Since last we spoke, Sam and I have taken on a much more interesting challenge than Whole 30… fostering dogs! We had babysat a few friends’ dogs before, and had been substitute fosters for one memorable weekend, but last month was the first time we took in a dog with no particular end date. (And he’s adopted now… so we got another one!)
The title of this post is basically a joke, because the one thing people ask/say over and over is some variation of, “But you’re just going to end up keeping this dog, right?” (A lot of people also say this is why they can’t foster.)
The short answer is, “No, we’re not planning on it.” But usually I can’t launch into my whole list of reasons. So here are some of the answers, and in the future maybe I’ll direct the incredulous hordes here. (So far all of our fosters have been boy dogs, so I’m just going to use the “he” pronoun.)
Q: He’s so cute, why aren’t you just keeping him?
A: I know, he is totally cute, he is a heart-melter. But we already have one super-cute dog, his name is Charlie and we’re obsessed with him. He is our main man, and a good foster brother.
Q: But isn’t Charlie going to be so sad when the foster dog goes away?
A: Charlie is a very chill, tolerant dog and makes fostering possible because he’s pretty easy. And he’s mostly a good role model. But he really, really likes getting our full attention and being our “only child” when we’re not fostering.
Charlie and our first foster Eugene got along great, loved to wrestle and play. I was a little worried when we came home without Eugene (after dropping him on a trial with his new owners) that Charlie would show signs of sadness. On the contrary, Charlie was throwing a fucking party when we came home. He was doing shots. He actually said, “Eugene WHO??”
I’m sure Charlie would love to hang out with Eugene again, but he’s totally chill with not being around him all the time anymore. He prefers it.
Charlie is currently warming up to our next foster, Mister Sippi (aka Mississippi), but he definitely doesn’t snuggle up immediately. Last night for the first time Charlie sort of rested his head against Mr. Sip and it was extremely heartwarming… but I still expect him to jump for joy when this little guy heads off to his forever home.
Also, just to brag about how smart Charlie is for a second — Charlie knows not to wrestle Mr. Sip, because poor Mr. Sip is underweight, ten years old, and has one to three teeth. (Eugene was two years old and robust.)
Q: But don’t you get attached?
A: Of course we fall a little bit in love. Maybe a lot bit. And we also take and post a zillion cute photos… as a coworker pointed out, Sam and I kind of become our foster dog’s agent. But our ideal plan is to own one dog, and foster another. If we keep this foster dog, we’re less likely to foster future dogs. The end game is to save as many dogs as we can, and if we keep this guy… we lose that game. (And maybe someday we will lose, but I’d rather foster a good number of dogs first!)
Mister Sippi is the first dog we’ve fostered directly out of the shelter, and it really is an amazing feeling to know that if it wasn’t for us being like, “Hey, we’re available to foster this week, give us a dog,” he wouldn’t have been rescued. It’s that direct — life saved!
Q: Can you really just let your foster dog go like that?
A: You know that old saying, “If you love him, let him go”? That definitely comes to mind here.
I think a good way to look at fostering a dog is that we’re just watching him while we wait for his forever parents to find us. This totally turned out to be true with Eugene. I was really worried that we wouldn’t find anybody who would really “get” him, but his new family loves him so much that it makes me kind of weepy to think about it. Like, I couldn’t have even dreamt up all the ways that they’re awesome and perfect for him.
We weren’t meant to be his forever people, we were just meant to be the waystation.
I will say that it helps that Eugene has an Instagram, it’s really nice to be able to see that he’s doing so well. Since dogs can’t email… yet. (Also, it helps all the friends he made at our dog park keep in touch… sorry, this may be approaching crazy dog people territory.)
Q: But what if nobody wants to adopt him?
A: Much like love, I think there’s someone out there for every dog. We thought we might have Eugene for a long haul and we ended up housing him for a scant two weeks. Mr. Sip could be a different story — I met some fosters who said that the closest they came to just adopting their foster was a senior dog who took several months to find a home. But we’ll try to be strong. I think once we rehab Mr. Sip he’ll be hard for potential adopters to resist!
Hm, this FAQ is also making me realize that I should write one for people who are hesitant about adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. Spoiler alert: RESCUE DOGS ARE THE BEST. Double spoiler alert: You can find ANY breed at a rescue. I promise. And hypoallergenic dogs too. (We try only to foster hypoallergenic dogs because we all have allergies INCLUDING CHARLIE.) (He has chronic bronchitis.)
Now that we’re fostering a sweet senior who came out of the shelter needing some serious TLC, my heart breaks every night as we settle into bed with him (IN HIS PENGUIN PJs!!!) and I think of all the seniors in high-kill shelters.
Oh yeah, funny little story to end this post — life has these weird motifs that crop up, right? Well, Eugene was gifted a little penguin toy to take for his forever home, and Mr. Sip has penguin PJs. Maybe next we’ll foster… a penguin. That would be novel.
Another motif is that every dog wants to nap in the crook of Sam’s arm.
BRB, can’t handle the cuteness.