By Janet McAfee

Holiday guests have gone home and the decorations are coming down.  It may feel a bit lonely in your home.  Animals lovers are needed to add fostering a large dog to their list of resolutions.  A dog in the home improves your health, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress.  They keep you exercising with walks, hikes, and playing fetch.

Fostering, when you open up your heart and home to a homeless dog, expands the walls of the shelters.  For a variety of reasons, medium and large size dogs currently overwhelm our local public shelters.  In 2021, some people who adopted dogs in the pandemic relinquished them when they returned to work.  Others, losing their homes could not keep their big dogs in new rentals.  Fostering is the key to creating a “No Kill” Coachella Valley.

Visit a large public shelter and you will see rows of kennels with large dogs.  German Shepherds, Huskies, and other breeds are abundant.  Vicky, pictured here, is one of the many dogs now waiting at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, our public shelter in Thousand Palms.  Big dogs often become stressed as their time in shelter kennels drags on.


Loving All Animals relies on foster parents to rescue large size canines, as they have only small dog kennels at their private shelter in Coachella.  They rescue dogs from the crowded county shelter, abandonment on the streets, and occasionally when an owner passes away with no plan.  Can you help?  Can you network with friends and family to find a big dog foster?  Can you volunteer at one of the shelters that have big dogs needing walks outside of their kennels?

Myth #1 about fostering is you will be too sad when the dog leaves to be adopted.  Marie Marcinko who has fostered over 100 dogs for Loving All Animals reports, “I get a little teary when they leave, but I know there is another dog that needs me.  I get to be part of their adoption and meet the new family to tell them about their new pet.  I get happy updates from the adopters, including Christmas cards!  I’m retired, and fostering brings me great happiness and purpose.”

Fostering is a wonderful way to enjoy a dog’s company if extensive travel makes it difficult to have your own dog.  Fostering is a great way to start if you have never had a dog before.  It’s a great way to find out if a dog is a good match for you and your family.  Foster parents have first option to adopt their dog.  They are fondly called “Foster Failures”.

Large dogs are almost always house trained immediately.  With larger brains, they are incredibly easy to train with various commands.  Most large dogs (other than puppies) are relatively calm inside your home, content to relax by your feet.  They reserve their energy for a game of back yard fetch.  Large breeds are eager to please their humans, and thrive learning new tasks.

You can help select the dog you foster.  You can opt for a young lively animal.  A middle aged or older dog’s calm temperament might be preferable.  Fostering helps prepare dogs for their forever home, and provides vital information for the adopter.

What does it cost to foster?  Loving All Animals provides food, supplies, training and adoption assistance, in addition to all veterinary care.

How long would you foster?  The time varies, and as a volunteer you decide.  It can be for just a few days or maybe up to a month while the dog becomes vetted.  If your schedule changes, arrangements can be made for a replacement home, given a couple of days notice.

Can you foster?  If not, can you network with friends to find a big dog foster?  Can you volunteer at one of shelters with lots of big dogs that need walks outside of their kennels?  Contact Loving All Animals, the organization I work with, at (760) 834-7000 to get more information and join their life-saving foster team.  Fostering will bring you great joy when you become part of a happy ending.