why i foster dogs

I’ve mentioned past foster dogs here, here and here, but decided to write this post after questions from readers. A lot of you have asked me why and how I started fostering dogs when I moved to Arizona. Well, it was because of a Facebook page I stumbled across when we first moved there.

I remember lying in bed, searching Facebook for Arizona rescue pages because we were considering adding a second dog to our family. Instead of finding an actual nonprofit rescue group, I found the ‘Friends of Arizona’s Shelter Animals’ page. I was disturbed by how many dogs were on the euthanasia lists for the next morning, and learned that both county shelters euthanized many unwanted animals every day at 5 am. Right then I knew that I wanted to help in some way. While I was scrolling through photos of dogs that were scheduled to be killed, I saw a German Shepherd girl who looked absolutely miserable. A young dog should NOT look like its ready to give up in a county shelter — a young dog should be chasing squirrels in the park, playing with toys and being showered with love. But sadly, this happens far too often. I sent a text to my brother and his girlfriend and they told me they’d take her.

Now, I’m not sure if many states have these types of groups on Facebook, but the animal-lovers and rescue groups that run Friends of Arizona’s Shelter Animals are absolute angels. I simply commented on the German Shepherd’s photo and asked if someone would “pull her” so she wouldn’t get put down. Even though it was late at night, someone responded right away and said that they would contact the shelter and remove her from the list. The rescuer kept her word and the next day we went to the county shelter to pick her up.

When we arrived in the morning we walked past rows and rows of dogs. If you’ve ever been in an overcrowded, high-kill animal shelter you know how horrible the experience is. The dogs look defeated, sick, and believe me, they know what their fate is; they can sense it. I couldn’t help tearing up  and I still do every time we visit a pound.

Out of all the German Shepherds at the shelter we were able to pick her out quickly. She was smaller, had larger ears, reddish hair and was hiding in the corner. We asked a worker to remove her so we could take her to the fenced-in meet and greet area outside and sadly, the shelter employee could barely get her out of the run. The sweet girl wouldn’t look anyone in the eyes, dragged her feet, cowered down and peed herself right away. When we finally got her to the grassy area she did the same thing. I got down on the ground, held her head and tried to look into her eyes while petting her, but she was too timid. While B was hesitant, I knew I wanted to take her home right away.

We thought that doing a type of foster to adopt would be better just in case another family was better suited for her, but when I asked for an application, the lady at the front desk told me that the person who approved fosters wasn’t in that weekend. When I asked if we could do the paperwork Monday morning, she told me that the German Shepherd wouldn’t be alive then. She was labeled as a “resource guarder” (she wasn’t, by the way) and had to go. We adopted her on the spot.

To make a long story short, Sadie was a very sad girl when we brought her home. Loud noises, people, dogs, and almost everything frightened her. But eventually she realized she was safe. She has been living with my brother since the end of October and I can’t believe how much she has changed. She is no longer taking her anti-anxiety medication, she has gained 15 more pounds, not much scares her anymore, and she’s ridiculously happy. The scared shelter dog we met in Arizona is now a happy-go-lucky toy hoarder, and is so grateful for her second chance at life.

Sadie is the reason I filled out a foster application.  Sadie is why I foster dogs.

You can read more about her here.

Dog Rescued from Euthanasia ListCheck back later for more stories about fostering.


Filed Under: Dogs, Fostering Dogs, Shelter Animals26 Comments
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16374473099253423830 Emily Patten

    Wow. I teared up while reading that post. That is so beautiful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09543798912886827648 Gesci

    Love stories like this!! You and I have discussed fosters and adoptions on Twitter, but I want to take a minute here to say thank you for getting the word out! Adopting and fostering are so important, and change lives- for the dogs and cats, too ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09377172483463942224 Meryl & Russell McLendon

    Rachel, I have to commend you. Your posts and instagrams about adopting shelter dogs has had me thinking that when we return home to the US, this is definitely the route we go. Great post! Great outlook!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06692755611377527537 Mallory Whitt

    I love this post so so much. We foster for the local Lab Rescue and it has been so rewarding. I have always felt like I am not doing enough to help the dogs that can’t help themselves. Fostering is something people always say they would like to do but very few of us follow through. Even if you only foster once, you’re saving a life! How amazing is that?!?! I can’t wait to read Part 2 and I will be writing my own foster post soon. Have a great weekend and thanks for all you do. It takes courage and compassion to be a foster mama.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18132486180098835871 Stephanie F

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story (and hopefully spread much needed information about the faith of dogs people drop off in shelters when they no longer want them, or had kids or whatever).

    Yes, I’ve been through a shelter once to pull a dog, and it was a very traumatizing experience. :(

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00225242975147233102 Alyssa

    This just kills me. I would do anything to have not lost my childhood dog to illness so I can’t imagine how anyone could willingly kill a dog. As soon as I move into a pet-friendly apartment, I’m going to adopt an older shelter dog because I don’t want older dogs to die in shelters. I think that is just the saddest thing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13673033206542527050 Jenn

    I love this post and I love you for what you did! High kill shelters always make me cry and this post made me tear up. I have always wanted to foster pets but being a renter is not ideal. Thanks for what you do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07281689617194191990 Helene

    you are wonderful!! i can’t wait to read more about this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02907346282834876404 Jen

    This is so wonderful and brought tears to my eyes. I think if I was in that shelter, I would have adopted them all. So glad to hear Sadie is doing well, and I can’t wait to hear more about this :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12090735810562146009 M and L

    ahhh this really tugged at my heart. pounds are awful & it’s another reason getting your pet fixed is so important. we saved kodi from a similar situation when she was only 4 weeks old. you are doing such a selfless thing that i truly admire you for.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00014093821067456424 Jess


    You are awesome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00039677761969149134 Adrienne Clark

    How amazing are you?! That is so incredible. I literally cannot stand to see animals hurt, I cry at the SPCA commercials, it’s just awful. My first dog was from the pound, two days away from being put down and she is now 15 yrs old! Thanks for all that you do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15806065790207418929 Lisette

    I almost cried reading the bit about “they know their fate.” I’ve seen on TV how they euthanize dogs in gas chambers (that look like freezers). Breaks my heart!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14428264346128137328 Shelley

      Oh my gosh. That’s awful!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06673612033089953330 My Haunted Attic

    You have a lovely blog – this post is really moving.

    You’re a wonderful person.

    I’m your newest follower via the blog hop.

    Have a great weekend : )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18444301984329492089 Colleen Cornelius

    Good evening,
    New follower from the Blog Hop. I have also posted your button on my page of fellow bloggers.
    I hope you get a chance to check out my blog at http://www.butterflyintheattic.blogspot. com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17129888915834337702 Meg Hodson

    Now following via Bloglovin. Would LOVE to have you join our weekly Bloglovin Hop, too.

    Bloglovin Blog Hop

    Take care,
    Happy Kids, Inc

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10573759054939527506 Alyssa

    Ahhh! I have to comment! My husband and I volunteer at the Arizona Humane Society and we love dogs too!! (: This is such an awesome post! Love it! (:

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14210220475156788693 LeeLee

    This is beautiful. I’m so glad you are talking about this issue. I love dogs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09856795703447678997 tara

    You are so wonderful. If I could adopt all the dogs in the world, I would!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14428264346128137328 Shelley

    I’m sitting here crying because I just feel so awful for those helpless animals. My heart has always gone out to them and I just wish I could take them all home with me. We did adopt a dog from a shelter who was going to be put down. She is the SWEETEST pup and we are grateful every day for her. I just wish we could do more for the others!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16149186891188677587 Betty Boop

    I’m following you on WSM Blog Hop. I just don’t understand how people can treat animals so badly. They have feelings, it is so obvious. My dog loves me and needs love in return. They can’t take care of themselves. We have to take care of them like we do our children.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01190660614264883002 Shelly Nakabayashi

    I am your newest follower from the meet and greet:-) This was a great post and your blog is beautiful!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15913829667559248661 Becca Moss

    Loooooove this! Fostering dogs and rescuing them is just wonderful!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06138962557957077434 Amanda

    Love this post- glad you tweeted it today! My grandmother fosters dogs, birds, and when I was young she even fostered children! She has some of the sweetest dogs in the world with stories that would just horrify you. Becoming a foster puppy parent is a great way to help- really glad you posted about it! :)

    Amanda @ Cats, Cuddling, & Carrot Cake

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04953626122327472245 Betsy Transatlantically

    WHAT a sweetheart! And thank you – we need more like you. This Sunday is our one year anniversary rescuing Charlie and we’re celebrating by taking in a foster :)