I’m not very good at dealing with grief. I usually keep it in and try to stay strong. This results in a prolonged grieving period that doesn’t help me at all. So in an attempt to help with my grief, I am writing this piece. It is not meant to stop anyone from foster caring but rather is meant to give an insight into some of what I do go through.
Foster caring animals can be extremely rewarding. You get to see a sad broken animal find themselves again and you get to watch them learning to enjoy life. You also know that you have saved a life, and that really is something to be proud of. The lows of foster caring aren’t often spoken about as to not put potential foster carers off. There are the every day lows of endless piles of poop and training session after training session where you feel like there is no improvement, but these aren’t too hard to deal with. The lows that make an impact on your life are the ones that matter. To date, I have had one foster dog put to sleep in my care due to untreatable medical conditions, and two dogs adopted out to new families who have passed away with them. These are the lows that you can’t escape.
Many people choose not to foster as they don’t think they can give up the animal and find it a new home after loving the animal so much through the rehabilitation process. The adoption day is hard. Often I drive away with tears in my eyes wishing I could just keep the dog. This sadness is helped by the fact that I am a picky foster carer who only adopts to the absolute perfect home. I put a lot of effort into ensuring the adoptive family will love the dog as much as I do. So leaving the animal with them isn’t hard because of the animals needs, but because of my own love for that animal. A foster carer has to learn to love each dog from afar. The problem with this is that you have many dogs out there with a piece of your heart. It means that there are many more dogs that you care about that can be hurt or die. Unfortunately this happened to me today with Coco Pop, renamed to Iggy. I found him the best family who loved him so very much but there was an accident and my dear Pop didn’t survive. His forever family are devastated, as are we. He was a large part of our life for many months. We watched him grow from a tiny puppy to a boisterous young man. He found his place in the world and a big personality to match. And although he hasn’t been a part of my life for a few months now, his loss is still felt. He will no longer be running around somewhere with his tail in the air doing his oh-so-Pop bark. He will no longer impress anyone with his gentleman ways. And he will no longer be able to celebrate his birthday with a catch up with his two brothers, one of which is Bonsai who I adopted. I will miss the updates I got from Pop’s mum and miss seeing him every birthday. There’s nothing I can do now for him but I know that I can save another life like his and give it a chance to blossom as he did. I always hope that my foster dogs have long happy lives. Each one of them carries a piece of my heart as they go out into the big wide world with their forever families, but that is what I signed up for. I know that each and everyone of my foster dogs will always be loved by me. They will not die as just a number in a pound and when the time comes, I will meet them all at rainbow bridge.
Oh Alinta you brought a tear to my eye! I think what you and other foster carers do is amazing. You selflessly give these dogs love and care, and it must be awful to hear the worst.
I got very attached to one of my parent's dogs puppies many years ago, and though he went to an excellent home I still cried when I heard he had to be put down after some serious health issues 8 years later. I think some animals just leave a big paw print on your heart forever.
Big hugs x
Thank you, they certainly give us more than we could ever give them. I have been planning to write the positives of foster caring but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet. I just hope I haven't put any potential foster carers off with this post 🙂
I'm sure you haven't put anyone off! I'd love to read more about your experiences as a foster carer.