Tanya Williams

Why did you get into fostering?

~Several reasons. I'm what happens when a child isn't allowed to have any pets while growing up! Since first living away from home at 18 I've always had pets, usually several at any given time. Jaime became a dog-person when we were first dating and he got to know my dog Jackson. Two years later Jaime got a dog "of his own", since Jackson was so devoted to me but only "tolerated" Jaime! Two cats later we thought we were DONE, but then we spotted a dog on hart's Facebook page that we both felt an instant connection to. Going through the process of adopting Penny, a hart+ dog, gave us some insight into how the rescue operates.

We were so impressed with the entire organization: the field workers to the vets and their staff to the administrators who organize it all, to the marketing team, to the training team, to the foster homes, the photographers, to all the other volunteers that fill any gaps. What an enormous coordinated and ongoing effort this takes, and what an important need they fulfill! We had to be a part of that!

Since then Jaime and I have become vegan. That's made our compassion for animals a much bigger deal, and even though we *thought* we did plenty already for animal charities and for our pets before, we realized we could still do more.

Which hart dogs have you fostered?

~We first took Elsa for about four days in March as a staycation while her fosters went out of town. In May she came for another staycation, but this time she ended up staying as a long-term foster. She's just now, as I write this, on a sleepover at her Almost-Mom's house! By the end of next week I think we'll have Elsa in her fantastic furever home.

What has been the most rewarding aspect to fostering?

~First seeing Elsa three whole months after her rescue and seeing how emotionally broken and afraid she still was, that crushed our hearts. Being able to see on a daily basis how she ever-so-cautiously would creep just a tiny bit further out of her cloak of fear. Seeing her, for the first time in the nearly two months we'd had her at that point, WAG HER TAIL when we came home from work, that was "The Moment" I knew she wasn't afraid of us any more. Seeing her stand up to the boss-lady dog Penny when Penny tried to take her food had us full-on cheering! Elsa's a cautious, but braver day-by-day, affectionate and HAPPY girl, and she's about to embark on the life she really deserves!

When individuals think it will be too much work or too emotionally taxing, what feedback do you have for them?

~It's definitely a time commitment between the day-to-day care as well as doing what you can to help get the dog adopted. But what is the effort it takes compared to whatever the dogs in need are suffering? How enormous a change can we make for even one dog, and how can we compare some  minor inconvenience in our relatively cosy lives to whatever terrible suffering they're enduring? I think if we *can* help then we *should* help.

~Seeing a rescue dog progress from hunger, injury, pain, and fear into a healthy, shiny, HAPPY and carefree dog who feels secure and loved is something incredible to see. The feeling of knowing mine was one of many hands helping to save and transform and heal a dog, and knowing they're finally getting the life and love they deserve, that overrides any sadness I feel. It's such a great feeling!

If your foster dog(s) could speak, what do you think they would say to you?

~I feel Elsa's gratitude when she looks at me. She has this deep trusting look in her eyes. I think if she could, she'd tell us that she's ready to face the world and live like a "real dog" now!