One of the most important – and
rewarding – jobs GRRI volunteers do is to serve as foster
homes for our dogs before they are placed in their forever
homes. Foster homes serve many critical purposes, including
providing a safe, caring environment for dogs when they need
it most. We also develop insights on the unique
characteristics and behavior of each foster dog in a home
environment, which is information that just isn’t as easily
obtained if a dog is in a shelter or kennel. Ultimately,
this special insight gives us the “inside information” we
need to make the best possible match with adopters.
Offering to take a dog into a household
isn’t necessarily an easy decision for volunteers to make;
it often requires some changes to the daily routine and some
extra initial cautionary steps, especially if there are
other animals or children at home. GRRI tries to help make
fostering easy and enjoyable, with written information on
the volunteer website and the support and help of other
volunteers and experienced foster homes. Sure, there’s the
bittersweet moment when the foster dog hops into the new
adopter’s car and drives off! – it’s a happy moment, but
inevitably foster homes develop great affection for “their”
dogs. Our adopters are a great bunch too, and they often
help ease the transition with frequent news and pictures,
and of course we get to see many GRRI dogs at our annual
We decided to ask some of our foster
homes what the biggest surprise for them had been about
fostering. Here are some of the responses:
We are new at this so I do not have a
lot of experiences....Rocky and Cadbury have been our foster
dogs...the most outstanding result of fostering is that I
have come to know how wonderful my dogs are....they have
welcomed both dogs with open paws.
The biggest surprise about fostering
for me was that foster dogs fit into the family. There is a
period of adjustment but much shorter than a person would
take if they were tossed into a new environment. They
observe for a day or two, get to know the new routine and
then make themselves at home. This is Parker and my foster
dog Maggie, now Maggie Bergner.
I know a lot of people say "I could
never foster - I wouldn't be able to let them leave". What
surprised me most about fostering was that I WAS able to let
them leave (well, most of them anyway!). I'm not saying it
was always easy - far from it. There are some dogs that you
immediately become attached to. When it is time for them to
go, you spend the morning of the adoption with a knot in
your stomach and getting misty over the thought of them
going. But the surprising part happens when they meet their
family. They seem to know this is where they belong.
Feeling the excitement of the family and knowing you played
a small part in their happiness makes you want to do it again
and again! I'm also always surprised every time I bring
home a foster dog and my husband doesn't divorce me!!!!
Terry Veiga, shown below with her
“foster failure” Finnie
When I announced to my friends and
family that I had volunteered to become a foster mom to
Golden Retrievers, instead of "Congratulations," or "What a
nice thing to do," I heard thirty variations of "Who are you
kidding-you will never be able to give up the dog." The
Vegas line was 1000 to 1 against me. That was eight dogs
ago, and I am probably as surprised as anyone that I am able
to hug them good-bye and be happy for them when they leave
for their forever homes.
Judy Lilien, shown below with her foster dog Rusty.
I think the
most surprising part of fostering is the long term
attachment I have to the dogs who've been with us. Long
after they've moved on to their new foster homes, they
remain very much connected by heart strings to our family.
We receive news of them from their forever homes with just
about the same interest and excitement as if they were our
kids. Their personalities are indelible and we have honestly
loved them all.
Mary Jane Roethlin, whose
current foster dog Harry Potter appears below along with
resident dogs Dylan and Brigid.
Well I have
had nothing but wonderful experiences with fostering!! It
is an overwhelming feeling of joy, and excitement of
matching up dogs with their forever homes!! Most of the
applicants have been waiting a long time, and have been
wanting a Golden for a long time. You know what a great
thing you are doing for the dog that for whatever reason has
been displaced from his home, when you open up your home for
him to regroup and get some training if necessary. And
then the follow up stories are also heart warming. Thanks
for letting me be a part of this wonderful organization.
Patton, pictured below with “foster failure” Polar
We just had
the surprise of our lives with our foster girl Kyra.
We had just
arrived in Florida after 17 hours in the van with Kyra and Bandit and
everyone was glad to stretch and walk around. Bandit is our
Husky and every time we arrive he checks every inch of the
house from top to bottom; lots of new smells and such. Kyra
followed him from room to room checking everything out and
when I opened the back door he ran outside and around the
back of the pool and over the rock waterfall just like he
always does, but Kyra couldn't get over the rocks so she
turned around to go back and when she did -SPLASH!!! right
in the pool. To our amazement, she doesn't know how to swim.
She sank to the bottom and then just floated up. By the time
she hit the surface Jean was in the pool (clothes and all!)
to grab her up. Kyra learned to love the pool while we there
but never learned to swim. Don't all dogs swim? Particularly
John and Jean Giacobbe. Jean is pictured
below during Kyra’s follow-up swimming lesson.