Why I foster rescue dogs instead of adopting one

One writer explores why dogsitting and fostering might be the perfect answer to her craving to keep a canine.

Everyone typically identifies themselves as a dog person or a cat person. I am both. And while I have two cats, I have yet to jump full-time into dogdom. But, I believe that I've found the perfect solution for me: Dogsitting for a dog rescue organization.

"Just get a dog," says almost everyone when they see how much joy it brings me. And while I'd certainly love one, I know that having a dog is a long and serious commitment, and my current lifestyle isn't ideal. I work from home, which is a pro if you've got a pup, but I travel often and it wouldn't be fair to a dog for me to be constantly out of town. Not to mention how expensive hiring a sitter every two weeks or so would be. Right now, even my normally independent cats are lonely and needy due to my frequent flying, and cats are well known for needing less attention than canines. (Note: They were both adopted when I was wasn't such a frequent traveler.)

Home time
So dogsitting for the rescue organization Save Our Scruff works well for me. Sitting is for short stints of time, on an as needed basis (when a foster parent is going away for a weekend, for example). This is what I can manage with my schedule. And while I can't commit to walking dogs at a shelter at the same time on certain days every week, mostly because I have meetings and events that get slotted into my calendar all the time, I can check my schedule to see if I can be home and available for Dobie (one of my recent, and favourite pups to spend time with!), while her fosters are out of town. My volunteering has also included doing flight parenting (traveling home to Toronto with a rescue from a city where the shelters have a high-kill rate), and home visits, where my task is to meet with the household who wants to adopt a rescue to make sure the home is safe and suitable for life with a pooch.

Time to foster?
All this dog-sitting has lead me to apply to be a foster. And as much as I'm excited about the possibility of fostering a dog for a month or two, I must admit I am scared of getting terribly attached to a foster pet. I often wonder how the dogs I've puppy-sat or flight parented are doing, so if I get weeks to spend time with, and fall in love with a pup, I foresee some teary goodbyes in my future. But I think the thing I have to remind myself is that this is my little role in helping these dogs find their way to living long and tail-waggingly happy lives with owners who have the time to devote to them.

Small gesture/big reward
And in that way, volunteering as a sitter/flight parent/foster, come to think of it, might even be more rewarding than adopting a dog of my very own since I'm getting to continuously help dog after dog. And while it's in a small way, how the gig rewards me is immense: From the sweet cuddles that make my heart want to explode, the endless entertainment (watching my cats interact with foster dogs will never get old!), not to mention getting exercise from walks and the social aspect of meeting people on the street (dogs are total people magnets!).

I'll adopt a dog one day, but until then, dogsitting (and hopefully soon fostering) is the perfect solution.

Signed, happy cat owner craving canine companionship.