I’m not keeping my foster dog. And no, that doesn’t make me a bad person: A rant by BusyBee

16 Aug
Over the past week since my latest foster dog came home, I’ve been bombarded by eager friends, coworkers, and complete strangers who want to know if I’m keeping her.  When I tell them that no, she is just a foster and will not be staying, the tone inevitably turns from excitement to dismay.   Based on their reactions, you would think I just told them that I stomped on a kitten, not that my end goal was to find a great home for my foster.

If by the quotations you mean reality, yes. Yes, indeed.

Up until last night, I hadn’t really let it get to me.  And then…..I went to puppy playgroup with my foster.  Enter holier-than-thou crazy dog lady (I could write a whole blog entry just on her…hell…I just might) who literally said to me “Oh, I could never foster dogs like you.  I have too big of a heart to give them up.”


So apparently I’m heartless because my end goal is to send my fosters to a forever home that isn’t my own.


It seems that a lot of people don’t seem to understand the point of fostering.  As a foster, I am the gateway between the shelter and finding a forever home for dogs who need a little extra time and attention.  Do I care deeply about the dogs I care for?  Yep.   Does it hurt when they leave?  You betcha.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  Sending a successful foster to a new home is one of the most rewarding things in the world.

Now, I do realize that most people who have given me a hard time about not keeping fosters are well-meaning.  They see how far the dog has come under my care and how bonded we are, and think that staying together is best.  I also think that a lot of these people would foster fail themselves and can’t fathom how others don’t.  But please don’t try to guilt/shame/beg me to keep my foster.

Just because I follow my head doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart.  I am in no place to take on a second dog right now and frankly, I’m perfectly happy just having Mr. T in my life.  I know people find that hard to believe, but one dog is plenty for me.  If I followed my heart and adopted every dog I fell in love with or bonded with at the shelter, I’d end up on the 10 o’clock news as that “crazy lady” with 200 dogs in her 1 bedroom apartment.   No one wants that, right?


Look, I am not saying there is anything wrong with foster failing (heck, some of my best friends have foster failed and got some great dogs out of it).  I just wish more people would understand that there isn’t anything wrong with NOT “failing”.

So with that, the next person who suggests I’m in any way a bad person for not keeping my deliberately temporary dog, just shut it. I foster succeeded and you’re welcome. Hopefully your next shelter dog will be fostered by someone who cares as much as I do.

You’re pretty stinking cute. But you’re not staying.

97 Responses to “I’m not keeping my foster dog. And no, that doesn’t make me a bad person: A rant by BusyBee”

  1. Jill August 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    Well said! I’ve fostered 47 dogs and only two of them remained to live in my house. The other 45 live in my heart!

    • Katherine August 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      And you helped 45 dogs to found their forever home and 45 happy dog owners! Good job, Jill. 🙂

    • Janet August 18, 2013 at 6:10 am #

      Well done! God Bless the “fosterers” because whether they fail and keep the dogs or succeed and the dogs get adopted, it is a win-win for the dogs!

    • papillontwo August 18, 2013 at 6:11 am #

      Well done! God Bless the “fosterers” because whether they fail and keep the dogs or succeed and the dogs get adopted, it is a win-win for the dogs!

    • Laura August 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      People just don’t understand what it means to foster. I have three dogs of my own so I simply cannot foster. But when I read about folks like you who open their doors and hearts to dogs who have no place to go; who have not been loved and are ill; you are amazing and I am so grateful to you and others who foster. I don’t know you personally. But thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  2. Nicci August 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Honestly, I think it takes the biggest of hearts to foster a dog, or any animal. It’s hard to welcome a pet in your home, give it love, then have to give him/her up, even if it is to the perfect home. Fostering is not for the weak hearted. If everyone were to foster fail, we wouldn’t have fosters left with open homes, and more homeless animals will die because of it. Good for you for not letting those who don’t understand get to you. There’s nothing wrong with “foster failing” but successful fosters are the ones that really make a difference.

  3. Marie davis August 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Brought my second foster in today… And I did fail at the first.. He will stay with me forever… And my way of giving back to the group that brought this wonderful dog into my life is to return the favor… This new guy was on his last day at a kill shelter in North Carolina. Thanks to blue ridge border collie rescue I got the ok to have him pulled and that kind person met he halfway and I brought him Here today. I expect to succeed this time… I d not need another dog but this fellow deserves a chance andi hope to give it to him. Do I expect to get weepy when he goes.. You betcha… But he is already worth it 🙂

  4. Debby Bell August 16, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    dr D, you are not heartless. what you do is awsome.what you have done with that little cute is wonderfull.dont ever let anyone put you down for it!

  5. rontuaru August 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    Foster parents rock! I’ve both failed and succeeded. The one that I failed with I approached with a “let’s see what happens” mindset. So it wasn’t exactly a big surprise when she stayed. (I knew within two weeks that she was a keeper, even though the variables that went into that decision were somewhat complex) The ones I succeeded with? I decided in advance that I was just a road stop on their way to their final destination. Funny, how that all worked out. Good on you and yes, your foster pup is pretty stinking cute!

  6. Wendy August 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    By not keeping every foster (or any foster) you keep space open for future fosters. So many rescue organisations need foster carers but lose so many through foster failures. I think you do an awesome job! It helps that some of us have impulse control and are not ruled totally by our hearts. I have nothing but admiration for you. It’s not a job everyone can do.
    Foster Failure 🙂

  7. Jade August 16, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    After probably 50 animals (plus transport stay overs) tromping through what felt like revolving foster doors at one point in the last 8 years, I can honestly say I have never foster failed. All of the dogs I have today, I went out of the way to look for them, and they were not my fosters. Did I not love my fosters, no. I cried giving them to the right homes because it was the right match. But I think it makes me a bigger person (yes, maybe a bit masochistic) to be willing to do it again — bring in a new foster to love on when you know that the hurt is inevitable. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise that you love any less for foster succeeding.

  8. Deb Alverson August 16, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    We get the same response when taking in a foster dog. Personally, I think it takes MORE heart to foster a dog. You put time, love, and energy into helping the dog be the best it can and then let it go to a perfect home. Sure, it’s hard but oh so worth it!

  9. Juli Goodrich August 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    I fostered puppies for several years before I failed, and I know what you mean! It seemed anyone who wasn’t a foster, seemed to think I was terrible for not wanting to keep them. Stay strong! People who have never felt the indescribable, unique joy/sad of saying goodbye to your foster on the day they go to their new foster, or the incandescent glow of bumping into the new family months later, when the bond has blossomed!

    Keeping my last foster, has sidelined me from fostering for a while. It kills me that I am not raising another solid dog, getting him ready for his new family, working to make the transition as easy as I can, and learning him, in & out so that his new family is suited perfectly to him. I couldn’t let my boy go, he’s too perfect for me and my family. There was nothing wrong with the others, they just weren’t as perfect for us.

    I had fosters that I thought I was going to have forever, and ones that I didn’t have for long enough. All of them have lives with people who cherish them.

    When something changes, I will foster again. Not to fail, but to succeed, and gives dogs who deserve it the chance to succeed and have a great life!

  10. Denise August 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    I had my foster for 9 months and neighbors, friends, co-workers, even some volunteers with the rescue couldn’t believe I didn’t want to keep him after all that time. When I’d say I didn’t want to keep him they’d always ask ‘what’s wrong with him then?’ And simply saying he’s not a good fit with us didn’t cut it for most. I did go into it with the mind set that I might ‘foster fail’ if he really fit but really the idea was to get a dog out of the shelter who had been overlooked for so long (2 years in his case). Great progress was made with him before I eventually handed him off to another foster as I hadn’t planned on having him for 9 months. The new foster ended up keeping him though.

    I honestly think he got overlooked at a number of adoption events simply because he was in a foster home verses the other dogs still at the shelter. The potential adopters who see how much he loved me and ‘didn’t want to take him away from a happy home’. Never mind the fact that I didn’t want to keep him and wanted to get him adopted. No amount of talking would convince those people he’d love them just as much given some time with them.

    I’m in the process of convincing my brother it’s time for another foster, he’s not convinced yet.

  11. Jane August 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Years ago, when I was in my twenties, I took in a stray adolescent dog and kept it until there was room in a rescue organization’s system, maybe 6 weeks or so. I had two pets, could not afford another, and my landlord would not let me have another. A couple of days after they finally took the dog, a woman from the rescue group called to ask a couple of questions. I then remarked about the pup “yes, I miss him”. She lit into me with “well, why didn’t you keep him then??????” with an accusatory, nasty tone, like I was the one who had dumped him. No thanks for all the training I had given him, or money spent on him in the time I had him.

  12. Amy August 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    Thank you! I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve received similar comments and scornful looks. Sigh…
    The worst was when we had a young Dalmatian puppy. Brilliant as all heck, and I was able to teach him a lot. For whatever reason, the amount of stuff he learned with me in our short time together somehow meant to my sister-in-law that he HAD to stay in our home with us, and that I couldn’t possibly give him up after all that. -_-
    The thing is, I foster dogs with behavioural challenges. Bite histories, resource guarding, barrier frustration, insecurities, fear aggression, etc. Behaviour is my specialty, and I like to work with my “challenging” mutts. 🙂
    To me, finding them a home means I’ve done a great job in helping them become well-mannered canine citizens! If nobody wants to adopt them, THAT’S when I feel I’ve “failed”. I look at is as being a teacher, not a parent (although I do definitely fall in love with each and every foster, regardless of their challenges and quirks). Teachers help their students learn, grow, and gain confidence then set them free at the end of the school year. My kind of fostering helps do the same with dogs then sends them off to be their wonderful selves with their new family. How could I ever possibly ask for more? 🙂

    • Leslie McLeod August 19, 2013 at 3:09 am #

      great analogy

  13. Katheryn Weaver August 16, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    So who gave these so called dog people to right to judge you ? There are all kinds of point of reference when it comes to the animal world … There are pet/ home people that are replacing their long lost kids with a pet . Does anyone judge them ? Of course not . There are people that have dogs that compete them either in the show ring or in a sport .Does anyone judge them ? So why do these people think it is there god given right to stick their nose in your business …As you can probably tell , I have been at the receiving end of this also …. Quite frankly, I tell people that until they have walked a mile in my shoes please do not judge me and have a nice day ! And to keep their ill mannered dogs at home … Everyone has an excuse for why their dogs act the way that they do … All it takes is consistency and a few basic rules … Sorry group for the rant … I have worked with a few rescue groups and fostered and it really is not the dogs . It is the people and their judgment ..

  14. Packlife Gal August 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    I love the people who, when they year of my latest foster pup, tell me they have too big of a heart to foster. “I could never do that. Too sad to give them up.” That’s funny — I think it’s a little sadder to let those dogs suffer in outrageously crowded conditions in underfunded rural shelters, eventually to be put down because there’s nobody around down there to adopt them. But then that’s just me …

  15. Chrissy August 17, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    Fantastic post!! there are always two ways to look at something aren’t there. I fostered a puppy once.. thought we were going to adopt him but he just did NOT get along with the other members of my pet family.. however in the 10 days we had him I completely house trained and crate trained him, taught him to fetch, sit and gave him a little more confidence than when he arrived.. so even though it was a short term adoption/foster I know I gave him a much better shot at a forever home by spending time and love on him.. Thank you SO much for what you do… 🙂

  16. Angie August 17, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    Thank DOG for foster homes! Our rescue couldn’t save dogs without foster homes! I definitely empathize with your foster home scenario. I get the same kind of comments. “How can you give them up?” I give them up because I know my limitations with already having 3 family dogs and I know my fosters will have lots more attention in their new, forever homes. I cry over my foster babies when they leave, but my tears are of joy for my baby who has found the perfect forever home. I am happy in the knowledge that I was just a small part of their journey to where they are meant to be. ❤ I am not so selfish as to think they should all stay with me. I've fostered about 30 or so dogs at this point and only foster failed once, so far because we knew he belonged here. 🙂

  17. crazy cat lady August 17, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    We have been fostering kittens now for a few months. We are only on our 3rd litter but when we returned our first litter to the shelter for adoption, people were nasty!! Why didnt you keep them? They were so cute? They loved you etc…. Well they were cute, yes we did bond. But I took 4 kittens, bottle fed them and returned them to be adopted (and they were within a week) which gave them wonderful homes. Had I kept them, the response from those same people would be–Why do you have 4 cats? Are you crazy? Isnt that too much work? You cant win, so I just do what I think is best. No one questions those people at the shelter turning in their 8 year old dog because they just dont have time…

  18. Beth August 17, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    Good for you! It took 37 fosters before I kept one. OK, technically I adopted a couple of others because they died before they got adopted and so I adopted them before they died,,, just so they truly “belonged” before passing. I’ve had so many people say the same things you cite. One day I took one of those people with me. I was delivering one dog to their adoptive family and 20 minutes later picking up my next foster. She got to see the joy on the face of the people and dog during the adoption, and then almost immediately saw the little matted, stinking, terrified mess we picked up to bring home. Then she “got it.”

  19. Rebecca August 17, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Awesome blog…so true. I’ve had around 8 foster dogs and many kittens pass through. I wanted to keep my first one, but the perfect guy came along and I couldn’t NOT let him adopt him. I thought I was going to keep one that I had for nearly ten months, but then like magic, a young couple who didn’t want kids (very important in his case…) came along and it was a perfect fit.

    I tell people that it’s not about ME or my feelings, it’s about the dogs finding a home and nothing more. And if I can help them get there then I have done my job.

  20. H. Houlahan August 17, 2013 at 2:33 am #

    “Oh, you’re keeping that one! He’s so beautiful/sweet/smart/cuddly …”

    Nope. Nope. 38 foster dogs and six cats down the road, and Nope.

    Our single foster fail is our sixth SAR partner. Also a solid all-around farm dog, the pack enforcer, designated puppy uncle, official farm greeter, SAR unit public relations director, bathmat, dog-training assistant and demo dog. That is where we set the bar.

    “Oh, see, I told you you were keeping him.”

  21. Laurie August 17, 2013 at 2:48 am #

    As the proud foster home of over 300 dogs in 25 years I say AMEN SISTER!!!! And yes you can thank me that there are 300 dogs saved from the cruel death of a gas chamber. Why? Because I don’t keep them all and keep my eye on the prize! Saving just one more shelter dog! I dunno…I think people like us need a cape. 😉

  22. Barbara August 17, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    Fostering is one of the greatest feelings!

  23. Jill August 17, 2013 at 4:05 am #

    As I read this, I’m sitting in my RV 70 miles from home. I will be meeting my 4th foster’s new parents in the morning. Out of my first 4, I’ve loved them all and been tempted to keep 2. The jury is still out on the one I have still as she has an application in but is still sitting next to me……maybe I’ll fail this time! Thanks for the smile!!

  24. Catherine Duke August 17, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    I haven’t kept track of the number of kittens and cats who have come through my home, and I’ve only ‘failed’ once. I haven’t received this kind of grief from people until my current batch…a mama and kittens, and originally I had hoped that mama might fit in well enough to be a keeper.

    Our current cat has separation anxiety and we ARE actively looking for another cat, but mama cat is easily stressed and needs a quieter household than ours. I should NEVER EVER have mentioned that I had a passing thought about keeping her though…because now I’m apparently a big meanie for deciding she’s not going to work out while still looking for a second permanent cat.

    People who claim to be too “big hearted” to foster are really too weak to handle the challenges of fostering.

  25. Liz August 17, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Holy crap that thing is cute. But good on you, if you foster fail, it’ll be for the right one, not because of an unnecessary guilt complex.

    My only “foster fail” was a flat out lie from day one. I knew I was keeping him from the moment I met him, I just told my SO otherwise so he could warm up to the new member. Conniving? Absolutely. And the best trickery I’ve ever committed… 🙂

  26. donnasoderstrom August 17, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    Do people ask a breeder, “What!? you are not keeping the 9 Golden Retriever puppies?”

    Either way, it is a special job to prepare dogs to go to “forever homes”

    • H. Houlahan August 24, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      Erm … in point of fact, they do.

      I think some people get their intel about dog breeding by watching 101 Dalmatians.

      Every litter (they are infrequent) we are stuck between the What do you mean you aren’t keeping them all?!? set and the Why won’t you give me one for free? lunatics.

      And yeah, we get the same accusations of soullessness for placing puppies in carefully-vetted forever homes, mostly because of some notion that we have broken their mother’s heart. (Momma’s motto, adopted right as the pups hit about seven weeks, “Don’t let the dog door hit ya in the ass on your way out.”)

  27. Cindy August 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    There are 2 ways to look at this. Foster homes are needed, bottom line. And a successful fit in a forever home, leaves an open space to save another. THAT being said, sometimes a foster dog IS best in their foster home. Especially, if that dog is returned. I think you need to look at the big picture for “that” dog. Some will move on and never look back. Some settle in where they are, and moving them is not a kindness. Each dog is different, and what that dog needs to succeed needs to be takin into account. There is no right or wrong answer to fostering. It is a challenge, a joy, a sorrow, happiness, all rolled into one. Without fosters, animals die. Plain and simple. I have been fostering for 9 years now, adopting a few of my fosters, and letting others move onto to their next journey in life. Each dog or cat you bring in to foster needs to be accessed on what they need, not by a set of rules that you may have in place, period. They have personalities and wants just like we do. A successful foster home works for the animals in their care.

  28. C. Davidson August 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I’ve fostered well over 700 dogs in my rescue career. Yes, I kept a couple of really special ones, and I kept a couple of “unadoptable” ones. The point of fostering is to help a dog find a permanent home. If I had stopped because I loved the first few too much, there would be 650+ more dead dogs in our landfills. The paycheck for fostering is hearing from the new family how wonderful their new companion is, and how happy every one is. Hang in there. Other foster parents understand. Set an example by your actions, and others will follow.

  29. -kel August 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Fostering is so amazing and enriching. Knowing that you’re making a difference to that one dog–helping an ‘un-adoptable’ dog regain trust and ability to bond, or training a puppy–so it can find a forever home. My family fostered for the local SPCA in the little town I grew up in, and we ‘foster failed’ exactly one time in ten years. The dog we kept was truly meant to be our forever dog, but all the others who came through our home were loved no less, and went on to keeper homes. So many people who were well-meaning in the animal rescue community there had 6 or ten dogs and innumerable cats and couldn’t properly care for any of them–and were always willing to take in another. They foster-failed every animal they tried to help, and helped no one. I am grateful for the experience of fostering not only because it’s rewarding and wonderful, but because I learned early that you can’t keep them all, but you can help every one that comes across your doorstep.

  30. Nancy August 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    YUP…..same as everyone else is saying…..it takes an even BIGGER Heart to give Them to a Loving Home after all the bonding one might do!! That and You’re making NEW ROOM for a Pet to come stay for awhile instead of dying alone on a cold, hard and steel table in the back of some Shelter!! I have Fostered and been part of Rescue Efforts for a long long time and it’s not easy…..I’d like to see what these people would say if the rolls were reversed!!

  31. Tangy Mooney August 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Bless all of you that foster a god (ooops I meant dog). These dogs are lucky to have you and will never forget your kindness. To heck with what the humans say.

  32. Heidi August 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    I am a foster mom and I think it takes MORE LOVE AND COMPASSION to bring them into your home, love them, take care of them and then give them up to their new family than it does to keep them. Those people who drive you (and me) crazy by looking at us like we’re CRUEL for not keeping them – well, they just don’t get it. Buy ’em books and buy ’em books, but all they do is eat the covers.

  33. Lisa Presnail August 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Brilliant!!!! Thank you so much!!! Along the same lines…people say to those of us who go to shelters and volunteer…”OH! I could never do that, its too sad!” ummmm, really? we had no idea!

  34. greg serack August 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    if it weren’t for fostering systems .the whole adoption system would fail .our 2 rescues that we have now ,you could see the sadness and joy in the foster parents when they handed the rescues over to my wife and I . a huge thumbs up to the foster parents you people do a wonderful job

  35. Nancy DeMarco August 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Yes! I used to “foster” horses (and I use the quotes because I did it on my own rather than through a rescue, and I owned the horses while they were with me). There was never a question that they would move on once they were ready and a great match showed up. I spent an average of $3,000 to $5,000 out-of-pocket per foster (meat price purchase price, plus veterinary work, farrier wok, dentist, hay, feed, the occasional surgery, etc.) and I generally let them go to their new homes for well under $1000 “adoption” fee (with an agreement of right of first refusal should the horse need to be sold in the future).

    If I kept them, how could I afford to save another?

  36. TPV August 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    It doesn’t take a hard heart to foster; it takes strength of character. You MUST fall in love with them a little bit, to show them what kind of life they can have when they let down their defenses to enjoy life. By showing them love & positive experiences, you set them up to succeed in the next phase of their life. Good for you & Mr. T!

    My last dog came from a foster. She was found barefoot & pregnant in a rural area that doesn’t appreciate smaller dogs. She got to have her puppies, learn how to live in a house, and sat ,huddled, in the back of her cage at adoption events, as her pups found homes. I met her at a crafts fair. Her foster Mom let me meet her, warts & all, reserved of strangers, and I blithely took her, thinking love was all she needed. Wrong! We both learned along the way, made mistakes, and I’ve never regretted taking her into my life. Her Foster Mom called to check on her, knowing she was a hard nut to crack. She still cared about that ornery little beast. She sent pictures of her in their home & with her puppies. A year later, I sent them pictures of her new life.

    Dahlia is gone now, and I made sure she passed on in my arms. I thank her foster Mom for entrusting her to me; enriching both our lives.

  37. Sam August 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    This is just beyond epic!

  38. Kate August 17, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m a foster mom for kittens at our local shelter – my very first group, I kept the mama and let the kittens go to new homes. I love all my kittens to bits, and right now am hurting a little bit because my current group is almost ready to go on the adoption floor, and they are the most wonderful group of kittens yet! But if I foster, I can help lots of kittens, instead of feeling sad all the time about all the kittens with no homes. It is frustrating when people say “oh, I could never give them back…” because it takes strength and a willingness to do what is best for the kittens. I However, I know not everyone COULD do it, I continue to do a rewarding but very tough job for the shelter and I am proud that I have found the strength to be a good foster mama.

    • Tammy August 18, 2013 at 1:29 am #

      I adopted a pregnant mom who was about to go to a shelter and ended up keeping her and 4 of her 5 little ones. That was 7 years ago. Sense then I have “fostered” another stray and her 5 completely adorable newborn kittens. I learned to let go which was really hard to do…but you can’t keep them all. They all went to really good homes and I feel really good that I was able to help them all. 🙂 Definitely not easy to watch them grow and get their own little personalities then let them go. Bless all the people out there who are able to do it…with animals and people. Takes a special kind of person. ❤

  39. cathy August 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    So glad to read something on “foster successes.” I’ve fostered 25 or so and haven’t been seriously tempted to keep any. And I don’t even have a dog of my own right now! I love fostering, especially when they get adopted and I can tell it’s probably going to be a great fit, much better than it would have been with me, because of the individual personality and needs of that particular dog and the home the adopter has to offer. Thank you for this piece!

  40. Connie August 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    A fellow foster sent this to me. I had told her awhile ago that my friends think I’m heartless because I don’t keep my fosters — over 40 at this point! I’ve heard it so many times — “I don’t know how you can let him/her go. I certainly couldn’t.” This is priceless!

  41. aileenmiles August 17, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Thank you for being a successful foster!

    Our newest family member was fostered for a couple of *years* (after living in boarding for a year) before we got him and his foster parents did a great job helping him adjust to life in a regular home and giving him more confidence dealing with people. (He is super shy, so that is still an ongoing process.) They had been worried that he would never find a permanent home because of his shyness, and it was really hard for them to let him go. But they did and I am so grateful.

    I’d love it if someday I were in a position to keep 2 dogs and foster a third.

    But I’d have to steer clear of brindled puppies like your new foster. Brindles are my kryptonite!

  42. Kelly August 17, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    We just adopted a dog last week. I am forever grateful for his foster mom that she didn’t keep him! I am also so thankful because she was able to give me a real look at how he was day in and day out in a home setting. We had actually first thought about another dog but he was still in the rescues kennel and not in a foster. I wasn’t able to get nearly as much info on him than I was about the one we adopted. With small children I needed to know it was going to be okay for everyone. Fosters are absolutely crucial in the adoption process. Thank you for doing what you do!

  43. houndsofgrey August 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    ‘Nother fosser mommy here, and I am also SICK UNTO DEATH of people constantly talking about me “just keeping” my foster dog. To me, it’s very simple: this is not my dog. I am just an unpaid petsitter with extra responsibilities, and the fact that I don’t know who the dog belongs to doesn’t make it okay to steal the dog. I have failed fosters (one dog, one cat) ONLY when it became clear to me that my home was the only good option for this animal. Fostering allows me to help many dogs, whereas adopting would limit me to only helping as many as the city will allow me to keep.

    I don’t get so much of the judgement as the people who keep INSISTING that I’ll end up keeping this animal. Ask, sure, fine, whatever… but once I say “no, this isn’t my dog” don’t keep giving me the sly looks and telling me “oh, I think you’re gonna end up keeping this one!” STFU, you don’t know what you’re talking about and it just makes me want to punch you in the mouth.

  44. No Spam August 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    I always say I could never foster (anymore) because it’s too painful for me to let go when the time comes…. perhaps people who verbalize that are not trying to be holier than thou but are saying it out of admiration & wishing they were capable of doing as much as you do!

    • Catherine Duke August 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      If that were the case they wouldn’t say things like “I’m too big hearted to…” they would admit that they weren’t strong enough to do what we do.

      • No Spam August 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

        In that particular case, it sounds like “I’m too small minded (read: dumb) to realize what it takes to maximize the placement of as many pups in as many good homes as possible. I’m too blinded w/ my own false sense of self worth to see the bigger picture”.

  45. Mary Lou Seymour August 18, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    We have a foster network in SC where we foster for 2-3 weeks for rescues ‘up north’ , we pull the dogs from a high kill (80%) shelter, vet them, get them in good physical and mental condition, socialize them, love them, and then ‘send them on’ to a furever home. Yes, its hard to ‘give them up’. But the more we can foster, the more we can save. (And of course we only ‘work’ for carefully screened legitimate rescues that have a good adoption record, most of our dogs already have approved homes waiting before they ‘get on the bus’ here in SC. The rescues cover all costs (food, vetting etc), we just provide the love and care. Most of these dogs come out of the shelter in poor physical and mental condition, the 2-3 weeks ‘detox’ is what they need to be successful in the transition to a home. Some have never even been IN a home, some are owner surrenders. If anyone would like info on how to set up a network like this in your area, let me know, I’ll be happy to share with you how we went about it.

  46. Di August 18, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    I, too, could end up with 200 dogs! My house rule is three large Labs is my max. At the time I was fostering, two were my own and I took a third to foster. I would tell myself and others (to settle my tears on adoption day) that if I didn’t let the third one go to its forever home, there would be no more space in my home to save another life. The next dog on the E-list wouldn’t make it out if I didn’t have that extra space. I gave my foster dog my time, attention, love, nourishment, and rules and taught them manners before they moved on to their new life!

  47. maxandmollydesigns August 18, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Good for you! Fostering is tough & ‘giving up’ the dog at the end of it is by far the harder thing to do. & it certainly does not make you heartless or selfish. The way I look at it every foster I keep takes the place of countless other dogs I could have fostered & helped to find forever homes for. Some people need to look at the bigger picture. (That said I have succumbed to failure 3 times over the years, but that’s all the more reason why I can’t fail again & any foster dog really is ‘just’ a foster now!)

  48. anne fletcher August 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I have never been criticized for fostering or for foster failing. I have done both. I have had people ask how I can nurse them back to health and trust anyone with them afterward no matter how great that potential adopter might seem. To me, it is not meant as criticism and it is a fear that is real to most fosters I know. We see so much betrayal of animals who were abandoned and some of it is done by seemingly very good people. It is hard for me to entrust adopters with an animal despite a glowing vet record and terrific home visit. Getting the fabulous updates is reassuring and helps. This past Thanksgiving I received a thank you card for a dog I had adopted out 5 years ago. She is a Coonhound mix and her adopter had changed her name to Rosie. They adopted a second dog from a different group and included her picture too. I only completely relax when I know they are truly being served well years later! I think you are not being criticized and that people are just excited that you do what you do and for the dog as he/she grows with you. It is hard to let them go and maybe they are just trying to let you
    know they get it.

  49. Carol August 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    “Would you rather they be killed?” “Did your teachers not let you graduate?” I’ve fostered dozens of kittens and cats (more than 50) in the past few years and it takes a much bigger heart to love them and let them go. I tell people I’m the teacher – my students graduate and I get a new class. It’s sad to see the graduates go, but I know that’s my role and I know there are others who need me more. That’s my mindset from the moment I choose to take in a foster.


  1. I’m not keeping my foster dog. And no, that doesn’t make me a bad person: A rant by BusyBee | parkerwebdesign - August 17, 2013

    […] I’m not keeping my foster dog. And no, that doesn’t make me a bad person: A rant by BusyBee. […]

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