I am not sure how many people think of going this route, but it is a wonderful way to help a dog in need, while you open your heart to the love of an animal who will have a real life again because of you.)
Thanks Patti for the time you took to share this information with all of us! Barbara
The Least You Need to Know
There's a lot of skill and knowledge you can develop as you gain experience with fostering, and that will come with time. But really it's pretty straight-forward. At the very least, here's what I suggest:
You are agreeing to provide a safe environment with food, shelter, exercise, and some amount of socializing, so make sure you can do that. It's important that you and your family are all in agreement on this.
Mostly though? They just need lots of love.
It's not required but it does help if you already have some experience with dogs.
Also, an eagerness to learn more about them and how to work with them is a big plus. This makes it a much richer experience for everyone involved.
The shelter will help you find a good fit between your situation and the right dog.
There are lots of things to consider when making a match, but for example, you don't want a puppy if you can't be up during the night sometimes. You don't want a dog that intimidates you or is known to be unpredictable if you are not an experienced dog handler. Use your common sense to make sure you are not putting yourself or your family -- or the dog, for that matter -- in harm's way.
Note that some shelters provide more assistance and training than others.
The reality is, most rescue groups and many shelters are run by volunteers. They are overworked and not always as organized as they would like. You may or may not get much help from them about what to expect or how to handle tricky situations. This isn't ideal, but it's sometimes the reality.
Still, they are your first resource and if nothing else they can help you get answers and guidance.
If You Want to Know More
Information's pretty easy to come by nowadays with the internet so accessible. Here are a few of the better websites I found that provide great information if you want to look into being a foster parent.
Informative article on what's required, what to expect, and how to find a dog to foster. Includes videos!
How to successfully foster dogs and puppies - This is a helpful article about some of the details, with 5 links to similar articles at the bottom.
Short article with some good tips about finding a rescue group or shelter to foster for, preparing to foster, and then working with that organization.
Comprehensive Foster Dog Manual (PDF) from the Seattle Animal Shelter. 49 excellent pages. It's specific to the Seattle shelter but most of it can be applied anywhere.
And don't forget to ask your local shelter for information too. The bigger ones, especially, can be a wealth of information.
Begin Where You Are
So as you see, there's actually a lot you can know about fostering, but the good news is you don't have to know it all to begin.
Fostering is a lot like life in that it's a process of discovery. You may be more talented at helping dogs than you imagine, even if you have no experience. Just as with anything, we start with small steps and learn as we go.
If you have even an inkling you might like to do this, there's no reason at all not to proceed and see if you can find a good match. And if you are able to give it a try, I just know you'll be glad you did.
If you have any fostering stories, we'd all love to hear them. Or do you have questions? Tips or pointers? Please do share!
BIO: Patti Foy is a blogger at http://www.lightspiritedbeing.com/ where she writes about discovering our true selves and shining our light, along with offering her services that can help us do that. She lives a simple, natural life in the high desert of New Mexico with her husband and two dogs, where she enjoys writing and being connected to nature and animals.
On a personal note; my favorite rescue is Animal Action Rescue Atlanta, they have a great selection of dogs and are always looking for foster 'moms".
Fostering may be just the anwer you've been looking for. Do a great dead, give a great dog a home!