Mary Ann Fosters
My name is Mary Ann and I have been a doggie foster mom for 6 years. I was very nervous in the beginning, as I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into, but fostering has opened up a whole new world to me. I knew there were too many dogs in shelters and too many were being euthanized (all my dogs came from shelters) but I didn't really get involved besides donating to animal causes. I had to stop working due to a disability and I found myself without an identity. I didn't realize how much purpose my job gave me until it was gone. Fostering has given me a new identity.
I started my foster career with Homeward Bound slowly, and as I learned more, I got involved more. I was given everything I needed to foster a dog, including the ability to see a vet that was convenient for me when my foster dogs needed medical care. Looking back, I thought I was a pretty savvy dog owner...but I knew nothing compared to what I know now. Since I am home all the time, I began taking more difficult dogs; some with behavior issues, advanced medical needs, senior dogs. I had no idea of the rewards that were to come from that. It is amazing to watch a dog blossom before your eyes, see the effects that love and stability can have on a creature, to be a part of the healing, and a bridge to a forever home.
It is really hard to give up a foster dog, and sometimes I cry because I want to keep them. I tell myself that there are more dogs out there that need me. Other volunteers help me through this....we all know that feeling. I have met so many great people and made new friends all because of fostering. Foster parents really do come from all walks of life and every profession. In our group we have doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, accountants, IT people, students, missionaries, and even a veterinarian!
Helping dogs learn to trust again, teaching them to live in a family, watching them learn from my dogs, and seeing that spark of life come back in their eyes, and knowing that I can make a difference as one person fostering one dog at a time have all made me a better person. It doesn't seem like a lot at first, but when I add up 10-15 dogs a year over many years, that is a lot of saved lives! I never saw the big picture in the beginning and never kept exact count of how many dogs I've saved. Yes, I say "I've saved" because I know that even though I don't personally pick the dogs, without my effort, a lot of dogs would never have made it out alive. That is a feeling I can't even describe. And it all started with just one dog.
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