As I was running yesterday, I watched a young lady battle her large dog as he drug her around the street, barking, yelling, and trying to get to myself and my Coral. I started thinking about how she felt, if she was overwhelmed, if she regretted her decision to get a dog, and, most importantly, if that dog would end up surrendered to the pound somewhere down the line. As I was thinking about it, a lightbulb went off in my head. But before I get to that, I have a question for you…
Are you ready?
If you are anything like me, you have probably already run through thousands of scenarios in which you fail miserably at being a puppy parent. You have considered food, health, and toys in the cost of having a dog, but you feel woefully under-prepared for having another life being totally reliant on you for everything. You have accounted for your lifestyle, what kind of dog would fit best in that lifestyle, and what you want out of a canine companion, and you feel, tentatively, ready(you think :P).
Fortunately, this just means you are a responsible person who is considering the (far-reaching) ramifications of adopting a dog of your own. It means that you have the stuff to be a great dog parent and most people, who are in the “know”, will tell you that the decision is a good one. But, my advice is going to be a little different. I’m of the opinion that adding a baby step into the process may just be the perfect way to prepare yourself for everything you will encounter in your doggy raising life.
My baby step is simple. Since you have an idea of what you are looking for in a dog and what kind of dog would fit best in your life, contact a local rescue, tell them what you are looking for, and FOSTER a dog that is a good fit for you before you start your search for your forever dog!
This baby step has a ton going for it.
- Rescue takes responsibility for medical, food, and other odds and ends that you need when you own a dog.
- The rescue is filled with people who care, will help you if needed, and will, generally, be amazing people to help with any questions that come up.
- You get to make mistakes and learn while having a safety net(The rescue)
- You help save a life that, otherwise, may not have made it out of the shelter.
Those 4 things are the “biggies” but there are a plethora of other advantages of fostering before committing to a lifelong partnership with a pup. Another positive-ish thing is that you may “foster fail” and find the perfect dog for you in the foster pup you take in!
I’m ready though, what’s the point?
I remember when I was in boot camp in the Navy, we used to practice “drills” relentlessly. If you aren’t familiar, “drills” is just a fancy term for walking in a group. It’s unbearably boring, monotonous, and akin to watching paint dry. But, and this is a big but, we practiced because it was necessary to experience mistakes and how to rebound from them without breaking the rhythm and timing of the entire division.
Taking a few months to foster a dog instead of jumping right into ownership operates under the exact same principle. You get to “practice” and experience all the different aspects of dog ownership so that you develop a sort of muscle memory for it.
The other reason that I really can get behind this idea is that, sometimes, there are questions that you didn’t know you had or, much more importantly, you aren’t as ready as you thought you were. Those of us who have been in rescue for any extended period of time can tell you that there are many dogs that are returned for the dumbest reasons imaginable. I won’t get into some of the whoppers I have heard personally, but suffice to say that they are jaw-droppingly stupid and obvious.
Do you want to give it a go?
We have a small list of rescues featured here, but we have a very large network of like-minded individuals all across the country and globe that will be able to put you in touch with a rescue that will be a good fit.
Don’t be afraid! These rescues are filled to the brim with dogs that they would, happily, entrust to someone who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure they are ready. Ask questions and ask for advice, any rescue worth their salt(and that anyone in our network would put you in touch with) is going to help you to be the best dog foster possible and, by extension, the best dog OWNER!!!!