If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of empathy. And you need empathy if you’re going to foster dogs. You have to care. But if you’re like me, you can often care deeply and too much. That’s when it becomes hard to foster.
Foster dogs come from many places and have many different pasts, but one thing all foster dogs need is help, and that’s why you’re there. Sometimes you’re there because you need to help the dogs trust humans again, because of their difficult past. This is where it gets hard for people like us, who care so deeply.
I fostered a dog not long ago who came from a terribly abusive home. He came to me skinny and skittish, he whined and trembled when you approached him, and I don’t think he ever felt a kind touch before he was rescued.
This poor baby almost made me want to stop fostering. It was so hard for me to watch this boy be so afraid of me, to wolf down his food in three bites then desperately search for more. It pained me to watch this dog tremble when I tried to coax him out of his cage.
“It pained me to watch this dog tremble when I tried to coax him out of his cage.”
I can’t even tell you how many nights I laid in my bed crying, physically hurt that anyone could do what they did to that dog. But I kept getting up in the morning and did my job as a foster mother. And eventually that dog learned to trust me.
But the pain doesn’t stop there, because once the dog is rehabilitated, you either adopt him out or adopt him yourself. Deciding to adopt him out was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It felt like I was giving away not only my child, but a child who was old enough to understand — to look at me with teary eyes and ask me “Why?” Because when a dog comes to you so broken, and you fix them up, it’s hard to let them go. It’s hard to let them back out into the world where there might be people that would hurt them again.
It’s one of the hardest parts of fostering, for me.
Yes, I am the person that wants to keep every dog that comes into my home. But I know that I can’t. And if you’re like me, that’s what you want as well. The same empathy that makes us want to foster also makes it so hard for us to let them go.
But by all means, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking “I can handle that.” Please, please look into becoming a foster parent. We are needed so badly. Just remember, you can’t adopt all of them.
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