Sunday, August 8, 2010

Caring for Fosters

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
- Mother Theresa

Rescue Community,

Perk up your ears.  Give me a tail thump on the floor if you can hear me.  I'm talking to you.  How are you taking care of your fosters?  Not your animals but those people who actually foster animals for you.  What is your plan for caring for them?  If they gave you a grade would you be an A+ or slipping below the D mark?  What color ribbon would you be given at the end of the day?

Give me a woof if you've checked in with a foster, had a foster orientation, perhaps done a foster respite where your fosters get a break (without guilt), how about a foster appreciation day?  Stars on a chart for how many days/dogs/cats/months/years they've fostered?\

Give me a roll over and a 'shake-a-paw' if you've calculated how much your fosters really are worth to your shelter, rescue or group.

Chewies and squeak toys for everyone who has called, visited and stopped by to say 'hey thanks' with something special for a foster.  Seriously, I'll mail them out if you send me proof.  I'll even get the cute animal ones and organic chewies.

Or are you like so many others rushing from pull to pull, dog to dog, always calling for fosters and always needing more?  Instead of saying thanks or do you need a break, are you always looking to your fosters for the next dog?  Do you offer support, respite and training for fosters?  Do you have a plan to help your long term fosters take a holiday or a break by caring for their dogs, which really are your dogs?

What would happen to your rescue, shelter, organization if your fosters were not available?  What if the reason they were no longer available was something you could have prevented?  If hind sight is 20/20 then I'm giving you a long view as someone who has and is a foster - we do it because we want to help, because we care and we are giving people.  We are doing it for you because we chose you or continue to choose you.

Every organization who relies on volunteers takes care of them, or they soon find they have none.  Rescue must operate the same way - you need someone who is responsible from your rescue, shelter, organization for the well being of your fosters.  It is a must - there are so many good and worthy causes for our time - making and keeping us with yours is critical to YOU.

Every organization that relies on volunteers knows their value because they wouldn't be in business if they had to PAY for the work their volunteers do, they would no be able to function.  Especially non-profits and charities, especially those who work in challenging areas with children, the elderly or animals.  

I want to hear from you - good, bad and ugly - what is your BEST foster story, what is your WORST.  What is the BEST thing someone did to say thanks, what was the WORST thing someone did that made you question why you were supporting them with your home, your time and your love.

Fosters are more than a house, a 'free board' for your animals - they offer a chance for animals to become adoptable, they offer many times training and rehabilitiation for those dogs and cats and other animals that wouldn't have chance otherwise.  They give you space to work with those animals who cannot be fostered, those who need special care and aren't ready to get on the adoptable road.  

Fosters are more than people who take care of your animals for you, they are the reason your animals can and do become adoptable . They are the reason successful shelters and rescues have animals get adopted.  Fosters are key to your success, whether you have a few select or you cast the net for anyone who has a spare spot for a crate.

So folks, who is going to be cashing in on the chewies and squeak toys?  Who is going to be re-examining their policy and treatment of fosters, and who is confident that they won't see a foster of 'theirs' commenting with anything other than love and glowing praises?  


  1. I am so very grateful for my foster homes and volunteers. Like you said, without them, where would we be?
    We haven't done a foster home "party" or anything of the sorts yet, but it is in the works. Right now, we are so new, and half our foster homes are several hours out of town, so finding a time that works is an issue.
    I must admit, I have slacked a bit with the check-ins and thank yous, but I do manage to follow up with each home personally on a fairly regular basis. I've also made a point of letting them know that if they are interested in any obedience classes, or if they feel they'd like to take one for their own benefit, that we will cover costs of that. for my question... who has some ideas for a foster home thank-you event? We were thinking of a BBQ, but it's getting late in the season, and as I said, some of our fosters live quite far away.

  2. I would love to say that I have been a foster for about 6 months. I jumped in with both feet when we adopted a dog from a rescue and appreciated all the information a rescue can give you about a dog. I decided because this was an awesome experience from an adopters perspective that I would give back and volunteer to help others get this same experience. Under no circumstances do I want to be thanked or the effort of the rescue be moved from the animals onto me the foster. I know that the rescue appreciates us, and I get everything I need and more when I see the dogs that come through my doors grow and become awesome pets.

    I do know without a doubt that rescue organizing is more than a full time job and that if there is anything I don't know, that at the other end of a quick email is my answer from our rescue group. If she doesn't know the answer she makes sure she finds out and helps. So instead of what rescue groups do for fosters, what have you as a foster done for your rescue? Let them know you appreciate what they do, their dedication and their countless hours.

    Hats of Bright Eyes, thank you for letting me be a foster and part of a great organization