Why I don’t keep the dogs I foster
When my husband and I got married in 2016, we decided to give ourselves a year before we brought a dog into our home. We wanted to travel and settle in without the responsibilities of having a pup. We made it about six months before I asked him about fostering some kittens through the Anti-Cruelty Society.
The reason we fostered kittens is that I was scared to foster a dog. I was terrified of getting attached and then being brokenhearted when it came time for the dog to leave. I figured I would be safe with cats because I wasn’t a “cat person” and I’d “never ever keep two cats.” You all know how well that worked out, we now have two cats. I was terrified to foster again.
Not wanting to get attached is one of the most common responses I get when I talk to people about fostering. I get it. I was worried I would get too attached too. After failing with our first two cats, we went on to successfully foster a few dozen more.
This past February, after adopting our dog and fostering more cats, we gave dog fostering a try. I was mostly worried, thinking I’d end up with two dogs and two cats in 1300 square feet (and maybe no husband in sight). I was so scared of what I didn’t know. So, I tried it.
Fostering a dog was totally different and wonderful and terrible at the same time. It was harder and easier in so many ways. Over the course of almost two weeks, I fell in love with our first foster dog Sycamore.
When it was time to say goodbye to him, of course, I cried like a baby. But here’s what happened next: he was adopted by the best family and then I came home, to my own furry family, and I felt relief. It was like we were back to our regular schedule, our routine. Yes, I was sad, and it wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And when I think about why, it’s because Sycamore simply didn’t fit with our family, he wasn’t meant to be ours.
I was laughing the other night with another foster parent when someone asked us how we can give them up. The foster had a very relatable and real response. She explained that while we love them, they each have their quirks that annoy the heck out of us. Boy is that true.
Sycamore had Separation Anxiety, Endora was painfully shy, Vader was a velcro dog, and Lou is extremely leash reactive. I still love all these dogs, but these traits are the reasons they didn’t fit with our family or our lifestyle. It’s why I could say goodbye to them knowing they’d find a better fit.
Sycamore went to a couple who are retired and spent almost all day with him. Endora went to a quiet home in the suburbs with another Galgo. Endora went to live with a woman and then with a family with kids to play with him. Lou is going to a home with a gentleman who lives in the suburbs and takes his dog to work with him. All of these homes are a much better fit and can give the dogs exactly what they need more than we ever could.
When I say goodbye to Lou this weekend, it’s going to be hard. I’m already sad about not having a snuggle buddy with me on the couch at night. I know I’m going to cry. But I’m also ready to be back to my little family, to get back to our normal, our routine. I can’t wait to let Cheese roam free as he pleases, not worrying that Lou and he will get into a scuffle. I can’t wait to walk just one dog, or to let Roni sleep in peace.
Not everyone is in a position to foster. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to provide a temporary home to some animals. I am not here to tell you fostering is easy (it isn’t) or that it’s all peaches and sunshine (it’s not) but it’s a beautiful process that changed how much I appreciate animals. An animal’s ability to love and trust again is so pure, my heart explodes in the best way every time.
I’ve now fostered four dogs and dozens of kittens, and while I’m hardly an expert, I learn a little each time. I give so much credit to those who foster dogs for months or years and then say goodbye. But no matter how long I’ve fostered for (whether one week or six) I’ve always gotten attached. And all but once, I’ve been able to say goodbye. Then I can get ready for the next one.
Your heart will break a little, but I’d rather have mine break a little in order for theirs to never break again.
If you’re interested in fostering in the Chicago area (dogs or cats!) but not sure where to start, you can fill out this survey and we will match you with a rescue that will fit your needs.
Thank you Two Birds Photography for capturing these images.
This post is dedicated to my first foster Sycamore who passed away from old age, surrounded by love from his wonderful forever family. Run free Sycamore.
Thank you Second City Canine Rescue for letting me foster this gem of a boy. Lou is from a South Side Chicago open access-shelter and was found as a stray. He is going to have the best home. If you’re looking for a pup similar to him, check out Falco and Pauly.
It’s like, almost, kind of, sort of becoming Fall and I cannot wait any longer. I’m so excited for it to be cold or at least not humid and hot outside. I bought this top because I thought it was a good piece but not overly Fall.
I also wore my favorite Bhava shoes which are cruelty-free shoes. This company is one of the best, they make beautiful pieces free of animal products. PS they’re beyond comfortable too. You can find the ones I’m wearing here.