Pit Bull foster: too hard? or too hard not to…

Pocket, the tiny Pit Bull.

by Kim Smith, StubbyDog.org

I remember when I saw Pocket’s photo on a mailing that went around from the shelter to local rescues asking if someone could take her – a five-month-old Pit Bull, only five pounds with unknown medical conditions swirling about her. My heart skipped a beat. Could Pit Bull Rescue San Diego afford to take on the medical risks? If so, I wanted to be her foster parent. There was not a question in my mind, as my heart had already taken the leap.

I’ve had little Pocket with me for four months now. She’s endured hours of tests and procedures, a DNA test, scrutiny and research all to no avail in discovering why a dog that should now be 50 to 55 pounds remains around 18 pounds at nine months old.

She comes to work with me every day and has played submissively with every dog she’s met. However, who she has really won over – as Pit Bulls that are allowed to be pets always do – are the people. Other than her size, she is every bit a typical Pit Bull – people friendly, happy, playful, cuddly and spunky. Her ever-wagging tail, apologetic nuzzling nose and stretching, reaching eager tongue beg to be acknowledged whenever someone is near. Her size just makes her seem less threatening, so she’s a wonderful advocate for her breed.

This past weekend she attended her first adoption event. She was a trooper, kissing passers-by, smiling at the children, play bowing to the other dogs and posing for photos. Little did she know the twinges of pain each happy wag of her tail caused me. She has no idea that she needs a home. That’s because I’ve done what I was supposed to as a foster parent. I’ve given her love and training and rules and security and socialization and food and shelter – in other words, a home. She has given me love and kisses and laughter and companionship, and some amount of challenge and education. This is all the part of fostering that I love; welcoming a new being into my house, making her a part of my family, watching her become healthy and well adjusted and, dare I say it: adoptable.

The worst part of fostering, for me, is what’s coming up. She has now been cleared for adoption. I know I’ll be picky – too big of a home, too small of a home, too many dogs, too few, too perfect of an application so there must be something wrong … However, I know from experience that there will eventually be an applicant that comes in that outshines the rest, that is a home better for her than I could provide. I will start to feel like maybe, just maybe, I can give her up.

People often comment to me that they couldn’t foster because it would be too hard. It’s really only the giving up part that is hard. And how can it be harder than knowing a dog died because you were afraid that giving them up would be hard? Besides, once I give her up, my heart and home will be opened again to meet the next dog I’m destined to fall in love with. And I really do fall this much in love and have my heart break every single time. However, I see the joy that this dog I loved to life brings to their adopters’ lives, and I always know that I’ve done the right thing in giving them up.

Many dogs and cats are put down for no other reason than to clear space for incoming animals. Maybe they have medical issues the shelter doesn’t have the means to treat (like the testing that was needed for Pocket), or a behavioral issue that just needs a few weeks that they don’t have time or staffing for to correct, or there is simply too many of one particular breed in that shelter at the time.

For most dogs and cats, they only get that one chance to prove they have a right to live. Rescue organizations give them a second chance – a voice where they have none. While all rescues need donations to fund their operations, one of the biggest reasons that most rescues cannot rescue all the needy pit bulls out there is a lack of foster parents.

Please look into fostering homeless pit bulls in your community because that truly is a gift beyond money.

Read more about Pocket here.

Note: Pocket was adopted in to a wonderful home where her new daddy just dotes on her and brings her everywhere with him, including to work every day.

This article first appeared here on StubbyDog.org.