Fostering Animals

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This is a follow up post to last Friday’s Perfect Picture Book  about “Animals as Carers”. Many of us intimated that we would love to consider hosting a guide puppy for the deaf or the blind. Well, I want to suggest another way we could care for animals who care and give so much to us, and that is to become foster families. Maybe the 1-2 years seems too much of a commitment for a guide dog, well what about fostering  a dog or kittens from a refuge for just a few months? – enough time for the animal to readjust to home life, hopefully shortening its time in a refuge and freeing up limited space for another needy animal. Many refuges cover food and veterinary costs for their foster animals. You as a family (and maybe your pets too) can have the joy of giving love and attention to an animal who has sorely missed out on this, and it can be a great step for a family to see whether they are ready for their own animal. I will give you a few addresses of organizations which do this, but the best would probably be to check out your local refuge. This can be a very rewarding voluntary project for your family.





My Foster Dog 
by Unknown Author 

My foster dog stinks to high heaven. 
I don’t know for sure what breed he is. 
His eyes are blank and hard. 
He won’t let me pet him and growls when I reach for him. 

He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin. 
His nails are long and his teeth, which he showed me, are stained. I sigh. 
I drove two hours for this. 

I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate. Then I heft 
the crate and put it in the car. I am going home with my new foster dog. 

At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard. I 
get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants “outside.” As I lead him to 
the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again. 

When we come in, he goes to the crate because that’s the only safe place he 
sees. I offer him food but he won’t eat it if I look at him, so I turn my 
back. When I come back, the food is gone. 

I ask again about “outside.” When we come back, I pat him before I let 
him in the crate; he jerks away and runs into the crate to show me his 

The next day I decide I can’t stand the stink any longer. 
I lead him into the bath with cheese in my hands. His fear of me is not 
quite overcome by his longing for the cheese. 
And well he should fear me, for I will give him a bath. 

After an attempt or two to bail out he is defeated and stands there. I
have bathed four legged bath squirters for more years than he has been 
alive. His only defense was a show of his stained teeth, that did not hold 
up to a face full of water. 

As I wash him, it is almost as if I wash not only the stink and dirt away 
but also some of the hardness. His eyes look full of sadness now. And he 
looks completely pitiful as only a soap covered dog can. 

I tell him that he will! feel better when he is cleaned. After the soap, 
the towels are not too bad, so he lets me rub him dry. 

I take him outside. He runs for joy . . . the joy of not being in the tub 
and the joy of being clean. 

I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy. He comes to me and lets me 
pet him. 

One week later I have a vet bill. His skin is healing. He likes for me to 
pet him ( I think). I know what color he will be when his hair grows in. 

I have found out he is terrified of other dogs, so I carefully introduce 
him to my mildest four legged brat. It doesn’t go well. 

Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection, that was missed on the 
first visit. He plays with the other dogs. 

Three weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight. 
He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out 
after he plays chase in the yard with the gang. 

His eyes are soft and filled with life. He loves hugs and likes to show
off his tricks, if you have the cheese. 

Someone called today and asked about him. They saw the picture I took the 
first week. They asked about his personality, his history, his breed. They 
asked if he was pretty. I asked them lots of questions. 

I checked up on them. 
I prayed. 
I said yes. 

When they saw him the first time they said he was the most beautiful dog 
they had ever seen. 

Six months later, I got a call from his new family. 
He is wonderful, smart, well behaved, and very loving. 

How could someone not want him? 
I told them I didn’t know. 
He is beautiful. 
They all are in agreement!

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12 Responses to Fostering Animals

  1. Krista says:

    Beautiful. Here in Florida we have a lot of stray cats. I bring them home. We have many. Florida also has awful greyhound race tracks that produce and eliminate gorgeous, gentle greyhounds. I’m grateful for those that care for animals and show them love. Thank you for your post.

    • Joanna says:

      Oh, Krista, all those lucky stray kitties that get taken in by your caring family! Many sorts of animal racing, including greyhounds, is truly a cruel man-focsed affair. 🙁

  2. Joanna, what an important post. The shelters here all have foster families for many of the dogs. I think it is a wonderful program. And, I loved the poem — it was perfect for your post today. You know we rescued a breeding dog and saved him from sex slavery — just kidding. He spent four years of his life in a cage most of the day, with a diaper on. The breeder treated the dogs well and let them play outside, but she had so many dogs in different stages of heat and pregnancy, the males spent a lot of time in cages. Archie is a toy poodle. Now nearly two years later he more the size of a miniature poodle. He is the smartest, and most playful dog we’ve ever had. But, he still prefers to go to his cage to sleep at night — that is his space. Thanks for honoring these dogs. I have a PB I’ll be reviewing as part of my current series.

  3. Joanna says:

    I hope Archie, has no memories left of those awful years, having been given so much affection by you and Ward. I think his rescue is such a beautiful story, Pat.Thank you for sharing. I do look forward to your PB review! 🙂

  4. This is wonderful! Such an important thing for people to remember. I love animals. Love to have them around, and I have heard good things from families who foster animals. It’s such an amazing and wonderful program. I would have a hard time when they have to leave though That’s what gets me in trouble. You grow close!!!

  5. Joanna says:

    Leigh, yes, that is the huge challenge saying goodbye so often…. they become part of the family so quickly!

  6. mmm like Leigh I would not want to give back any pet I was looking after…. can you imagine, my place would be full if I started…lol. Maybe we will oneday, when we stop travelling so much and not working long hours. Thats such a cute photo Joanna.

    • Joanna says:

      Yep, I could imagine you would adopt them all, Diane, with your big heart!

      I think I will be open up my home to more animals when I retire, too!

  7. Well, the poem totally made me all teary! Every dog we’ve ever had, with one disastrous exception, came from a shelter. I would love to foster dogs, but the 2 we have are all my husband can handle 🙂 Shelters are such stressful places – it’s too bad any animal ever has to end up in one – but so great that they’re there for animals that need another chance to be wanted.

  8. Joanna says:

    Two is usually plenty dogs for any household. I love what shelters do too, though when I visit and can only take one animal home it is heartbreaking.

  9. What a wonderful poem. For now, we just plan to care for our two dogs. I fear introducing another dog into the house with a toddler. Sometimes, I have to put our dogs away for quiet time to protect them from Enzo. He loves them and wants to play, but the dogs don’t always like it.

    • Joanna says:

      I am so glad Enzo has the opportunity to grow up with the two dogs, though it is a learning process for all. 🙂

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