What exactly does “fostering” a dog mean?
Fostering a dog means providing a temporary home while we work to find him a suitable forever home. Our local shelters are chronically overcrowded and are always bursting at the seams, so every dog we can pull from the shelter is one less dog that is euthanized for space concerns. Fostering is ideal when dealing with rescued animals because dogs pulled directly from the shelter often need a few weeks to decompress in a safe, stable environment before their true personalities can shine for potential adopters.
How long is the fostering process?
There is truly no way to predict when an animal will be adopted and therefore it’s impossible to say how long any given foster animal will be in your home. Sometimes a foster will only be with you for a few weeks before he’s adopted while other times it could take several months, depending on the dog.
Can I pick the dog I want to foster?
The very first question on the fostering application addresses what sort of dogs you’re interested in fostering, and we encourage you to be honest and specific! We want to make the fostering experience a positive one, and that means matching the right dog to your home. We will do our best to choose a dog we think will fit into your family, while of course keeping in mind that the majority of the animals we save come directly from the shelter and we cannot fully predict their behavior. There is no way for us to cherry-pick a dog for you to foster but we do our best to place a dog into your home that is compatible with your needs.
What are my responsibilities as a foster parent?
We ask that foster parents treat the foster dog as they would any of their own animals by encouraging positive behaviors, providing structure and love, teaching basic house/crate training and commands (sit, down, etc.), providing quality food, and most of all providing a safe and loving place for the animal to decompress after the shelter as he transitions to his forever family. Foster parents are truly the ones who “polish” the rescued animal and help him get adopted, which oftentimes means housetraining, crate training, and teaching helpful commands like sit and stay. Training classes are provided, should the foster family wish to attend them. Foster parents are also asked to attend our adoption events when possible.
What assistance does The Southern Dog provide?
We cover the costs of any and all medical or veterinary expenses for the foster dog and have supplies we can loan out if needed, such as crates, blankets, and leashes. We are responsible for “marketing” the foster dog and getting him adopted as quickly as possible, as well as scheduling all veterinary appointments, processing adoption applications, and organizing any meet & greets. We are also always available for consultation and will cover the costs of professional behavioral training if needed. We understand and appreciate that fostering is a huge sacrifice and we want to do everything possible to make it as easy of a commitment as possible!
What if a dog doesn’t work out in my home?
Since we’re a foster-based organization and have no facility, we heavily depend on our fosters to make a commitment to providing a safe and happy home for foster dog for as long as necessary (i.e., until he is successfully adopted). We ask fosters to understand that a dog can sometimes take weeks to adjust to a new home and things like accidents in the house, nervous chewing, barking, whimpering, being wary of other animals in the home, and being shy are all normal behaviors. That said, we understand that there are emergency situations in which a dog must be moved from a foster home and we will always do our best to accommodate this by moving the dog to another open home.
What if I get attached to my foster dog and can’t let him/her go?
We call those “foster failures” around here – trust me, we’ve all been a foster failure one time or another! While we are of course happy whenever a family decides to officially adopt their foster dog, we realize you can’t adopt every dog who crosses your path. Please understand that letting a foster dog go to his new home can be difficult – after all, you were the one to singlehandedly take this broken, sad, and oftentimes hopeless soul and heal him with patience, affection, and an abundance of love. The bond formed between a foster parent and a rescued animal is like no other, and it’s something that you will always cherish. It’s hard to let fosters “leave the nest”, so to speak, but there is nothing as rewarding as seeing a dog happily leave with his new family and knowing that without you opening your home, he would have been euthanized alone in a shelter without ever having known true love. People often tell us that they can’t foster because they’d want to keep every dog, and we always tell them the same thing – please come with us to the shelter and walk the aisles, looking at all of the animals waiting to be saved. It is always hard to let go of a foster dog but it makes it easier knowing that there are others behind him/her waiting for your love. It takes a special person to be a foster – it requires you to give selflessly of yourself to save another creature, and not everyone is willing to do that. While fostering requires emotional strength and can have its own ups and downs, we can absolutely promise you that opening your home to a rescued animal is without a doubt worth it.