What does a foster dog feel on their journey to their forever home? Here’s a typical journey:

Home of origin (behavior problems, death of their person, family changes, etc., etc.) –> shelter –> foster home –> forever home. And when it doesn’t work out? –> back to the shelter or if they’re lucky -> back to their foster home. And then -> audition for another “forever” home.

Feelings I’ve encountered

Some dogs feel hurt because the families they loved surrendered them to the shelter. Some are reluctant to bond with the foster family. Most aren’t clear that the foster home is a way station, it’s temporary. They are confused when they arrive at the fosters. And then they’re confused when they leave their foster family. It’s a lot of changing people and places!!

I meet Toni and Bella

I first met Toni when she asked me to connect with her pit bull, Bella (not a foster) at the Veterinary Holistic Center.

Bella had surgery for cancer. She seemed great at first, but after the biopsies, the prognosis wasn’t good.  I shared Bella’s wishes to stay with Toni’s family as long as she was comfortable. I helped them to decide when it was time to ease her out of this world and into the next.

Toni shares, “Bella died surrounded by everyone who loved her.  I still can’t talk about it without crying.  I had my hands on her as she left and I felt a spark of electricity and a feeling of freedom as she left.  It was a very profound thing.”

Toni becomes a foster mom

From Toni: “I don’t think I will ever love a dog like I loved Bella, but I did miss having a dog around.  I didn’t want to sign up for another 12-15 years of a young dog or even 5-10 years.  Still, I found myself looking at shelter sites, and decided to foster.”

Read, Why Foster a Dog and What Does it Involve?

Toni’s first foster, Duchess

Toni asked me to help her with Duchess’ move to her forever family.

Toni shares, “Because my first foster, Duchess and I worked with Maribeth, Duchess had a super-easy transition to her new home. She fell absolutely in love with the dad/son in that family. They post pictures all the time showing how great she has been for the family.”

Toni starts using Maribeth for all her foster dogs

Toni explains, “The first session is to talk to them about how my home is just a way station, a sort of finishing school to help them deal with issues that were keeping them from going to a new home.

“The second session lets them know their new family’s ready for them; it was time to meet their people.”

Heni the watchdog

“Heni felt his watchdog job was VERY important – tons of barking! Through Maribeth, we worked out a barking system.  Heni would bark once if someone was on the sidewalk, more barks if they came onto the lawn. And he provided his “Doggie Alert Service” if someone was at the door.

“Maribeth helped Heni process his hurt after being returned TWICE! He’s doing great with his new person.”

Rosie, almost a foster fail

“I almost kept Rosie!  She spread love and joy wherever she went, but also pee and poo. Maribeth discovered that where she was before didn’t take her out very often. She was holding her poo to try to extend the walk and ended up pooing in the house. Plus, she had all the symptoms of water being withheld.

“Maribeth was able to explain to Rosie she would always have all the water she wanted, but not to pee/poo in the house. She helped us understand that Rosie would need someone very active to help her get past the neglect she had previously.

“Rosie ended up going to a really sweet guy who worked from home, runs with her twice a day and has a dog walker at lunchtime.”

Maribeth speeds up the process

“One session [with Maribeth] reduced normal training time by weeks, if not months to get an idea across *to* the dog.

“She saved the same amount of time in observation to get an understanding *from* the dog.”

“It was a great experience; Maribeth is a great partner in being a pet parent.”

“PS – Maribeth helped with my daughter’s horse as well. What we thought was the horse being stubborn (because she is a stubborn girl) was really an injury that could be addressed!”


Fostering a dog? Getting ready to bring a dog into your home?


Maribeth can help!