Kelly & Cory Dawson


Why did you get into fostering?
I (Kelly) started fostering cats for a different organization (NASAP) about four years ago, I was a university student living alone and I missed having pets in my life but I knew I couldn't make the necessary commitment to adopt one of my own - plus fostering is free! So I got a free pet to love and got to save a life, it was a definite win-win. Cory became a foster by proxy - it was a package deal with me! He's been an amazing partner in fostering, he is always so sweet to our foster pets (and secretly spoils them when I am not looking!)

Which hart dogs have you fostered?
Well, we foster failed on our first dog, William T. Riker (previously known as Kyle). Other than that we've just been volunteering mostly, and we had one staycation dog (Wilbur) who came to stay for a bit. That was so much fun - Riker had a friend for the weekend and we got to play with two dogs instead of one! Since we currently have a special needs foster cat, we haven't been able to do much more dog fostering, but are really hoping to pick it up again soon! Staycations are an especially good time, since we can help out over weekends and don't worry about having to make larger or longer term adjustments. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect to fostering?
Although I only had one true foster at hart, between the two organizations I've fostered just about twenty animals, and I have to say, nothing compares. Everything about it is amazing; That feeling when your foster dog does something so mundane to others but so amazing to you, like learn how to walk up a set of stairs, or how to sit, they get this look of pure joy and pride because they just know  they did something right. They can tell how much you want them to succeed, and they are so happy when they do. It's like they know, each day, they're a little closer to a permanent safe home. Every time you look at those pets, you know you saved them, and they'll spend the rest of their lives happy, healthy, and just being the very best they can be, because of you. As a foster home you see some of the most broken, sad, scared pets, but you also get to see them grow and overcome it all, I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything!

When individuals think it will be too much work or too emotionally taxing, what feedback do you have for them?
I hear that a lot. I wish people would just give it a try and they would see, it's not what they think. Sure, it can be a fair amount of work sometimes, in the beginning mostly, but they just need a few days to adjust. These animals, all they really want is somewhere warm and safe to sleep, a little food, and a lot of love. They turn around so quickly, it's amazing. Plus, hart is there to help you every single step of the way. They have a behaviour team, a medical team, and just a really good dedicated group of volunteers who will help you with absolutely anything you need. As for the emotional side of it - the happiness far  outweighs any sadness! As a foster home, you get to choose the right family for your dog. hart will never force you to do something you don't want to. You will get to extensively interview the potential adopters and trust me, they are almost always awesome like-minded people who just want the best for the pets, and you will be more than happy to hand over the pup that you helped form into a lovable family pet. There are pretty much always tears, but they are usually tears of happiness. I was worried too when I started but now, I can't think of any other way of life. 

If your foster dog(s) could speak, what do you think they would say to you?
I think they do speak. Once you foster, you will see, they speak with their eyes, their wagging tails, how they learn to play, and love, they speak with full bellies, and a clean bill of health... Their daily transformation speaks louder than any words ever could.