Every year, roughly 3 million dogs sit in our nation’s animal shelters (www.aspca.org). I have three dogs living in my house. When I think about all the dogs living as unwanted, neglected, or surrendered, my heart threatens to break. Dogs are some of the only creatures in the world that love unconditionally, through abuse, through neglect, no matter what. Yet so many remain unwanted, homeless, and unloved.
In an effort to alleviate this widespread problem, my husband and I started fostering shelter and rescue pups about 5 years ago. Sometimes it would be a sleepover weekend with an adult dog to give them a break from the pound or fostering puppies who needed some extra care before becoming available for adoption. It is hard work and tough on the heart, but the rewards are often endless. Fostering is a great way to love on many dogs, get your puppy fix, or even find the right dog for your family.
Meet Hope, one of our first foster dogs.
She was so underweight when we brought her into our home that the inside of her mouth and skin were both breaking down. She was found wandering the streets with obvious signs that she had been neglected and most likely abused.
Her eyes held that awful deadness that the long-abused pups have and I wondered what kind of dog lay beneath the damage. A week after we brought her home, she started blossoming. It turns out that this little gem was a sweet, affectionate, attentive pup who just wanted to be near her humans and loved on as much as possible. She was adopted shortly after she became available and I have no doubt that she made her new owners incredibly happy with her loving personality.
Fostering is a lot easier than people may assume! Most rescues require a quick home visit, a background check, and a little love and patience. Are you interested in one specific breed? There is a rescue for almost every specific breed and they are always in need of fosters! Do you love all dogs no matter what the breed? The Humane Society is always looking for volunteers to help out at the shelter, walk dogs, or to foster pups. You can make a difference in an unwanted doggo’s life in many, many ways!
Our latest foster is a pure-bred Chocolate Labrador Retriever named Radar. He was dumped by a breeder because he is blind.
Something that is becoming more well known, yet still remains a very tragic problem, is the over-breeding of dogs and the epidemic of backyard breeders. Demand drives supply. It has become an all too common story about the family who adopted a *insert popular breed here* puppy only to give up the dog once it has grown “too big” and isn’t the cute cuddly puppy anymore. Or the breeders try to satisfy that increasing demand and over-breed their dogs resulting in defects and congenital disorders like blindness or poor temperament. The result is even more unwanted dogs in the world, many of which are purebred. Radar will make an amazing dog with a little extra training; he won’t be a seeing eye dog, but he still has value, and he is a reminder of what over-breeding can cause.
Last pup to share with you is Ajax, my own adopted rescue pup.
Ajax, despite his color, is a 50% purebred Golden Retriever. The people who owned his mother wanted to breed her so they did not get her spayed. A stray dog jumped the fence and impregnated her resulting in mixed puppies and a “contaminated” female dog. The owners brought Ajax’s mother to the pound and gave her up, puppies in utero. Ajax was born in the pound, just before being pulled out by a rescue agency. We have no idea what happened to his mother. Our “golden incognito” is a big sweetheart with enough joy to shine through the darkest of moods.
With the holidays coming up, one of the more popular gifts requested and given is a pet, especially a puppy or kitten. So many people see that adorable Pug puppy or sweet looking Labrador Retriever pup and forget that a dog is a lifetime commitment, not an accessory but another family member. We have an enormous number of unwanted and homeless dogs in our country. This holiday season, I would encourage you to encourage the people around you to think about fostering or adoption instead of buying that purebred puppy. Check out the local rescue and visit your local humane society or pound. Sign up to be a volunteer dog walker or a temporary foster. Foster and adopt instead of shopping. Dogs add so much to life, and a rescue dog gives so much love, it is as if they know you saved their life.
So, this holiday season, will you open your heart and change a life? Who knows… you might find that you’re the one who’s life is changed for the better. 🙂
Hailing from sunny Southern California, Brianna is a Registered Nurse, former dog foster mom, and Marine Corps spouse. She enjoys beach trips, hikes, and any other various adventures with her two rescue pups, Kibeth and Ajax, as well as writing or reading about anything canine.
Dogs give us the purest physical example of unconditional love and pure unadulterated joy in the world.