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What sports can teach us about fostering a dog

As Americans, we tend to be sports fanatics. Whether your favorite is football, baseball or soccer, sports have been known to teach us some of our most valuable lessons in life. But did you know that sports can teach you about fostering dogs as well?

Practice, practice, practice

It’s not uncommon for people to think that fostering a dog is like owning your own dog. It’s highly likely that you forgot the first day your dog joined your family. So just like your coach reminded you to practice every day, you need to remember to practice with your new foster dog friend. They may not know or understand your routine straight out of the gate so a little practice and repetition will go a long way.

There is no “I” in team

Another one of my favorite sports sayings is that there is no “I” in team. The idea being that you need to work together instead of independently if you stand a chance at winning the game. If you approach animal fostering the same way, you’ll have a leg up on the other fosters in the business. When it comes to providing your foster dog with a safe place to call home, you should remember that you have to work together and that you have to consider her needs in addition to your own. The goal for both of you is a trusting relationship where you can co-exist and provide each other with companionship so if you focus on your needs too much, you’ll be like that kid that never passes the ball (and nobody wants to be THAT kid).

It’s how you play the game

When you’re fostering a dog remember your ultimate goal is to help them to get adopted. Your job is a temporary one albeit one that is vital to her ultimate success so how you play the game is extremely important. Unfortunately I know many fosters that miss an opportunity to showcase their foster dog to help them find their forever home. Get out of the house, go to the park, take a walk through downtown and be sure to put a vest, scarf or something that highlights the fact that your foster dog is up for adoption. You’ll be amazed how many new people you will meet and how the socialization will help you and your foster friend to find their forever companion.

Strategy and skills matter

What’s your strategy for getting your foster dog adopted? Do you even have a plan? Waiting at home for the animal rescue to call you with the perfect adopter isn’t really a viable strategy. Not when there is so much more you can do to garner success for your furry friend. First, think about your marketing campaign. Do you have some great action photos of your foster dog doing fun things outside (natural light is always best for photographs)? Your marketing campaign for your foster needs to be full of fun-loving pictures that capture the personality of your temporary guest so that potential adopters can see what a great companion they are. Next, get your social media game on. The fact is that most adopters of foster dogs come from friends and family members. You have an extensive network on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest don’t you? Start plugging those awesome photos you took out there online for everyone to see.

Always shake hands

A common ritual at the end of kids’ sports games is for them to shake hands and say “Good game” regardless of who won or lost. While this sign of good sportsmanship may be benched in the age of social distancing, the same values hold true for your foster dog. Taking the time to teach them new tricks such as shaking hands, can go a long way to support your campaign for finding them a forever home.  Part of the reason local animal shelters rely so much on foster homes is that many dogs do not thrive in an animal shelter environment and there’s definitely not time enough to teach them the finer points of sit, shake and lay down.  Your role is vital in their long-term success.

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