Fostering is about letting go – I guess that’s pretty clear. Foster parents serve as an intermediary, and it all comes down to that precious moment, when our fosters leave for their forever home.
Goodbyes are for people, not for dogs
So how to say goodbye to a dog we have fostered, cared for, trained, and loved? I’m not sure you’ll like the answer: you simply don’t. Goodbyes are for people, not for dogs. While hugging you foster dog, kissing, crying, and whispering in his ear, explaining how much you are going to miss him, overwhelmed by that final farewell, the result is leaving a very stressed and sad animal behind.
Dogs only understand the present, not the past, and definitely not the future
Dogs only understand the present, not the past, and definitely not the future. They will never understand what “you’ll have a good life” means (future), “I am going to miss you” (future), “we’ve had some good times” (past) etc. As much as we try to humanize them, a heartwarming goodbye is traumatic for a dog, because he can only comprehend the present, and what he comprehends is you talking and behaving in a way you have never behaved in the past, before leaving him surrounded by strangers.
a heartwarming goodbye is traumatic for a dog
Yes, fostering is awesome, and yes, we played a huge role in this dog’s life. However, a dog’s actual life begins at home, no matter how old he is, and it should begin as less stressful and complicated as possible. The transition from fostering to the forever home should be like a slow fade out – you are not quite sure when one scene ends and when another begins.
The transition from fostering to the forever home should be like a slow fade out
Besides, no rescue or foster can ever be compared to the actual adoption, and “stealing” the adoptive parent’s thunder, making it all about you is selfish, and makes adoptions complicated and emotionally weird. Fostering must be like caring for someone else’s dog for a while; this is how I see it.
Fostering must be like caring for someone else’s dog for a while
Today my foster girl Christy was adopted. It was a day like any other for her. I did nothing different, nor behaved strange, I took her out as if it was a regular walk, drove her home, spent about an hour with the family and we signed the adoption papers while Christy was lying on our feet. Then, her mum and I took her out, and while she was holding the leash, I let them walk in front of, while I slowed down and faded silently in the background, until they turned around the corner and were out of sight.
I let them walk in front of, while I slowed down and faded silently in the background, until they turned around the corner and were out of sight
This was my goodbye to Christy, who I adored. This is my goodbye to all my foster dogs, and as difficult as it may sound, it helps them adjust faster and easier to their new life – it’s all about them anyway, not me.
it’s all about them anyway, not me
(There are times when I come back home crying, lay in their empty beds and kiss their photos, and I am more than allowed to do that, because it does not affect them at all – besides, I’m not made of stone)