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Fostering Love, Care and Impact: A Glimpse into the Journey of Fostering with Dogs for Better Lives

By June 2, 2023No Comments

We recently chatted with one of our West Campus fosters, Christina, about her experiences. She Fostered Home Hearing Dog Charlie, who was recently placed with a client, for 4 months to help ease chronic stress that can be detrimental to the training process.

Fostering can make all the difference for our dogs in training. Some need a break, some are experiencing stress, others need more 1:1 time. Certified Assistance Trainer, Dana sums it up best with her observations of Charlie when he passed his Home Hearing Certification:

“When Charlie returned to DBL, he was at mark saying he was ready to start working now. I really do believe being in Christina’s foster home was really what saved him and allowed him to de-stress enough to come back and finish his training.

After fostering Charlie, she fostered Rosemary, helping her 1:1 with any behaviors and giving her the best chance at success in our professional training program.

Q: What made you decide to foster with Dogs for Better Lives?

Christina: We signed up to be a foster with DBL after learning about their fostering and puppy raising programs during a tour.  Our previous dog passed away from old age about a year ago, and since we have a deep love for dogs, we were thrilled to hear about the impactful work DBL was doing. We were particularly drawn to the fact that DBL not only helps people by providing service dogs, but also saves shelter and surrendered dogs, training them to become service dogs.  Additionally, we were impressed by DBL’s commitment to monitoring and caring for the dogs throughout their lives once they enter the program.


Q: How has the experience of fostering been?

The experience of fostering has exceeded our expectations. When we initially signed up to foster, we were uncertain about what to expect, but it has been an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The dogs we have had the privilege of fostering have delightful temperaments and display an eagerness to connect and to learn. The duration of 1 to 3 months that the dogs stay with us have allowed for a strong bond to develop between us and the dogs.  Overall, fostering has been a positive experience for us and we are grateful to be a part of their Service Dog journeys.


Q: According to our trainers, Charlie’s time at your home was what made it possible for him to complete the home hearing program, without experiencing additional kennel stress. What was it like to foster Charlie?

Christina and Rosemary celebrating Rosemary’s progress (and their carrot harvest) in the greenhouse.

Charlie stayed with us for about four months.  During that time, we focused on providing him with love, play and exposure. We thoroughly enjoyed having him around, so we made sure to include him in as many activities as possible. We took him everywhere we could, played with him and exposed him to different environments.

To help Charlie de-stress, we engaged him in regular exercise such as running, playing fetch and going for walks. We also brought him to my office on most days, allowing him to experience different surroundings and meet new people and other dogs. My team adored Charlie and he received lots of love and attention.

In addition to physical activities, we dedicated time to practice commands with Charlie. He has an enthusiasm for learning and exhibited a playful and spunky nature throughout his stay.

We were excited to learn that Charlie passed his test and is now a Home Hearing dog. It makes us happy to know we were a part of his successful journey.

Overall, it was an incredible experience to have Charlie as part of our family, and we are grateful for the time we had with him.

Q: Rosemary came into your care after Charlie. What were you working on with her?

Rosemary snuggling with Christina’s family during her stay.

Rosemary is an absolute sweetheart.  When she first joined our care, we noticed that she had difficulty recognizing her name and following commands consistently. For example, when we asked her to sit, she would sit momentarily, but immediately engage in other activities. DBL also informed us that she tended to whine in her crate, jump up on people and bark to get what she wanted.

Initially, when we called her name, she wouldn’t even turn her head in response. On her first day with us, she dashed out the front door (while on a leash) when our son came home and did not acknowledge our calls for her return.

We were pleased to see the significant progress Rosemary made during her time with us. Rosemary now responds when called, demonstrates better command retention and does not go out the door without permission. She is good in the crate and well behaved while in it.

Although Rosemary still exhibits some jumping and barking when we return home, we have observed positive changes in these behaviors as well. She respects our house rules.

Overall, we were delighted to have Rosemary in our home and miss her, but are excited to hear about her continued journey.


Is there anything you wish others knew about fostering with DBL?

Fostering with DBL is an incredibly rewarding experience.  It fills us with joy to know that we played a small part in the journeys of these wonderful dogs as they work towards helping someone in need. As fosters, we have the privilege of providing these dogs with the love, care and support that they require to reach their full potential as service dogs.

One aspect we appreciate about fostering with DBL is the ongoing communication and updates they provide. DBL is there to provide guidance with any issues we are encountering with the fosters so we can provide the appropriate support for their success. They also keep us well-informed about the progress and successes of the dogs we fostered. It brings us such happiness to receive updates that showcase the dogs’ growth and the positive impact they are making in the lives of those they are partnered with.

While we miss the dogs like Charlie and Rosemary when they leave fostering and go into service training, the knowledge that they are making a difference, that they are being well cared for and that there will be another foster with another wonderful and unique personality, makes it well worth it.

We got to see Charlie when we dropped off Rosemary which brought us such joy! He looked healthy, happy and beautifully groomed!  He also remembered us and we got to share slobbery dog kisses. We were so grateful to see him one last time before he left for California the next day to be placed as a Service Dog. We are so proud of him.

Fostering with DBL is an opportunity to contribute to something meaningful and life-changing.  It is a privilege to be involved in the process of helping these dogs fulfill their potential and positively impact the lives of others. We encourage others to consider fostering with DBL and experience the joy that comes from being part of this incredible journey.


Our team of foster and transportation volunteers make a big impact on our Assistance Dog Programs, helping our dogs through various stages of their Assistance Dog training journey. Sometimes our dogs need a short-term foster home before, during, or after training. Other times a dog will need a ride to another location to begin training on campus or to be handed off to another volunteer or staff member. Learn more about Fostering and transportation volunteer opportunities at dogsforbetterlives.org/get-involved

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