Sharing our home with a Dalmatian for 11 years meant we heard our share of jokes and quips about spots. In those years, we grew to love spots and we so miss seeing spots in the house.
In January, a few weeks after Lucky crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we had spots in the house again. Spots on the couch, in the backyard, on the dog beds. It was so nice seeing spots in the same “spots” where we used to see our spotted angel, Lucky. We miss having spots in the house.
Our spots came to us via a 3-year old Dalmatian who was found as a stray and ended up in a high-kill shelter in NW Georgia. He was rescued by Dalmatian Rescue of South Florida, a rescue organization dedicated to saving Dalmatians all over the southeast and beyond.
Cantor was such a delight to have in the house – a sweet, snuggly Dalmatian who loved everyone and every dog. He was just a happy guy and we kept trying to figure out how he ended up in a shelter.
Since the rescue organization was out of state, the only way to save Cantor was to line up a foster home in Atlanta before he could be transported to Miami. We knew we had to help – and in return, would get to meet an amazing dog.
While it didn’t take long to fall in love with his personality, we knew we couldn’t keep him. And while it was sad seeing the little guy go, we knew he had a bigger mission in life than in our house.
Now we have Riley and Mazloom, 2 dogs we transported from the ESMA shelter in Cairo, Egypt on our recent vacation. We decided to foster both dogs, as we knew we could give them the love they needed to begin adjusting to life in a home.
They have really started to come out of their shells as their personalities emerge. We are so lucky that we get to be a part of this process – of watching them learn to trust and love. Letting them go will again pull at our heartstrings…but that’s a small price for us to pay so they can find their forever homes.
There is such a huge need for foster homes all over the country. For most rescues, foster homes are the heart and soul. Without foster homes, there would be no rescue. The animals are pulled from high-kill shelters and live in foster homes until they are adopted.
It’s simple arithmetic – the more foster homes available, the more animals that can be saved. Unfortunately, many rescues struggle to find these life-saving homes. Often times, this may be the only obstacle to saving an animal from euthanization.
For us, fostering is extra special as that is how Lucky became such an important part of our life. He had been deemed unadoptable by his rescue group (because he’d been returned twice by two different families). He was a large, older alpha male so his chances of getting out of the high-kill shelter alive were slim.
Until his guardian angel, a rescue volunteer pulled him, seeing his potential. She already had 5 dogs of her own and Lucky, preferring to be the only pet in the home, wasn’t getting along well with her pack. So, she asked us to foster him for a few weeks until he got adopted.
Well, the moment he jumped in our car he seemed to know he was home. It took us a bit longer to realize that he had found his forever home, but I often wonder what our lives would have been like had I not seen the plea in the local paper seeking foster homes.
What if I had not made that fateful call offering to become fosters. What if Lucky hadn’t made it out alive? This gorgeous Dalmatian was days away from being euthanized, simply because there was no place for him to go. Boy, did he change our lives. It is our responsibility to continue his legacy.
When people find out we foster, usually the first thing we hear is along the lines of “oh, I could never foster as I’d have to keep everyone”. Or “I couldn’t give them up.” I will admit, it is hard seeing a foster pet leave after you’ve shared your life with them – whether it’s for just 1 day or for several months. You fall into a rhythm, you get used to having them around – and they become a part of your daily life.
We have had many fosters since Lucky joined our family. None of them have stayed permanently. I guess in our hearts we knew we had a larger mission.
When our foster dogs get adopted, it is a cause for celebration. Sure, we will miss them – but they just hit the jackpot and are going to their forever homes. Nothing beats that feeling. We love getting updates from their new families, knowing we made a difference and we are honored we got to be a part of saving their lives.
The simple fact is that Fostering Saves Lives. We look at it as a way to share our lives with a lot more dogs than we would ever be able to have as our own. We are a pit stop on their journey of life. The first few days after a special one leaves, there are voids. I will not deny that we do not miss them. But, there is always another one is waiting in the wings. We know we cannot keep every foster and that if we did, we could not help any of the thousands waiting in shelters, hoping to make it out alive.
Personally, my heart lies with fostering those that need a little extra love and attention – the shy ones, the older ones, the larger ones. I like giving the “unadoptables” a chance to learn what love is. That life can be great. I love watching the shy ones come out of their shell. Of learning to trust for the first time. It is such a great feeling to have a scared dog that has hidden for 3 days start to explore the house and seek us out.
Just about every rescue organization is in need of fosters. If you are interested in becoming one, contact your favorite foster and get their information or check one of the groups listed below. There are all types of fosters – short term, long-term, care-for-life and more.
If every rescue organization could get one more foster home signed up, just think how many more animals could be saved by this simple act.
Types of Fosters Needed
- Foster a military pet so those serving our country can rest assured their beloved pet is being cared for while they are on duty
- Foster a momma cat or dog and her puppies until they are old enough to be adopted. They cannot survive in a shelter environment
- Foster an older/senior cat or dog that just needs a comfortable place to live out their golden years or so they know love near the end of their lives
- Foster a pet for a woman escaping domestic violence until she is able to get back on her feet (Ahimsa House)
- Foster an animal that has lived its life in a shelter and show it how to live in a home – so he/she is more adoptable (Lifeline Animal Project)
- Foster an animal that a rescue organization has just pulled from a high-kill shelter and give it a place to call home until it is adopted (Royal Potcake Rescue)
- Foster a pet that has rescue confirmed and just needs a home for a couple of weeks until transport is arranged (Friends of DeKalb Animals)
I will not deny that fostering an animal can tug on the heartstrings, but the rewards outweigh any sadness. I get to “try out” a dog and find one that perfectly fits our family. I get to prove that the “unadoptable” ones make great pets. I get extra snuggles and kisses. I get to save a life.
One of my favorite quotes is along the lines of “Saving One Dog Won’t Change the World. But the World Will Change for that One Dog.” This is what rescue and foster is all about. Changing the world, one pet at a time.
Interested in Fostering?
- Contact your favorite rescue organization or one of the groups below and let them know you want to be a foster home.
- While each group has their own procedures, generally a foster application and home visit are all that is needed to become a foster home. Sometimes an orientation is required. Nevertheless, it is usually a simple process.
- Some organizations will require that you either attend and/or drop off the animal at their adoption events. Other groups only require a meeting with potential adopters on an appointment basis.
- The rescue groups actively screen potential adoptive homes and cover costs for food, vetting and medical care.
Atlanta Underdog Initiative
Foster: dogs, specifically pit bull type dogs and mastiffs
Area: Metro Atlanta
Information: Atlanta Underdog Intiative, or A.UD.I, is a 501 (c) 3 pit bull and mastiff advocacy and rescue group.
While we focus on outreach and education, we rescue dogs when we have a foster home available.
Southern Animal Rescue
Foster: cats, kittens, dogs and puppies
Area: Metro Atlanta
Information: We’re a big fan of Second Life, Lucky, and all of our wonderful supporters in the Atlanta community. We are always in need of more foster homes, as most rescue groups are right now. We take care of the vetting, etc, and you provide some much-needed love for a rescued pet. Please consider fostering!
Alabama Boston Terrier Rescue
Foster: dogs; Boston Terriers, Boston Terrier mixes, all ages and disabilities
Area: Metro Atlanta
Information: To rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home Boston Terriers.
English Springer Rescue America (ESRA)
Foster: dogs – Springer Spaniels
Information: The South East chapter is very active in Georgia and we sometimes have to pay to board dogs at a kennel when we run out of foster homes. We take in English springer spaniels and we actively seek/screen adoptive families so the foster families do not need to worry about that. Our website contains links to information about fostering as well as our available dogs.
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
Foster: dog, puppy, cat, kittens & pregnant momma fosters
Website: www.angelsrescue.org and for a list of babies that need a foster home: http://angelsrescue.org/foster-homes-needed.asp
Area: All of Georgia
Information: Largest volunteer based pet rescue in the South. We firmly believe in never leaving family behind (momma & babies, siblings, etc). We have weekly adoption events in the metro area.Here is our info:
German Shepherd Dog Rescue Group of GA
Foster: German Shepehrd Dogs and puppies
Area: Metro Atlanta, and all of GA
Information: GSDRGA rescues purebred German Shepherds in need and finds forever homes for them. We use foster homes to house the dogs until they go to their forever homes, so foster homes are our biggest need. All dogs are fully vetted prior to adoption.
Royal Potcake Rescue
Foster: dogs, cats, puppies, kittens
Area: Metro Atlanta
Information: Rescue and spay & neuter, Potcakes from the Bahamas. We also rescue many animals in the local Atlanta area.
Friends of DeKalb Animals
Foster: Primarily dogs & puppies, some cats/kittens
Website: www.friendsof dekalbanimals.org
Area: Metro Atlanta, DeKalb County
Information: Homes needed for temporary and short-term fosters until dogs can be transported to the Northeast USA. Dogs (and some cats) are rescued from DeKalb County Animal Services.
Lifeline Animal Project
Foster: Dogs, puppies, cats & kittens
Area: Metro Atlanta
Information: Foster homes needed from temporary to longer term. Help care for animals that need extra socialization, don’t adapt well to shelter living or need extra care.
Foster: Dogs, cats, turtles, rabbits…pets of women fleeing domestic violence
Area: Metro Atlanta & Georgia
Information: Foster homes needed to care for the pets of women fleeing domestic violence until the women are able to reclaim – usually 30-60 days.