Growing up with the joys of a Labrador Retriever/Great Dane mix, I knew I’d have a dog in my life as an adult. I just didn’t realize how many!
In 2007, I moved out of a no-pets-allowed home into my current home and adopted my baby, an Australian Shepherd. He became my world. He taught me true, unconditional love. He was my companion on journeys that would have otherwise been solo. He was my snuggle bug when I watched TV. He was a constant source of trust and hope. To this day, I’m grateful I moved when I did or I would have missed out on this incredible love in my life.
[av_image src=’http://www.tailsofthetrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/coco-lhasa-apso-mix-180×180.jpg’ attachment=’799′ attachment_size=’square’ align=’right’ styling=” hover=’av-hover-grow’ link=’lightbox’ target=” caption=’yes’ font_size=” appearance=’on-hover’ overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’ animation=’fade-in’]Coco, a Lhasa Apso mix[/av_image]
Having such a great dog encouraged me to give rescue dogs a temporary home until their permanent homes opened up. I began fostering in my home in 2009. These foster dogs crossed the spectrum from a 25 pound Lhasa Apso mix who was separated from the only life he knew, to an American Staffordshire Terrier who spent 6 weeks confined to a crate to allow a broken leg to heal, to a pregnant hound momma who gave birth to six beautiful puppies.
People consistently ask me, “How can you give the fosters up? I’d get so attached.”
I tell people several reasons. First, because I do this, lives are saved. Space in shelters is freed up. There’s a home for each of these fosters. Like me, they just need more time to find them.
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Jenny, a 9-year-old Shepherd mix
Second, I can help with making the dogs more adoptable and better able to stay in a home. Some dogs come without knowledge of living in a home—the scary noises a dishwasher makes, proper places to do their “business,” how to live with other dogs in the house, etc. Third, and most important, I’d miss out on having them in my life. I’d miss out on their uniqueness, their fun way of doing things, their blossoming into a loving family pet. I fostered Jenny, a 9 year old Shepherd mix, who spent her life tied up in the backyard. She never knew life with toys. She watched the other dogs in the house play and didn’t interact. Eventually, she learned. Eventually, she developed a love for one particular toy—and I got to see it all! I witnessed her blossoming and enjoying life filled with toys, bones and the like. If I didn’t foster, I would have missed out on that and many more experiences. I’d also miss out on the extended family I’ve developed through fellow foster parents and adopted families. My social circle has grown from these people and they are a great part of my life. I get Christmas cards, Facebook updates, and pictures texted to me from the adopted families! I get to hear stories about their fun times. Think of everything I would be missing!
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Loverboy, Danielle, and Laney
I have raised my home, for a year at a time, four black Labrador Retriever puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs. This organization trains service dogs for visually impaired people and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Again, when people learn this about me, they ask, “I’d get so attached. How can you give them up?” As in rescue dogs, I gain so many benefits. I get to have the fun liveliness of a puppy in my life. I receive the benefits of seeing a puppy grow from a gangly, goofy puppy into a well-rounded, mature dog that knows service dog-specific tasks that will help a disabled person. Most importantly, I know this is making a difference in people’s lives. I’ve seen what a difference my dog makes in my life. I am a different person today for the love I’ve given to and received from him. Now I can help people with disabilities have a more well-rounded life. They feel freedom to venture out of their homes more. They get more engaged in life because of the support they receive from these service dogs. They are different people for having known these dogs.
And the bottom line is I do get attached. But I also know that my home can only support so many dogs. And I know if I go through that one moment in time when I have to say goodbye, then I can do more to save dogs and make people’s lives better.
Danielle Robinson is a seasoned event leader for Tails of the Trail and recently spent four months dog training at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. She has fostered and trained 18 dogs over the years.