Your experience with fostering is as individual as is the rescue or shelter for whom you are fostering. Each rescue manages their foster program somewhat differently from the rescue around the corner. Yes there are consistencies from organization to organization that can be expected. However, for the most part, your foster experience will be your own and greatly dependent on the breed of dog, manner of the rescue, and many other factors. Outside of simple facts, like fostering one dog saves two lives, there are millions of dogs in need of temporary fosters before placement, the only "fostering facts" I can offer you is the facts of what it is like to foster for HoundSong Rescue.
No rescue can guarantee you a smooth and uneventful foster experience. However it is the responsibility of rescue organizations to mitigate challenges and try and ensure that each fostering experience is successful and goes as smoothly as possible. If and when challenges arise, it is the rescues responsibility to be responsive and responsible in caring for/helping/assisting dogs and foster families through those challenges. Fostering and foster homes are the core of rescue work. Without foster volunteers rescue organizations would not get much work done. They are the most important aspect of rescue operations. Fosters are the front line that makes all other work possible.
HoundSong Rescue understands and appreciates that your offer to foster a dog is in fact a volunteer effort. Keeping that in mind we try, as best as circumstance allows, to tailor your foster experience to your needs. Not every foster home can take any dog we drop at their door. (Do not worry, we do not show up unannounced and drop dogs at your dog...we usually leave them in the yard...that was a joke.). Each foster has their own skills. We have a few who only want easy dogs. We try to accomidate them as best we can. We have a few who like scared or timid dogs...and so on and so forth. We try to give the appropriate dog to the appropriate fosters. This does not mean that we will not ask you to stretch your comfort zone a little from time to time.
Our goal is always to develop a reliable, long term, skilled foster network. A team of dedicated individuals whose primary goal is the welfare of the not only the animals in their charge, but of the animal community at large. We believe in team work and fair cooperation.
Most of our expectation of a foster homes are detailed clearly in our Foster policy found HERE. Beyond these somewhat clinical expectations, there are some more intangible expectations. We expect that our fosters will always and in all things act respoonsibly, respectfully, and professionally. We expect our fosters to always speak in a voice fitting our mission. We expect that our fosters will willingly be a part of the HoundSong team and always return the respect and effort shown them by others in our organization.
HoundSong Rescue provides all the medical care and major expenses for a foster dog. Some rescue require foster homes pay for medical, some reimburse medical, we prefer to manage it ourselves through one of our veterinary providers. We will provide training and support if needed for your foster dog either through an outside professional agency or through our experienced foster network. We do not typically provide food, unprescribed supplements, and luxury items.
My father used to say that the more difficult something is, the more reward there is in doing it. Fostering can be thought of this way. There is a great rewards in fostering. Watching the scared or sickly dog come back to life. Seeing the sweet loving dog find a home they so richly deserve. We have in our organization people who say that fostering for HoundSong has changed their lives in ways they would have never expected. Some say it is one of the most rewarding things they have done in their lives. I can promise you this reward has not come without effort.
There are trips to the vet, scheduling meet and greets, training, socialization, dogs crying in their crate when you are trying to sleep, occassional disagreements with other dogs, housebreaking work, dogs getting into the garbage, loss of sleep, and a host of other small everyday sort of things that we feel many people over look or do not consider when deciding to foster a dog. Try as we may to find dogs who suit our individual foster homes, we cannot always achieve a balance. Some dogs misbehave. HoundSong Rescue tries to respond to these situations as quickly as possible but at times it may take some patience on your part while we try to arrange other accomidations.
Fostering a dog in need is, in its most simple form, saving a life. In a more broad sense it should be about more than that. It is not just about the dog, but all dogs. It is about the families and the people who are, at times, made whole again through the dogs they adopt. It is about the little boy who adopted a dog named Sam from us many years ago. A shy, quiet, handicapped, boy who, through Sam, found his voice and found new friends. It is about the old man on the South Side of Chicago who, after having lost his wife and finding himself alone, found companionship with a little Beagle he named Snoopy. It is about dogs, people, and community.
Yes fostering saves a dogs life...but sometimes, it also saves human lives. It is a huge responsibility. There is a lot of work to be done. That work...it is important work. It is important to the rescue, important to the dog, important to the adopting family. When you agree to become a foster, whether for our organization or another, you are joining in on a mission to do much more than just save a couple dogs in danger. You are changing the lives of both dogs and people.