The only thing better than a dad joke is a dog dad joke. What do you call a failure that succeeds? A foster failure.
What is Foster Fail?
A “foster failure” is the lighthearted affectionate term used to describe when a foster pet parent permanently adopts the dog or cat. So, while it is technically a “failure” because pet foster placements are meant to be temporary; it is also a “success” because the pet has found a loving, safe forever home.
What is the goal of pet fostering?
The primary goal of pet fostering is to provide a temporary foster home for a pet in need until a permanent home can be identified. Pet foster placements are a vital part of pet advocacy because many shelters have limited resources, and foster homes allow shelters to house more animals. Also, most cats and dogs will be happier in a home than a shelter, which makes them more likely to be adopted, particularly if the pet has special needs and requires more attention than a shelter can provide.
Because pet fostering is designed to be temporary, some foster parents chose to foster over adoption because there may reasons why a permanent commitment is not possible. Even if only temporary, fostering can be tremendously rewarding due to the unique satisfaction of helping a pet find a forever home.
Potential pet foster parents, however, should realize that the goal of fostering is not the same as adoption even though fostering a pet is equally important.
How Can I Avoid a Foster Failure?
Perhaps the biggest cause of foster failure is the family gets too attached to the foster pet and cannot let go once a permanent home is approved. This, of course, is both good and bad. On the one hand, foster families are encouraged to bond and love the animal as their own. However, a foster home is not always the ideal forever home due to a variety of factors that may be due to no fault of anyone. In other words, your home may be the perfect temporary match, but not necessarily a permanent match.
Consider the following tips as you prepare mentally and emotionally before applying.
1. Have Appropriate Expectations
Every pet parent’s circumstances are unique, and every dog or cat has different needs. Therefore, potential parents should have reasonable expectations before applying. Be honest about the reasons for fostering and what you want to gain from the experience. Some pet parents truly enjoy the rewards inherent in fostering: providing a caring home for a pet until a permanent home is found. If you acknowledge from the beginning that the placement, and your role, is temporary in nature, then the emotions associated with letting go may still be difficult, but more manageable. With clear expectations from the beginning of the fostering experience, you are free to enjoy the time you have with your dog or cat realizing that you are providing critical opportunities for your pet to socialize and improve behavior that will help lead to an adoption.
Never underestimate the important role fostering plays in the adoption process, even if only temporary. Not only are you providing a loving and safe home, but you can address any special needs of the pet, reduce the pet’s anxiety and gain valuable insight into the pet’s behaviors that will help secure a forever home. By managing expectations, you are less likely to dread the difficult process of saying good-bye when a permanent home is found. Instead, you will be happy to have played an important role in your foster pet’s journey to a forever home.
2. Network with Other Fosters
Always make sure to create a large fostering network of family and friends to help you care for and pamper your foster pet. Getting more people involved in the fostering will provide more opportunity for the pet to socialize with people, which helps the pet during visits with potential adoptive pet parents. Also, sharing the responsibility (and affections) of the foster pet will probably make it easier for pets and humans when it is time to say good-bye.
Similarly, be active in the adoption process by facilitating meet and greets and talking to potential adoptive pet parents. Most agencies that facilitate pet foster placements will be thrilled to have your help in scheduling and screening potential adoptive pet parents. Your insight and experience with the pet will be invaluable and allow you to feel comfortable that your foster pet will be going to a safe and loving forever home.
Another advantage of being a part of the adoption process is you may be able to ask the adopting family for occasional updates or photos. Also, you could offer to be a resource for the adoptive family during the initial transition period. Even if your agency does not allow you to be part of the process, or does not allow direct contact with the adoptive family, you can ask the agency to provide you with basic information and updates if possible. Ultimately, everyone has the same goal and wants every adoption to be successful.
3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
The ultimate prize is the joy of knowing the cat or dog was adopted and finally found their forever home. The memories, affection, and bond you create with your foster pet are bonuses. Your role and duties are meant to be temporary, and while that can result in an extraordinarily sad good-bye, the rewards of are tremendous. Your role in securing a forever home for a pet in need will benefit many other animals in need, as you provide a valuable resource to crowded shelters.
Of course, if you are part of a foster failure, don’t despair. No one will blame you for falling in love with your foster pet and wanting to provide a permanent home. Let’s be honest, it’s not their fault for being so lovable. Pets never fail at being lovable.