How did you hear about Grey Face?
I first heard about Grey Face when I was looking to add another dog to my family. I had moved back up to Minnesota from Georgia with my Australian Shepherd, Buckley, and had reached the point where I was settled enough to introduce a buddy for him. I spent time looking at the various rescues in the area (signing up for email lists, adding on Facebook, etc.), but ultimately wound up going to the Tri-County Humane Society. Right around this time, there was a story that had been picked up nationally about Chester and his bucket list, a cancer-stricken 14-year-old dog who had been adopted and given a wonderful last few months of life.
When I went to look at the dogs that day, this story was weighing heavily on my mind. And as I looked at the dogs available for adoption, I fell in love with an 11-year-old pointer mix named Magic who had been waiting for a new home for much longer than any of the others. I decided to adopt him, and he has been everything I could ever want.
A few months later, a Facebook post came across my feed from Grey Face (I still had them liked). They had an emergency foster situation and shared it on their main site, rather than the foster portion. I had done some fostering in the past, but it hadn't crossed my mind to start it up again. But the picture of this guy touched my heart, and I sent a message off signaling my interest. A foster was found for him that day from the pre-approved group, but I submitted my foster application and took in my first fosters a few weeks later.
What led you to the dog(s) you've fostered? Can you give me a bit more information on them?
I don't know if there is anything specific that has led me to the dogs I've fostered, other than pure happenstance of coming across them at the right time. I started fostering through Grey Face one year ago Sunday (December 4) and have mostly rotated between having 2 and 4 foster dogs keeping myself, Buckley, and Magic company.
I started with Jack and Brooks, 2 miniature pinscher "brothers" who were bonded, and had them for several months. They just happened to be looking for a foster right around the time I was approved and, although I hadn't been expecting to take in 2 at the same time right away, I knew it was right as soon as I met them. As I drove them home, neither would leave my lap (which made for difficult driving), and I knew I was in love.
About one month later, once things had settled in with the four of them, I came across a post of a gorgeous beagle mix named Gabby. Grey Face needed a foster as soon as possible, and I felt compelled, so I took her in. She settled in incredibly well almost immediately, insisting on almost never leaving my side. She also became a play partner for Buckley, although there was some competition between she and Magic for my attention!
After several months, Jack and Brooks finally found themselves adopted. I remember the drive to bring them to their new forever family, and the bittersweet tears I shed as I passed them off to their new owners. I was resolved to take a step back for a little while, and just focus on Buckley, Magic, and Gabby, but, as it turns out, I had developed a newfound love for miniature pinschers.
Two days later, I came across a post for a new miniature pinscher named Tina who needed a foster. I sent an email saying I was willing to take her in, but then Grey Face contacted me with some unexpected news - Tina was a diabetic, and would require a bit more care than the typical foster dog. In my career as a pharmacist, I had explained to people many times how to inject and use their insulin, but now I was going to have to actually give the injection, and to an adorable creature that didn't understand what I was doing.
When I first got Tina, she was incredibly shy and spent the majority of her time hiding away in her crate from her step-siblings and myself. Thanks to the various vet clinics, however, we were able to get her glucose levels under control, and she became an entirely new dog. Not only would she cuddle and play with toys, but she realized how much fun it was to chase Gabby and Buckley around. The sight of watching a 15-pound Min Pin chasing a 40-pound beagle mix chasing a 60-pound Aussie around my yard will never cease to entertain me.
A little more than a month later, once the hierarchy had been established amongst those 4, I came across another post from Grey Face looking for a foster for bonded siblings Punkin and Lily. They were both little dogs (although Punkin was quite round), so I decided to give it a try with 4 fosters at once. I must admit, it made for a hectic household, but it was never lacking for entertainment!
After a few months, we managed to find adopters for Punkin/Lily and Gabby all within a few weeks of each other. It was a bit of a shock to the system to lose 3 dogs in such a short amount of time, but it was made easier by having the opportunity to meet with the adopters and guaranteeing that they were all going to great homes. Unfortunately, it also caused a bit of a shock in the hierarchy of my pack, and when I attempted to take in a yellow lab named Kipley, there were some issues of dominance. Fortunately, we were able to find a new foster for Kipley, and I worked on getting my group functioning normally again.
After a short time, I came across a post looking for a foster for bonded "siblings" Duke and Missy, 2 Shih Tzu mixes. Since they were smaller, I decided to give it another try, and it was worked out well. That is where things are currently situated.
What was the foster process like for you?
The foster process can only be described as bittersweet. It's exciting to take a new foster in and see what they are like. Learning personality quirks, likes, and dislikes is an enjoyable experience for me, and that feeling that you get when a foster dog finally becomes comfortable in his new surroundings is special. The day when you are informed that there is a potential adopter, the thoughts and feelings can become overwhelming. Grey Face insists on the foster parent meeting with the potential adopter and encourages communication up to and even after the adoption, so seeing the fosters happy and healthy in the new home helps to alleviate a lot of the sadness that comes with losing a member of your home (even if it's only been a few months).
What's special about the dog(s) you've fostered?
As far as what makes the dogs I've fostered special, they all have their own personality quirks that will stick with me forever. The way Jack and Brooks insisted on sitting on my lap whenever I drove them anywhere, even if the entire back seat and passenger seat were open. The way Gabby would whine if another of the dogs was getting too close to me, until she realized that I had plenty of love to go around. The way Tina sits to the side and barks at Magic and Buckley when they are playing, as if she's a tiny referee. The way Punkin (and later Missy) couldn't help but let her tongue stick out at all times. The way Lily immediately left her cuddle spot by me to go sit by my new girlfriend the first time I had her over, and refused to leave her side. The way Duke will cuddle up to you every chance he gets, but will be picky about the times that he wants you petting him. But they all have something in common - most of the dogs that come through Grey Face, have lived their entire lives with one person before they were given up, whether due to a change in living situation or their previous owner simply no longer being able to take care of them. All they want is another person who will love them as much as they've been loved their whole lives and, when they find out you're willing to do that for them, they immediately open up all the love they have inside to you. And I think this is what they would tell me, if they could - that they already know how to love, they just need to find the person to give that love to.
How do you feel fostering impacts the dog? How it's impacted you and others who foster?
I believe fostering is extremely beneficial to dogs, but especially these older guys. The majority have spent their entire lives living in a home, and the transition to a shelter can be devastating for them. Several of the fosters I've taken in (Tina, Gabby) were deemed unadoptable at the shelter, because they did not have the temperament to handle such an unfamiliar environment. But once they were brought into my home and given the love and attention that they are used to, it allowed them to feel comfortable and for their true personalities to come out.
As proud as I am of what I've given the dogs, though, I have to admit that it may have an even bigger impact on me. When you take in a new foster and, for the first few days they are skittish and unsure, you have no choice but to learn patience. You also are able to learn how much love you have to give. One of the most common responses I hear from people when they find out I foster is that "I don't think I could do it - it would be too difficult to give them up". What I tell those people is that, yes, it does hurt to give them up. But the joy you feel as you see the transition from nervous new foster to confident experienced foster to happy new adoptee makes you want to give another dog that same experience.