Fostering dogs enriches life


Grace Dorsey

The first dog my family fostered was sweet and friendly. Marty fit perfectly into our lives and when we dropped him off at his new house, I was so happy knowing he had found his forever home. People have told me that they could never foster because it would be too hard, but in reality, that feeling I get after a successful adoption is just so rewarding. In fact, my family has fostered 18 Boston Terriers since December of 2014.
Dogs similar to Marty, who come into our lives as happy and lovable dogs, aren’t the norm when you foster. It’s rather like a lottery. We get the name of a dog, the details of the pick-up and perhaps a bit of their background, but from there it’s a complete surprise. Take, for instance Buster, a dog Midamerica Boston Terrier Rescue (MABTR) had rescued from a meth house. He was in bad shape, and although the vet had estimated his age to be around two, he looked at least ten with rickety bones and gray fur. Those types of dogs, the ones who have been through a lot, spend a little more time with us as rehabilitation. We tried to normalize their behaviour and get them to relax, but it’s difficult. While Buster was pretty low energy, we’ve definitely had troubled dogs on the other side of the spectrum.
Take, for instance, a crazy fostering experience that happened in the fall of my sophomore year. MABTR sent us a small Boston Terrier by the name of Bella to look after for the weekend. Immediately it was clear that she would be a toughie. She would snap at my dad and brother, and was skittish is general. One day, she got out of the yard. The moment I found out, I knew we had to act fast. With no connections to our house or family, Bella could disappear forever. We chased her around the neighborhood, catching glimpses of her before running her into the woods again. After a few hours of this, we finally gave up. The next time we heard of Bella was a couple weeks after. A man in an adjacent neighborhood had gone into his yard where somehow Bella had gotten in. She had bit the man’s chest and fled the scene. What a savage. A month after her disappearance, animal control had captured Bella near the Missouri-Kansas Trail (MKT). Her capture in the woods meant that she had survived on her own in the wild for weeks. When she came back, she was just as vicious, but she went to her new home all the same.
Rio, a one-eyed dog that came into our care March of 2015, was damaged but in a different way. After spending her eight year life as a breeding dog, she was antisocial and had a bleak personality. It’s one thing to hear about all the awful things puppy mills (establishments that breed dogs with little to no regard for the animals’ health or comfort) do, but to see those effects up close was eye opening. Eventually Rio got a home and a family, but sometimes a dog is just too far gone.
The one dog weren’t able to rescue was Omelette, an adorable puppy who arrived at our home early in 2015. He absolutely loved playing ball, despite having kennel cough, a highly contagious canine respiratory disease. A few days after we got him, Omelette died because of his illness. That experience was tough, but dealing with aggressive dogs can prove to be even more challenging.
Copper, who we eventually passed onto another foster family, was the worst. Anytime he was in or near a kennel he would growl and snap. This resulted in a few bites, a couple of which are blood or bruised. Due to his issues, Copper is still going through rehabilitation.
Fostering dogs, although tumultuous at times, can be incredibly fulfilling. Taking responsibility for a dog in need and making sure they get adopted to the best family possible is something that I think everyone should at least try. With 7.6 million pets entering animal shelters according to, people need to help fix the problem that puppy mills, breeders and incompetent owners have caused. People often tell me “oh, I could never do that, I would just want to keep the dog”, but in reality the happiness you feel knowing that another dog is safe outweighs any feelings of attachment.
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