Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back and Hiking Forward

Tyson looking for a home in 2012
As I look back on 2011 and the first six months of hiking and blogging with Foster Dog Summit, I want to extend a special thank you to everyone who has supported my efforts to help foster dogs hike their way into homes.  Whether you have followed this blog, shared the posts on Facebook or Twitter, told your friends and/or politely listened to my pitch if I happened to cross your path on the trails, please know that you have made a difference in the lives of many dogs.

Tipper is ready for a family of her own
All efforts to increase the awareness of foster dogs waiting for adoptive homes has a profound impact on the number of lives that can be saved through adoption.  My hiking and blogging efforts have certainly had a direct impact on some of the dogs being adopted either by a person I met on a trail or by someone whose decision to adopt was influenced by a trip report that I posted.  For these direct results, I am extremely grateful and inspired to continue hiking with foster dogs.

However, I know that my greater impact is in making more people aware that homeless dogs can thrive in foster homes, and that they are temporary living situations that far exceed the level of care and socialization that dogs would receive if they had to wait in a cage at an overcrowded animal shelter.  Thank you to all of the foster care families who provide temporary homes for the dogs who are awaiting permanent placement.

Sage has resolved to find a family in 2012!
Initially, I worried about how I could hike with foster dogs and then not want to adopt them all myself after spending several hours with them on the trails.  I would have happily adopted every single one of the hikers if I could, but I have not been saddened by the fact that I cannot adopt them all.  Instead, I am thrilled to be a part of the "village" it takes to place a homeless dog in a new home.

Recently, I read a wonderful blog post by the non-profit organization Stubby Dog in which they pay tribute to the everyday heroes that foster families are for the rescue groups with which they volunteer.  The tribute reads in part, "They do their best to balance holding tight and letting go. It is a tricky dance to care so deeply for a guest, since dogs stay forever in our hearts. But when people tell them, 'I couldn’t foster because it would be too hard to give the dog up.' They say, 'How can it be harder than knowing a dog died because no foster home stepped up?' And that is why they do it time and again."

Marvin is excited to find a forever home
The entire moving tribute to the dedication of foster home providers is available here.

Here in New England, when I am asked about the process by which people can become foster families, I refer them to inquire with Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. or Almost Home Rescue to complete a foster home application.   Thank you to all of the foster families who have stepped up or are considering stepping up for a dog in need.

Since I began hiking and blogging back in July 2011, I have gone on a total of 20 hikes with 18 different dogs - 14 of these hikers have found permanent homes while 4 are still waiting patiently for a family to call their own.  You can view the entire album of adopted hikers.

If you or someone close to you has resolved to adopt a dog in the New Year, please have them consider one of the four fabulous hiking hounds that I have had the privilege to share the trails with recently.  You can visit each of their most recent hikes and obtain additional information by clicking on their names here - Tyson, Tipper, Sage and Marvin - or by clicking on their photo captions above.

Happy New Year!  We look forward to seeing you on the trails in 2012.

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