A year ago at Thanksgiving, <3M and I began volunteering with Austin Boxer Rescue as fosters. We began with the intention of fostering a dog until we found one that truly fit our family and could be a true buddy with our puppy girl Stella. One year and 5 foster dogs later, we don’t have a new, permanent furry resident but we do have a few lessons learned and many fond memories as foster parents
A lot of our friends ask how we could love a dog for a few weeks or months then one day, most of the time unexpectedly, say goodbye. Since saying goodbye to our first foster Jack (ABR – Sean) we’ve learned that each dog has a family it’s destined for. Although we’ve loved each of our fosters, we’ve been able to objectively look at each temporary family member and pinpoint why that dog isn’t the perfect fit for our family and kept these reasons in mind when kissing the pups goodbye, reassuring ourselves we made the right decision by letting him go.
We also learned that saying goodbye is not only hard on us but also on our puppy girl Stella. Each time a new friend comes and goes, Stella goes through a short mourning period – often watching for her friend from the window, worriedly whining about their whereabouts, feeling she needs some extra love and cuddles, and being too heartbroken to eat. This is by far the hardest part for us, not saying goodbye to our recent foster, but watching Stella work through the goodbye without fully understanding.
Every dog has a story
Each dog has a background that’s shaped him into the dog they are when we receive them.
Jack arrived to us with mange.
Jefferson came to us with cuts and bite marks.
Apollo (ABR La Bamba) was surrendered by his owners.
No matter how they ended up with us, we always tried to remember that these dogs needed to feel safe, cared for, and loved. They were all scared, confused, and had been sleeping in a different place each night. What they needed was a calm environment and a steady routine to bring their life back to normal.
So when they have a small accident on the carpet or become a bit territorial over a toy, blanket, or human – we often had to remind ourselves that our fosters are still in training. That somedays, we just have to bend down, clean up the mess and remember that they’re still learning how good life truly can be.
Every Dogs Has a Perfect Family
After having a dog in your home for a while, you come to know what exact needs they require in order to get adopted and begin looking for that perfect family – the family that fits the dog to be their forever home.
You learn that your foster won’t fit the needs of every family that finds their fuzzy little face adorable. You learn how to nicely direct the family to a better fit while petting your foster pup and letting them know, as another potential adopter walks away, that it wasn’t meant to be and that his future family is still out there.
Jefferson was one in particular that <3M and I had a hard time letting go but we knew he wasn’t a great fit for our family and that he needed some special attention to break his overprotective nature. Jefferson found his forever Daddy one adoption day. His behavior has improved greatly and he’s now a daily presence at the gym his Dad owns! Knowing Jefferson found the right fit in his adoptive home gives us peace of mind, in knowing we made the right decision in letting go and taking the time to find him the right family.
When it came to Kringle, we knew exactly what type of family to match him with. We lived in an apartment and he simply needed more room, he had a ton of energy and needed space to let it all out. Kringle needed a place to run and stretch his legs – he needed a backyard. One adoption day, he met a Dad looking for a fur-brother to keep his current boxer entertained when his 2 little girls weren’t around. Kringle met his potential fur (and skin) sisters and it was a perfect match. The girls play with him to keep his energy level in check and when they’re away, Kringle has is fur sister to play and tumble with in his very own backyard!
Apollo, our most recent foster, was a rambunctious 2 year old who becomes a little too playful when having another dog around. He also needed a lot of attention in order to become properly trained on a leash. Getting to know Apollo over few months he was with us, we came to learn that he’d be best as a solo dog. When it was just him and I, this guy was super cuddly, super responsive and just simply wonderful. As we meet potential adopters, <3M and I knew to keep our single dog family recommendation is mind in order to ensure Apollo’s match truly would be his forever home.
It’s hard. And Fulfilling.
Fostering’s hard. It requires patience and understanding. It requires sacrifice. And sometimes it’s heartbreak for all those involved. But overall there’s joy in know that even for a short period of time, you were able to share your home and love with an animal who truly needed and appreciated it. Who with your love and attention, was able to regain that sparkle of love and trust in their eyes.