A Lesson on Fostering Dogs Part I: Finding a Rescue Group

Things to expect in this series: lots of stories, tips/tricks, and things I’ve learned in my time of fostering dogs.

Story Time: In 2016, my (now ex) boyfriend made the decision to get a dog. I told him he could get one as long as it was an apartment sized Golden Retriever since we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment and I grew up with/LOVED golden retrievers. Think Donkey’s “blue flower with red thorns” task from Shrek. Jokes on me because he found Gold Ribbon Rescue, a GOLDEN RETRIEVER RESCUE GROUP. Not going to lie, I was surprised such a thing existed.

After 4-6 months of interviews, home visits, and lots of waiting, they reached out to us 3 days before I was starting a new job, asking if we wanted to take this smaller golden named Holly that had just come into their care. We were hesitant with a lot of change coming up with the new job, but said yes because working with GRR allowed us to foster her and have the first right of refusal if we wanted to keep her. Surprise surprise she came in and was pretty much perfect – a little reactive to new people, but perfectly house broken, non-destructive, and rarely barked. She brought us so much joy until we split up and he took custody of our fur child.

After the break up, my home (and heart) felt a little empty without a dog. But, at the same time, I didn’t feel ready to take on a dog full time forever. They’re a lot of responsibility and need a lot of time and attention and care and I just wasn’t sure I could commit to it with some of the other goals I wanted to take on for myself. Remembering how we brought Claire into our home, I applied to foster through GRR and have been doing that for a little over a year with very few regrets.

I’d like to start off my lessons and recommendations for you at step 1: finding a group to foster with and going through their foster/adoption process. Most cities have shelters that have foster programs to open up space for new dogs to come in. But what most people don’t realize is that many breeds have breed-specific rescue groups (a la GRR). You can easily find these by googling “[breed] rescue in [location]” (note that the rescue may not be exactly in your city, but in your general area — a la Central Texas for Austin or San Antonio). GRR has had all kinds of dogs come in – small dogs, big dogs, pregnant mothers (and subsequently puppies), young dogs, senior dogs, you name it. The likelihood of being matched to the type of dog you want (like a puppy) is there, it just takes patience.

All rescues have multiple goals as part of their mission: pulling that breed/size from shelters to avoid them being put down/free up space in the shelter, making sure these animals are going to good homes, and overall being a resource to families who have dogs of that breed (or pets in general). One big thing I’d look for in a rescue group to work with is what their foster and adoption application process is like.

In my experience, many breed-specific rescues can have pretty strict adoption requirements. They have long forms that have to be completed about your home, schedule, personality, other pets or family members, etc. AND THEN many come and visit your home to verify that you actually have a wooden fence and want to see how you and your family react with dogs in the home. THEN you wait a little longer until a dog comes in that the rescue feels matches your family’s personality and lifestyle.

While it’s frustrating to deal with a lengthy process like this, I’ve seen first hand that these types of procedures are in place to protect the rescue group and the animal in question. Knowing how people deal with a pet when they don’t have one is hard to judge off of one visit, but the group does its best to find out more about the family to ensure that the dog will go to a good home, but also to ensure that it’s matching the family to the right dog/personality (also a big perk to adopting a dog that is older and not a puppy – you get and idea of what their personality is like when you meet them). It’s really wonderful to bring in an animal that fits your family’s personality right off the bat because the rescue group did it’s due diligence in matching a dog with a family. Fostering dogs has truly been a joy for me so I’m looking forward to sharing my experience.

I’ll continue my thoughts in Part II on questions to ask a rescue group you’re looking to work with. In the meanwhile, let us know what questions you might have in the comments!

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