Fostering... a love story

If you've ever been curious about fostering, read what NLOL amazing foster Katie has to say. Consider yourself warned that it may get dusty where you are. You might want to have a tissue handy. NLOL would be nothing without our incredible fosters. Thanks to Katie and Craig and everyone else who opens their homes and hearts. 

My husband (Craig) and I have had the privilege of working with NLOL for a little over 2 years.  I first heard about NLOL when I started working with Talia Simon, who is an adoption councilor.  At some point, I shared with Talia that I missed owning a dog, but we were in no position to adopt.  She insisted that I contact NLOL and try fostering.  I had limited knowledge about fostering.  In fact, I had not heard the term “foster” in regards to dogs.  My curiosity got the best of me, and I found an overwhelming amount of rewarding and touching stories that would not have been possible without fostering.  Lives saved, bonds made, people coming together and helping those who have no voice and are abandoned, neglected, abused and forgotten.  Sorry, I’m starting to sound like a Sarah McLachlan commercial….

         Naturally, my mind immediately jumps to the next concern, if we foster, how could we give them up?  Everyone who knew we were fostering would ask, “but how are you going to let them go?”  “Aren’t you going to miss them?”  Trust me, I was thinking the EXACT same thing.  The answer is simple, “yes”.  Yes to everything. Yes, it’s hard to watch them leave and go to their forever home.  Yes, you miss them.  Yes, you want to save and keep every dog that you foster… However, when you hear that first sigh of relief, and watch them grow into the dog they are supposed to be, it’s all worth it.  Additionally, NLOL makes fostering idiot proof.  Our adoption councilors were basically on 24-hour call with any questions I had!  They provided food, doggie day-care, dog walkers, and trainers.  I never felt like I was in this alone.  NLOL was there each step of the way.

         Our first foster was a big blue pit-bull, Rizzo. Rizzo was picked up by the police in South side Chicago. The story was, he hopped right into the police car.  It was evident he had spent most of his life outside, was not treated the best, and seemed as though he was used as a guard dog and little else.  He was fearful of men and timid around people he didn’t know.  The first night we spent feeling each other out.  He sat “on guard” the entire first night.  I played relaxing music, put on Planet Earth, and talked to him in my irresistible baby voice.  He wasn’t interested in any of it.  This was the first time I had not immediately “bonded” with a dog.  However, everything changed the second night.  For the first time, he laid down on his bed and breathed (what one could only call) a deep sigh of relief.  At this moment, I realized this is why you foster.  Rizzo felt safe, possibly for the first time in his life. 

In regards to Rizzo’s fear of men, well, I think the picture speaks for itself…


Rizzo ended up finding his perfect forever home, and Craig and I couldn’t have been more excited.  Yes, we missed him. To this day we still miss Rizzo.  However, we still keep in touch with his new family.  We get regular updates, texts and photos showing how happy Rizzo and how far he has come. 

     Craig and I fostered 2 or 3 other dogs, until we met Duke Wellington.  Duke was an 11-year-old pit-bull mix that definitely did not have the best life before NLOL scooped him up.  We fostered Duke for a couple of weeks, and eventually ended up officially adopting him.  People always ask “why did you adopt Duke and not any other of your fosters?”  The answer, “For us, Duke was one in a million, we simply fell in love.  He had some health problems, but Duke easily fit into our routine.”  Everyone knew Duke was 11 years old, and we wanted to give him the best possible life regardless of how much time we had left.  Duke Wellington ended up living with us for a little over a year before he crossed Rainbow Bridge. 


Not even a month after Duke had passed, I spotted Brody on the CACC facebook page.  I’m not exactly sure what it was about him, but I immediately knew he couldn’t spend another day in CACC.  I believe everyone has those initial intuitions about dogs, (and everything in life) you can’t explain it, you just know it’s right.  I truly believe when you have those feelings about anything in life, you should act.  Luckily, I had the help of NLOL. We pulled Brody and fostered him.  Our hearts still ached for Duke Wellington, we missed him dearly, but Brody eased the pain.  He seemed to sense we were missing something, and attempted to comfort our sorrows.  He really was exactly what we needed, a big love bug, a couch potato, and when we seemed sad, he would come rest his humongous head on our leg and look at us with his big brown eyes.  Again, Craig and I both felt Brody fit perfectly in our lives, and we couldn’t live without him.  Ultimately, we officially adopted Brody in Duke Wellington’s memory. 


If you are considering fostering, just know that for us, it has changed our lives.  If it weren’t for fosters, so many lives would be lost.  Dogs, and all animals, deserve a life of respect and love.   

Photos of some of our fosters! Apparently, we sleep a lot…