Feelings You Get When Your Foster Dog Gets Adopted
Foster Adoptions: Overpowering The Sadness With Excitement
Written by Foster Dogs NYC volunteer, dog rescuer, and foster blogger Megan Penney
As someone fortunate enough to start fostering at the age of 13, I have had a little more time to process the idea of my foster leaving me for a new life than many others. It wasn’t until I started fostering full time on my own though that my whole attitude changed. At first I was like how I see so many other fosters…overwhelmed by sadness that this precious soul I took in was leaving. Almost in a way like sending your child off into the real world on their own I would guess. It took a few fosters but soon enough my whole mentality changed about my fosters leaving.
Instead of being sad, I started getting excited to see new applications. I got full on involved in helping the rescue sort through applications and looking for potential adopters through field trips to pet stores and to put up flyers of my foster dog(s). Instead of thinking of how much I would miss this dog, I started imagining the perfect family for this dog. I would dream up this ideal family. This helped me write up creative bios (for websites like PetFinder) on how a dog would love to go on make believe adventures with a new child companion. Or snuggle up with a new doggy brother or sister and finally get to be the little spoon.
I imagined the perfect home for each foster and tried to make one of the many possibilities I had for each dog into a reality though accurate but fun bios for PetFinder and fun flyers and trips with my foster dog everywhere.
I imagined my foster dog would love long runs on the beach so I took her to the beach all summer and even took beach photos with the idea that an adopter would envision themselves running on the beach with that dog.
In the end, not every story was 100% what I planned but I considered it just another chapter or a path I didn’t look at yet. It was a way to open up the endless possibilities for me to imagine for my next foster dog.
Photo: Baby puppy Cera’s first night in her forever home in 2013. This was sent to me that first night. The little girl in the family read to Cera each night as a baby. Cera and her brother were super urgent in a shelter and are now in loving forever homes.
While it is hard not to miss your foster dog, is even more powerful knowing that your foster is living his or her storybook ending. I still get updates from old fosters. Some of the dogs even picked up little habits from my own dog that have stuck with them through the years (old routines, favorite toys, quirks, etc). Others have their own instagram accounts (like not-so-little Thor) and others add me on Facebook or send me updates. I had two sibling mini pittie puppies adopted from me a couple years ago by the most incredible family ever in Westchester and still to this day get updates.
In photo: Bradley & Chablis when they were adopted in 2013 (left) and in January 2015 (right): The mini pittie puppies referenced in this piece.
It’s not just dogs I fostered anymore but now as someone working more so in the admin part of rescue since I am in a temporary hiatus from fostering, I also envision paths for dogs I rescue. I incorporate stories foster homes give me and try to give these dogs endless amazing options which reflect in my process of doing adoption applications. One of the first dogs I rescued to adopt out in CT ended up going to an incredibly special family to be the companion for such a fantastic young man who just so happens to have special needs. This dog is now that boys companion and both boy and dog are helping each other grow and thrive in this world.
Photo: Stella, found foster through Foster Dogs NYC back in Jan of 2014 and went from being a volunteer’s favorite in a super high kill shelter, to being a featured dog on Foster Dogs NYC (right). She was a surprise dog for us. The volunteer who loved her snuck her in with a litter the rescue I volunteered for pulled. We nicknamed her Stella the Stowaway. She ended up being a foster fail.
I now have endless stories I created with happy endings. My old fosters are my own storybook characters and have found their happily ever afters. I couldn’t be more happy or proud of each dog that has passed through my life.
So think about this next time you foster: Try to be happy for your foster dog. Be happy and proud enough that it overpowers the sad. All it takes is a little creativity and asking yourself some questions to help reach these dreams. (What ideal homes do you imagine your foster in? Can you take photos to help catch that kind of family’s attention? Where can you take your foster to expose him/her to more people who could provide this ideal future?) What about trying to write a catchy bio to help bring your stories to reality. We all have that beautiful childhood creativity in us. Let that creativity lead your foster into a home your heart created.
Fostering gives you a chance to be a chapter in this dog’s life. One that never disappears and will always have meaning. It is the big turnaround in the story. The resolution before the happily ever after.
Photo: Destiny when the rescue found her in Bridgeport shelter in CT (Dec 2012) (left) and a photo of her healthy and mange free with her new parents from Ma.(right, 2013) She lives with kids too, all who were willing to take in a shy girl who needed a little extra love.
And if you’re lucky like I am and find yourself involved permanently in the story of a rescue dogs life or might see yourself as a part of one for the rest of a dog’s life, remember that committing to a dog means committing to making memories and adding great chapters to their stories for a lifetime. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a rescue dog’s story and have altered my own story to align with hers. I’ll tell you this much. It’s a page turner and a story I’ll never put down or put to the side.
Zoey, adopted by me in July 2012 from Act Now Rescue. A Havanese with only three working legs who was rescued from a puppy mill. I made this collage exactly two years later to celebrate my amazing years with her so far. (Center photo was her photo from the rescue group and bottom left photo was the first photo I ever took of her). She was 5 months old when I adopted her.