Have a friend or family member who’s fostering a dog? Here are a few simple tips that will go a long way toward making you the best foster family supporter out there — until you’re ready to become a foster parent yourself.
1. Share your love.
Everybody loves a dog on Instagram — and when it comes to dog adoption, an adorable pic can play a big role in finding a dog’s forever home. Help the foster parents in your life by sharing photos of their pup with your social networks, or by reaching out to people you know who are looking to adopt. Just a few clicks can make a huge difference.
Sarah Brasky, the founder of Foster Dogs NYC, told PupJournal, “At Foster Dogs, we always encourage our volunteer foster parents to take photos of the dog outside in nice light, or inside being cuddly. These small photo choices can make an invaluable difference in that dog finding an adopter.” She goes on to say,
“For the viewer to look at a photo of an adoptable dog on our website or social media and say ‘I need that dog in my life,’ means we’re one step closer to placing that pup in an adoptive home.”
Brasky told PupJournal, “When a shelter dog sits behind bars for a photo, it is indeed heart-wrenching but can be hard for the viewer to imagine that dog on his/her home. It’s more abstract. But when a shelter dog is in a photo outside on a walk, or in a foster home snuggling on the pillow or showing off a new trick, it becomes more clear to the interested party that this is a dog that would do great in their home!”
2. Come hang out.
Help socialize the doggie! Your foster parent friends are probably a little housebound and overwhelmed, and a visit from you could really boost their morale, and give their foster dog a new experience with another loving human. Plus, there’s probably some excited kisses and tail wagging in it for you. It’s a win-win.
3. People need praise too.
Fostering isn’t easy, and you can be sure that from time to time your foster parent friends are going to need a little bit of positive reinforcement. Remind them that they’re doing a wonderful thing for their foster dog, and that the pup is more likely to find a loving forever home because of the work and time they’re putting in. Then, when the foster gets adopted and your friends have to say some difficult goodbyes, be ready with a supportive hug (or a drink!).
4. Remember: adoption is just one way of loving a dog.
Be cognizant of the fact that your foster parent friends made the choice to foster rather than adopt, which could be for any number of reasons (financial situation, living environment, etc). Consider this when you’re tempted to say things like “You’ve got to keep her” or “I don’t know how you could give up this sweet pup!”
Try to reframe your expressions of affection, keeping in mind that your foster parent friends are probably experiencing some amount of heartbreak over the fact that the dog they’ve come to love will soon be moving on to her forever home.
5. Find out how you can get involved.
While fostering may not be easy, the rewards are as meaningful to foster parents as they are to foster pups. Ask your friends how to find a foster doggie of your very own. Even if you can’t be a forever home right now, you can do a great service by giving a dog a safe and loving environment. The more you love and care for your foster dog, the more she will be able to transition successfully into her eventual forever home — which you will have been instrumental in helping her find.
For more information on fostering in New York City (and to check out adorable pups wherever you are), visit Foster Dogs NYC.
Laura Eve Engel is a forever dog lover and first-time foster parent. She’s also a writer. You can find out more about her writing and other human things she does at lauraeveengel.com.