This is Cooper.
Cooper joined our family three weeks ago. We fostered the weeks-old pit-mix, one pup from a dumped litter of 12, and, I have to be honest: We failed. Just this week, we decided to adopt the little bugger.
But don’t let my failure discourage you from fostering! Shelters across the country are out of space. Many shelter dogs and cats are put down solely because there’s no more room at the inn. Fostering provides the perfect solution for alleviating overcrowded shelters while simultaneously enriching your family.
Assuming you won’t be a foster failure like me, why should you consider taking on a foster dog or cat?
- You will prevent one more dog or cat from being euthanized.
- You can help a dog or cat adjust to life within a home – making the little one more appealing to potential adopters.
- Fostering is a rewarding experience for the foster pet and for your entire family.
So let’s say you’ve decided to take the foster plunge! Yay! You’ll change the life of your foster dog or cat forever. While the task can be daunting, there are a few simple tips and strategies to keep in mind to make the whole process easier.
Dos and Don’ts of Fostering a Pet
- Do work with the shelter or rescue to make sure you’re comfortable with their process and your obligations. Will they cover veterinary care? Is there a specific vet your foster needs to visit? Do they provide a crate? Food?
- Do request a copy of the foster’s records, if they’re available. You want to be extra sure that the foster isn’t bringing along something that your existing pets could catch. Or – if you know about a special need up front, like heartworm treatment – gather advice from the rescue on how to properly manage the situation.
- Do consider the needs of your existing animals. If your senior pet will be uncomfortable or irritated by a young pup, consider fostering another senior. If your dog doesn’t do well with cats, focus on fostering dogs.
- Do plan to be home for a couple days – a weekend is ideal – when you first bring home your foster. By being present, you can help ensure a smooth transition from the shelter to a home for the foster, while helping your existing animals get used to the idea of a new fur ball running around “their” house.
- Don’t expect the foster to settle in quickly. He or she may need a few days to adjust to you, your existing pets, your home, and your routine. Patience pays off!
- Don’t forget that your foster’s mental and behavioral needs are just as important as his or her physical needs. You should try to walk, play games, and train basic commands, just as you would with your own pets.
- Don’t get too attached or you might end up as a foster failure like me!
- Conversely, don’t ignore the possibility that you may fall in love with your foster and choose to adopt him yourself!
A foster pet makes the perfect addition to any family. You’ll provide a safe, loving home for a dog or cat until he finds his forever home. What’s more rewarding than that?
I’d love to hear about your foster experiences. Do you have questions about the process or responsibilities? If you’re a foster veteran, what times do you have to share?
As far as Cooper goes, he fit right in from the moment he pranced into our house. He gets along with Emmett and Lucas; he’s smart and utterly adorable. He took to our routine by the second or third day. And really, how could I resist this face?