For a few days before hand, if you have advanced notice, you spoil the foster dog a bit more. More cuddles, more kisses, more love. You tell them how happy they’ll be in their new home. How wonderful their new family is going to be.
You bath them, groom them and get them all ready to go. Pack up their favorite toys, and other belongings. Sometimes you tear up a few times, but you keep them from flowing. You drive a little slower than normal to the shelter, trying to keep one hand on your foster dog. A kiss and hug goodbye. Smiling as their new family rains love upon them. It’s a bittersweet time for you. You wave goodbye and wish them luck. If you’re a veteran at this, you keep the tears from actually falling even now. The drive back home seems to take forever.
The Day After
The house seems a little quieter. All of the dogs a little more subdued, maybe even a little more clingy than usual. They search for the missing member of the pack. The ones that were the closest to the former foster dog, even more so. Even after years, they don’t really understand. All they know is that you carried off another member of the household and didn’t bring them back with you, like so many times before. At feeding time, you find you have an extra bowl prepared. You definitely feel the absence of the foster dog who just moved onto his or her forever home.
Beneath your sadness is joy, though. You’re happy that you were able to help another homeless animal on their journey to finding their own forever home. In a day or two, your own dogs will go back to normal. You’ll stop fixing the extra bowl of food. Hopefully the foster dog’s new family will post pictures of their new baby on the rescue’s website. If you helped with the adoption process at all, like many foster families do, you know they are in a good home, and probably being very spoiled. Probably even more so than with you and your large pack, as many foster families have.
You take a few days, maybe a few weeks, and then the call comes in that the shelter or rescue needs you again. You start the process over, meeting the new foster dog, falling in love with them. Writing up their bio for their adoption profile. Photos, lots of photos, so that you never forget them after they’re gone… The circle of the foster animal family.