Foster homes are truly beneficial for animals waiting for adoption; what may be even more beneficial is what these pets bring to their fosters’ homes. There is possibly nothing more rewarding than the grateful adoration and love of a homeless pet. Seriously, anyone who has ever fostered, or adopted, can tell you these animals literally display a sense of gratitude and appreciation. Perhaps we underestimate the emotions and abilities of animals, those creatures who we, as humans, deem ourselves to be superior to. One example is the non-human ability to forgive and forget, which can be found regularly with animals who have previously suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of the humans in their life at that time. If only we two-legged, “superior” creatures would just take a lesson or two from these wonderful animals!
Taking an animal into your home on a temporary basis, caring for it and ensuring physical and emotional needs are met – as well as paying attention to any particulars that might characterize this one as in need of a particular environment or certain type of people, and their interactions with other pets, children and strangers, enables a broader and more complete picture of the pet, thus helping to ensure an appropriate permanent home. Granted, there are some rescue groups and shelters that take this responsibility a bit too far – in becoming so focused on the details of the pets, they sometimes lose sight of the flexibilities of both people and animals which eventually would overshadow such details. In general, though, the foster arrangement is very successful for both pet and future family.
Although it varies by rescue or shelter, many of the requirements for doing so are the same. For some, the cost of supplies is covered, by others it is not. For some, the temporary home is required to bring the pet to adoption events, necessary veterinarian appointments, special events; for others there are other arrangements. Depending on the time you wish to commit, you may be able to offer your home for, say, a weekend – to cover for fosters who will be out of town. Others prefer a more substantial commitment. Through it all, though, being a foster home means offering a place for a pet to stay, to live in, until their forever home is found.
Do you get attached to your temporary charges? Of course! You surely wouldn’t be offering to do this if you didn’t already love animals, and it doesn’t take long to get attached. Although choosing to adopt the pet is always an option, thereby never having to say goodbye to them, it is best if possible to pursue a new home for them. Why? Because then you can take in another who needs a place to stay. And the more often you take one in, the more accustomed you become to the whole process, making it a little easier on that goodbye part. For many, the knowledge of having been able to assist along the way in a beautiful animal’s journey toward it’s forever home has been truly gratifying in itself. And they remain with you always, anyway – because they leave their pawprints on your heart!
Kudos to all those who open their homes and hearts to animals in need of a place to stay! For every shelter that feels they cannot hold just one more animal, may there always be a foster home stepping forward. Fosters are an integral part of the process of bringing Fido (or Fluffy) off the street, and into his very own loving home. If you think you might be able to do so as well, check with your local shelter or rescue group, give it a try! A home is a terrible thing to waste.