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Foster Parents: Unsung Heroes of Adoption


What is a “foster family”? “Fostering” a dog means just the same thing as fostering a child – providing the care and love of permanent parents for a short time until we can find a permanent home for a dog in need. Not only is fostering a rewarding experience for the foster parents, it gives dogs the love and attention they need when their only current home is a shelter.  Fostering a dog ensures the safety, stability and training he or she may never have experienced.  Even better, it opens up a space in a shelter so more dogs can be saved.

Wondering if fostering a dog is right for you?  Read our answers to some of the most common questions, and make the choice to foster!

Why are foster volunteers so important?

Fostering is an important part of the socialization of dogs in rescues.  Dogs often come into rescues from a broken home with a history of abuse.  These dogs need to learn to trust people before they can be ready to be adopted, and your home is the perfect place for them to develop good social skills with people and other animals.

In other cases, puppies are too young to be adopted from the rescue, and therefore require foster homes for a few weeks before they are mature enough to be adopted.

Fostering is also crucial to the adoption process, since foster parents will have first-hand experience at understanding their foster dog’s needs.  This information is useful for the rescue because it helps to match the dog’s personality to the home best suited for it.  This is also how we get a lot of the information about the Labs we regularly feature for adoption.

How much of a time commitment is fostering?

Although the length of a foster stay is different for every dog, being a foster parent is a serious commitment during the time the dog is in your home.  Rescue dogs need consistent, stable relationships and may often require more time each day than a dog who has spent many years in your home.  Talk about expectations with the rescue group, and make sure you can commit the time before you apply.

What are the criteria for being a foster parent?

The criteria for foster dog parents are similar to those for adoptive dog parents, though they may be a bit more relaxed since the stay in your home will be short term.  HLR’s policies may be different than other rescues, but we’d be happy to discuss our criteria with you.

It’s important to note that rescue dogs may bring along some bad behavioral habits since they may not have had the experience of responsible training in their previous homes or situation.  Therefore, we appreciate foster parents who can work with dogs on their manners in order to impress their potential adopters.

Will being a foster cost money?

HLR will provide you with everything you need to take care of your foster dog.  We provide all medical care, monthly heartworm prevention and flea and tick medication, food and a crate.  You may need your own food and water bowls, and a few treats or toys if you want to entertain your furry house guest!

2014 Adoptions

January: Max, Smokey, Mack, Bella, Zeus, Misty, Ellie, Lincoln, Tony, Wilson, Maggie, Finn, Barley, Oakley, Hazel, Christmas, Nicholas, Duke, Cain

February: Jet, Brock, Leo, Waylon, Maestro, Brownie, Dolly, Rosie, Junia, Pepper, Romeo, Auggie, Nougat, Truffle, Turtle, Twix, Toffee, Heath, Latte, Caramel, Willow, Rolo

March: Mandy, Little Bit, Duke, Rumble, Cuddles, Collin, Skip, Rollie, Sawyer, Leonard, Simone, Bell, Auggie, Hazel, Mandy

April: Brody, Flash, Belle, Babe, Seuss, Daphne, Beauty, Grace, Barkley, Little Hop, Buster, Lola, Shea, Savannah, Gretchen

May: Little Bear, Hallie, Rose, Hunter, Livia, Frankie, Noah, Gracen

June: Charlie Brown, Hannah, Hennessy, Parker, Bennett, Yankee, Alice, Bentley, Shadow, Leonard, Bruce Wayne

July: Sandy, Winnie, Barton, Boomer, Carlee, Sable, Bella, Babe

August: Lola, Cooper, Boomer, Buddy, Reagan, Loki, Chessie, Nash

September: Samantha, Jett, Gus, Gabby, Braxton, Fletcher, Lucky, Millie

October: Huck, Norma, Gracie, KD, Ebony, Honey, Lilley, Precious, Pistol

November: Willow, Bunny, Peaches, Nick, Monroe

December: Rudy, Dudley, Potato, Charlie, Goofy, Katie, Chance, Becky, Dave

Happy Tails, Abby (FKA Stacey)

Abbie (FKA Stacey)

We adopted Abby just over a year ago and wanted to let you know that she’s doing really well.

It was a slow start though.  We took her to our vet and discovered heartworm was his specialty.  Who knew?  We decided to change her medication and treatment plan even though it was more expensive, more inconvenient, but more likely to get her better faster.  Read More →

Happy Tails, Sully (FKA Bronx)

Sully (FKA Bronx)

Just wanted to let you know Sully graduated on Saturday.  Here he is with his diploma!  He is not great at heel or coming when called but he does perfect on sit and down.  We will continue to work with him.

-Teresa, February 2010

Happy Tails, Ted & Remi

Just wanted to give you an update on Remi.  First, let me say she is avery smart girl.  She has adjusted well to her new surroundings and brought a lot of personality out of Ted we didn’t know he had.  Having said that, she is a typical lab and when not exhausted from exercise or discipline, she can get into a bit of “chewing” trouble.  Nothing we can’t dealt with but it reminds us or our black lab, Cooper…out of sight, out of mind (if I’m bored) should be her motto.
Her chocolate color is really coming through.  We’ve attached a couple of pics for you.  She’s looking and behaving like a young lady but always eager to please even if she has something in her mouth, which is all the time if she had her way.
– Dawn & Tim, August 2010

Happy Tails, Sophi (FKA Calli)

I got this picture of Sophi (Callie) on the way home in the car yesterday!  The girls played a little “Wild Kingdom” most of the way!  Lots of checking each other out.  When we got home she stuck real close to Glenn most of the evening kind of looking lovingly into his eyes!!  Our daughter brought her two little ones over as well so we had a full evening.  She settled right in ad bed time and we didn’t hear a peep out of her all night.  We’ve had a couple of nice long walks and she is already better on the leash than she was last night.  She does real well in the car, too.  We’ve run numerous errands today, lots less wild kingdom!  Thanks again for thinking of us when this gal came to you!

– Dana & Glenn,

We’ll keep you posted from time to time.
Dana & Glenn, February 2012

Happy Tails, Sunshine

I wanted to give you an update on Sunshine, our yellow lab, we adopted.  We rescued her in February from you.  After spending a few days at our house, she then spent a month at the Lexington Prison with the Friends For Folks program getting intense obedience training.  Upon her return from training, Sunshine and I then completed six weeks of therapy dog school together and are now a certified team!  Although, I do plan to use her at nursing homes with my family, I hope she will become a permanent fixture at my school next year and will be shared and loved by all 650 students at Washington Elementary School in Norman.

She really is an incredible dog with an incredible story!

Thanks again Heartland Lab Rescue!!!

Happy Tails, Sammie

All is well!  Sammie seems to be settling well into our routine.  She loves loves to play!

– Lynne, June 2013

Happy Tails, Wyatt

I thought you would like to see this!  This was last weekend at the lake. He is doing great and really seems to like the boat!

– Michael, September 2013

Happy Tails, Boudreaux (FKA Christmas)

This is Boudreaux, formerly Christmas.  He is growing so much.  It seems like he grows by the hour.  We love everything about him!!!  Especially that precious little face.

– Austin and Kaitlin, February 2010