Fostering is an Adventure!

Guest blog written by Foster PAWrent Amanda Boyarshinov 

You can search the internet to learn about fostering an animal in your home, and while there are MANY articles that provide some basics and tips for how to prepare, the reality is: EVERY TIME YOU FOSTER IS A DIFFERENT ADVENTURE!  While I feel that I may not necessarily be an expert, I definitely have a bit of experience (we are currently housing our 96th foster!) and can offer some good advice for anyone looking to embark on a foster care journey of their own.

Make the decision to embark on the fostering adventure

The first step is making the decision to foster as a family.  I will admit, I am usually the first one in my family to say “I think I’d like to foster.” Since we are a family of 5, I bring the idea to the dinner table and we discuss if it’s a good time in our lives to foster and what we have time and energy for. We only take in a foster if the whole family is in agreement.  Most importantly – all the adults in the house MUST agree or the adventure will not work!  The first time you make the decision to foster an animal in your home, you fill out a foster application and meet with the Foster Coordinator for a house check.  When this is done, approved foster families get an email when there is a foster need.  There is a separate e-mail for fostering cats and fostering dogs.  If you are like me – then you may sign up for both. 

Saying YES to fostering an animal

Once you say YES to an animal, fostering starts to get real.  Admittedly, when I read through the animals needing a foster I want to help them ALL. At this point, I go back to the discussions in step 1 to really think about the animal that we could best help in the time frame we have available. The highest need for fosters are: 

  • Heartworm positive dogs 
  • Mom dogs with puppies or Mom cats with kittens 
  • Orphan kitties under 8 weeks old
  • Orphan puppies under 8 weeks old

HSNEGA provides you with all medical care and necessary supplies. It is the foster parents job to provide a safe and loving environment for the animal to thrive in.. So how do we choose which animal to foster?

My available time and energy: My youngest son loves kittens, so every once in a while, I will say yes to fostering kittens. I have found that fostering kittens is about the cutest thing ever and probably the least amount of commitment in terms of cleaning, socialization and care. They actually know how to use a litter box!!! It’s amazing!

Our ability to make a difference: Nothing against puppy kisses – but a litter of 5 underage puppies is a LOT of work! Imagine 5x the pee and poop … not to mention the bathing requirements when they inevitably decide to roll around in it! Even knowing how much time and energy is required when fostering underage puppies, I still often say YES because I have 3 kids to help and I know that we can spend a lot of time socializing the puppies.  Those early weeks are so important for a puppy’s social development!  Spending time in a loving home can lead to a more well-socialized dog in the future. 

The Name: I know it’s a TERRIBLE way to choose a foster but I will admit that we have said we would foster a dog just because we liked their name.  

The ADVENTURE of Fostering

Once the decision to foster has been made, you are given the green light by your family and the foster coordinator and have selected an animal to foster, then the true adventure begins.  As I said earlier, we are currently hosting foster #96 and each time it has been a unique adventure.  No two dogs or cats are alike, so no two foster experiences have been the same!  

The first few days of our foster adventure usually consists of a lot of down time; Going super slow and getting to know the animal.  Just as when you adopt a dog from the shelter, when you take a foster dog home it takes them around 3 days to decompress and 3 weeks to learn the new routines.  We take the dogs on slow leash walks around the yard and set them up in a room separate from our family pets.  I’ve found that puppies and kitties tend to decompress quicker than adults, but all still need plenty of down time to catch up on sleep.  

Once they’ve adjusted, we begin to treat them as we would our own pet.  We feed them, put out fresh water, take them on leash walks, and play with them.  As we learn more about the animal, we make mental notes. What kind of toys do they like? What is their activity level? What is their personality? We interact with them and we begin to fall in love with them! YES, in this great adventure of fostering, you will fall in love.  

When it comes time for our adventure to end, we write down as much as we can about the animal and send this information into the foster coordinator along with a few cute pictures and videos that we took.  We take a polaroid picture of our foster and add it to our foster photo album.  The morning before our foster goes back, we like to bring the family back to the dinner table where we first made the decision to foster and we light candles for a wishing ceremony.  Each member of the family says their wish for our foster in their forever home. 

My wish for each is simple: ‘May they have full bowls of food.  May they have someone to play with. May they always have someone to give them belly rubs.’

If you are interested in becoming a foster PAWrent, fill out the foster application on the HSNEGA website HERE or contact Kathleen at kgarrand@hsnega.org

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At HSNEGA, we want to remember the amazing rescues that come to stay with us. All of the animals pictured on this site have been with us at some point. Some have already found their forever homes, but some may still be here at HSNEGA! The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization (Federal Tax ID #58-0678817) and has received top recognition from the following charity rating organizations:

Best of Georgia, GreatNonProfit & GuideStar Seals

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