A Conversation With a Foster Mom

Just look at these adorable faces.

Oh, how we love our pets. They’re family. As a person who cares about animals, I am so grateful to all of those who give of their time, money, and energy to rescue. I have a beautiful friend who has recently fostered several adorable dogs, including the ones in these pictures. She took them into her home, gave them a safe place and plenty of love, then passed them on to their forever homes–well, except for Ellie and Scooter (bottom photos). Those two are now part of Robin’s family.

How did Robin Amundsen Swartzwelder become involved in pet fostering? She works in a local law office that has dealings with another office in Maryland, which is how she met Peggy. Through frequent phone conversations, she and Peggy developed a close friendship and shared their love of animals. Of course, Robin talked about her former pets and how she missed them.

Peggy was a single mom, and an animal advocate who mainly rescued pit bulls. One day, Peggy asked if Robin planned to get another dog. Robin definitely wanted to, but knew she’d need to discuss it with her husband, Alan. Their decision made, Robin told Peggy “yes”, and was very specific—she wanted a Yorkie. Before long, Peggy called with good news. She’d found a Yorkie, if Robin was still interested.

If so, she could have the dog free of charge, with only one catch—well, really two catches—take a couple more dogs and try to find good homes for them. Robin’s husband wasn’t sure about it. He’d agreed to taking one dog, not three. But they finally decided to give it a try. They brought back Ellie, the Yorkie, a tri-color pup named Sarge, and Daisy–a pit bull.

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Sarge, lately…

Daisy went to a policeman, and Sarge (pictured left, and in top photo) went to Robin’s nephew, Nick (who is also my nephew) and his family.

After this promising beginning, Robin felt comfortable enough to try again. When she received a call that a woman was gravely ill, and couldn’t keep her four dogs, she and her husband Alan drove halfway to Maryland to meet Peggy. This led to one of her funniest moments as a foster mom.

They had the five dogs in the car, including Ellie the Yorkie. It was pouring down rain, but the dogs needed a pit stop. Alan gallantly volunteered to get out in the soaking rain to walk the dogs. Five dogs on five leashes. He quickly became entangled in all the leads, while Robin sat in the car . . . laughing. She soon realized she’d need to get out and untangle her soaking wet husband if she hoped to leave anytime soon. Actually, I think I’ve watched a similar very funny scene in a dog-walking movie. 🙂

One poignant fact Robin pointed out: rescues know they’re being rescued. They don’t usually sleep well in kennels, or wherever they’re kept temporarily, so when you bring them home, they get the first good sleep in a while, sometimes in their entire life. It’s very touching.14708281_1273912019315029_4344428347496789636_n

Have you ever considered fostering a pet (or pets)? It’s a wonderful calling. But what about practicality? Is there a cost? Don’t you need training? What else is involved?

Robin’s friend Peggy is a rescuer (not an agency), so Robin and her husband were responsible for the animals’ needs. What are we talking about? Many of the rescued animals need the most basic veterinary care, such as shots, worming, and of course, neutering. Some of the basic necessities can be acquired at a lower cost through veterinary clinics. If they know you’re fostering, sometimes your vet will help by lowering costs, or you can start a GoFundMe page (include pictures!) for assistance in caring for a needy pet.

Besides the basic necessities of feeding and housing, your pets will need exercise. A fenced backyard is a plus, but if you don’t have that, you’ll need to walk the dogs.

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Robin: Lecturing my foster child on why she should stop pulling tissues out of the trash (looks like it snowed in the house) and this is the look I get — KIDS!!!

Be aware that you may become attached. This could be considered the “downside” of fostering. Giving them up may be difficult for you. If you’re working with an individual rescuer, you will need to seek forever homes for the animals. This requires discernment and care. Some of the pets may “bounce back” if a new owner doesn’t bond with the pet, or isn’t satisfied.

There was basically no training required, but Robin had been talking to her friend for years, and knew the ins and outs. And of course, she could always call Peggy, if she had any questions or concerns. A friend or mentor who also fosters is a blessing.

Do your research before you commit to pet-fostering.  For instance, if you apply through an animal shelter, a local or state agency, you may be able to recoup some of your costs by listing them as contributions. When you foster for an agency or organization, they typically place the animals. And what if you fall in love with the pet? If you can’t bear to part with a pet you’ve fostered, you can apply for ownership.

fosteringRobin’s most touching moment as a foster parent came when she placed a dog named Rocky with a terminally-ill woman. Robin says she wouldn’t usually do this, but the woman’s prognosis was good. Robin thought it might help her feel better, give her a purpose. Dog and patient fell in love immediately. Sadly, the woman only lived a few more months, but the last photos of her always included Rocky, curled up next to her in bed. He was very devoted.

From Robin’s Facebook post: Well, Rocky is all settled in his new home with new mom, Joetta, and Joetta’s two daughters. He stole their hearts from the moment they met. Joetta’s daughters felt she would greatly benefit from a loving companion by her side as she successfully battles her cancer. Joetta wanted a dog with all her heart, and when her daughter saw my post, she knew it was meant to be. Rocky has a big yard to run as he pleases, but he is just as happy by her side. They took him on a shopping spree to Feeders Supply today and he loved it! God speed, Joetta. Something tells me you’re going to be just fine!

Chloe the poodle (above pics) has officially become a southern belle! She now lives in Georgia with her new mom, Vicky. She has a beautiful fenced yard and a garden house, and a doggy door to the big house so she can come and go as she pleases. I hope they have many happy years together. Cheers!

And Scooter? Well, Robin couldn’t part with the little sweetie in these before and after pics:


A Special Note from Robin:

Please get your pets neutered!

From the ASPCA‘s website: By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around.

For more information about pet fostering, check out these two sites:

Kentucky Humane Society

Pet Fostering


Writing Prompt: [Finish this sentence in the comment section below]

New dog-owner, Dave, woke to a peculiar sound. . .

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