Foster Carers are the absolute heart of what we do. Without Foster Carers to take in, teach, nurture and love our dogs, we simply could not do what we do. Foster Care does require a commitment – and we hope the following information will help you work out whether it is the right thing for you at this time. There are many ways to assist, so if foster care doesn’t fit your life – or your commitments at this stage, you may wish to/be able to – help us in other ways.
There may be many questions you have about becoming involved as a Foster Carer, such as:
- Why would you be a foster carer?
- How do you find the time?
- How do you choose the right dog?
- What kind of foster dog would be best for my family?
- Who do I want to foster and why?
- How do you know if they’ll get along with your pets?
- What if it doesn’t work out?
- How do you keep from getting attached?
Fostering any sort of animal does require a commitment and a level of patience, tolerance and an open mind. But it also provides enormous reward and happiness. Fostering provides a “stepping stone” for animals in search of permanent homes – it helps save lives, reduces the strain on animal shelters, helps set the scene for successful adoptions, and helps you develop skills that will enable you to help other animals in need. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a dog totally lacking in confidence, blossom and go on to become a treasured member of a family.
Dogs fostered in positive, nurturing home environments (by people with basic training and behavioural knowledge) are more likely to be adopted, less likely to be returned to shelters, less likely to suffer from behavioural and training problems, less stressed and more able to adapt to life in their new homes.
As with adoption though, the decision to foster dogs is not one to be made lightly. If you’re considering taking a foster dog into your home, ask yourself these important questions.
Does fostering fit your household and your life?
The health and welfare of all individuals in your home—human and animal—must be considered before bringing another dog into your home. Fostering should never be considered unless your home environment is happy, safe, healthy, and spacious enough to nurture the foster dog adequately and retain sanity among the existing members of your home. If any of your family members are contending with allergies, excessive stress, other physical or mental health issues, career instability, housing or space restrictions, fostering is not a good option for you at this time.
But if you believe you have the ability to foster, and the entire household agrees that fostering would be a positive experience, your next question should be:
Do I have the time?
There is a time commitment associated with taking on foster care of dogs. There is the time associated with picking them up, integrating them with your household, taking them for Vet visits, making sure they are exposed to many different types of social scenarios, taking them for walks, taking them for “meet and greets’, taking them for home visits and assessing adoption applications for them.
The amount of attention each dog will need, will vary depending on the previous experiences and lifestyle the dog has had prior to coming into care.
How do I choose the right dog?
Dogs don’t come to order – and sometimes are not what we expected or hoped for. Foster Carers do require a level of patience, commitment, care and persistence at times, to give a dog time to settle, to understand, and learn what is expected of it and to flourish in a positive environment where boundaries are set, made clear and maintained.
What kind of foster dog would be best for my family?
If you and your family feel you have the time and ability to provide a dog with the socialisation, exercise, positive experiences, regular feed times, health care, vet care, and training they need to become a happy, healthy addition to someone’s home, you next need to ask yourself,
Who do I want to foster and why?
Any dog you consider fostering should be healthy, fully vaccinated, behaviourally sound, and disease-free (unless you are specifically fostering a “special needs” animal). But those are not the only considerations.
Some foster dogs can be with you for quite some time (depending on their needs) – some for months. Sometimes, they may just fit so well into your lives, your hearts, and your home that they become permanent pets.
Our Foster Care Co-ordinators will talk to you about your family, your lifestyle, your current commitments, your current pets and what you are looking for/from having a foster dog. They will assist in matching you with the right kind of dog to meet yours and the dog’s needs.
It’s important to remember, though, that fostering shouldn’t be viewed as a “trial adoption.” Anyone who fosters must be realistic about the expected outcome: that the dog will be adopted by another family. While it is impossible not to become attached to a sweet dog, try to keep your original goals in mind and remain committed to finding the dog a new family.
How do I know if they will get along with my current pets?
Dogs are a little like people in that some will get along with everyone and some won’t like anyone. Some are gregarious, outgoing, lively, energetic and active and others are more solitary, laid back and introspective. You don’t always know – but generally if introductions are managed and care is taken initially to ensure that everyone is comfortable and has some space, most will get along. If there is a situation that just doesn’t work, an alternative will be worked out.
Fostering does not work if it’s stressful for anyone involved, including other pets. If bringing a dog into your home stresses out your existing animal family members or puts any of them in danger, you may need to reconsider what types of animals you foster—or even reconsider fostering altogether. There is nothing gained by improving the life of a foster dog, at the expense of quality of life for your existing dog/s.
Exercising and socialising your foster dogs with your own dogs every day is essential, but also plan “One on One Time” activities solely for your own dogs. Not only does this soothe relations between the temporary and permanent members of your canine family; it also helps you keep “your dogs” mentally separated from “your foster dogs” so the level of attachment you experience with both sets of dogs remains different, and the line between the two does not become blurred.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Often dogs that come into care have passed from home to home or repeatedly returned to a shelter and may suffer from bonding and behavioural problems. It will take time for them to settle with you and to understand the rules and boundaries that apply in your home. You must be willing to allow them time, and train them in things such as housetraining, crate training, lead training, and basic obedience.
Even if you are excited and keen to foster and feel prepared, you may still experience challenges and issues with your foster dog. These may include unknown behaviour problems that are difficult to modify; illness; injury or unexpected death; the foster pet’s non-acceptance of pets already in the household (even after a reasonable acclimatisation period); or existing pets’ non-acceptance of the foster pet.
If your foster dog doesn’t settle between two and six weeks, and still seems anxious, becomes aggressive, or suffers from any significant behaviour or health issues, talk to our team. Serious health or behaviour problems may require the attention of a veterinarian or professional trainer. Never be embarrassed to ask for help, we can learn too!
Accidents can happen as well. No matter how conscientious you are, dogs and cats can escape or become injured. Whatever the circumstances or the issue, our team will be available to talk to, and to provide support.
How do you keep from becoming attached?
The answer is – that you don’t, really! It’s hard to be an effective foster carer if you don’t develop a bond or attachment with your foster dog. The key is to remember that your role is to be a stepping stone for them into their future, and to provide them with the opportunity to be the best they can be – and set them up with their very own “Forever Family” – which means that you can then go on to help another dog to the same bright future.
Foster families will became emotionally attached and will find it hard to part with their foster dogs, even when great homes are available and waiting. But – for each dog who is adopted by their foster family, one fewer “foster opportunity” exists, which means that fewer dogs are given a wonderful chance at life in a real home. If you find it hard to say goodbye, imagine how happy your foster dog will be in their new home—and remember how you helped make that happen. Having said that, we do love foster successes!
If you’re still not sure whether fostering is right for you, why not give us a call and have a chat? We promise not to pressure you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with, or ready for.
We are looking for passionate dog loving people to join our team as Foster Carers. There are two types of foster care arrangements you may be interested in.
Hope Springs Sponsored Care:
You take on the care of a small dog and work with, and care for that dog until we find the right fit family to suit the doggy’s needs and personality.
Hope Springs Eternal funds all vet costs and provides:
You supply the :
2. Self Sponsored Foster Care
In this scenario, you choose to foster – and – financially support a dog – either until they are adopted or until they pass (where we are talking about forever fosters).
In this arrangement you cover all of the puppies financial needs, including:
- Vet Care
You maintain copies of your receipts and claim the amount against your tax return as a charitable donation to a registered charity.
In each foster scenario, we will determine your availability to take the dog and provide you any known background. If agreeable, the dog will join your family and we ask that you observe them for a few days, and note any potential health issues for discussion with the Vet when they have their checkup.
We will also ask you to provide us with some updates and some photos of the dog, enjoying life in their foster care home for inclusion in our Facebook post and on our website.
When the pup has had all medical and/or behavioural needs met, we will ask you to provide us with information outlining the pups personality, their likes and dislikes and what sort of family and lifestyle or circumstances will suit them best. We will then profile them on our website, on Facebook and on Pet Rescue to seek applications for adoption for them.
When these are received, they will be forwarded to you to consider each, and whether they are a good match for the pup you have in care.
We will ask you to make contact with the potential adoptees to have a chat about them, their lifestyle and what they are hoping for out of considering your pooch – so that you can better determine how well they, and your pooch match.
When you believe that a family sounds like a good match, we will organise an initial meet and greet with the family at a park – somewhere mutually convenient.
If the family feels a connection with the dog and would like to proceed to the next step, a house/garden check will be organised. This provides an opportunity for the dog to meet any other family members of either the human or pet variety and ensure that everyone has an amicable first interaction.
If, after 24 hours the family feels that they would like to proceed to adoption, we will ask that they pay the adoption fee and a 4 week trial period will commence. This is to ensure that the dog is a good match for the family and that all involved (both humans and pets) will be happy living together. We will check in on the family during the trial period and will be available to respond to any concerns during this period.
If everyone is happy at the conclusion of the trial, we will transfer the microchip and provide the adoptive family with any medical records and information we have on the dog they have adopted.
We will take the dog back into care at any time – if things do not work out – and we appreciate that sometimes – they just don’t – for a number of reasons.
Our foster carers will then give us an indication of when/if they are ready to take on another foster dog.
Hope Springs Eternal will be there to support our Foster Carers through each step of the foster care process. We have been foster carers and we understand the gamut of emotions experienced, the challenges and issues faced, and one of our founding principles is to: Care for the people, who care for our dogs.
Become a foster carer and help us “change the world for one dog at a time“. Please complete our application form and submit.