dog things

Fostering Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone who knows me knows that I am huge dog lover. In February of 2015, I began volunteering with a local dog rescue by helping out at adoption events. For me, it was a way to get involved in a bigger cause, feel like I was making a difference, and since I wanted a second dog but was not in a position to get one, it allowed me to play with and engage with other dogs.

In the summer of 2015, Adam and I were given the opportunity to temporarily foster a dog named Dorothy. She was a very neurotic dog, and a little possessive over her people, but we fell in love with her and a temporary foster situation became long-term until she found her forever home.

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In September, Dorothy had gotten an incredible application in and when the family came to meet us, we knew it was a perfect fit. That afternoon, she went home.

Since Dorothy, we’ve done a few temporary fosters again, but also some of our very own long-term fosters.

There was Coleman (who I found on Craigslist and who I took in while I could network him to a rescue)…

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Gracie, the sweetest and gentlest dog ever, and also a tri-paw…

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and Sophie, a puppy from Mexico…

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I would by no means call myself an expert on fostering, but there are some things I’ve learned throughout the process that will hopefully push anyone who’s considering it in the right direction. Here are some questions that I’ve been asked:

What is fostering?

When you foster a dog, you take the dog in and usually, all expenses (food, grooming, medical) are covered. All you have to do is love the dog! Some shelters offer this and most rescues offer this – the rescue we foster with doesn’t have a physical boarding location for its dogs; all of the dogs are in foster homes, learning what life is like in a home, often with kids, other dogs and cats.

What are the benefits of fostering?

For a rescue, it’s way more affordable than boarding a dog. Dogs benefit in that it’s a great way to prepare them for life in a forever home, especially since many dogs get very stressed out in boarding or in the shelter environment. Adopters can be pretty confident when talking to a knowledgeable and thorough foster about what kind of environment the dog needs and whether their home will be a good fit. For example, we have a large dog (Maeby!), so if we get an application where they already have a dog, we know that our foster will do likely do well with that dog. We still do meet and greets to make sure the dogs get along, but it’s helpful for the adopter to already know how the foster dog is living with another dog.

Does the foster get to choose where the dog ends up?

Different rescues have different processes, but with the one I foster with, we get to review the applications that come in and have final say in where the dog ends up. Our rescue believes that no one knows the dog better than the foster, so they should choose where the dog would be happiest and what kind of family would be best-suited for it.

How do you not fall in love with the dog and keep it?

This one is tough, haha. Within a day of getting a new foster dog, Adam always proudly declares we are keeping it. I have to be the voice of reason and say that we shouldn’t/we can’t. I really wanted to keep Gracie, and Adam really wanted to keep Coleman. But we try to be honest with ourselves about what we can afford and what’s best for the dog, and also remember that if we were to adopt one of our fosters, we wouldn’t be in a position to continue fostering and helping other dogs.

Can you adopt your foster dog?

A lot of foster families I know do end up keeping their foster dog! That’s what we call a “foster fail.” It depends on the rescue’s policy, but ours allows the foster family to adopt the dog.


Any other questions? I’d love to hear from you. Share them in the comments below!

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