While frolicking and playing with my parents and new siblings in the yard, my Papa was exclaiming what a wonderful, smart and talented dog I am. But, he paused, looked into my eyes and said, “Cooper, you are just a random dog.” Mama and I stopped with the look of disgust on our faces and wondered what ailment had touched poor Papa’s brain! I AM NOT A RANDOM DOG! Papa went on to explain that I WAS just a random dog. He wondered aloud how many other dogs as cute and sweet and smart as me were in the shelter, or worse…? Papa said I was just a random dog that was lucky enough to find a person to call animal control, be taken to a caring shelter who in turn reached out to rescue. I then had a rescue to step up because they had a foster home available. Even if I had not be adopted by my foster parents, I would have been adopted because the rescue committed to me. If any of these events had fallen through, I would have become one of the sad statistics in America today!
After listening to Papa, Mama and I decided to talk to you today about one of the people in my rescue, the foster. If the rescue had not had space for me, I might have ended up a statistic! Everyday rescues and shelters must turn away animals. It is not because they do not care; it is because they do not have room. Because of loving foster homes, “Random Dogs” like me get a second chance to survive. Without these foster homes, dogs like me die everyday in shelters and on the streets.
In a foster home, we learn basic obedience and we learn how wonderful life can be; this makes us more adoptable. Sadly, GSRA and other wonderful rescues around the country must turn away dogs because they do not have room. Some of these caring foster homes have multiple fosters at a time and these spaces are extremely precious.
You may be reluctant to become a foster. Maybe my story did not convince you. Perhaps you are one of the many who think that you would fall in love with your foster and not be able to give them up. Maybe you have thought about it, but you keep waiting for the “Right Time” to start. I am going to turn this over to my mom and a few of GSRAs fosters to tell you more about their experience as a foster.
Being a Foster
Being a foster is one of the most amazing things you can do. No one can really describe what it is like. Watching a shutdown animal discover toys for the first time is one of the most humbling experiences. Watching them learn to approach people, even though they were abused, or watching them learn that they WILL get another meal after this one. Nothing can really prepare you for the feelings you get inside watching this transformation. I have fostered many dogs. Yes, I fall in love with every one of them. I tell them they are mine until I find someone better. I have foster failed 3 times. But, I have foster succeeded many more than that. Watching the dog you have cared for, loved, taught, fed and perhaps nursed through illness get in the car to go home with her new parents causes many emotions. You experience heart break, joy, and love for these new people who are going to care for your baby. When it is right, they are easy to let go because you know in your heart, it is the best thing.
Carol describes the joys of fostering like this: Aside from being incredibly rewarding, fostering has made me a much better dog handler than I would otherwise be. I’ve been exposed to (and learned to manage!) far more dog personalities than I would ever have myself in a lifetime of dog-ownership, and each one has taught me something important. And when each one is launched successfully into his or her new forever home, well, there’s NO beating that feeling. You’re a mix of happy, sad, and proud, but mostly happy and proud. Because it means that now there’s space to save another one….
Elizabeth says that being a foster mom gives her the opportunity to have more dogs than she would normally ever get to have.
Connie describes her experience: I’ve always had a great love and a special bond with dogs. I’ve always thought about fostering, but like so many others, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to let them go. My heart has always gone out to the dogs who are abused, neglected, abandoned, etc. so about a year ago, I knew it was time to step up and give it a try. Fostering to me was all about helping dogs, whether it was to help them get healthy, trust in people again or just to show them they do deserve to be loved and cared for. What I found out was that for all I try to give to my fosters; what they give to me is beyond words. To see them heal, learn to love, trust and to be happy; to me is the greatest gift there is. Now don’t get me wrong, it can be a mix of feelings to let them go to their new furever family, but when you find that special home and you see how happy and loved they are, you know you did what was right for them. And because you were able to let go, you now have a chance to offer another dog a second chance for life. I can’t imagine my life without dogs and I know now that fosters will always be a special part of it.
If you are in North Carolina and you think a GSD is the type of dog you could foster, please fill out our foster application. If you are not in NC or you think a GSD isn’t the right fit for you, please explore your locate shelters and rescues. You will not regret becoming a foster! Link to applications.
|Helping dad survey the land before building a deck.|
About the Author: My name is Cooper and I was recently adopted by my foster family. I started puppy school on Wednesday, but was promoted to the beginner class with the big dogs! Please stay tuned for my adventures. I am going to school, I plan to take the Good Citizen Test and I would like to visit nursing homes with my mom.
Check out my video below and don't forget my friends Sani, Shelby, Lupa and Reese and my sister Chelsea who are looking for Furever homes! Feel free to email my mom at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.