How you can stay excited about fostering an animal even when times are tough.
Acting as a foster home for an animal is right up there with the best charitable acts that you can do as a human being. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that animals in your local animal shelter often exhibit signs of stress and they often mask their true personalities making it more difficult to adopt them out.
But when placed in a foster home, these otherwise shy animals come out of their shell and beam with joy and exuberance at what life can hold. Both dogs and cats have personality changes for the better even if they just get a chance to get out of the shelter for the weekend or an overnight stay.
Technology is bringing rehoming to a browser near you
So many things are being disrupted by technology these days and rehoming is another one you can add to the list. What started as a trend on Craigslist when people started posting for new homes for their pets, has evolved into mainstream platforms like PetFinder, Adopt-a-Pet.com and many others supporting the concept.
For those of you that have tried fostering, you likely know what a rewarding experience it is. The opportunity to know that you’re not only saving one life, but two, and the chance to bond with another sentient being in the process is something you will never forget.
But how do you maintain your passion during the first few weeks which are often the hardest? How do you help your temporary companion to get over their fear and anxiety? How do you set them and you up for long term success when they find their forever home?
Relax, chill out, patience
The first thing to remember is that when you relax, they relax. Your temporary foster companion has been locked up in an animal shelter for likely a long time so they need a little time to chill out and relax in their new digs knowing that you’re going to take care of them. If you’re following them around and reacting to everything they touch, scratch or sniff, afraid that they are going to mark their territory, your energy is going to be anxious and not relaxed and that will have an effect on your temporary companion.
Try and relax during the first few days in particular. You’ve invited them into your home but they need to explore and smell and learn what their new environment holds for them. Give them some time and be patient.
Trust but verify
Now that you’re chillin and relaxin, and your foster pet is doing the same, it’s time to give them a little bit of trust. When you first brought them home you likely confined them to one room so that they could get acclimated to the smells, and sounds of your house. Now it’s time to show a little trust and let them out of the single room for periods at a time. Trust, but obviously keep an eye on your new friend so you can let them know how the rules of the house work.
Get to know the real me
Finally, after you’ve cleared those first few days of sometimes tense and anxious new greetings and getting to know one another, it’s time to start focusing on the longer term understanding of who your foster pet really is.
Remember when you had your first date how nervous you were? And then if you dated that person for any period of time you became more and more comfortable with them? Well it’s the same with your foster animal. Once you get past the initial fear and anxiousness of the first few days, now it’s time to get to know them.
What’s your foster animal really like? Can you capture on camera or video their true personality so that future adopters can see? The real foster animal is who you want to bring out for the world to see. What are they like? Fun, playful and energetic? Relaxed, laid back and loyal? Help your foster pet realize the star that they and share with your local animal shelter and the world who they would be best paired up with.