My Experience as a Dog Foster Parent & how you can be one too

If you’re anything like me, you have been dreaming about the day you can get a dog for as long as you can remember. The problem is that dogs are expensive. And puppies are even more expensive. Unless we were going to get a Golden Retriever pup, I have long lived by the #adoptdontshop mantra. There are a ton of dogs out there that need adopting and those fees are much cheaper than buying a dog from a breeder.

If you’re not quite sure you’re ready to be a dog owner or you want to save some money first, why don’t you look into fostering? In the DC area there are several rescues that don’t have brick and mortar shelters. This allows them to cut down on their fees, but it means they rely on a network of fosters to house their dogs until they are adopted out. Depending on the rescue, the upfront cost to you is virtually nothing. You even get to select the dog you foster…it’s like dog sitting for a friend, except you’re helping out a worthwhile cause.

When Kurt and I decided we wanted to become fosters, we applied through two different places: Rural Dog Rescue and CityDogs Rescue. Both have the same application process. It includes an electronic form, a phone interview and a house visit. For CityDogs, you’ll have to provide three references that can speak to your ability to take care of a dog. Our applications moved along incredibly fast and within two weeks we were cleared to foster.

We decided to just foster with Rural Dog Rescue because their weekly adoption events were right down the street from our apartment. You are required to bring your dog to every event, so this was the most convenient for us. It is worth mentioning that you don’t have to stay at the adoption events. You can drop your pup off and pick them up later. If you’re out of town, there are weekend fosters that will take over temporarily. They also charged us nothing to start. We didn’t have to buy food, toys, bowls, crates, leashes…it was all provided for us. This is a real game changer for us poor recent grads.


Almost immediately we selected our first dog to foster: Finnick. He was a 2 year old black lab mix and he was incredible. Within 24 hours, Kurt and I were considering adopting. He was crate trained, knew some basic commands, didn’t chew or bark and was the friendliest dog. I truly have nothing negative to say about him. We took him on walks, went to the park, spent hours playing with him, even let him sleep in our room. At the end of the day, we knew we weren’t ready for the financial commitment and six short days after we picked him up, he was adopted.


A few days passed and we picked up our second foster: another black lab mix named Marta. She was probably about 2 years old and definitely had a bit of Pitbull in her (wiry hair and boxy frame) but she was the sweetest dog. She was potty trained, crate trained, and didn’t chew. There was a neurological issue that caused her hind legs to wobble but it didn’t cause her any pain. She just had trouble with stairs and walked a bit funny. It made for the cutest sight when we would come home and she would be waiting for us, wiggly butt and all.

We had Marta for about 2 weeks before we had to give her to another foster. Our apartment has stairs and while Kurt could pick her up and carry her down, she was petrified of them. I was pretty helpless since I couldn’t carry her either. At the end of the day we had to do what was best for her. We did find out that she was indeed adopted a couple weeks later, so hopefully she’s loving her new home.


Our last foster was a puppy named McKenna. She was also a black lab mix of some kind (do I have a type? Yes.) and was only about 3 or 4 months old. She was sort of potty trained, but not really, she did fine in a crate but chewed on everything. I kid you not in the two weeks we had that dog, she went through so many of those rawhide bones. Our first two fosters were great, so clearly we were in for a bit of a challenge with McKenna. We were told that because she was a puppy she’d fly out the door. This proved to be untrue and we had McKenna the longest. She was enough to make us pull our hair out. I think she was our signal that it was time for us to take a break.

Final thoughts:

At the end of the day, we are glad we fostered, even if it was for a short time. I highly suggest doing it yourself, even if you never plan on adopting. You’ll get some doggy cuddles and who doesn’t love those? Plus its a great cause. There’s never pressure to adopt, everyone is just happy you’re there to help!

Rural Dogs was a great rescue to work with. Not only did they provide everything for us, but they were stellar communicators. We would hear from them every week about adoption events and possible adopters. The volunteers were great and really listened to what we had to say so they could best ‘sell’ the dog. The owner of Howl to the Chief also owns the rescue and she is super kindhearted. You can tell she lives for helping these dogs.

The best part about being a foster is that Rural Dogs AND CityDogs gives you preference when it comes to adopting. This means that if you fall in love with your dog, fear not! If there are no applications in already, your chances of adoption are pretty high. So with that in mind, go forth and foster! You won’t regret it!

1 thought on “My Experience as a Dog Foster Parent & how you can be one too”

  • Great article! I adopted my dog from Rural Dog Rescue. He was sad to leave his foster mom on adoption day but I know that means that she did a good job caring for him.

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