Top Questions About Fostering

Mike and I have been fostering dogs (and a few kittens here and there) for a little over three years now. And in that time, we have had a grand total of 27 fur babies come through our doors. Two of them ended up as “foster fails” and became full-time members of the Affourtit family. But that still leaves 25 (and counting!) dogs and cats that we helped get adopted. And that, my friends, is something I am very proud of.

Our reasoning for starting out as fosters was slightly based on the fact that my aunt is the Executive Director of our local animal shelter. We had always wanted a dog and after my aunt suggested we start by fostering, we said “What the heck. Why not?”

Harvey with our Harry Potter litter.

The reasons we are asked to foster these dogs and cats changes on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, it’s simply because the shelter is getting a bit crowded and they need someone to take on a dog or cat until more space opens up. Other times, we are taking on a dog that isn’t showing well in a kennel. Whether that be due to stress, a high activity level, or needing some quiet couch time, we are there to help out. On occasion, we are the proud foster parents of a litter of puppies that stays with us for a few weeks until they are old enough to be adopted (usually two weeks). It’s never a dull moment in our house, which we lovingly refer to as the Affourtit Zoo.

Steel, one of our "scardy-cat" fosters.
A lot of people have similar questions and comments for us when it comes to fostering. “How do you do it?” “I would want to keep them all!” “I couldn’t bear to say goodbye.” “That must be expensive!” “How do your family dogs deal with all these fosters coming in and out?” “I couldn’t deal with all the behavior problems.”

Well, I think it’s about time I answer these questions. First off, let’s tackle the first three together.

“How do you do it?” “I would want to keep them all!” “I couldn’t bear to say goodbye.”

Several years prior to becoming fosters, I had found a litter of four kittens at the grocery store I worked at. I was still in college and living with my parents over the summer so I obviously couldn’t keep them. I asked around and posted on social media and after only a few days, found homes for all of them. While I was sad I couldn’t keep one, the feeling of knowing I had helped them find loving, forever homes far surpassed my desire to keep one.

Like I said before, we do have two foster fails. So there is the possibility you will too. I knew the minute I took Harvey on our first walk that I couldn’t give him up. It was almost love at first sight. With Quinn, it was love at first sight for Harvey. When you know, you know.

The Harry Potter crew.
With that being said, though, you won’t want to keep them all. Yes, puppies are adorable and cuddly. But they poop. A LOT. Other times you don’t have a connection with a certain dog like you do with others. For us, Mike and I have a weakness for Pit Bulls and German Shepherds. Those dogs will always have a soft spot in our hearts. So in all honesty, when we foster other dogs like small breeds, poodles, labs, etc., it’s easier to say goodbye.

Some goodbyes can be hard. Especially when you’ve had a dog for several weeks and watched them grow into a well-behaved member of society. I’m not afraid to admit that both Mike and I bawled like babies when our first foster got adopted. But in the end, the thing that keeps me going is knowing that the shelter has a really good review process and each dog and cat is going to go to a great family. I can’t explain the joy you feel when you watch an animal that came in—maybe scared to death, didn’t trust people—and they walk out, tail wagging, with a family that’s going to love it for the rest of its life.

“That must be expensive”

Starbucks every morning must be expensive. Yeah—I went there. But in all honesty, the expenses that come with fostering are relative. Most shelters will offer you any supplies you need to foster an animal. Medical expenses, crates, blankets, puppy pens, toys. A lot of shelters will even give you food and cat litter—ours does! Even if your shelter doesn’t pay for food, unless you have a 120 pound beast of a dog, I can’t image you would need to spend more than $20 a month on food if you go with something like Iams.

Bear, a stray dog we found and helped rehome.
Mike and I choose to pay for the food ourselves because we want to, and are financially able to do so. We do happen feed our own dogs moderately expensive, grain-free food and don’t see the point in buying something different for our fosters. So yes, for us, fostering adds up. But we wouldn’t change it for a second.
But for the most part, fostering is practically free! Not only that, you can write off any expenses (mileage to and from the shelter, food purchased, etc.) on your taxes. So really, the money side of things is no excuse for not wanting to foster.

“How do your family dogs deal with all these fosters coming in and out?”

They honestly love it. It’s like a constant rotation of new friends. Our back yard is like our own mini dog park at times. When we first started out, each time we brought home a foster, we would go through the process of introducing them slowly. Allowing each dog out in the yard by themselves so they could catch the scent of the other dog before actually meeting them, going on a walk together, etc. Harvey and Quinn are pros at this now, though, so we let the foster walk right in.

Harvey playing with one of our foster pups, Selena.

When it comes time to say goodbye, our dogs aren’t phased at all. They don’t miss them. They don’t go looking for them. We pack up the foster crates until next time and everything goes back to normal. In fact, sometimes they seemed relieved to have some down time.

Batman teaching Selena how to be lazy.

“I couldn’t deal with all the behavior problems”
Over the past three years, Mike and I have gotten very good at training dogs and dealing with not-so-desirable behavior. Because of this, we have started taking on fosters that need some extra TLC and training. We have taken on a sibling pair that was so fearful, they had to be dragged out of their kennel to come home with us. Another dog was pacing so much in his kennel that he had worn his nails down to the quick. Currently, we are working with a foster who is afraid of children.

Jayna and Zan--they were so afraid when they got brought into our shelter. With a little love from us and our pack, they were as friendly as can be when we brought them back.

That being said, this isn’t the norm. Your shelter will work with you to figure out what you are and aren’t willing to take on. We have some foster parents who only take puppies. Some only small dogs. Some people actually choose to only foster certain breeds. Whatever you are comfortable with is what you will get. And there is never a time when you have to foster a dog or cat. You always have the ability to say no. Need a break? No problem!

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Our very first foster, Chef.

So there you have it. The answers to the top questions we get as fosters. So here’s my question to you:
What’s holding you back from being a foster?

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions you want answered! By this point, Mike and I have experienced it all!

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