Fostering Dogs: Sharing Our Experience

The past few weeks I’d been watching Dee intently work on her computer. As she pored over hundreds of photos of dogs and puppies that I’d never met, she would smile or laugh or shake her head. Sometimes I’d hear her say, “Ohhhhhh Lola . . .  you were so patient with him . . .”  Then she’d wipe her eyes and continue her search for the best picture to place into this thing she was calling ‘a presentation.’

Eventually, after all the printing of handouts, the practicing and revising, I saw that my “on your rug” and my green bandana had been added to the pile on her desk. Something was up.

The next day we all got up uncharacteristically early and hurried through the normal morning routine. “You’re going to have a big day today, Alvin – we’re doing a workshop!” Dee said as she clicked my riding harness securely. “Workshop . . . .  workshop . . . ” I was trying to remember that word, “Oh yes! That’s when I meet new friends and get lots of attention and treats!” We hadn’t done a “workshop” in more than two years – since my sister, Lola, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I had a feeling that this one was gonna be tough for Dee . . . but very meaningful. The main message was about how to be an awesome animal foster family. I knew how important fostering was; it saved my life.

We had a wonderful time! The Animal Science students at Hunterdon County Polytech were so nice to me. They seemed to really be serious about helping animals – all kinds of animals. We helped them discover why it’s so important to volunteer and foster with rescue groups and animal shelters. (I loved being the “surprise star” of the role play activity!) Then we suggested things that an ‘ideal’ foster family could do – and more importantly, gave the students a checklist of things to consider so they could find the best match for a rescue group or shelter to help.

I think the students learned at least one or two new things during our time together, but let’s hear from them directly in the comments below!

Are you currently fostering a cat or dog? Seriously considering it? Many rescue groups and shelters provide the basics during your fostering experience. However, here are some links to additional items that you might want:
Posted in Alvin's Journey, Education & Information, Fostering, Presentations & Workshops, Shelters & Rescues and tagged , , , , .

Alvin joined the team in August 2014 after winning a two-week battle with parvo. He originally lived in a Northern NJ municipality, where he was severely neglected. Luckily he was rescued by Second Chance Pet Adoption League and came to us as a "foster" pup. He is enjoying life in the country and continues to grow and learn in his role as Junior Spokespup.


  1. This workshop was really fun to be a part of! I hadn’t realized how much fostering varies from dog to dog and how many can be helped in such a short amount of time. It was also really cool to hear about fospice care. I think this workshop is something that people in the animal field should definitely attend, along with other people who are looking into getting a pet soon.

  2. 1- I learned that the number of animals that are euthanized a year in NJ is disturbingly high.

    2- I think it would help parents of children who are interested in fostering to show them how impactful their family could be on an animal’s life.

  3. 1. I learned that there are about 400 animal rescues on pet finder many of which aren’t “real” rescues

    2. I think others would benefit from attending this workshop because education is the first step to impact the world.

  4. 1. During the Harness Life presentation, I learned that in 2018 12% of dogs and cats that were impounded in New Jersey were euthanized due to the limited space in shelters.

    2. Others would benefit from this workshop because it shares information that people could not be aware of and could allow them to form new opinions on pet fostering.

  5. During the Harnesslife Presentation, I learned and did not realize that there were “fake” or “fraud” organizations on the internet! I was not aware that breeders would scam others to make money. I think now it is very important on doing research on the organization you could foster for.
    I think it is extremely important for others to see this presentation to find more foster families. I think many people would find it very rewarding to foster an animal.

  6. 1. I learned that there are many different types of foster, and the statistics for adopted animals are getting better.

    2. I would highly recommend this program to schools in general as it is a fun, interactive way to learn about something that has real life consequences for innocent animals and can help the next generation to save animals.

  7. During the Harnesslife Presentation, I had learned about the fostering dog hospus, and that a lot of dogs were euthanized in New Jersey itself. I think that this workshop would be beneficial because then other people can learn how they can help out and foster more dogs and a lot of the dogs wouldn’t have to be euthanized or put in shelters

  8. One thing that I learned during this presentation is that there are people out there that take advantage of such a good thing, like these organizations that are trying to help these animals. That is why it is so important to find the right organization that is actually trying to help the dogs and cats, just like Harness Life. This presentation is beneficial for everyone because if someone does not know how to help this is the perfect opportunity. It also will open your eyes to how many animals need your help.

  9. I loved this workshop at our school! I was able to learn more about fostering dogs that I did not know before Dee came and shared her story with us. I think others would benefit from this workshop or even just the story behind this organization to really see what the animal world is like and the options available to help save dogs.

  10. I loved you coming in I thought it was very beneficial for us teens to learn about fostering animals and how it can save many more. You really convinced me to do this when I am able too. I want to help as may animals as possible and I will do what I can. Thank you so much for coming in and educating the class and Alvin was a nice surprise!!!

  11. This workshop was so fun! I liked how you made us choose dogs to keep and then revealed that Alvin was in fact one of those dogs! Thank you for making it so fun and engaging. I learned over 9,000 animals were euthanized in 2018. And some of the rescue organizations that claim to rescue and rehabilitate animals aren’t even real they use that in order to put them down!

  12. I really enjoyed this workshop because it taught me that there are hard decisions that have to be made sometimes that are not always happy. I think others would benefit from this workshop if they are looking into fostering or enjoy it, and they can get some real insight into what it is like, and what they would need to supply the dog with. Thank you so much for coming!!

  13. Dee’s workshop was a great combination of informative and interactive. I had no clue how in-depth fostering really was, and how crucial it is to reducing the number of animals euthanized from just a lack of space. One fact that stuck with me was that an animal was euthanized every day in New Jersey in 2018. I think it’s very important people see these presentations because it opened my eyes to the value of saving lives through fostering. I know that some point soon, I’ll definitely be fostering animals.

  14. This workshop was a really good experience. I learned the importance of fostering animals if you can’t adopt, and adopting animals if you’re able. I think more people should have this experience so that they can understand 1. How many animals are euthanized each year and 2. The importance of adoption and fostering

  15. From this presentation I learned how just how bad the conditions are that these animals are coming from and that their are so many animals in these conditions. I didn’t realize that Hunterdon County actually does not have a real official shelter. I also didn’t realize that one dog is euthanized every hour just in New Jersey alone! I believe other would benefit from this presentation just as i did because it really opens your eyes to the sheltering industry and makes you really want to help all the animals that are in need.

  16. From this presentation I learned how many animals are euthanized in shelters and how many animals lives could be saved by the simple act of fostering. I also did not realize how bad of quality some of the animals may be in when they arrive at shelters. I believe others would benefit from this presentation because it would help them to realize how much one small act of kindness could help when it comes to helping SO many homeless animals that need our help. It also gives them different ways they could personally help and make a difference to an animals life.

  17. From this presentation I learned about how much a single human can do for a so many dogs. This presentation was very heart warming and I felt the urge to help. This was very inspirational, thank you!

  18. This was an excellent workshop. It really put the situation at hand in perspective. From this lesson, I was able to learn about the overpopulation of animals resulting in overcrowded shelters. Overcrowded shelters who are often forced to euthanize animals for space. This workshop taught me that there is a way to help. Fostering animals allows to shelters to expand their walls. A foster family can give an animal shelter and care until they find their forever family. This can help to minimize the amount of dogs and cats killed each year. Everyone can make a difference.

  19. 1-I learned that shelters and rescues are very different. Shelters are an actual building and some rescues don’t have any set building at all

  20. 1- I learned that a Shelter and a rescue are two very different things. A shelter is an actual building whereas a rescue may not have a designated building at all. I also learned that there are all different types of fosters and many foster periods will last different lengths

    2- I think others would benefit because there is so much about rescues, shelters and fostering that people don’t know about. Having others see this presentation would help to benefit most because they might reconsider adopting or fostering after seeing this presentation.

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