Fostering a pet is the ultimate act of love. You not only share your home and life with the animal on a short-term basis, but you also share a piece of your heart. It's a big responsibility to take on because it also means teaching the pet good manners or rehabilitating a pet that was abused; teaching it that not all humans are cruel. It means doing everything you can to set the pet up to succeed in his loving forever home and to have a long and happy life. It also means sacrificing your own feelings in favor of what's in the animal's best interest - handing him over to his loving forever home.
It takes a strong person to be able to give generously of his or her time and care, knowing that the animal will be moving on. There are always doubts - is the new family taking proper care of him? Is he happy in his new home? Does he miss me as much as I miss him? Sometimes you get lucky and the new family sends you occasional updates. Sometimes you just don't know.
Regardless of all the risks and the inevitable heartbreak, fostering is important for a larger reason as well: it helps get more animals out of shelters and into homes. Shelters are frightening places for animals, especially pets that were surrendered late in life. Not many do well there, which makes them sadly less adoptable. Illnesses like kennel cough tend to run rampant in shelters, which makes even the best pets look sick, and nobody wants to adopt a sick animal. Pets do much better living in homes, even on a temporary basis. They are happier and are healthier and this makes them more adoptable.
People who foster are heroes to many animals and rescue organizations. It's a joyful task and a heartbreaking one. But it's also something you can rightly be proud of. And even if you "fail" fostering, which in rescue parlance means you decide to keep the pet, the pet has still found a loving forever home. This is perhaps the only thing in the world where "failure" actually means success!
Won't you consider fostering in 2017?