“Isn’t it hard to give them up?” is by far the #1 question I get asked when people find out that I foster pups. Though I usually keep my answer short and sweet to prevent them from being stuck talking to me for hours about this subject, my honest answer is a little more complex.
So giving up these dogs, is it hard? Absolutely. Every single time. Unless I didn’t have a heart, how could it not be? I spend weeks, even months sometimes, with a dog teaching them the fundamentals – house breaking, crate training, basic commands, leash manners, how to get along with other dogs/people and work on whatever their fears are. I watch their personality begin to shine as they start to learn what it means to be loved and cared for and I invest time in them to ensure they are ready for their forever home. And after all of that, in a matter of one application being submitted and approved, they can be adopted. I’m left saying goodbye. (I’m really selling this whole fostering thing, aren’t I? Get emotionally attached and then leave empty handed sounds like a great gig, huh? 😉 )
So why if it’s so hard do I continue to do it? Though to many it may seem I’m left on the losing end of this, I’d argue just the opposite. In fact, in the year and half I’ve fostered and the 11 dogs I’ve taken in, I can whole-heartedly say I’ve gained much more than I have lost and I’ve learned more from each dog than I have taught them.
I could easily write a book about my fostering experience, but it all circles back to two of the biggest reasons I foster. Those reasons? Well, one, it is a constant reminder that the only thing certain in life is change and two, when change comes knocking, the most important thing we can do is focus on all that can be gained, not what might be lost.
See in life so often, I think we get fixated on the potential of change and what will be missing in our life if we go forward with it. We then fear it, run from it, and convince ourselves to avoid it. We continue going to the dead end job, stick in the relationship we know might not be the best, don’t pursue dreams we’ve always wanted because the known is more comfortable than the unknown.
Let me just say each dog I’ve had, has faced more change in a short period of time than most of us face in an entire year when transport, fostering and adoption is all said and done. Yet, they continue enjoying the present moment, playing and loving their way through the process – eagerly and fearlessly.
Anyways, it became clear, quickly, that in order to foster I would have to become more comfortable with both change and saying goodbye. It has helped me practice focusing my attention on the love, care, and happiness that is created by allowing a chapter to begin in someone else’s life rather than keeping the lens honed in on the chapter that is closing in mine. It has brought an awareness that sometimes there has to be a goodbye in order for there to be a new hello, or opportunity. The truth is, if I avoided change and I never wanted to say goodbye, helping another dog would be out of the picture. If I listened to the selfish side of me, I would have 11 dogs (okay there were a couple crazies in there so maybe only 9). I would have convinced myself I was their best forever home and forget all that I’m gaining by letting them go.
At the end of the day, I don’t foster because it’s always easy , because I love saying goodbyes or because it fits into my schedule perfectly. No, I foster because I’m grateful for the valuable daily reminder to focus on all that I have and face change head on.
Are you ready to foster?
Submit your application today at Found Nation Animal Rescue today