Becoming a foster parent to a dog in need often comes with a lot of reservations. More often then not the greatest reservation is not with regards to the level of effort it takes to foster but rather the level of emotional investment needed to care for a dog you have no intention of keeping. So how do you foster a dog without becoming so attached you want to keep him or her for yourself? PetMD gives several ways to help you and your foster pet through the transitions.
Keep Things in Perspective
Realize you’re doing something good, but that like most good deeds it’s a singular action. You are providing care, nurturing, loving, and cuddling for a set duration of time. Try to view the entire foster period as one action, one giant good deed that must come to completion. This will help mentally prepare you for when you need to return the fostered dog or cat.
Celebrate the Milestones
Take pictures and enjoy your time with together. Take note of how your fostered pet grows and improves either behaviorally or medically. These moments are a good opportunity to take stock in your foster experience and realize that you are rehabilitating this dog or cat. The successes you have nurturing your foster pet back to health or working through a difficult behavior are essential to their future success and adoptability. You are a stepping stone towards your foster pet’s forever home.
Remember the End Goal
Try not to refer to yourself as “mommy” or “daddy” while fostering a dog or cat. You are a rehabilitation center, a place of learning, a temporary trail home. Consider what type of family or home you think your foster pet would like to be adopted by, but try not to create unrealistic expectations for would be pet adopters. A lot of times foster parents have issues when it comes to finding a potential adopter because they can’t fathom anyone that would love their foster pet as much as they do.
In order to be a successful foster parent to a dog or cat in need you must be emotionally invested; you have to genuinely care about your foster pet’s progress and well being. That said, you need to realize that there will be tears when you ultimately relinquish your foster dog to move onto a permanent home. Allow yourself some time to grieve if you must, but try to focus on the positives. Focus on how you’ve helped find a home for an otherwise unwanted dog. Focus on the feel good emotions that come with doing a good deed, discovering and nurturing potential, and look forward to the opportunity to continue to change lives for the better by fostering another dog or cat in need.