Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Failed Fosters (or, Are You Going to Keep This One?)

A few weeks ago, the rescue held a meeting for volunteers. We went around the table, introduced ourselves and our capacity within the organization. Many of the volunteers concluded their introductions with "... and I'm a failed foster." This means, of course, that they adopted one (or two, or three, or four, or five) of their foster dogs or cats.

One couple—who did not have a dog of their own—just recently "failed" after fostering dozens of dogs over the course of a year. Another couple "failed" and adopted a special-needs dog they had fostered for some time. The list goes on and on.

So it's not a surprise that I've been asked this question a lot: ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP THIS ONE? My co-workers keep asking. My friends keep asking. My mom keeps saying that she wants a real "grand dog" and not "grand foster dogs." Don't get them wrong; they all love that we foster. But they can't wait to see us fail.

The answer, for now, is no. We are not going to keep "this one" or any one any time soon. Here are a few reasons why:

1) We live in a condo complex where technically you're only supposed to have one dog. If we adopt a dog, then, according to the rules, we can not foster another dog. (However, many people break these rules. As long as the dogs don't cause a problem, no one complains. We could work around it.) With our schedules, it would also be a task for us to keep up with two dogs. I wouldn't count us out, but let's just say it wouldn't be easy. In essence, for every dog we adopt, that's one fewer space for a foster dog.

2) We have a busy summer coming up and will probably need to take a doggie break. We'll be gone most of the month of August, so we can't take responsibility for a dog then. (In my opinion, we need to hold off on "failing" until September; Jonathan thinks we should make it much longer.)

3) We haven't fostered a dog that would really make "failing" logical. All of our foster dogs can (and will) do better than living with us.

Wookiee, although very cute and lovable, was not our kind of dog. You know how dogs look like their owners? He didn't look like us. Plus, he was our first foster. You can't fail on the first one.

Jack, although smart and charming (at times), does not belong in a condo—by any stretch of the imagination.

And Karina, well, this girl could easily be my best friend. But, as a lab, she too deserves room to run. She also isn't great with all other dogs, which means fostering another dog would be a logistical nightmare.

In my heart of hearts, I know that one day, logic won't matter. The timing  might be off, but a dog might just come along and fit right in stride with us and our lives. (Who knows, he or she may even "look" like us.) At that point, we'll fail. We'll fail miserably. And everyone will celebrate.


  1. I would have failed with Wookie, easily. Holy cute factor!

    We didn't fail for three years. I was even impressed! Then a 13wk old puppy was dropped in my arms, looked into my eyes and said "I'm yours". I was done for. Buckley stayed... one week into fostering him and I failed.

    When the right one comes along, you'll know.

  2. I agree with Jen! We had a lab, adopted Carly from the group and then kept bringing her back to visit until Terri conned us into fostering. We had no intentions of becomeing a 3 dog family until Chelsea dropped Daisy into our laps last January. She wasn't our kind of dog- we're lab people. She's hound/hunting dog/waiting for DNA results. However, after 7 exhausting weeks of adoption days that make Karina and Jack look like angels, we decided to keep her. Well, technically, Carly decided we had to keep her. They became best buddies and a year later still are. DAisy was famous for tipping the puppy pen and letting everyone loose in the store. She also barked at every person and dog who entered the store. However, it was fate that she came to us considering the surgery we found out she needed and the problem I caught because I'm type a neurotic. LOL....

  3. Love it! haha, laughed at the part about wookie not looking like you.
    i do so melt at Jack's eyes.
    - Natalie

  4. Jen, I think you're right. If the Wookster had come along at a different point in time, we might have been in deep trouble. He was only with us for 6 days, so we didn't even have time to think about it thankfully. :)

    Sandy, are you implying that Jack and Karina aren't angels...? :) I think I've heard you mention Daisy before. She's the one that required all of the physical therapy, right?

    Natalie, he doesn't "look" like us, right? He's too high maintenance. I need a jeans-and-ponytail type dog.

  5. Kim- yes, Daisy is the one who we finished rehabbing and she goes swimming on Saturday mornings. She's like a fish in the water and encourages the newbies to "come in, the water's fine...just don't touch my toy!" She had severe hip dysplasia....on the severity scale, she was the worst. So bad the vet could not believe she was able to walk. All at the ripe old age of 18 months. So bad that we could not wait to do the surgery until the better weather or it would be too late. Guess eveything works out for a reason!

  6. Our Mama was a foster failure the first time (with Trixie!) But its great that you are able to stay strong so you can help out many different dogs!