All the emotions you’ll feel when fostering.

All the emotions you’ll feel when fostering.

I’m really happy (and very relieved) to report that Mama cat is doing so much better. She’s eating and back to her chipper self. The kittens are also doing well and we’re seeing some major weight gains. We have them for one more week before we head out of town and I can’t wait to see the other milestones the reach before they go to their next foster home!

After fostering two dogs, Sycamore and Endora, and 123095 cats, I don’t at all consider myself a foster pro. In fact, I like to say that every time I foster, I learn something new. Whether it’s learning how to walk two dogs at once or syringe feeding kittens, I get a little bit better at fostering every time. So, what’s the main thing I learned? Fostering is exceedingly emotional. Here are all my feelings.

Excitement

When I sign on to foster, this is absolutely the first feeling. I get to bring an animal into my home, give it lots of love and care, and make a new best friend. Just ask my husband, the day we get our foster, I wake up and say, “it’s kitten day!” or “we get another dog today!”

Throughout the process, there is so much excitement. I celebrate milestones, praise new tricks, and when I hear they have an application, the excitement reaches a whole new level. The entire fostering process is exciting.

What did I get myself into?

Idk if this is *technically* an emotion, but every time I’ve fostered, this has been a phrase that seems to get stuck in my head. Bringing a new animal into your home is never smooth. There’s always an adjustment period (two weeks!) while you find your new normal. During that time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. Thankfully, there are plenty of experienced people to offer tips!

Luckily, this period is short lived. After a day or two, that whole “what was I thinking” thing becomes replaced by, “seeing their growth is the most amazing thing I’ve witnessed, fostering is amazing.”

Love

Well duh. I shouldn’t have to list this emotion because I (anybody??) wouldn’t foster if it weren’t also so full of love. The amount of laughs, joy, and happiness I feel while fostering is unlike anything I’ve experienced. Seeing baby kittens who can barely open their eyes become flying little terrors is worth its weight in kitten poop. Watching a foster who was so nervous about being in a home suddenly exhale a long, deep sigh… well, there isn’t a better feeling. You really grow to love these animals and it’s a wonderful thing.

Stress

Fostering dogs and fostering cats are VERY different and they’re each stressful in their own way. When fostering dogs, it’s a lot of work to keep them separate from my cats and making sure they don’t pee where they’re not supposed to. Fostering kittens is a lot of stress because they’re so fragile and I worry about their health until they are big and strong.

If I said I wasn’t constantly thinking of my fosters, I’d be lying. Whether it’s worrying about their behavior or health, they’re always in the back of my mind. However, when you see them thriving and living happily in their forever home, it’s worth every second of stress.

Fulfillment

I’m not sure if this is just me-specific (highly unlikely), but fostering an animal is fulfilling beyond words. As I’ve now mentioned 29 times, watching an animal finally feel secure will make your heart explode. Knowing you provided a home for an animal in need will give you a new perspective when it comes to helping animals. While it’s a lot of work, it’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

Sadness

I always want to be honest and I’d be lying if I didn’t talk about the sadness that comes with fostering. You probably think I’m going to talk about how sad it is to say goodbye, but by far the saddest thing I’ve experienced while fostering was losing two kittens. It was crushing and took me a while to build up the courage to foster again. But I did and I am so glad.

Saying goodbye actually isn’t sad at all. It’s bittersweet. Will you miss them? Absolutely. I’ve cried every single time I gave an animal back to the rescue or to the adopters. But, will you stop crying as soon as you see the animals in the new home? Definitely. I’ve been lucky to know the outcomes of most of my fosters and I think they’re really in the best place they could be. There’s no sadness when you know a pet is so loved in its new home.

Relief

Fostering is a lot of work. I never realize how much work it is until the fosters leave our house. Once I’m done with my little pity party, I realize how nice it is to be back to our “little” crew of five. There’s relief that the pet is in the right home, that they are strong and healthy, and that I’ve done my job. The relief is nice for about two weeks… and then I’m ready to foster again.


Fostering has been one of the most rewarding but difficult things I’ve ever done. It challenged me, it pushed me, it made me question a whole lot, but ultimately, it taught me so much. Sycamore showed me how wonderful senior dogs are, Endora showed me patience goes a long way, and all the kittens have taught me how to be the craziest cat lady.

Thank you to everyone who has fostered! If you haven’t yet and are wanting more information, check out Rescue Chicago or fill out our Foster Match survey!

THE RESCUE:

Endora is happily in her new home, but there are plenty more Galgos that need forever homes. Check out Love, Hope, Believe, Galgo Adoption for all the wonderful Galgos.

xoxo,

Christine

All photos: Mandy Dempsey

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