Being a foster parent for dogs

Three years ago we started fostering dogs, we have only fostered three dogs as we took a little break after adopting our own dog Nero. Offcourse I can only talk about my experiences and thoughts, so these are not general guidelines. Your experience fostering dogs will be a lot different, it depends on the breed you are fostering, your household, location, the history of the dog and their personality.

A little backstory about the breed of dog we own and foster and their history as I think that’s important to know as it defines our foster story. The Galgo Español is a Spanish Greyhound and they come from Spain. They are not kept as a pet but as tools to hunt by galgueros (hunters) and are mistreated in ways I do not want to type and think about. When they are not “good enough” anymore they get dumped, killed or brought by shelters. The shelters work with loads of organizations who try to find new homes for them. They are not used to living in a house and being a pet and are sometimes traumatized by all the abuse.

We actually didn’t really decide to be a foster family, it just kind of happened. After adopting our dog Pelo we got approached by the organisation who took care of his adoption and they told us about a dog needing a foster family after a failed adoption. We had met the particular dog called Sandokan before and we loved him so we said yes immediately. He arrived two days later and he only stayed with us for five days as he found his perfect family really soon. It’s been nearly three years and we still keep in touch with the people who adopted him. He had been in the Netherlands for about 7 months so already knew how it was like to stay in a house and with a family. He was not traumatized and just a happy carefree dog.

About a month later our second foster dog Luce arrived, she came straight from the shelter in Spain and had never been in a house before. Most of the time when you get a dog from a shelter you do not know a lot about their personality. The people in Spain do try and assess their personality but dogs behave differently in the shelter compared to a house. When Luce arrived we knew she probably wasn’t traumatized and she passed the cat-test. We were told the dogs are exhausted when they arrive because they travel in a van for a day which is pretty scary for them. Luce jumped out of the van and was a happy girl straight away, she was very overweight which is extremely rare for Galgo’s, especially straight from Spain. When she arrived in the shelter in Spain she was skin and bones but she ate a LOT in the shelter. She was hyper all day and felt right at home. She jumped on the couch, sat right next to my boyfriend and demanded attention all day.

It didn’t take us long to realise Luce had severe separation anxiety. She also loved my boyfriend so much she refused to go on a walk without him. She would just stand on the driveway and look at me with a look that screamed “oh no, I am not going with you. You can forget all about it”. I would have to drag her with me until she would give up and walk with me. But she would look over her shoulder every ten seconds or so to check if my boyfriend was coming to her rescue. So we realised we would have to find someone who spends all day at home, didn’t mind her separation anxiety and preferably single without other pets. Luce just wanted a human being all to herself and had no interest in other dogs or people. We thought this would be impossible but after ten weeks we found her a single woman who had a disability which prevented her from working, was single, would get a pet sitter if she needed groceries and would just take Luce everywhere else. They were a perfect match, they fell in love with each other right away and are really happy together.

Our current foster dog is called George and he was adopted before but the adoption failed. The shelter in Spain categorized him as an easy trauma-free dog who would fit in every house. But when George arrived with his adoptive family they realised he was very traumatized and he hated living in a big city. So they chose to find him a new family where he would fit in better. We live in a very calm neighbourhood and as I am home most of the time I get to work with him all day long. We have had George for 10 days and he has changed a lot since then. We live in a quiet area, I have a set routine and I give him lots of space which has helped him a lot. He is a friendly, cuddly and happy boy who loves to play. He is very scared when we come across other people/dogs during our walk and doesn’t like it when people come over but I am very proud of his progress. He needs some more time until he will be ready for adoption and we love having him to stay.

I love fostering because it helps rescued dogs find their perfect home, as a foster parent you can really see what a dog needs and desires. It gives the shelters in Spain (or any other country for that matter) room to rescue another dog and it is an amazing feeling to see a dog grow and learn things when they can finally be a pet. Whenever I talk to people about fostering they often times say something like “I would love to foster but I could never let go of the dog afterwards” and that is something which happens a lot, it is called ‘Foster Failure’ as people adopt their foster pet often. Whenever we get a foster dog I love it immediately but I do not look at it as my pet. The dog is under my supervision and in my care, I would do anything for him/her but he/she is not mine. I am sad whenever they leave, but I know that I selected a great family for them which will make them very happy, and that really does help.