others were not always safe and dependable.