FOSTERING = LOVE. LEARN. LET GO. REPEAT.
However rewarding and life-changing, fostering a dog is often an emotional experience that can ‘tug hard on our heart strings’, as saying goodbye is never easy. Yet, this moment signifies too, one of the happiest events in the dog rescue foster care system—you have forever changed the life of a dog for the better and more often than not, a family too. Below are some tips that have helped our foster families to let go of their foster dogs when the time comes for adoption.
It Gets Easier With Time ~ For many, the first time you say goodbye to a foster dog is the hardest however, with most things it gets easier with time and with each new foster dog you take in. While you never stop caring for the foster animals that come into your heart and home, you will soon realize that sadness is replaced with the satisfaction of knowing you were instrumental in changing the life of a dog for the better.
Be Active in the Adoption Process ~ At DSD we want our foster families to take an active role in the adoption process. We find that foster families having a say in their foster Danes forever family helps ease to ease the transition of saying goodbye. A foster family provides DSD instrumental feedback on both the dog’s behavioural assessment as well as the suitability of a potential adoptive family for the Dane in their care. This helps us to end the foster cycle for that Dane by ensuring that him or her go to their forever home on the first placement.
Focus on the Ultimate Goal ~ It’s only natural to find you have a strong bond with your foster Dane; in fact this bond helps in their rehabilitation. It’s important to always keep in mind why you became a foster in the first place—it’s about continuing to forever changing the life of a dog not just one, but many dogs over a period of time. DSD and other dog rescues and shelters are continually inundated with adoptable dogs, including Great Danes, but in the absence of available foster homes, many have no choice but to turn to euthanasia. As a foster parent, it’s vital to keep your original goals in mind and remain committed to helping foster dogs find loving, forever homes.
Learn to Celebrate ~ Instead of focusing on the “letting go” aspect of a foster dog being adopted, focus on celebrating the momentous occasion, and congratulate yourself and family for a job well done. Throw a little goodbye party for your foster dog, treat yourself and family to a special meal, it’s good to commemorate the fact that with your help, your foster dog has found their permanent forever home.
Let Go of Guilt ~ After days, weeks or even months of bonding, it can be painful to say goodbye to a foster dog. You may even experience strong feelings of guilt for not being able to adopt the animal yourself—this is to be expected. However, it’s important to understand that while these feelings are natural for you, animals are incredibly resilient, adaptable, and they live in the moment —your foster dog will become a part of his new family just as quickly as they did with you and will be living happily ever after in no time! You may also come to realize that the adoptive family is better suited for the Dane long-term than your family may be.
Stay Connected ~ It’s very important for foster parents to communicate with like-minded folks. By staying connected with your DSD family you’ll be able to share advice and experiences, give support and even provide a shoulder to cry on when it’s someone else’s turn to let go. DSD fosters are able to stay connected via our ‘closed’ foster network group on Facebook.
Take A Break ~With the constant demands of foster care, you may begin to feel a bit burned out—and that’s completely understandable. You may also simply need time to process your feelings in between fosters. It is important to recognize these feelings and follow through by notifying DSD your need for a break. While you may feel guilty or pressure to immediately open your heart and home to another foster Dane, DSD understands that if you burn out completely, there will be one less foster home available. In the meantime you can still stay connected via our ‘closed’ foster network group on Facebook as well as volunteering your time to DSD in other ways.
Cherish The Memories ~ Consider saving memories of your furry foster friends in a scrapbook. From photos, to reminiscent stories and other memorabilia—a foster scrapbook is a great way to capture the memories of your foster Danes, while honoring the many animals whose lives you have directly helped. This too can be helpful for families with children involved in the fostering process and ease the transition of letting go.
Play a Role in Your Now Adopted Foster’s Life ~ We encourage our foster families to stay connected to their once foster Danes new family once adopted. This can be done via telephone, email and/or social media. Our foster families provide the new adoptive family with insight into their new Dane and provide support in answering any questions they may have. Our foster families often share stories and pictures enabling you to follow along in their forever journey; this is the most rewarding part of being a foster, knowing you had a part in giving them another chance at a forever home.
Foster Again ~ Once you’ve fostered one Dane there is sure to be another in need of your foster care just around the corner. The best way to celebrate one dog leaving your life is to help transform the life of another, and another, and another….well you get the idea. With each foster dog that you help place in a loving home, it becomes easier to say good-bye. With each new foster, you have another chance to get to know a new dog and help him or his on their way to their forever home. With each new foster, you get to learn more about yourself and your owned dogs. Always keep in mind what fostering is, it’s preparing someone else’s dog to be the best they can be to prevent it from ever being surrendered again. When you and your foster dog do meet that perfect adopter, you can take comfort in knowing that you had a large part in making it happen, this is what all of your hard work was for, to prepare your foster dog to be a well-balanced dog, one that would never be surrendered again and most importantly, you helped prevent an unthinkable alternative.