6.26.2011

The Truth About Fostering

Every day, people make the decision to have children… knowing that their kids will one day grow up, and leave them for families of their own. That’s a painful, heartbreaking time for any parent… the day that their child finally leaves them... forever.

But does the inevitability of that day... dissuade people from having children? No.

However, when it comes to fostering a pet, I constantly hear the excuse, “It would be too hard for me. I’d get too attached. I could never give them up.” And thus, people opt not to foster, and dogs die.

But those very people… who say they just can’t take the pain of letting go… have children, children who will soon leave them for college, marriage, and lives of their own. Those very parents often dread that day in the distant future… the day that their kids no longer need them.

But when the time comes, they’ll deal with it, as best they can.

Sure, they’ll likely cry. Their hearts will hurt... as they let their baby go… and send them off to start their own life with their own family. But does that pain outweigh the years of joy, laughter, and love with their child? Never.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to be a parent. Parenting requires patience, love, and selflessness. For a while, you’re everything to your child. They depend on you to be all that they need, to provide them with love and care, and to guide them through this life.

Yet... the entire purpose of parenting is to prepare your children for that day in the future… when they’ll go off  to start their own life and family. People don’t expect their kids to stay at home forever... just to avoid that dreadful pain. Because if they did, those children wouldn’t be fulfilling their own needs, dreams, and purpose in this world.
Fostering a pet is no different.
Well... it's slightly different, in one aspect: when people don’t step-up to foster… animals die. That’s the cold, hard reality… a reality that YOU have the power to change.

Otherwise, the foster experience is very much like parenting a child, and every bit as rewarding… if not more so, in certain ways. Fostering is about taking a deserving creature into your home, during their greatest time of need, nursing them back to health, removing the pain of their past... loving, teaching, and guiding them… and then... sending them off to live the lives they deserve. Fostering is about giving a dog (or cat) the one thing they’ve never had… hope. And with the simple act of opening up your home to them, YOU are able to grant their one wish. YOU are able to make their dreams come true. YOU are able to save their life.

How many times have you actually been able to save a life? I don’t mean simply watching on the sidelines as a life is saved… I mean literally pulling a dog or cat from death, and bringing them back to life. It’s an incredible experience… there’s nothing like it. But far too many people let the inevitable pain at the end of the experience... blind them from the joy of the journey.

Consider this: Everyone who is currently on this earth... will one day die. Death is painful—often devastating—for those left behind. But death is an inevitable aspect of life. So, if we know in our minds that the people we love will one day leave us, should we never love at all? Of course not… because then, we’d miss the entire purpose of life.

I also think back to my parents, on the day I left for college. I’m lucky to have incredible parents, who have loved, encouraged, and supported me all my life. From the day I was born, they knew I would one day leave them to go to college… which was their ultimate goal for me. And so, they treasured each day with me along the way... and prepared me for my own journey.

When that day finally came, my mother’s tears conveyed the indescribable pain in her heart… a sadness that was ever-so real for her, because her baby girl was all grown up... and leaving her. But on that day, did my mother regret ever having me? No. Did the pain of that day outweigh the years of overwhelming happiness she experienced as my mom? Of course not. That day was bittersweet for my parents, because everything they’d done for the last 18 years… had prepared me for that day. Along with the tears in their eyes, I saw something else… pride. Pride for what they'd accomplished, joy that their dreams for me were finally becoming reality, and the resolution in their hearts that everything in my world ... was exactly as it should be.

Would my parents have ever stopped me from leaving for college, just so they could keep me with them? Never. That’s exactly why they gave me life… so that I may one day... leave to have a life of my own. The act of loving enough to let go is the greatest gift one can give in this world. It’s always about the journey… and when the end-result is bittersweet... it makes the journey that much sweeter.

Often, I write about the pain I feel at the end of each foster journey. I write about that heartbreak, because it’s a very real emotion for me, and a very relevant aspect of fostering. However, these stories from my heart are never meant to discourage others from joining in the incredible experience that is fostering. It’s never meant to say that I regret the weeks, months, or years of unbridled joy, uncontrollable laughter, and unconditional love. That journey is what I live for.

For a short time, I am everything to these dogs. I'm their world. I represent comfort, love, and hope… when they’ve only known pain, hatred, and despair.  In providing these gifts, I receive so much more in return… more than I could ever describe in words. During that time, I make them whole, and in turn, they make me whole. They remove any sadness, anger, or hopelessness I may feel, and replace all of the bad in the world... with the purest good that exists. In truth, they repair my soul.

At the end, I will feel immense pain as I let them go. I feel this hurt, because I love them. But when I let go, I’m releasing them to amazing families, who will pick-up where I left off, and cherish them forever. Incredible homes… that they never would’ve had… without me.

I take them into my home… knowing they will one day leave me. But that’s exactly why I save them… to catch, restore, and release. And each time I let go… I’m fulfilling my purpose in life, and I'm able to save another.

Just as with any parent… you let your children go, because you love them... more than you love yourself. It would be selfish for me to say that my pain is worth more than their life… that my sadness at the end is somehow greater than the hurt they’ve known since birth. Without me, they would’ve died… but now, they live.

Never forget, that without YOU, others will die too. Please... don’t let your fears, anxieties, and anticipation of the pain be the reason for their deaths. I’d say that the sadness of their unnecessary deaths is far more devastating than any heartbreak we could ever feel. And trust me… the love you’ll receive during your time with them, is far greater than the pain of letting go.

To put it simply, this is why I foster:

Fostering is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It’s given me more joy, laughter, and love than I deserve. At the end, there's always heartbreak. But never for a second does the sadness outweigh the joy. Never do the tears outweigh the laughter. And never does the pain outweigh the love. Heartbreak heals... but love is forever.

279 comments:

  1. Wow. You are an amazing person. Thank you for all you do. I am looking forward to the day when I am able to foster. I am not currently in a position to do this so I try to help in other small ways.

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  2. Everyone should read this. Thank you for everything you do for them.

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  3. Thank you for being a Foster and for sharing your story! Fostering is the critical 1st step in Rescue. Without Fosters, obviously you cannot not save a pet. Our group have found that sometimes a short-term foster is what is needed, until the Rescue can set up a longer-term foster home awaiting adoption. So it doesn't have to be forever. Just long enough!

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  4. wow well said Ashley, ty for all you do!

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  5. Thanks Ashley. You are an inspiration. I am fostering a dog named Max. Sweet little guy that had been dumped in the sagebrush and covered with ticks. He's the first one that I offered to foster for Rez Dog Rescue in Wapato, Wa. The need is so great and the reward is just as you said so well. I have fostered other dogs and also had to have others fostered when I didn't have a safe place for them. What is hard for me is not knowing how they are after their adoption. I have also heard of people that don't honor the adoption papers and not return them to the rescue group like they said they would. Knowing they are in a good home is not hard. It's the reward.

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  6. I am lucky in that every adopter stays in close contact with me. I get tons of email updates, pictures, & videos, and it takes away all the pain. I'm able to send them off to their new lives, but still see the impact I had years later. It's incredible.

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  7. My husband and I have been fostering cats & kittens for many years. Yes, it's hard to let them go, but the alternative is harder! It helps when the adoptive parents will keep in touch too. You can keep track of their progress and be assured they are well cared for.

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  8. I struggle with this same statement. I am frequently told by others they could not do what I do; that they would not be able to let a foster dog go. As if their love for dogs is deeper than mine. I believe it takes a special type of love to be able to do this job. I tell others that by finding a dog a home, I am able to open my home to the next dog and the next. Without me, these dogs would still be in the pound and potentially on death-row. I appreciate your views on this; I couldn't agree more with your words. I posted your blog on my Facebook in the hope it will open a few eyes and touch a few hearts.

    I've written on this same topic in the past, too. Please check it out: http://merediiith.blogspot.com/2011/03/paws-prayers.html

    pawsandprayers.org

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  9. Meredith,
    I couldn't agree more.

    I always say, "I love dogs more than almost anyone... I dedicate my entire life to them. So if I can let them go--even though they're my entire world-- then anyone else can too."

    People automatically count themselves out for this reason, as if they'd somehow love them more than I do. Or as if I somehow love them less, because I can give them up. It's just untrue. It takes FAR MORE love to let go, than to hold onto each one. Loving them enough to allow yourself to hurt for their benefit is truly a beautiful, selfless act.

    And in letting go, of course, we're able to save another. Without the release process, no future dogs could ever be saved. Foster homes are so critical, and learning to deal with the pain allows more lives to be saved.

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    1. Thank you both for saying this so well. . . it is a struggle we have at Sarge's Animal Rescue Foundation in western NC too. (www.sargeandfriends.org) But I think many of the people really are selfish, don't want to risk furniture, carpets, give up time, etc. because it just isn't as important to them as it is to us. So they make that selfishness okay by calling it "I could never give them up--I get too attached". Just don't know what we can do about that deeper, under-the-surface part of the issue.

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  10. I have fostered over 200 dogs,41 cats,3 horses,a bunny, and 6 ferrets in my 45 years on this earth! It has been the most rewarding and most heart wrenching thing I have ever done! However I would not trade a single moment with any one of them for any thing else in this world! My life would not have been complete without them in it! Though many have passed on from this earth they are now my angels in heaven and I have been blessed by every one of them! Thank you Ashley for the blessing of being a rescuer and know that I understand fully the meaning of your blog! (P.S.: Congratulations on your newest fur-ever homebound puppy-Ali! Prayers have been answered!) :0P

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  11. It's so coincidental you posted this today...I just let my rescue/foster baby go today and I can't stop crying. I don't regret sending him, he has a wonderful family now who can give him more than I ever could but it still hurts :(

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  12. Well, I would rather foster then get another dog. Only trouble I have with fostering is they want me to talk to the super first. We don't want to approach the super to be honest, he is a bit of a ruff guy. Our building is full of dogs and we have a dog. We would be the perfect foster parents tho. I love to work with dogs, our dog does training everyday, we are regulars at the dog park, the vet said he has the heart and chest muscle of a athlete. You would never know he lived in a small apartment. Our dream is to have a mastiff for our dog to play with. I was hoping to fill that urge with a foster mastiff until we got a house. While this place is small the exercise and experiences a dog will have is great for a temporary situation. It just makes me sad rules can't be bend for that reason. Looks like we will be getting our next dog before we move as our dog could really use the company while we are at work. It's not ideal but we really feel a big ache for that kind of dog and i miss the one i used to have before she passed away. She was more of a active mastiff cross but did fine in the apartment.

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  13. thanks ashley. just shared on my page because everything you said, i have felt. i know that incredible joy and the heartbreak. and i could never stop saving their lives. because that has become my life.

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  14. I first met you when I read your blog post about a dog by the name "Annie" whom you took into your home and loved with all your heart for one week. Critically ill, you gave this dog more love in one week than she had ever experienced in her entire life. When she past away after that week, Annie had felt your incredible love and died knowing that someone cared and loved her. An incredible gift to give to someone. You are truly an AMAZING person.

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  15. Have not fostered a dog in a few years. People would ask me how I could give away a dog, they just didn't understand. Your words will probably make me foster again....which you probably knew people would do after reading your words.

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  16. Foley Monster & Pocket,
    That was my wish, and you just made it come true ;) Thank you... all of you!

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  17. Oh i loved this story! I currently work at a dog rescue in Ohio and i own 5 dogs who one i adopted from death! But i also currently foster 3 dogs right now! I have fostered 2 others who have gotten homes! One i foster is considered Hospice bc she is 12 and has cancer and she is part of our family the entire way! All our dogs are, our other foster is a american bulldog who has been back to the rescue 3 times in one year and he had some issues and glad to say he is a great dog and the third was found on the country roads who i rescued but could not keep and she is the sweetest dog ever and she has some aggression with dogs so i decided to foster her and use a bite muzzle on her in hopes to get her over her fear and aggression with other dogs! I know our rescue is loving but not a place to help a dog with issues and so in hope i brought her home with me to help her and hopefully get her the best home as possible! I love fostering and i love dogs! We need more fosters though so that way the rescues can take more dogs and save more!!!

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  18. I asked my local pound about fostering a few years ago. They told me that the town would not allow it due to the liability!?
    They say they are a no kill shelter...but I have heard otherwise.
    I currently am a mom to two elderly dogs, one elderly cat and an 8 month old kitten.
    Although at this time I am unable to foster, the time will come soon enough when there will be room in my home and heart for animals in need. If I have to make the trek to the city to do so...I will. Do you think they will allow me to foster if I am not a resident of that city?

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  19. ur what i call a PET ANGEL ...

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  20. Ashley- In one way or another, wether it's of joy or of some sadness, I cry every time I read something you write. I have one question though. As huge as your heart clearly is, I know you still cry over your babies. How do you get through it? The getting, the falling in love, then the leaving. How do you "harden your heart" so to speak, from the cruelty and loss you see every day?

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  21. You couldn't have said it better. I always hear, "I don't know how you do it." and "I could never give them up." I'm a dog lover through and through. If I had told someone I planned on fostering, they would have said I would keep every one of them. But the truth is, I can't keep every one of them. If I added another dog to my house, I wouldn't be able to foster... and I don't want that taken away from me. I love fostering. It's truly the best thing I've ever done with my life. I'm 24-years-old, have three dogs of my own, and always have a foster in my house. I go through "foster withdrawal" if I go a few days without one! I love my fosters like my own... and it is hard to see them go... but the fact that they are going to awesome homes... and I'm opening a spot of for yet another life to save is what makes it worth it. I won't stop fostering... because I am saving lives. Your words are... perfect. This is exactly what was floating around in my head. <3

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  22. Anonymous @6:20pm,
    I do it for them. I try my best to take my own feelings out of the equation, and simply do what's best for them each time. Because I know in my heart, that if I didn't do that, the suffering would be far greater. My suffering is nothing compared to their's. And if I were to keep each and every one myself out of my love for them, I could never save another. So I put them first... my current fosters and the future dogs who will take their place.

    I can promise you that my heart is still as soft as they come. But I deal with my emotions by knowing that I did the right thing for them. That way, I never lose and they always win.
    -Ash

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  23. Completely amazing article. Wonderfully written and the content and context is a point of view rarely expressed. Thank you!

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  24. Emily,
    AMEN. That is exactly right! Having the heart to turn them over to loving homes, in order to save the next life, is the most important part of the entire experience! Without that, no future dogs could ever be saved.

    Granted, I know there are times when a certain dog just fits with a foster family, and the decision is made to make them a member of the family, which is a beautiful thing. But so many decide to "keep" them just because they fear the pain of loss, not because they truly know the dog is a perfect fit for them.

    When a family does decide to adopt their own foster dog, the coolest thing they can do is continue to foster others ;)

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  25. "So others may live." - This is the Motto of the US Air Force Para Rescuemen. ... and it should be the motto of Animal foster parents everywhere because they "get" it. USAF Pararescue will give their LIVES to ensure downed pilots get the first aid and transport they need in the middle of a firefight. All these animals as is that you give a little time, a little space and a little love for a little while until they can be placed in a forever home - the alternative is CERTAIN death - it is such a small price - low risk, high reward.

    Most of these dogs are relatively young and healthy - I take in the old, damaged, blind and deaf dogs ... the ones NO ONE will call to see - I keep them until the call comes for a loving family (that NEVER comes because NO ONE will take a damaged dog) or until it is time for them to cross to the Rainbow Bridge - I HATE IT - but if not me then WHO?

    There are those of us who will do the HARD jobs - PLEASE help with the easy job - Foster a young, healthy dog/animal - The reward is greater than you can know -

    "So others May LIVE" - it doesn't get better than that.

    God Bless,
    Bobbie

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  26. Bobbie,
    I have chills. So true. So so so true. I feel the same as you... taking in those that no one else will consider. If only more would take in those who just need a temporary place to land. The world would be a different place than the one we know. Thank you so much Bobbie.
    Ash

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  27. Thanks Ash, You are a true angel - I can only house 5 at a time - if I could afford it I talk in an unlimited number. I wish people would understand that blind dogs don't really care that they are blind (although they don't appreciate it when you rearrange the furniture). Dogs really "see" very well by smell and most people can't really tell that they are blind.

    Keep up the AWESOME job!
    Bobbie

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  28. Fabulous article! You've hit every fostering nail on the head with your words.

    I foster every week for Last Chance Animal Rescue. I fall in love with every single foster that I bring into my home. The timid ones who cower in the corner and by the end of their stay are jumping and playing and kissing my face.

    The defiant ones who have seen hurt to some degree, but are so forgiving once they know you just want to love them.

    The puppies who make messes all over my house, but wiggle their way into the heart so quickly.

    Yes, it does hurt when they leave, but the other side of that coin is ... they are going to have a new fantastic beginning with their very own family. And although they have physically left my home, they've imprinted their paw prints on my heart.

    The funny thing is once they're gone, and even though I have 3 dogs of my own, my house seems so empty ... and I know it's time to open up my home yet again to another dog.

    This is truly one of the most rewarding experiences in my entire life time. I can't believe I waited until my 50's to start doing this, I wish I had been doing this a lot longer.

    Fostering = saving lives.
    Anna

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  29. Ashley...

    I DID adopt one of my foster dogs. I had my first foster dog in August of last year; a beautiful Shiba Inu that didn't have a good family. I loved her... and the first is probably always the hardest. She was beautiful... and my dogs got along with her... but she wasn't "my" dog. She belonged to someone else - just not sure who yet. She ended up finally finding that perfect family. I was heartbroken to let her go... but happy to know she was going to her forever home with a couple other Shiba siblings!

    After she left, I ended up with three 5-week-old Pit mix puppies. Mom had been chained to a tree, starved, and gave birth to 10 puppies outside in the heat of August. Mama Hope tried her hardest... but one puppy died. The rescue I foster for ended up taking the remaining 9 pups while Hope remained in the shelter. She was too weak to take care of them... and had to remain in the shelter due to a court case that involved the "owner". I loved my new foster puppies... even though they were a lot to take care of! I had two dogs at the time. Lyla made herself at home in my house. She and Brody, my GSD mix, were inseparable. Lyla slept on top of him and was always with him. When people came to look meet them, Lyla was always off sleeping... and not many people are interested in adopting a sleeping puppy! Even Jackson, my senior grumpy boy, had accepted her. Lyla did fit in my family... and I couldn't imagine giving her up. So... I didn't. It took me a long time to decide... especially trying to figure out if I'd be able to manage having a puppy, a less than two-year-old (and wild) GSD mix, and an elderly dog... along with a horse, two ferrets, three of my own cats, a few feral kittens, AND still being able to foster. Thank goodness... I was able to adopt Lyla AND still foster... and take care of the rest of the kids.

    You're right. Sometimes... a pet does just fit... and it is too hard to give up. But so many people just can't deal with the sadness themselves of giving up an animal. But... that's how it works. Knowing that I can give another dog a chance is enough for me to deal with the heartache of sending one off to a new home.

    YOU, Ashley, are an amazing person. I'm so glad that I stumbled upon your blog. It's always nice to find other people who understand people like us.

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  30. Thanks for everything you have done Ashley. we hope there is more people like you...

    http://bestcheapprojectors.wordpress.com/
    http://cheapforprojectors.blogspot.com/

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  31. Emily,
    I did too :) Rudy began as a foster dog ;)

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  32. May God bless us all.. thanks for sharing again..

    Avery

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  33. For every foster I let go, it gives a chance for another dog to have a life. That's the circle of love that we create. And though I don't foster much now b/c of various circumstances, I do pound pickups and deliveries to other fosters. It's the least I can do, and I'm still saving lives. And it's the best feeling in the world to see these animals go from the misery of a shelter to the life they're meant to have, and to know that even if I had only a small part, it was something. An important part of the chain.

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  34. Fosters are GOLD to a rescue, and there are so many ways to foster: full-time, weekend/vacation/holiday fosters (the full time fosters LOVE the part-time fosters), puppies, emergency, isolation, crate rest,small dog, senior dog, bonded pairs. There are as many kinds of fostering as there are dogs needing those fosters. It feeds your soul and will change your life.

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  35. My husband didn't want any more dogs. We had 3. But, I saw a dog on Facebook, and I said I would foster him. Wouldn't you know that my husband, and he bonded, and my husband is the one who wants to adopt him! One of our dogs, my favorite, died on May 19th, so we are back to 3 dogs. I made a Facebook page in Baci's memory: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baci-100896-to-51911/132806823462565

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  36. I love your blogs & am so inspired by your story! Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight.

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  37. Ashley - this is very well said - thank you! Now I have a good response to people who give me the "I couldn't let them go" reason for not fostering...well, if they have children . I'll still have to work on the others.

    thank you very much for this! Rhonda, American Brittany Rescue

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  38. Funny I should find & read your blog for the first time on the same morning of my first foster's new forever home visit. She's been a part of our lives for 6 mos, and I've been unable to stop the tears in anticipation of her leaving us. Thank you for writing & helping me see my flood of tears now doesn't mean I'm a foster failure. It just means I've taken an 'undernourished seed' and given her the love & kindness she needed to let her blossom. I know she'll be a beautiful addition to her new forever family. Though the time was short, I'm thankful for memories of her 'talking' to us as she gained confidence; snoring as she slept peacefully without fear, learning to play with her foster 'brothers' and her tentative tender kisses as she learned to trust. Thank you.

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  39. Thank you for all you do. I hope your message reaches as far and wide as possible. I have wanted to foster ever since we rescued our year old American Bulldog on PetFinder.com. Owens first time foster mom had wrote his description that was 10 times longer than any other puppy in our search. We knew he must be special. I was hesitant to make the 3 hour drive to get him and not be a perfect fit. My boyfriend was beyond sure and he was right. Owen has been a bright light in our lives. It has not been a picnic and we have a long way to go until Owens emotional wounds have healed but I see trust in those brown eyes. I want to help others like him be the best dogs they can be to help their true families find them!

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  40. Karen - Thank you - your tears of sadness of your parting should be mixed with tears of joy that your foster now has a forever home and tears of anticipation for the next homeless baby that needs your love and guidance. Your tears mean you care - you should be proud that you are a success - it when we no longer cry that we need to worry ...

    All the best,
    Bobbie

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  41. thank you so much for your emotional story. I have 2 that will leave me soon and it seems all i can do is cry...But your story has given me a new light on this sad situation and i will look forward to the day that they are in their forever homes. Thanks for sharing.....

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  42. Ahsley, I always said that before, that I would have an awfully hard time letting them go, but then I see that you too have a hard time, yet you still do it to save lives. I would love to foster, that is my dream, but unfortunately I have one Chihuahua who does not get along at all with other dogs :(

    One day...

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  43. What a great post! I originally thought it would be so hard to foster because it would be so hard to let go of a dog, but then I realized that helping a dog find a happy home instead of keeping it helps more homes because we still have that space to foster. Plus, it is fun to have another dog to hang around with for awhile.Great way to spread the word!

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  44. I had a difficult time reading your post. Not because it is too emotional or too painful but because my tears of joy were filling my eyes. Good tears. :) You speak from your heart and soul and that comes through beautifully. Your love for dogs that radiates from your heart is enveloping. This inspires me to do more, to be more. For that, I am grateful. Thank you, Ashely.

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  45. Thank you so much for writing this. This is powerful words everyone needs to hear and if just one person reads it and steps up to foster, its all worth it!

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  46. thank you for sharing this with us and i would like to foster but i am living in a one bedroom condo.

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  47. Ashley, I am twice your age and you are MY hero! God bless you.

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  48. Shared. I can't wait to foster. I can't right now but we are already talking about adopting and fosterin.

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  49. I know how you feel, Ashley. I have rescued and saved hundreds of dogs and cats over the last 20 years. If I lived in the US, I would foster and adopt as many animals here in this country. But the gross mistreatment and abandonment of animals takes place all over the world, and those of us whenever, and wherever must do out share to rescue and save as many as we can. Thank you for being such a caring, loving person. Stella

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  50. We are currently renting and had to talk our landlord into letting us adopt one dog, but one of the main reasons I am working so hard in life is to ultimately own a house with my husband so I/we can foster. Please know you are an inspiration and you are planting seeds that you will see grow in others in the near future. Thank you for all you do.

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  51. I thought fostering would be difficult because of having to let them go, also. I have not had to face that yet, because we adopted one foster and the other has yet to be placed due to anxiety issues. That's ok, she'll be placed with only the *right* person at the *right* time for her. My job is to give her the love, time, training, and groceries she needs to get to that point. She's going to be a great dog, and it *will* be hard to let her go from a purely selfish perspective. But for me, it's like having a child graduate from school; it's what I've raised her to be able to do, and I'll be proud of her.

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  52. I don't know how long you've been doing this blog Ashley, but much of what you say about fostering/parenting matches my beliefs. Keep up the GREAT work you're doing here, and with your fostering.

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  53. What a wonderful post! Gives us a lot to think about. We are looking to move to a place with more room and with that room perhaps Mom will open the house to more temporary fur kids!

    Wags!

    Mr. Nubbin'

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hey ashley, I really want to foster a dog, but I'm just wondering once I do foster, how do I get the word out to adopt my foster dog?

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  55. Thanks for this blog! As the director of my own rescue, I hear this excuse a lot. Truth is, fostering isn't as hard as it seems. Seeing a dog go to his or her perfect family far, far outweighs the little empty spot left in your heart. Foster dogs require few resources, and all medical bills are paid for by the rescue organization. If you travel a lot or are not fully able to commit to a dog, this is a perfect way for everyone to win. Those who can say the love dogs, but are unwilling to endure a bit of sadness to save a life need to evaluate how much they truly do love dogs.

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  56. I, quite literally, share your sentiments -

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  57. I want to tell you thank you. Not only for all you do for these amazing animals, but for putting fostering into such a wonderful perspective.

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  58. great job

    like many here I live in an apartment so it's not practical. But thanks so much.

    I look forward to rescuing a small enough dog. Someone like you would have made it possible.

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  59. Thanks Ashley, your blog puts in all in perspective :) I never thought I'd be able to foster a dog. We've already got three rescues of our own and I (okay my husband too) get attached easily :) That all changed with one pitiful picture I got e-mailed. The next thing I knew we had a fourth addtion from Hardeman county. We worked with a rescue group and "Maggie" got adopted by a wonderful lady and has the best life. While I cried when she walked away with "my" dog I know it was for the best. We know are on our second foster, and hopefully she will be as lucky as Maggie was.

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  60. It is a blessing to be a foster. You get to help these lovely creatures in your home to help them learn to trust again and get all of their love and kisses while they wait to get forever homes.
    Yes you cry when they leave your home, but they are tears of joy.
    You look back at all of the dogs (or whatever animals) go through your home and they leave a little bit of their love in your heart so you cab share it with the next one waiting to come in.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thank you for giving me a little courage.

    As I type this, a foster has her head on my chest and is soundly snoozing. I think I have finally, after months of TLC at my home (she was from a hoarder), found a suitable adopter.

    I worry, though. Peggy is soft, patient, kind, and wary. Aloof with adults. She absolutely will not be okay if a heavy hand touches her.

    I find that I not only fear for my broken heart, but for hers. How do I tell this girl, who trusts me and wants only me, that she is not my dog? How do I risk breaking her heart?

    I would never let her go without a home visit, and I've met her potential family, but I worry, as does any parent, I guess, that she won't be loved as I love her.

    But, how could I never give her that opportunity to have a family. Two boys of her very own, a single dog family, stay at home mom who wants a jogging partner, dad who needs a buddy to ride out to his land with...

    Thanks for helping me build courage. :)

    This is the hardest foster I've ever had. And I've had many...

    ReplyDelete
  62. I love this article, I have always dreamed when I get my own place to foster dogs, which my boyfriend agreed upon. I would love to now but my dog and I live in a two bedroom town apartment and I do not have time to have foster dogs, I do however help the SPCA out as much as possible for the time being until I am able to have a foster home for dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  63. You are truly remarkable. I used to think I couldn't foster as I would become attached. My dear beloved late friend, Kerry Mensching, who founded Grateful Golden Retriever Rescue talked to me and I took in many for her. I became attached to each one, but when it was time for them to go to a forever home It filled my heart with joy and opened up another space for one that needed saving. Thank you for your clear explanation on fostering. The poor animals and rescue groups need all they can

    ReplyDelete
  64. Ashley, you have expressed it perfectly. It hurts to let them go, but they can't grow unless you love them. And you have to let each one go in order to save another.
    You can foster in an apartment, for those who wondered.
    To foster - you need to hook up with a local rescue, for those who asked.
    Beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I have to admit that I cry every time one of my fosters finds a home, recently I ran into my first foster, he was full grown and handsome and happy. And I cried again, I helped make it possible for him to have a great life, and that is what keeps me going.

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  66. This is an amazing story! Thank you. I will always be an animal lover ~ that is why I have a 20 yr old bird! :)

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  67. This is beautiful. I just sent my fourth foster off and it hearts the heart in a good way. Thank you for writing something so lovely. I hope that many others see it and consider fostering. We have such a lack of it in our area and it has to change.

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  68. Your photos are really beautiful and inspiring. You are sincere with your mission and we all hope that more people will follow your footsteps.

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  69. Ashley you are so amazing at what you do and I bet god put you on this earth to rescue dogs and cats! When I'm old enough im going to foster, what I would love to do is open my own pit bull and bully breed rescue. I don't care what anyone says I am and honestly you are so amazing and every Saturday I love to go over to the pets mart and get the shelter dogs out of their cages so they can be adopted. I love dogs and cats and as I said before you are the greatest! I love your work and every time I see one of your pit bulls I know that he or she is loved at cared for, I really hope people can over throw BSL because if they were human it would be racest it every time i go to the pets mart if they bring a black dog I love to get it out of it's cage because black is so pretty! I just wish people could see that! I love your work and when I'm older I'm going to save the world.... One pit bull at a time.

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  70. Ashley I really loved your article & it is very touching it actually brought tears in my eyes upon reading rudy's story. I have two pitties too but I am not with them because I have to work overseas, I miss their funny antics, the way they lick me in the face when I got home from work, walking & kissing their heads & having just only a nap for the whole night because they push me off the bed. I wish that they are in good health even though I am not there to care for them, Thank you for writing this amazing story & for your amazing efforts to foster these wonderful dogs, I am so proud of you "KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK & GOD BLESS"...

    ReplyDelete
  71. What a soulful writing you've done, it is a parable of your own .. real and straight-up! Thank-you for that and fostering animals continually! I am currently fostering for my first time and I have fallen in love! Every time I have taken them to an adoption event I can't breathe and am so heart sick watching them do okay with a crowd of strangers without me, because I don't know if I am going to do okay with out them!! I have wondered and wondered if this is normal and if I would feel this way every time. My fosters came at 5wks and are now 12wks. Both girls, Black Lab mix .. which Retrievers own me already, especially black ones!! :o) God Bless You!!

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  72. You seriously just took me out of the biggest funk Ive had in awhile. I found this beautiful dog in the street and tried for an hour to get her to come to me. She finally did and I found a great owner for her. I wanted to get her fixed and checked out before I gave her to the family. I only spend 20 days with her but I'm so upset about letting her go. She was kind of skiddish and it just broke my heart. I really cant take another dog and I know this family will love her but its been really hard. I just feel so sad and I cant help it. This post really helped me put things in perspective. Thank you for all that you do.

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  73. This summer our family did two things. We adopted a puppy mill rescue and we are keeping her...and we became a foster family for SFRA. Working to rehab our adoptee has been very slow but tremendously rewarding and she has wrapped us all around he little paws. Then our foster has brought us nothing but joy and laughter. We love the fact that she can live with us instead of a concrete kennel somewhere. She is healthy and happy and she will make her forever family an awesome pet! Until then we are enjoying the heck out of her!! Thank you for what you do...and keep spreading the word...our furry friends deserve the best!

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  74. Couldn't agree with you more. We NEVER thought about fostering until after we lost our 20 yr old & were devastated with the loss. Took a couple weeks before we knew we had to fill the void, knowing we could never 'replace' him, but wanting another to share our daily lives with we found the TN Peke Rescue. Met Jackie 1st on-line, then on phone, before meeting in person. Told her we didn't care what the new family member looked like - it mattered that we had a 'connection' with the new addition. After a couple hours of visiting & talking, we learned of Barkley, who was a beautiful adult male Pekingese who had been at her no-kill shelter for 3 yrs because of he was 'red zone'. My hubby, Lord love him, said he wanted to meet him and accepted the liability should he be bitten (which he was), but in 20 minutes Barkley was sitting in his lap. We went back a week later after fencing in a yard for him. Figured it would take many weeks, perhaps months before we could really handle him. Surprisingly, within 48 hours of coming home, he had been bathed, groomed and was sleeping in bed with us, that was over 3 yrs ago & he is such a joy who loves to walk on leash, camp, travel & actually LOVES CHILDREN. From that point, we have taken in so many fosters from Jackie's Tn Peke Rescue. We are retired/disabled and only have a little home, but it is full of lots of love & compassion for our 'kids', doesn't matter if they are ours or fosters, they are all loved and spoiled rotten. Probably had close to 2-dozen animals through our doors, and including Barkley - 3 of them have found permanent homes. YES, it hurts to let them go, but we know we can't help another until a spot opens up. We can only handle 2 fosters at a time (except for short-time temp. holding of emergency rescues). We do what we can do and it is the most rewarding 'hobby' we could have ever found. WE DIDN'T FIND THE 'Hobby', it found us. TAKE A CHANCE & MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN EVEN ONE LITTLE BABY'S LIFE...any help far exceeds not even trying. BLESSINGS & HUGS

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  75. I used to foster mom dogs w/babies. I usually ended up finding homes for them all instead of taking them back to the shelter. Everyone would ask me the same question. "How can you give them up.". And my answer was always the same. "I dont foster for me, I do it for them.". :). It made me very happy to see them going to their new homes.

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