What to Know before You Foster

So you’ve taken the step and decided to foster. That’s awesome! We like you already. Before you jump in and commit, we’ve put together a few points that we wish we’d known before we took in a temporary (or sometimes, permanent) new buddy.

Your foster is probably terrified.

Don’t force yourself on them. This first point may be the hardest! You let a trembly, sad eyed dog inside your home and your first instinct is to cuddle and kiss those sad eyes away. But remember that at this point you haven’t earned their trust, and depending on what kind of situation they came from, you could be making things a lot harder on both of you by rushing through this early stage.
Chewie lived in a cage for nine years and subsequently lost her two front legs. Her first four days at her new foster home she shook in this corner, nipping at anyone who got close to her.
This won’t be true for all animals, of course! You might get one from a better situation or who shows up ready for love.
A happy puppy rolling around on the bathroom rug.
Then there’s Wrigley, who made himself at home right away.
Don’t be disappointed if they don’t immediately love you. Even if they aren’t scared and are open to affection, a new family and new house has thrown them off balance. I’ve heard new foster parents sound so hurt that their foster tried to run away, or growled at them when they were eating. Remember that you haven’t earned their trust or set yourself as the “alpha” (for dogs) quite yet! It takes time, and patience, and training. One family took in a foster dog and after one day he tried to run away. They were so offended that they insisted on returning him. Don’t be like them! Even though in your heart you’re thinking, dang, I took you in and I just want to love you, remember that it takes time to earn that.

Getting them adopted takes effort.

It’s hard to get your foster adopted into a forever home if nobody knows they exist! Highlight their best features with photos or short video clips. Share funny stories. The best success we’ve had with getting animals adopted has been through Facebook posts or emails that include photos and a cute little story that captures the animal’s personality.
Two ducks in a pen outside, touching beaks.
Who could turn down these little faces?
A snuggly bunny on a man's lap.
Time to do some bunny snuggling… for the animals, of course.

You will fall in love.

Watching that new friend you’ve nurtured, loved, and spent so much time with leave to a new family can break your heart! One of the statements we here at Chicken Nugget and the Gang hear so often is “I wish I could foster but I just couldn’t let them go!” Fostering is about doing something for the animal, not for you. And even though it’s incredibly rewarding to earn the love of an abused animal, and makes you so proud when they capture the hearts of a forever family, you’ll be sad to say goodbye. And if you’re like us, you’ll always remember them!  
Chewie snuggling in a comfy bed with her foster.
Chewie after only two weeks with her new foster! She refuses to sleep alone, preferring to cuddle.
Two Great Pyrenees sitting together and posing for the camera.
Our founder’s Great Pyrenees pair. She had only planned on adopting one…

Tell us about your best and worst foster experiences! What was the toughest animal you took into your home and which were you saddest to say goodbye to?

One Reply to “What to Know before You Foster”

  1. I love this! I teared up because it’s so true! You love them so much but it’s so rewarding getting to watch them flourish with their new family!

Comments are closed.