“Can I Meet the Dog Before I Say ‘Yes?'”
QUESTION: “Can I meet this dog before I commit to fostering him/her?”
This is a fair question, and one that we get asked all the time. Below, we offer an in-depth response to provide you, the foster parent, with an idea why it is so helpful to commit to fostering a dog, sight unseen. This article was compiled with the assistance of several volunteers who have worked in dog rescue for a long time. We are sharing the following thoughts, in order to remind people that fostering is a temporary commitment (unless you decide to adopt!), and that it’s good to be open-minded and to remember that the dog truly needs a home.
Part of the foster process is about taking a risk, albeit an exciting one; you won’t always know everything about the incoming foster dog before he/she arrives. Once applying to foster, you will then receive word whether you are approved by the rescue group; then, if you commit to fostering a dog, please keep your promise – the rescuer (and dog) is relying on you! We ask that you remain patient and understanding when learning about your foster dog’s personality and behaviors; this will be a huge aide to the rescue group and the dog’s future adopters.
In many cases, when a dog is posted as “needs foster home,” the dog is currently in boarding – sometimes in a kennel outside of the city limits, possibly a few states away. In other situations, a rescue is trying to save a dog from a high-kill municipal shelter (in NYC and beyond). Even if the dog is in a New York City shelter, the shelter has many policies that it can be difficult to arrange for a potential foster home to meet the dog in time, prior to their euthanasia date. Because of these common instances, rescue organizations need someone to be firmly committed to fostering the dog before the dog leaves the shelter. Occasionally, there will be a dog already in an NYC foster home or at boarding facility who needs a foster home. In these less-common cases, some rescue groups can facilitate a meet-and-greet with the potential foster parent and dog. Keep in mind, this can be less common.
That being said, if the foster dog is not happy in your home, rescue groups can search for another home; but since these rescuers sometimes rely solely on foster homes and may have no housing facilities (boarding in NYC is expensive!), foster parents should be able to handle the dog for a couple weeks at least to give the rescue adequate time to find a replacement. Something like a “two weeks notice” type of scenario – just like the Hugh Grant movie!
In a majority of these situations, rescue groups need foster parents who are willing to commit to a certain duration of care prior to meeting the dog. Once the dog is placed in a boarding kennel, they miss out on having a typical home experience and have limited exposure to potential adopters. Yes, at first, this can seem intimidating; even directors of rescue groups once began in your shoes. Fostering is indeed a real commitment. You may hit some bumps in the road, but in the end, you are saving a life and nothing can compare to how amazing that feels. Be honest and flexible (wherever possible) with rescuers so that they can do their best to match a dog with your home. Be prepared to commit to the timeline requested, whether it is two weeks or two months!
You play a vital role, and your happiness and comfort is critical. Get excited, do your research, and take a leap of faith. You foster dog(s) will thank you!