Fostering a dog is a wonderful service to the animal kingdom. There are many animals who have been removed from abusive or neglectful situations, while others have been living on the streets and are badly in need of care. All of these pets need a safe place to get back on their feet while the rescue organization finds them the right forever family. Even animals in shelters are good candidates for foster care because many shelters are overcrowded and loud, making them stressful environments to live in.
Fostering can also be one of the most rewarding times in your life. Watching a dog learn to trust and love again, or maybe even for the first time, is a beautiful thing. But there's no denying that when it's time for them to move on, it's very sad. Even if their foster stay is a short one, you're bound to develop some attachment. When you're the center of an animal's life, it makes you feel pretty special. So what if kids are part of this equation? Will it be too hard on them when the dog leaves?
Of course they'll probably be sad, and unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do to prevent that. But you can place some verbal boundaries on the dog's stay with your child to help him or her understand that although you're helping this dog, it's only for a short time. Kids are savvier than we ever believe them to be and amazingly resilient compared to many adults. As long as you're up front about the temporary nature of the dog's stay with your family, that should help minimize the grief of losing an animal they've come to love. In fact, many kids seem to be better able to adjust to the concept of fostering better than adults.
Fostering is also a great way to teach your child about pet ownership and all of the responsibilities that go with it, so that when your family finally gives into the constant pleas of "I want a dog," your kids have already served a tour of poop duty and know what they're in for. There are many valuable lessons kids can learn by fostering a dog, which will far outweigh the sadness when the lucky dog moves on to his permanent home. And the service of helping one of the millions of dogs in need is an invaluable contribution to humanity.