The Life of a Foster Parent: Part Two
This is part two of Eugene Mah's Life of a Foster Parent. For Part One, click HERE.
Why should you foster a dog?
Foster because you love dogs. Foster because you want to give a dog in rescue a chance to find its forever home. Foster because your next dog might be a rescue who lived in a foster home. Foster because you want to give a dog the chance to become someone's much loved pet. Foster because you want to help. A dog may have had a rough life before coming to me, but with a little work, patience and sometimes a lot of advice from others who know more about dogs than I do, it doesn't take long before the past is wiped away. Seeing a dog transform from timid and defensive to a confident, happy pet ready for a new home is a marvelous thing. Fostering dogs isn't always easy, but it's always rewarding and well worth it in the end.
Even though I know the foster dog is only with me temporarily, I treat every foster dog as if it were one of my own dogs. I often get asked if it's hard to let the dogs go when they're adopted. Seeing them leave is hard, but knowing that they're going to a good home to stay makes it easier. I can also let them go knowing that they're leaving in better condition than when they came. It gets easier after the first couple of foster dogs though.
Every foster dog I've had has taught me something new about myself, my dogs, and dogs in general. I've learned just how many dogs I can handle at one time (four big dogs crammed into the back seat of a Camry draws some interesting looks from other drivers). I've learned a lot about dog behavior just by watching the way three dogs behave around each other, and by watching them interact with other dogs at the dog park. There's a lot to be gained from fostering a dog. Perhaps the biggest is knowing that not only have you helped save the life of a dog, but also that the time and effort you've put in has helped improve the life of the dog and its new owner. Go ahead, contact your favorite rescue and tell them you want to know more about being a foster. It doesn't have to be dogs. Foster a cat if you like, or any other animal that appeals to you. It'll be worth it in the end.
When not doing the bidding of his two black lab retrievers, Eugene Mah is a medical physicist at MUSC, volunteers with Wild Heir Labrador Rescue and dabbles in computers and photography. You can find him online at http://blog.imabug.net/ and in real life at the Hampton Park dog park most days after work.