Friday Firesmith – Fostering

Friday firesmithOkay, here’s a few things you need to know before you embark, no pun intended, on Dog Rescue and Fostering. First, there are very few, really very few, people out there making a dime on it. There are a whole lot of people fronting a whole lot of cash saving these animals. As a foster, you’re getting a dog that may, or may not, have some training. As a foster, you’ll be getting a dog that may, or may not, have any manners. You might be getting a dog with some real and very serious issues. That dog may or may not be up to date (UTD) on its vaccinations. Remember that warning. It’ll show up later in this story.

Dog m1Left arrow The puppy Wrex was my first foster. He had a great home but the resident cat hated him. Wrex was smallish at the time and the cat beat up on him so they took him to the shelter. Before this goes any further, let me tell you something about shelter; they are run by good people who have a terrible job. There is X amount of space. There is Y amount of animals. When X is lesser than Y, which is normal, dogs and cats die every single day. Hence the need for us fosters. Wrex was a great dog and I wanted to keep him but a really great couple showed up at an adoption event and that was that. 

Dog m2Right arrow  Burke was a puppy who was fronted by an organization called “Save A Lab”. They take dogs from high kill shelters and send them, in this case, to Rhode Island, to find a home there. Burke was with me for about two weeks. He had Kennel Cough and it spread to my resident three dogs. It sounded like a TB ward here. That’s something else you have to keep in mind; no one is telling you your foster dog is healthy. In point of fact, it would be surprising if the animal was. 

Here’s what happens:  A dog gets abandoned and lives on the streets until someone calls the Animal Control and they go out and catch the dog. They put it in a steel cage on a truck and it arrives at the shelter which is crowded with dogs equally as scared. It may or may not have a kennel to itself. The people there try to watch for signs of aggression from the new arrivals and if they show any they’re PTS. That’s Put To Sleep. Killed.

Burke was a sweet dog who wound up with a family with two kids, seven and elven years old. He will be with them until the kids are in college. I had a chance to see the Christmas card with him in it with the kids. On occasion you’re going to hit a home run, a towering shot to deep center field that clears the fence by one hundred feet deep and another twenty-five high. To see photos of Burke with those kids was that at bat for me.

So someone sends me a photo in FB and there’s a brindle female pit at the shelter. I read the message and damn, she’s going to be PTS at the end of the day. It’s four-thirty. I send a message telling them I will foster her and I pick her up. Day Two of this Tyger Linn’s arrival here my oldest dog, age 14, who is recently deceased, attacks Tyger Linn and she hammers him. I have to drag her off of him and in the process Tyger Linn bites me hard enough to draw blood. She isn’t UTD.

Two things: One if I say anything about this to anyone I have to get rabies shots. Two, a pit with aggressive tendencies, even when provoked, isn’t going to be one of those dogs that can be adopted out without a lot of work. Tyger Linn became my first “foster failure”. Deep down inside, I suspect the people who run the organization knew I was keeping her for a few reasons but I didn’t tell them she bit me.

Dog m3Right arrow Tyger Linn’s fault was she fought back against other dogs harder than she needed to. She didn’t know the value of a proportional defense; every argument was a fight and evert fight was to the death. She went after Lucas, who was eighty pounds her senior and he fought back just enough to keep her away from him. That’s the idea.

Tyger Linn has grown up a lot since December. The terrified and reactive street dog that was a stray for what must have been for most of her life, now sleeps on the bed and plays with other dogs without fighting. 

Down arrow Kira belonged to a Dog Rescue in Florida who fronted for her until they could get transportation. She was here a week and someone from Valdosta took her and four other dogs to Gainesville and from there someone picked them all up and took them to Ocala and from there someone else took them to Orlando. Dog m4Volunteers all, unpaid and on their own. Kira, hasn’t been adopted yet or if she has I haven’t got any photos. But I will. Dog People are like that. We keep in touch. A lot.


You don’t have to be a foster to save lives. You can donate money, work at a shelter, work an adoption event and help out there, or you can work at other events. I love fostering. I hate losing my dogs. Each and every dog I have ever fostered I have loved. We lose more than we can possibly save. But we save every dog we are able to save. One by one, until there are none, we fosters take them in and love them until our hearts get broken again.

Spay. Neuter. Adopt.



Take Care,

PS More later on my latest foster, Tanya the Destroyer. 


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


18 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Fostering”

  1. Proud to say I am a first time adopter!! We found us a little beagle, 2yrs old, who came from a starvation situation. We got her 9 days ago, she has learned the underground fence and I hear her hunting right now. The reason I write is to say that we may have saved her life but in turn she has saved our schnauzers life as well. Schnauzer became so neurotic after the death of our other beagle, thunder, hard rain, gun shots turned her into a vibrator, I say vibrator instead of shake because she never paused. Only comfort for her was to be shut in the closet until it blew over. Then she started licking the hide off her belly and then her leg. Within 2 days of Sophie’s arrival we saw a change. Schnauzer stopped licking completely!! I’ve seen far away lighting that would have gotten her started but she was calm. When I (human ear) could hear the thunder she was fine….for a few minutes. I dont care if she never gets over storms at least now she can live her life happier because of one little starved beagle.

  2. I’m a foster as well and love it. The good and the bad. It’s so wonderful when you know the dog has gone to the perfect home. We had a girl for 9 months before she was adopted. Why did it take so long? Cause she came from an abused background and frankly people want to adopt dogs that are perfect and ready to go. Not a dog that’s skittish. She came a LONG way in those 9 months we had her and she’s still making progress. We get to meet up with her and her new mommy and it’s really great to see how happy she is in her new home. It’s also touching that she remembers us and gets super excited when she sees us.

    Don’t be afraid to adopt an animal that may have been abused. Those are the dogs that need the most love and assurance and usually have the most love to give you.

    • Beth,

      That’s why it’s been nearly two weeks and Tanya’s first adoption event is tomorrow. SHe had to settle down a bit, learn some manners, learn to trust the future a bit more.

      Nine months is a very long time to foster a dog. I salute you for hanging in there!

  3. I want to foster, but after I retire. At this point I work long hours. My parents come over during the day and take care of Chaos for me. I think people who foster are wonderful, my only fear is that I may want to adopt them all.

    • That is a fear that is not unfounded, Chick. There is something to love in every dog. I really wanted to keep Wrex but that perfect family. Sometimes you just know you’ve done not only the right thing for a dog but for the people adopting that dog.

    • Jon,

      The day Burke stepped out of the truck and onto green grass after being in a shelter for two weeks was priceless. Imagine going from a steel and concrete cage and an hour later you are in a back yard running as hard as you can.

      If heaven isn’t anything like that I’m not going.

  4. My experiences with fostering goes back to about 1980. Two mismatched dogs (a German Shepard and A small mutt) showed up on my lawn one afternoon and decided they liked it there. I called the no-kill in my county, but they were slam full at the time. Took them in and they got along just fine with my dog, a pound puppy, and lived with us for about three weeks until the shelter could find them new homes. We had our share of problem pets, like a completely flea infested sheep dog and a hound that did not like living a quiet life in a fenced yard, but most of my temporary fur friends were fine. I still have three dogs who came to me as pound puppies, years ago, and will live here until their time on Earth is over. Those dogs really are family and I’ll miss ’em.

    • Richard,

      I will miss Tanya when she gets adopted just as I miss the others. But the family dogs…damn, it really hurts to lose one of those. Especially those that have been around for over ten years.

  5. Got an old friend who is an Animal Control Officer in Jersey. The shelter is always overcrowded so any animal coming in sick or wounded has no chance. It’s not unusual for her to have a dozen critters living in her house, in the process of being healed/cured before turning them in to the shelter.

  6. I am on my 169th foster dog in 5 yrs. Seeing the dogs happy with their new families and looking at the next one I take in and realizing that it would have died if I kept the last one is what keeps it going.

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