Boyz II Men sang it right with their song “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye”. And if you have ever fostered an animal before be it a dog, cat, horse or squirrel, you know that sad feeling when it’s time to let them go.
If you have just started fostering dogs or plan to get your first foster dog, thank you for giving these dogs another chance. One common question new foster parents have is “Will my foster dog miss me?”
There is a high chance that your foster dog will miss you in the initial stages after it’s been rehomed. However, dogs are adaptable creatures and will start to get comfortable and loving with their new owners. But that doesn’t mean that the dog has forgotten about you. There are some things that you can do to prevent yourself from being too attached to your foster dogs.
Let us take a deeper look at how dogs develop an attachment with us and what you can do to make your goodbyes less soul-crushing.
How Do Dogs Develop A Bond With Us?
It is a common saying that a dog is a man’s best friend. There is a lot of truth behind that. The human-canine bond has stood the test of time for more than 15,000 years.
It is a bit more complicated when it comes to cats as they are known to be more…to put it in the best possible way… self-serving.
In the United States alone, more than 48% of households have at least one dog.
How amazing is that!
Scientists believe that the attachment bond between a dog owner and dog resembles that of a caretaker and a child or infant.
It is common for pet owners to regard their pets as ‘furkids’.
Studies have shown that both dogs and humans release the hormone oxytocin when spending time together.
Oxytocin is also known as the ‘love hormone as it induces feel-good hormones like trust, love and attachment between people or in this case, the dog and its owner.
This results in the development of a strong social bond over the years.
Some people do not think that dogs have souls but to me, the ability to bond with another living thing does prove otherwise.
Do Dogs Remember You Rescued Them?
If someone ever said that you have a memory of an elephant, it doesn’t mean that you have big floppy ears and a huge nose. It means that your memory is good.
Dogs on the other hand might not have the same memory capacity as an elephant but they do have a decent memory.
Teach a puppy how to obey certain commands and it will retain that ability to know what to do for many years to come.
For tasks like this, your dog uses its semantic memory which is long-term memory that is needed for daily life.
It learns how to connect the commands to the actions that it needs to perform.
One aspect of memory that separates us from animals is the ability to retain episodic memory. This allows us to remember things in our past with regard to time, place and emotions.
If I ask you to mention 3 events that made you sad in the past 3 years, chances are you can name at least 3 to 4 events.
A study carried out in 2016 arrived at the conclusion that dogs might have a certain potential to remember events that happened in the past.
The difficult part here is trying to confirm the memory as dogs don’t speak.
This brings us to the most frequent type of memory that the dog uses the most, associative memory.
Such memories are made with emotional connections to an external stimulus which can be both a good or bad experience.
Dogs will most likely use both semantic and associative memories to form the majority of their memory bank.
It is still up for debate as to what dogs can or cannot remember but there is strong evidence to believe that a rescue dog can remember certain aspects of its past like how it was rescued by its foster parent.
Do Foster Dogs Get Attached?
Foster dogs do get attached to their foster dog parents like how any normal dog would be to its actual owners in its forever home.
If you are looking to foster a dog from the local animal shelter, it might be starving for human attention and affection and tend to latch on tightly to its foster parents.
And in most cases, it is totally normal for foster parents to become just as attached to the foster pup which isn’t a bad thing if they know that the end goal is to prepare the dog until the foster dog finds its forever home.
Fostering a dog helps the dog become happier, more balanced and well-adjusted. This helps to increase its chances of getting rehomed.
If you have yet to hear the heart-breaking story of Hachiko, be prepared to cry buckets.
A dog in Japan didn’t realize that his master has died and ended up waiting 9 years at the train station until its own passing.
How To Make Saying Goodbye To Your Foster Dog Easier?
There isn’t an easy way for a foster parent to say goodbye to the foster dog when it is time to be rehomed.
But there are a few ways to make this process less heartbreaking.
The Dog Is Going To Its Forever Home
This reason alone is enough to make every foster mom or dad feel happy when saying goodbye.
This is the big day that all foster parents are waiting for. Know in good faith that your foster pup will also be super happy with the new dog owners.
Get Fostering Again
Don’t wallow in despair for too long. There are many rescue dogs that are in need of a loving foster home like yours.
The more dogs you foster, the easier it becomes to say goodbye to your foster dog.
Stay In Contact With The New Owners
Some foster parents become good friends with the new dog parents.
I have a good friend that fosters dogs frequently and a number of her foster dog got adopted by her neighbors. She is always more than happy to dog sit when the owners need help.
If the foster dog is being adopted by a family that lives far away, ask to see if they can keep you posted on how the dog is doing.
It will help ease your mind knowing that the dog you fostered is having a time of its life in the new home.
How Traumatic Is It For A Dog To Change Owners?
Truth be told, rehoming can be a traumatic experience for most dogs.
Some dogs might even go through a period of anxiety and depression if they were having a great time with the foster family.
As heartbreaking as it may sound, it is a period that foster dogs have to go through while they start to get used to their new family.
It won’t be long before they start feeling happy and comfortable again.
Should I Keep My Foster Dog?
I’m sure this question has gone through many foster parents’ minds before.
It is easy to feel the desire to adopt a foster dog if the bond between the fosterer and the dog grows.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, to be honest.
If you have room and finances to adopt another dog then yes, that would be awesome. But don’t just adopt your foster dog just because you feel a bond.
Many foster parents will feel a bond with their foster dogs but it won’t be practical to adopt every dog you foster.
Taking care of a dog requires time and money.
Vet bills are expensive and can run into the thousands in the event your dog needs extensive medical attention.
It would be a sad day if your dog needs stitches for a bad injury and you can’t afford it.
It won’t be fair to the foster dog if you can’t give it the best quality of life that it deserves. Leave that responsibility to the next family that is ready to adopt a dog.
Providing foster care for dogs or cats that need it is a noble job. It is difficult to love and look after a dog for months and only to eventually say goodbye
Know in your heart that although dogs do not have the same memory capacity as humans, your foster dog will have a loving piece of memory of the two of you somewhere deep in its memory bank.