Have you ever wondered what fostering a dog is like? Fosters 4 Rescues is our new series where we are working with foster pet parents. To share information about fostering pets. Today we talked with @rescue_pet72 about their foster stories.
I began fostering in March of 2017. I remember this date as it was the date that my husband started working out of state. He took our sweet husky with him to keep him company (he was Daddy’s baby boy). With no dogs at home, I found I had lots of time on my hands, but I also had a hole that needed to be filled. My twin sister is a foster for a rescue in Texas and had encouraged me to foster as well. I noticed on social media that a local rescue Yucaipa Animal Placement Society (YAPS) was in need of fosters. I immediately sent a direct message and was surprised to see a message back (it was late at night). Right there I knew there was something special about YAPS. I was asked what type of dog I would want to foster, was I looking for puppies, big, small, etc. I said I was not really looking for puppies (which is funny in retrospect given the number of puppies I’ve fostered). Turns out there was a senior malnourished, partially blind/deaf dog in need. With that, we met Howie and our foster adventure began!
During this time there have been so many sweethearts. Some stick out more than others. There was Small Fry with a heart that needed healing. Winnie was shy and withdrawn at the rescue but as soon as she got home started smiling and bouncing around like she owned the place. Then there was our first pregnant dog, Paisley. I was in a meeting and recall my son’s text stating he “thought” she had given birth. We both laughed at the uncanny timing. She was done giving birth by the time I got home, we marveled at how cute each little fuzzball was. The miracle of birth was such an incredible high. Little did I know that in less than 24 hours the grief of death would also be felt. That’s the thing about fostering – there are highs and lows, but I wouldn’t give up any of it. I’d be remorseful if I didn’t mention Sadie, my foster fail. Her nickname at the shelter had been “Satan” due to some not-very-nice behaviors. She definitely proved to be a challenge but one I couldn’t forget. She had been returned to YAPS for a week when I couldn’t take it any longer, I had to adopt her. The staff were joyous in knowing I had come back for Sadie, they all knew I loved her before I was even ready to admit it.
Fostering it can be rewarding and overwhelming. When I was asked to help bottle feed I was more than nervous I had never done it before but I wasn't going to say no, the rescue needed help. I walked away from my first lesson wondering if I could do it or not. These puppies weren’t even big enough for a bottle, I would have to use a syringe! When I got home, I set my watch for every two hours to be sure I would feed them on time. I barely slept that first night, knowing I had to feed the babies every four hours had me on edge. I was still working full-time and between balancing the feedings and work there was not much sleep to be had. Feedings weren’t easy, oftentimes they would try to eat too much resulting in intestinal issues or liquid going back through their respiratory system.
I seriously debated my abilities and worried on a regular basis if I was going to cause the puppies more harm than good. It was a lot, I was anxious, tired, and on edge not knowing if they would survive. I didn't even attempt to name them for at least the first month because I wasn't sure they were going to live. I bought a digital scale and I was weighing them between feedings to monitor their intake versus output. There were some issues and heartache with the other two foster placements and I ended up with all 5 puppies. I had great support from the rescue but I was scared, this was going to be a lot. There were many calls on the weekends and in the evenings to YAPS's staff explaining a new issue when a puppy didn't seem to be eating or was having intestinal issues or breathing issues. It always seemed to be touch. At the same time, this situation made me feel closer to the staff and realize I wasn’t in this alone. I don't think it was until after the 10th week that I finally felt secure in their development. I could start to think about where they might go and who they might make happy. People often ask me how do you give back the puppies. How do you let them go? The answer is simple. I'm tired and worn out. Although very rewarding, it's not always easy, especially when you have 5 fragile puppies that rely on you for their very being.
See that’s the amazing thing about the people at YAPS they get to know you, and they generally care. You become a family when you work/volunteer with YAPS. Every single person is constantly giving of themselves and truly focused on meeting the needs of these sweet little fur balls. I have met incredible people, with just as fascinating back-stories about what drives them to be part of YAPS. People often comment about how I am making a difference in the lives of these animals, in reality, it is my life that is made better. As of , we have April 2023 fostered over 100 dogs and there is no intent to stop anytime soon.
Are you thinking of fostering. Not sure if it’s right for you? Do you know how to love? Are you ok with a little dog fur, or as I like to call it “dog glitter”? Well, then it sounds like you’re qualified! That’s right, you don’t have to be an expert in any shape or form. You just have to be willing. The great thing about fostering is that you get to choose what it looks like for you and your family. Do you only want to have animals for a short time? Done! Do you only want puppies? You got it! Are you worried about the medical, food, supplies? Don’t! YAPS will provide it all. You literally just have to be willing to care for these little souls who for whatever reason would do better in a home than a kennel.
I’m often asked, “But Deanna, what’s it like to foster?” Puppy breath, playful squeaks, licks of gratitude…. how can I complain? Ok, so fostering may be a bit more involved than just play time. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are trying times. There has been more than one time when I have asked, “What have I gotten myself into?” I started fostering approximately six years ago, and there have been so many fluffy friends in between. There was my first foster, Howie, who was a senior pup, partially blind and deaf. He was so skinny and malnourished. We soon discovered even in his senior years he still had some pep left to him. There have been so many litters of puppies in between. I remember the first time I witnessed birth… and death, all within 24 hours. My heart was broken, I questioned the choices I had made and was I really “equipped” to be a foster parent. I was reminded that while one soul did not make it, six others and their mama did and without us fostering them none would have survived. For you see, that mama dog, Paisley, had been pulled from a local kill shelter, and many are overcrowded.
Had she not been rescued by YAPS, she, and her soon-to-be pups would have all been put down. Fostering is more than just extending the life of one dog. As you take a dog into your home you have now made room for another to be pulled from a shelter or surrendered from an owner.
I started fostering to fill the hole that I felt when suddenly we no longer had any furfriends at home. I wasn’t looking for anything permanent I wanted to help while still getting the benefits of having a furry companion. Little did I know the joy that this experience would bring me. My family has had the opportunity to meet so many different breeds and personalities. I can remember Joy, who hid from everyone in the house and wouldn’t come out from behind the couch. My son decided she was going to be his “special friend” and he would sit beside her either on his phone or reading. The two sat together like that for three days before she started to come out of her shell and decided humans weren’t all that bad. Then there was Winnie, who shook and was so scared when she was at the rescue, but as soon as she got to the house her whole personality changed. I swear I saw her smile. That’s the thing, these innocent animals are often scared and sometimes experienced cruelty that no living creature should endure. You can change their destiny.
Are you still questioning if you have the ability to foster? There’s only one way to find out, give it a try. The great thing about YAPS is that the staff are there to support you. You are never alone in this journey. You will meet amazing people, create great memories, and know that you have made a difference. So, what’s stopping you? Be a hero to a pup in need, fill out your application today.