awe·some adjective \ˈȯ-səm\ = terrific, extraordinary, vs. fail·ure noun \ˈfāl-yər\ = lack of success. If you’ve ever volunteered as a foster home for a shelter or rescue, you may have heard the term “foster failure” when a foster home decides they’ve fallen so deeply in love with the pet they are fostering, they decide to become their adoptive home. The word ‘failure’ of course has a very negative meaning, a lack of success says the dictionary. The negativity was protested by a foster failure volunteer at a rescue where I volunteer. “I don’t feel as though we failed as foster parents. It shouldn’t be called foster failure. It’s foster awesome!” All the other volunteers and I couldn’t agree more, and ever since we have called a foster volunteer adopting their foster pet “foster awesome!” I myself was recently a “foster awesome” (click for my story about adopting Gizmo, my super senior sweetie) and it was definitely a terrific and extraordinary experience.

Fostering can be a wonderful way for a home to help possibly many pets get the care and love they need to flourish in a home environment, to learn about their personalities, likes, dislikes, and work on their training to polish them up to make them shine as an adoption possibility. It can also be a way for a family to live with one or more different pets to see if they are the best match for their home. This can be really helpful especially if their home may have a particular challenge, like a resident dog or cat that is very selective about which other pets they accept versus really enjoy.

Some local shelters and rescues allow their foster home volunteers to select a pet to foster, while others operate in a less democratic way, depending on the type of animals they have and where the animals are housed if they don’t work out in a foster home. (A small dog rescue might only let their foster home volunteer foster small dogs, for example.)  Each shelter or rescue is different. That is true too of how much involvement they allow their foster home volunteers in the adopter screening and decision making process. Some shelter foster volunteers have zero participation, while some rescues may leave all the interviews, home checks, and final decision up to the foster volunteer. You can ask the rescue or shelter how their foster program works before fostering for them of course!

Signing up in the volunteer database is a great place to start if you’re interested in becoming a foster volunteer, and maybe one day, a foster awesome!

Puppy and fireworks clipart credit: