The Foster-Dog Send-Off: How to Say Goodbye With a Smile

Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to be highlighting the people, pups, and programs of Good Karma, a remarkable foster-based rescue known for its top-notch commitment to dogs and five-star volunteer experience.

“How many people can say they have had the opportunity to fall in love even a few times as an adult? Over the last two years, I have fallen madly in love 31 times. Every dog enters my heart, making it bigger with each successive fostering experience.” — Sara M.

Those dipping their toes into the world of fostering often ask, “How on earth do you manage to say goodbye to your foster dog on their adoption day?” Their nervous curiosity is well-placed: rescue veterans will tell you that the love and attachment they feel for a foster dog is as real as it gets. After all, foster parents spend weeks — or in some cases, months — getting to know the dogs in their care, earning their trust, taking pride in their progress, nurturing them into physical and mental wellness, finding joy in their quirks, and loving them every moment along the way. All the while, these big-hearted humans carry the bittersweet knowledge that the final step in their success will be saying goodbye.

Comfort can be found in these suggestions from some of the most experienced folks in the game: foster families from Good Karma. Their tips increase the odds that smiles will outshine tears on adoption day:

  • Begin at the beginning. Taking your time to choose a reputable organization will help ensure a good experience from start to finish. Lisa Booth, Good Karma’s Founder and Director, suggests finding one with a small, close-knit group of volunteers: “when you need support, you will get support.” You can also look for a rescue that encourages foster parents to play an active role in the adoption process.
  • Know that feelings of doubt are normal. When Jeni L.’s shy foster Beagle, Cari, was adopted by “amazing, perfect-for-Cari” people, she couldn’t shake the feeling that Cari felt abandoned. “Then they sent me a video of Cari playing, and guess what? That dog didn’t miss me. She was not scared. That dog was in HEAVEN! I was a stepping stone to making her well. And she is very well.”
  • View the adopters through your dog’s eyes. Krysten Q. reminisces, “We knew that sending Quinn to her forever home would be SO hard. However, her new family included two little girls who were over the moon about her; we knew she would be greatly loved. Even though we knew we would miss her so much, she deserved to have them.”
  • Relish in the joy on adoption day.  Sara M. recalled, “Bridge is an exuberant lover, and I had the privilege of watching his new family fall in love with him. This photo, which still brings tears of pure joy to my eyes, is how Bridge received his new dad when he came to bring Bridge home.”

    Saying Goodbye to Your Foster Dog

    Photo: Good Karma

  • Continue to connect with the adopters. As Jennie Z. put it, “It is so neat to get ‘pupdates’ on my former foster dogs. The woman who adopted one of them posts adorable photos of him on Facebook. He is so loved and spoiled!”
  • Get ready for the next one. For better or worse, you will never have to worry about fostering yourself out of a job there are always more pups awaiting a foster home just like yours. In the words of Jennie Z., “The dog that needs me is the one that is in the shelter. If I can open up my home to them they are guaranteed a future. What a powerful gift I can give them.”

A final note: If you find yourself adopting a dog from a foster-based rescue, know that words of appreciation to the foster parent are a meaningful gesture. Jeni L. shared a story of the day she received a package in the mail from Cari’s adopters. Their card read in part: “We want to thank you for trusting us to give our love to Cari in our home. [The things you did to help with her transition] were above and beyond anything we have ever experienced with other adoptions. We hope her collar will bring good fortune to another little pup that you will take care of in the future. The world is better because you are helping dogs like Cari, who need love the most.” Jeni’s reaction? “Tears started to flow…Why do I foster? How can I let them go? [Because things like this] touch me so deeply. I cannot wait to find the perfect little foster dog who fits this collar. It is so special now.”

Saying Goodbye to Your Foster Dog

Photo: Good Karma

This post was sponsored by Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN. Good Karma is looking to increase their base of committed foster homes. Visit their website and Facebook page to learn more about saving a life with them. (We can smell that sweet puppy breath already!) How’s your Karma?

Leave a Comment