Have you ever wondered what fostering a dog is like? Fosters 4 Rescues is our new series where we are interviewing foster dog parents. This interview is of Abby M from Portland, OR. Abby has only been fostering for 18 months and has already hosted 38 dogs! What they do is a family affair, as Abby has the full support of her husband, John, and her two kids, Axel (4) and Lenny (2).
How did you get into fostering dogs?
We fell in love with a few Great Pyrenees dogs while visiting a farm out in wine country and were sure we should adopt one. Rather than dive right in, I suggested to my husband that maybe we should try fostering, as our lives at that point had been built around a 30lb terrier, not a 100lbs Great Pyrenees. He agreed. We still haven't adopted a Pyr even though I think we love them even more now.
What has been the hardest part of your foster dog journey?
Once you get tied into the rescue community, you see a lot of the under belly that most people don't. It's hard seeing so many dogs come from abuse and neglect. It's harder watching some of them never get a chance at a better life.
Who has been your favorite foster dog and why?
Oh I love them all, but every time I'm asked this question my answer is the same: Marlow! Marlow actually started as my brother's foster dog, but was staying with us one weekend because he was out of town. That just happened to be the weekend that our lifelong love, Rocky, our sweet terrier mix passed away. The grief was immense, and when the time came to take Marlow back to my brother, I didn't. I couldn't imagine my house without the sound of paws walking the hall. I asked my foster coordinator if she could officially make Marlow my foster instead and she happily agreed. Marlow went everywhere with me for the 3 weeks he was here. That big goof really helped my heart heal in a time that was really, really hard.
How many dogs have you fostered over the years?
38 dogs in 18 months! We're a bit crazy. Some were short term fosters, but we always tell people that temp fostering IS fostering! Of those 38, 26 have been adopted from our house.
What's one thing you wish you knew before fostering?
I wish I'd known about the need sooner. I really had no idea the crisis that was going on in our shelters. We got into this for fun, but now it is very much a mission.
How much does fostering dogs cost you and what is the rescues involvement?
That's kind of a complicated question. While fostering *could* cost us nothing, we try to provide some of the basics for dogs in our care. That means we buy their food, and I'm kind of constantly buying toys/chews/treats as we go through them pretty quickly. Those are all things that the rescues would provide if we asked them to, but we don't. We do write off all those purchases on our taxes though! One of our other expenses is cleaning supplies - laundry detergent, carpet cleaner formula, bleach to keep things sanitized between fosters. Those things tend to just kind of get wrapped into our normal household expenses.
How does fostering dogs change the lives of the dogs?
We've fostered dogs who have never lived in a home before. A few who have never been touched by humans. Some who have been hurt by humans. And we've fostered A LOT of puppies. We give them patience and safety. It's pretty incredible to watch a dog become a pet. It's also pretty incredible to know you were their first step in that process.
Name 3 products you'd recommend to your fellow foster dog parents?
If you're fostering puppies and you have carpet, do yourself a favor and invest in an upright carpet cleaner. Saves my sanity!! Every dog we've ever known has loved a Benebone. A good folding wire crate. The rescue you foster for will loan you one, but if you start fostering a lot, you'll be surprised how often you need an extra crate. You don't need to spend $1000, but also don't get the cheap one from Target (lessons learned).
What techniques did you implement to help your foster dogs settle in?
A lot of patience and all the time they need. With the exception of the few short term/temp fosters we've had, usually when a dog arrives they will be here until they find a home, so there's no need to rush. We give them the safety of a fully fenced, secure yard. We crate train every dog that comes through our house so they have a place that is safe and is theirs. We also like to try to just shower them with a lot of love and a lot of treats
What are the pros of fostering dogs?
There's too many to count. I save lives and I make a difference. It's so plain and simple and you'll see that from your very first time fostering. I get to do that while pretty much just going about my normal day. It's something I can do at home and with my kids. My kids have learned SO MUCH. That we offer our home to those who need it. That we make sacrifices for others. That sometimes others come from hard backgrounds that we might not understand, be we can offer them love anyways. And they learn to love ALL animals, not just dogs.
Do you have any tips for fostering dogs?
Get through your first one. Make a pact with yourself that you will adopt out your first foster. Once you get to see the end to end process, and see that dog with a loving family, it's so much easier to do it again. So many people think they would keep them all, but there is SO MUCH JOY in giving another family an amazing gift in the dog that you have fostered.
What is something unexpected you learned while fostering dogs?
Oh geez, so much. I think mostly that a lot of these dogs need time. I guess before I thought, you meet a dog and that's what the dog's personality is like. But with so many of the dogs we've had they flourish with time. What you see on day 1 is not what you see when they leave your home.
Tell me about your current foster dog:
Fritz is the dog of your dreams. He is an absolute show-stopper with his pure white fluff, gorgeous smile, and gentle nature.
Fritz has been with us for a couple of weeks now, and he's one of those dogs you almost forget to post about because he's SO EASY. Fritz loves to be close to his people. He loves to run and play with his foster dog and human siblings, but happily entertains himself with a nice bone or good toy when it's time to settle in. He walks well on leash and loves to meet new people and dogs.
Fritz looooves a good ear scratchy and will put his whole head in your lap anytime you sit down so you can accommodate this need.
He is a sweet boy with so much love to give and is ready to find his forever family!
Please note: Fritz also goes by Fritzie, Fritzie Bits, Fritzel Schnitzel, and "hey big guy."
Below you can see Fritz in his Crafts 4 Rescues Foster Dog Bandana.
What do you love most about Crafts 4 Rescue?
When I buy dog/rescue related gear, I really want to support a business that gives back to rescues. Add affordability on top of that, and Crafts 4 Rescues is a great resource!