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Fostering a dog has proven to drastically reduce loneliness and depression

by Tim Kirby

“Tim, I would really love a dog for the children, but I’m so nervous as I’ve never had a dog before, what if something awful happens, maybe I’m safer not to get one” uttered Paula’s quivering voice down the phone to me last January.

I replied, “Yes Paula, you can choose to deny yourself and your children the unconditional and true joy which a pet brings, or you can foster a dog”.

After a brief pause, I explained to Paula that fostering a pet brings so many benefits and positive changes to a household, not only for the pet, but also for the people who become foster parents. If you are someone who is somewhat nervous about trying something new, or maybe lacking in confidence to make that long term commitment to pet adoption or ownership straight away, then why not try fostering a dog first!

Pet fostering is where you welcome a rescue centre pet to your home for a trial period, basically to see how well you both get on. If you both are compatible, a longer term bond may develop between you both.

Did you know that fostering a dog has proven to drastically reduce loneliness and depression.

The affection from, and for a pet, also significantly calms your mind and scientists have related this to a lowering in blood pressure, heart rate and overall stress.

An amazing 74% of pet parents who fostered or adopted a pet, reported a clear improvement in their own mental health. By fostering a pet, you are also more likely to develop responsible daily routines as your pet is dependent on you. These traits of accountability and dependence will also significantly help in your own personal life.

Fostering a pet is also a fantastic way to meet new people. We also know that pet parents receive more social attention than non-pet parents. If socialising is a challenge for you, then you could not have a better ice-breaker than your “amazing” four-legged foster friend. We know how sociable dogs are, so as humans let’s follow their lead on this one!

I also explained to Paula that the kindness and love invested in fostering a rescue centre pet has a hugely positive ripple effect. For the rescue centre, it allows them valuable time and space in identifying a suitable longer-term adoption family for the pet. This process can take a significant period of time, and it is a huge comfort and relief to rescue centre partners, knowing that a pet is being safely cared for by a loving foster family. Regardless of how long the foster period lasts, it is of enormous benefit.

By fostering a dog, you are also playing your part in advocating and supporting good animal welfare. Every dog has a unique identity and character, and express themselves by socialising and interacting with other people & pets.  It is an innate desire for dogs to be playful, interactive and to give and receive love. This ideally happens when a pet is part of a family. For unfortunate rescue animals, this opportunity of being “a family member” is not possible for them whilst in care. By choosing to foster a rescue centre pet, you offer them the priceless gift of self-expression again. The ability to show their true identity, be themselves and to love and be loved.

Twelve weeks after fostering Sparky (a lively Jack Russell Terrier…) from a rural animal rescue centre, Paula rang to say…  “Tim, I would like to adopt a second dog as company for Sparky”.

After a brief pause and very broad smile, I replied, “ Paula, let’s help another amazing pet together”.

PetBond is the only platform in Ireland where you can easily choose to foster or adopt a pet using our simple drop-down menu.

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