Foster parents in the pet world are an incredible bunch. They are generous to a fault, caring and committed to the wellbeing of pets from every walk of life. Here are eight (of many!) reasons why foster pet parents deserve to be celebrated, along with eight adoptable dogs looking for their forever homes:
They are Inclusive
From breed-specific foster organizations, such as Arizona Beagle Rescue, to age-centered rescue groups (like senior pets), foster pet parents create space and help for animals of all kinds. The Classic Cats and Canines program (a part of the Friends of Austin Animal Care Center), for example, is a group whose mission is, “dedicated toward rehoming dogs and cats five years and older that have been displaced by transitional situations such as housing, incapacity of a caretaker, or other circumstances out of their control.”
Santino, aka Tino (pictured above), is a four-year-old Beagle/terrier mix who gets along well with other dogs (including grumpy ones!) and kids. His foster family says that he is also very loveable.
They are Connected
Nora Dock, a pet foster parent in Austin, has been fostering animals for the last three years through Classic Cats and Canines. In that time, Nora says that she and her family have fostered 10 dogs and over 30 very young kittens. One way that her home city of Austin retains its title as the largest “no kill” city in the country is for rescue groups to work in close partnership with the city shelter. Doing so means that “the most vulnerable critters can have a chance,” she says.
Connections in the pet foster world quickly turn into friendships and opportunities for further activism for the greater good of many animals. Dock’s newest foster pet, Harmony, was found by the owner of one of her former foster dogs. Without this connection, Harmony’s chances at finding a foster home could have been drastically reduced.
Seven-year-old Rico Suave is an easy to please pup who is good with other dogs and, though he’s had limited exposure to them, is also good with children.
They See the Limitless Potential of the Most Misunderstood Pets
According to The Washington Post, Pitbulls are difficult to place, while National Geographic reports that, in addition to Pitbulls, Chihuahuas tend to be the least likely to be adopted from a shelter. There are many misconceptions about such breeds and, in shelter environment, these types of dogs’ loyal and loving natures may not be apparent to potential owners. Foster parents like Dock beeline for such breeds.
According to her foster parent, six-year-old Sandy goes by “Bo” Derek because she’s so perfect. She’s also good with children.
They are Tireless
Jessica Furman of San Tan Valley, Arizona, is an active member of Arizona Beagle Rescue. She grew up with the breed and when she became a homeowner she knew that beagles would be in her life and her new home. After Furman adopted her own beagle, Benna, she became a spokesperson for the organization and is instrumental helping to place the group’s dogs with the best foster parents for their specific needs. A high school math teacher by day, Furman is a Beagle hero to boot!
Lily Jo is often overlooked because she’s a Beagle ‘mix’ and doesn’t have the breeds traditional colors. She is very timid around men until she gets to know them, and her bark may sound scary, but she’s really a teddy bear once she warms up to you.
They Take the Time to Help Pets Heal
Harmony’s story of survival would have had a far different ending if not for the time, energy and love provided by the Dock family. Found tied to an elementary school fence, “her front leg was grievously injured; somebody had tried to saw it off,” Dock says. She tracked Harmony through a police report that was filed and, a week later Harmony, was available to foster (her injuries and care required exceeded that which a shelter could provide). Through the organization Austin Pets Alive, Dock and her husband picked Harmony up and, after an extensive medical evaluation, she was released in their care.
“For two weeks we brought her into the vet for every other day bandage changes. These changes were super painful—but through them all Harmony sat quietly and patiently and allowed all medical staff to handle her with no resistance. At the third week, we were trained on how to change the bandages at home,” Dock says. Of course, this was just the beginning of the requirements of care needed to help Harmony recuperate and transition into a home-ready status.
Five-year-old Diana came to Arizona from a shelter in California. Although she came to her foster family with a fear of people, she’s warmed up quite a bit since then and would do well with school-aged children.
They Have Endless Reserves of Love
Not only do foster parents provide a home for pets in transition, they also often do so while caring for permanent animals in the home. Attention must be given to the safety of all involved as well as comfort levels for new and old. Still, if a balance can be struck, the opportunities abound for established pets in the home to befriend and instruct foster pets. Harmony has learned to walk side-by-side with the Dock’s family dog, Petunia. They began on opposite sides of the street and were slowly brought closer to one another time and time again. Now they walk seamlessly side by side.
Reba is a nine-year-old Beagle who has a little bit of stiffness in her hips and legs but otherwise a happy, healthy girl who is good with kids.
Have you been considering becoming a foster pet parent? There are multiple ways to get started. Furman says that the process to foster or adopt via her organization is fairly simple and is in line with most foster group practices. There’s an application to be filled out, and once that is submitted, volunteers will look it over and schedule a home visit.
Most rescue organizations and foster groups are entirely volunteer run, non-profit organizations, and new volunteers and foster homes are always needed. To learn more about possible organizations to become involved with, simply visit your city’s shelter website or call for a list of approved rescue and foster groups.
Bearett is a 13-year-old male who would do best in a home with older kids.
They Have to Say the Most Bittersweet Goodbyes
As Dock says, “there is nothing better than watching a foster animal fall into a deep sleep on their first night out of the shelter. Or seeing a playful personality emerge from a formerly scared and withdrawn dog. All of the ‘unknowns’ associated with adopting a dog from a kennel can be answered by a foster family.”
And once these animals are ready to live in a loving home, it’s the foster parent that has to say goodbye, knowing that it’s for the best but proving to be difficult all the same.
To all of the foster pet parents who have given countless hours of their time and energy into healing, normalizing and readying pets for their forever homes, and doing it all over and over again, thank you.
At 15 years old, Benson is a stately gentleman who can be particular about his dog friends but loves kids of all ages.
All of the animals featured here are currently in foster homes through Arizona Beagle Rescue and are available for adoption. Please contact the organization if you are interested in learning more about then.
Jess Burnquist writes and teaches in desert southwest. Her writing has appeared in various journals and online magazines including Time, Ed Week and The Washington Post.