Pros and Cons of Fostering a Dog

My boyfriend and I love dogs - we’re, like, obsessed. We have two of our own that we brought together when we moved in with each other. We always talk about getting more, but we travel so much that we don’t have the capability to get another one. This past winter, a shelter called Diamonds in the Ruff based in Union City, TN, posted about having too many dogs but not enough shelter. They wanted foster parents for some of the dogs during winter so that they would have a warm home. We thought this was a great compromise for wanting a new dog, and we would be helping out at the same time. We soon learned that everything wasn’t as easy at it seemed. Before you decide to foster a dog, here are some pros and cons that I feel people need to know.

Pro: Everything is paid for.

When we started fostering with Diamonds in the Ruff, they gave us dog food for our foster pet. They paid for her vet bills when we needed to take her. They even met us halfway to bring her to us. I would look into the shelter you want to foster through. If they help pay for a lot of the things, then that is a big pro.

Con: Dogs aren’t always trained.

Our foster, Arabella, was very shy. She loved meeting new people, but she would run away if you startled her. You couldn’t raise your voice around her or make a loud noise, or else she would run back to her safe space. She was not house trained. She hated leashes and the outdoors. It took awhile to get used to because of how trained our dogs are, but you have to be patient. This might not be the case with every foster pet, but it is something you have to take into consideration. You won’t really know the personality of your pet until after they’re in your house.

Pro: You make a new friend.

Arabella was precious. She was a husky and loved talking when she saw you come home. She always had a smile on her face, and it brightened your day just to see it. Her bright blue eyes beamed when she saw a familiar face, and you get used to seeing them when you come home. Your foster pet will be in a home instead of a cage. They will get constant human interaction with you. If you don’t think you will make a new friend, you’re wrong.

Con: You don’t know their history.

We received Arabella a few weeks after the shelter did. They did run tests on her and gave her shots, but after we got her we found out she was sick. We took her to the vet, paid for by the shelter, and found out she had an upper respiratory infection. Unfortunately, that is very contagious with dogs. We had to keep her separated from our dogs to keep them from catching it. Nobody knew how she caught it because we didn’t know where she came from. She soon got better and got to join our other dogs, and everything was fine. Then, about a month later, she had puppies. We had no idea she was pregnant; neither did the shelter. Our case is a very rare and odd one. Fostering a pet doesn’t mean this will happen. However, since we don’t know the past of these animals, anything could happen.

Pro: You get a new dog for a short amount of time.

I’ll be honest: when my boyfriend and I first decided to foster, we were excited about the fact that we can have a dog for a few months, or weeks, and prepare it for their forever home.  It is the best of both worlds: you get a dog, it’s paid for, and it’s not for a very long time. You get just the right dose of animal love and then send it off. This pro also leads to the next con.

Con: You get attached during the short time

We did it. We did the thing we swore we wouldn’t and got attached. We saw her every day. We played with her every day. We watched her puppies grow up until they were playful little fluffballs. The day finally came when she needed to go to another foster home that dealt with moms and their pups, and it was hard. We were dreading it all day and gave her, and the pups, all the love and affection before she left. When I heard the knock on the door, my heart dropped. We both teared up a little bit, and it took us a few days to process that the dog we took care of for three months was gone.

We asked ourselves if this was a mistake. Should we have started fostering her in the first place? The answer is yes. We helped her, just like she helped us. Arabella was shy and didn’t have a lot of human interaction. We helped her grow out of her shell and become more comfortable around people. We loved her just as much as she loved us. We will miss her howling, her bright blue eyes and her little puppies, but it makes us happy knowing she is one step closer to being in her forever home. Yes, fostering is hard. Yes, there might be surprises you least expect. Yes, there is a possibility of growing attached. All these things are worth it when you see the happiness you bring to an animals life, even for a short time. (Update: We just found out Arabella and the pups got adopted!)