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Frugal Find: Foster a Dog

   Posted On: February 21, 2014  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

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My childhood bestie (other than my sister of course).

I’m a 24-year-old woman. I’m supposed to have some sort of biological desire to bring life into this world. Well, that switch hasn’t flipped yet, but my puppy-crazy is maxed out. Hard. Over the last year I’ve been jonesing to get a dog. I see dogs everywhere. I coo over them, suddenly speak in a strange high-pitched voice and try to scratch their bellies. I hear most woman get this way around babies…? Curious.

Two major factors have kept me from getting a pooch of my own: time and money.

Dogs are a lot of work and require plenty of attention. On a normal day of work I’m out the door at 8:30 and don’t return until 7:00 to 7:30. If I meet a friend for dinner or go out to happy hour it’s closer to 9:00 or 10:00. I think it’s unfair to leave a dog cooped up for that long without a walk. I don’t live close enough to work to dart home at lunch to walk then dog so the other option is pay someone to do it for me. Unfortunately, dog walkers are expensive!

In addition to the time, dogs cost a decent amount of money. First off, you have to get one. I’m not a fan of breeders, so I’m going to go for the rescue pup every time. But even rescues cost some money to adopt. Then you have to add in food, vet trips, toys, medical emergencies, perhaps grooming if you go that route.

To top it all off, I go out of town on a pretty regular basis and would have to kennel the dog or pay for a dog sitter.

With all these thoughts pounding around my head, I still haven’t killed the desire to have a four-legged friend in the apartment. Then I found out about fostering for the ASPCA, while I was looking at adoptable dogs on their website and not through a super depressing commercial with Sarah McLachlan singing.

The goal of the ASPCA foster program is:

  • Reduce the amount of time an animal lives in the Adoption Center
  • Accept more animals into our Adoption Center
  • Increase adoptions by better preparing animals to become beloved family members

Sure the warm and fuzzies of helping save an animal are great, but I won’t lie that this sentence was the real selling point for this frugal gal:

“The ASPCA provides our foster caregivers with all the food and supplies they need to take care of their foster animals, and we cover all medical expenses for foster animals, including medication.”

*insert record scratching sound*

What?! I can get a dog, not pay for the dog in anything but cuddles and affection and if there are major issues or I discover I simply don’t have enough time to properly care for a dog I can give it to another loving foster family?! Ummm, as Charlie Sheen would say WINNING!

Once my roommate got on-board – which took me barely finishing asking the question: “Hey, want to foster a dog?” – we okayed it with our landlord and emailed the ASPCA to sign up. We’ll be able to split responsibility for walks, making sure someone can come home right after work to let the dog out and caring for the pup when one of us is out of town.

My roommate and I have to take a required training course before we can officially welcome a dog into our home, but we’re on the path to helping an animal get ready for permanent adoption and opening up space for other pets to be rescued.

P.S. For cat lovers, you can also sign up to foster the lesser of the two animals (and it seems like there are a lot of kittens available).

Would you consider fostering an animal? If you have, what was your experience?

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30 responses to “Frugal Find: Foster a Dog

  1. I think it does sound like a win-win situation: enjoy having a dog and have the costs covered. However, I would probably get attached to the dog and have a hard time giving it back if it was adopted or something.

  2. I fostered a dog for two months. It was awesome! I’d do it more often but my roommate is allergic. It’s honestly such a wonderful experience and it is cheap. The foster company paid for everything. They even helped me with walking the dog during the day when my roommates and I worked the schedule.

  3. I think its a great idea for this that can’t keep dogs permanently. I think I’d have a hard time sending the dog back though if I fell in love. I agree though that people don’t take enough time and thought into what it takes to raise a pet. Then just kick them to the curb when “oh well” they can’t keep it.

    1. I kind of view as a test run of sorts to see if I’d be able to handle the demands of pet ownership right now. I could never be the person who kicks the dog to the curb, but I don’t want to resent the poor pup either.

  4. Dogs are the best. A lot of work, but just the best. It’s awesome that you and your roommate are going to be able to foster one, although I don’t think I would be able to let it go after a couple months of spending time with it. I’m a sap. And major thanks for the link love! Very much appreciated. Have a great day!

    1. If it proves to difficult to give the pooch up after the first foster we might have to re-evaluate, but I’m hoping I’ll just focus on the happy aspects of getting a furry friend and making one ready for its permanent home.

  5. Thanks so much for the mention!

    Fostering is something very near and dear to me. Our last two dogs were fosters and the one before that was a stray, so we are foster failures, meaning we usually keep whatever walks in the door and aren’t willing to let it be adopted. These are usually older dogs that no one wants, but for some reason, we always want to keep them. We do have better luck with puppies. They are so much work, that I’m usually OK to see them go!

    This is making a very hasty generalization, but I think career women start the biological clock around your age with a pet then the child one kicks in around 30, at least it did for me. I got my first dog at 24. My roommate also got a dog, and between the two of us, we were able to keep them fed, exercised, and happy for the most part. I can’t ever imagine not having a dog, even though I’ve added a husband and child to the mix over the years too.

    1. My parents are all about the strays too. We’ve only had shelter dogs in my house. Your experience sounds similar to the foster hospice option the ASPCA offers. I considered that, but I was afraid it might be too hard to care for a sick dog, especially if I didn’t have a car to drive it to the vet.

      I’ve always been a dog person and dreamed of having one as soon as I could afford it and dedicate the time. I think time is probably my bigger concern right now.

  6. My wife and I have thought of getting into fostering, but we both love animals so much I’m afraid we’d end up adopting half of our fosters.

    I’m glad you’re getting involved in this, though!

  7. My friend has been fostering cats for a while now and loves that she gets a companion plus flexibility. While all necessity costs are covered, she would spend her own money on extra toys and those things that we do for pets because we just can’t help it. I adopted my cats from someone fostering and couldn’t be happier.

    1. I would actually consider doing a cat foster if my roomie wasn’t allergic. I wouldn’t full as bothered about leaving a cat alone all day while I was at work.

  8. Yay! A dog is a happy thing, and it’ll definitely go easier with a roommate to help. The costs with pets though are rarely upfront: the ongoing costs for years really do add up quite a bit. Still, I think they’r worth it.

  9. I think it sounds like an amazing way to experience dog ownership without the costs, but my concern would be that I would grow attached to said dog and want to adopt it which would then lead to me paying the bills going forward. We have a cat and I fell in love with him after a day of him living with us.

    1. I keep telling myself it’s like dog sitting. If I know the dog has to go back home (or to another home) then I won’t get as attached.

  10. Nice. This sounds great. I like that my roommate has a dog. Everything the dog eats and needs is paid for by her (obviously), but I get to spend as much time with the dog as I want, without NEEDing to ever. It’s a great deal 🙂

  11. I love the idea of fostering a dog but I get too attached. I’ll never give it up and then suddenly I’ll become the crazy dog lady living in squalor. I totally understand the puppy fever thing, though – kids don’t do it for me, but show me a puppy and I’m a melted mess of goo on the verge of tears. Since you and your roomie are prepared to share responsibility if you both fall hopelessly in love with it, this opportunity sounds like a win-win. Good luck!

    1. But then only one of us would get the dog when we eventually go our separate ways! But I guess you never know. Perhaps I will end up with the permanent puppy.

  12. I’ve talked about this several times on my blog, but we are BIG fosters! We have fostered over 10 dogs in 2 years (including our forever pooch). The rescue I’m a board member for is always looking for a good dog-less foster so you’re a pretty hot commodity!

  13. For people who have never had a pet, I think fostering is a great idea. This way they will know if having a pet is really a good idea for them. Pets are a lot of work when you first bring them home, but once the potty training phase is over it’s nothing but pure fun and love….You can even ask my poodle Max, I’m sure he would agree.

    1. I’ve never had to raise and train one myself, but I can see how it’s totally worth the growing pains. I grew up in a family that had dogs. My parents had them before my sister and i were born so I’ll have to take a lot of tips from them!

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