I know fostering animals can seem scary - all types of animals in your home, what if you end up really loving one, etc. - but it is one of the most rewarding experiences! My boyfriend, Warren, and I got into fostering a couple of years ago after our good friends, Bree and Dave, got a foster dog. We fostered dogs for a year, and then took a break when we adopted our second dog, Maggie. We just got back into it, except this time...WITH KITTENS! Kittens are a completely different experience than dogs. They require less work and attention, for the most part. I strongly encourage you to start with kittens if you are unsure about the experience. That being said, if you get them really young, you will have to bottle feed them every three hours. Eventually, though, they will transition to food, and things will become a lot simpler.
Ok, so what do you need to know?
The animal(s) will usually arrive with all the essentials (food, dishes, collar, etc.) so that there is no expense to you. Crates are provided, and I would strongly suggest using one since this animal is most likely frightened and you want to make sure he or she does not get into anything while you are out. Set up a space for the crate that is in a separate room from your pets. This will minimize distress when you are gone. For the kittens we currently have, they are in a large dog crate and have everything they need in there. They are extremely messy, but it's all contained (plus, seeing a kitten with food all over its face is possibly the cutest thing ever).
If you have other dogs in your home, it is best to introduce everyone outside on neutral territory. When bringing the foster dog into the house, he or she might be a little frightened. Unfortunately, most of these dogs come from bad situations, so you need to earn their trust. We fostered a few Greyhounds who came straight from the racing track, so we had to be patient while they figured out how to walk on hardwood flooring, and how to use the stairs!
Duration of Stay
How long you have the animal is dependent on the organization you are fostering for, the needs of the animal, and the amount of interest from prospective adopters. Our first foster dog, Celia, came from Lebanon where she was found tied to a pole. She was extremely shy when we first got her, so she needed a little time to warm up to the idea of a new family. We had her for almost four months, which was the longest out of all our fosters. You will generally have the foster animal for one to two months.
Whenever I speak to anyone about fostering, the idea of not being able to say goodbye to the cat or dog always comes up. I am proud to say, I have never been a "foster failure." Saying goodbye becomes a lot easier when you realize this cat or dog is going to an amazing new home, where there is a family that is so excited to adopt them! Celia (the dog mentioned above) is always at the dog park we go to, and she is a whole new dog with her family. It is so rewarding to be able to see her thriving. We also regularly run into one of the Greyhounds we fostered, and she is equally as happy. While I live in a smaller city and can't guarantee you will run into your foster dog again, just know that you made it possible for this animal to get a whole new life.
Have I convinced you yet?? If I have, and you are wondering what to do now... Reach out to some local rescues. Most will have information on their website about the fostering process. If you're still on the fence and have more questions, comment below or send me an email. I would love to help you out!
Here are some pictures of our foster animals (sorry for the poor photo quality - most were taken with my old iPhone). If you want to see more of the kittens, follow the Fluff Pet Care Instagram page @fluff_petcare