Saturday, July 13, 2013

Freedom Foster Drive: Interview with Former OBG President

Today we're sharing an interview with former OBG President, Beth Bauer. We hope these interviews will help you consider becoming a foster.  It is such a rewarding experience!! If you have any questions, click here to reach our foster coordinators.  If you would like to apply to be a foster, click here for the application. 

How long have you been fostering for OBG? We started fostering in 2007, when I traveled to L.A. every other week for business and didn't think I could ever manage to have a dog of my own. Luckily, I had a supportive roomie who loved dogs and agreed to care for the foster while I was out of town. Even better, my fiance's love of dogs grew exponentially and, more and more, he began taking care of the fosters when I was away. It made it easier for me to go into fostering with the mindset that I couldn't keep my foster because of work, so I was mentally prepared to give them up. However, having foster dogs helped me realize I had a great support system and could eventually adopt (twice) and continue fostering - 37 and counting!

What is your favorite part of fostering and why?
Watching a foster dog blossom. Without a doubt, the dog we bring through our front door on Day 1 has morphed into a more well adjusted, settled dog when they prance out on the day they go to their forever home. It takes different forms with each dog - our spirited puppy foster, Sombra, mellowed a little and learned some manners; our former puppy mill foster, Avalon, had to be carried in and walked out on a leash; and our heartworm positive foster, Genesis, came to us skin and bones and left with a shiny coat, on his way to full recovery . Whatever the transformation might be, knowing we were a part of it never fails to bring me joy.

When it is time to place your foster dog, how can you stand to give the dog to someone else?
Hands down, the number one reason I can let them go is seeing the sheer number of intake requests OBG gets and knowing that, without foster homes, the rescue would have to say no to them. Seeing their pictures in the shelter is especially poignant. If even one dog would get put to sleep when I have an empty spot in my home and room in my heart, I couldn't stand it. It's certainly not easy, but oh-so worth it.

And as general rule, OBG adopters are top notch and keep in contact with foster parents! I still receive frequent updates and photos of many of our fosters, along with occasional visits - most adopters are like proud parents who really enjoy talking about their furkids with someone who loves them as much as they do. So often, I get to continue to be part of that dog's story!

What is your favorite foster story?
I suppose I shouldn't tell you about the time Newton jumped onto a snow drift in our front yard, over the fence and we had to give chase down the block in our pajamas! Or the number of times we've found fosters "exploring" the top of our dining room table. So many silly foster stories are good for a laugh.

In all seriousness, the most inspirational foster we've had was Tea, who holds a very special place in my heart. She was purchased as a gift from husband to wife and, when the marriage soured, the husband took it out on poor Tea. She was eventually seized by the local vet and, good thing, since her pelvis had been broken at some point. After being bounced to multiple homes and put on Craigslist, she came to the safety of OBG and into my home. Looking back at her initial photos, she looks like a completely different dog than we came to know - I could see the fear, distrust and sadness in her eyes. But her new photos, especially those in front of our nation's Capitol building, shows her carefree and practically smiling. She learned to trust, she learned to cuddle, she really learned to love! Though she was adopted to a wonderful home with plenty of furry sibling and lots of affection, it was also a bittersweet day for me since we spent six months together, helping her overcome her past; however it was also one of my proudest moments because I got to be there to see her spread her wings and fly. Luckily, her forever mom still let us be a part of her life and we couldn't ask for anything more.

What tips can you share? 
As a foster parent, you are the dog's advocate! It is so much fun to help them put their best paw forward though cute photos, updates to their bio and just attending shows and talking to folks about them - and no one knows them better than you do. All the love and affection you feel for that foster dog can shine through to adopters to help them realize how special your foster dog really is!

To help yourself get over the sadness of a dog leaving, keep a photo album - online or in print - of every dog you've fostered. As the album grows, so will your fond memories, sense of pride and purpose, and the number of lives saved!

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