Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why I Don't Foster. . .And Why I Do

There are so many reasons why I don’t foster dogs. For one, I have three of my own dogs. That is three dogs with very different personalities and tolerance levels. Another reason I don’t foster is because I don’t own my own home. . .and I have a (slightly intolerant) roommate. I’m also too busy to foster most of the time. Between dog training, dog events, and friends and family, it doesn’t leave me a lot of extra time to work with a foster dog. Having a foster dog can be very disruptive to your lifestyle, your dogs, and your home.

But with all those reasons (excuses) why I don’t foster, I still had 5 foster dogs in my home this past year. I had some very young, and some not so young. I had some very small, and some not so small. I had some very calm and some not so calm. Even with all those differences there was one thing that all those dogs had in common: they needed a place to go.

One of my jobs is to visit local animal shelters and access the dogs for intake into the HAR program. Of all the things I do, this is one of the hardest. Not only do I see the abused, sick, starving, and aggressive dogs at the shelter, I also see what these dogs could become if given a second chance. With a warm place to sleep, some good food, and a little training, many of these dogs could make great family pets. And knowing that, it is difficult to leave one of them behind just because we don’t have an open foster home.

So when I go into the shelter and I encounter one of these dogs that I just can’t leave behind, I scoop them up, give them a kiss and say “you’re coming home with me, kid.” And even though they don’t understand my words, I know by their wiggles and kisses that they understand the meaning behind them. And that makes all the “disruptions” worth it. Because, in the end, you can replace your furniture, your carpets, and your dogs (and roommates) will eventually forgive you, but you can’t replace LIFE.