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I’m a Licensed Foster Pet Parent. Here’s What I’ve Learned From This Life-Changing Experience

I hear it all the time: “Oh, you foster? I’d love to do that, but I don’t think I could.” The reasons vary. People note the time commitment, difficult animals, or that they wouldn’t be able to send the animal back to the humane society to find its forever home.

And they’re right. I’ve struggled with all three of those points, but it’s absolutely worth it. Here are the invaluable things I’ve learned from my years of being a foster pet parent.

1. There’s hope for any animal

foster dog

foster dog This foster girl had been through some tough times, but she’s still smiling. | Mary Daly/The Cheat Sheet

Some people think shelter animals are damaged goods, but that’s so far from the truth. Yes, some might have a lot of issues — to put it mildly. But once you’ve seen some miraculous turnarounds, you’ll believe anything is possible.

I once fostered an older dog who had clearly been through a lot. She was sick, emaciated, and likely a victim of abuse. For the first few weeks, she mostly lay in a corner, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Then one day, I had her outside sitting in the grass, and she suddenly started rolling around, completely enjoying herself as if she hadn’t had so much fun in a long time (which she probably hadn’t). After that, she started to gain confidence and wanted to be closer to people. It was a change that didn’t seem likely, but some patience and a positive environment can work miracles.