Getting over post-fostering sadness when your foster dog finds a permanent home
Ever heard someone say, “I wish I could foster, I just wouldn’t be able to say goodbye.” Today, we’re tackling one of the most common self-imposed barriers to fostering.
The concern that you’ll fall in love is legitimate; you just might! Yes, saying “bye” does hurt. But as many foster folks discover, the rewarding feeling of doing something good outweighs the sadness, and there are simple things you can to do prepare yourself emotionally.
All foster dog parents can say that they’ve certainly felt the influx of emotions when their first foster dog gets adopted. From feeling thrilled that their rescue dog finally has a “forever home” to call their own, to feeling devastated that a dog with whom you’ve bonded is no longer in your home. These are real, valid feelings that might occur; but rest assured: you’re not alone. Almost everyone in the dog fostering community has felt this way before. Here are just a few ways to cope with that sadness and to take advantage of all the positivity that fostering provides!
We were inspired by a recent post in our community support group “Foster Forum” by Facebook member Ang S.:
Maybe a strange question, but does anyone have advice on emotional self-care after a foster gets adopted? My first [foster] just got adopted today and while I am so so happy she found a forever home, I’m a little heartbroken. Is this something that just gets easier the more you do it?
1. Look at the bright side
You have just played an integral role in this dog’s life. You just bridged this dog to the next very happy and loving part of their life! Also, if your foster dog had a rough past, you prepared them for adoption by socializing them to a home environment! Not only are they set in a home, their transition is going to be a smooth one! Jamie M says, “It helps me to remind myself from the beginning that this is temporary. I’m here to bridge this dog (or animal!) to the next step of the rest of their life. I sometimes even call myself their ‘nanny' to keep my emotions at bay when they leave. Fostering is an incredible thing to do.”
2. Foster again
“Quickly foster another one! It will mend your heart” - Mushi L.
What’s a better way to mend your heart from saying goodbye to one dog than saying hello to another? Many foster dog parents can say that the more they foster the easier it is letting go.
Sam C writes, “Do something for yourself you couldn’t do before (spontaneous day trip, etc), have a celebratory drink, and know you made a difference”
The feeling of helping a foster dog get adopted is incredibly rewarding. But who says it needs to stop there? Treat yourself! You just did a huge deed to the dog and to the rescue community! Acknowledge that you just made a big difference.
Mashisa S says, “Its so bittersweet when they leave! After 2 of my fosters left I bawled (my first one and my most recent one. cried big ugly tears). Like a lot of others, I think celebration really helps me to remember that this is the happy ending we wanted in the first place. I have my own resident dog who is tolerant but prefers to be the one and only, so my tradition is to take a day and go on an adventure, just the two of us.”
4. Reminders to self
Nicole P writes, “Every dog adopted saves 2 more lives - the spot in foster and the one in the shelter from that new foster” Keep your heart open and remind yourself that the goal of fostering is to put all these rescue dogs in homes.
Remind yourself that you’re doing more than you know.
Rebecca D says, “Go buy ice cream and cry for her and also remember that you helped her to have a better life. give yourself time to heal, you did something so good so feel proud of yourself for it.”
5. Stay in contact with the owners
Leslie H writes, “The great thing about fostering is that every dog is different, and you'll feel a bit differently with every dog. I bawled with my first dog, and honestly, it's been easier since. One thing that's really helped is to be able to follow them on social media once they're adopted. It becomes a bit of a high when you are able to watch the adoptive family fall in love with the dog you knew was so great and adoptable. Even though I'm early on in the fostering world (we've only fostered a handful so far) I try to think of them "graduating" from foster to adoption, so my language (and the associations I make with it) are positive. It's bittersweet, but knowing you've done your part to change the lives of the dog and the family adopting them (cause let's face it, both lives change for the better), is a really good deed to do in life.”
Many adopters nowadays are making social media accounts for their dogs! Follow them and their journey.It sure alleviates some stress knowing they’re doing great. Or if this isn’t an option - keep in touch! Ask adopters if they’re willing to send updates now and then with pictures of the dog.
Photos by @epicureanemily @rachelevepet @realhappydogs @thedogmatchmaker for Foster Dogs Inc