How Fostering Dogs Changed My Life
Opening my home to help rescues.
Over the course of four years, my boyfriend and I have fostered 14 rescue dogs. It started in the fall of 2015 with Renee. She was a 10-month-old Great Dane/Catahoula hog dog mix from Selma, Alabama, and already bigger than our Labrador retriever, Ollie. She turned our lives upside down, but we fell in love.
I can remember the face of every pet that came into our home broken, sad, and defeated. We helped Bessie, Shelly, and Lucille through heartworm treatments; won a Halloween-costume contest with sweet, incontinent Frida; and worked through anxiety issues with Oona. I still get teary-eyed just thinking of the puppy from Georgia we nicknamed Bean. He had recently been hit by a car when he came to us. He also had mange, a respiratory infection, and an eye infection and couldn’t use one of his legs. Bean couldn’t walk, not because of his fractured leg but because he was so emaciated. Four months of water therapy saved his leg, and with six months of good food and medical care, he flourished. His fur grew in, and his ribs disappeared beneath hard-earned muscle. Handing over his leash was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.
Fostering is an essential part of the rescue process. Not only does it free up space in shelters, but it also gives an otherwise unadoptable pet the time and space to heal, both physically and emotionally. Having a foster dog get adopted never gets easier, but your heart does get stronger. As you’re going through the daily motions, it’s easy to forget that you’re saving lives. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get anything out of the experience. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the chance to see a scared and skinny dog lie down in a warm bed for the first time, chew on its first toy, or greet its loving new owner.