GSR-SP is desperately seeking potential foster parents! Have you considered fostering? Read this story, it will inspire you! Then fill out our volunteer application and we can see if fostering may be right for you! Thanks for thinking of the dogs!


Fostering - it's like eating peanuts. You can't stop at one.

by Ed Ost, GSR-SP volunteer & foster dad

I backed into fostering rather than driving into it head on. In November 1998 I lost my Standard Poodle, Sable, to cancer. At that point I didn't think I wanted another dog; she had been my constant companion for 12 years and I thought she would live forever--she seemed indestructible. But she wasn't. But having no dog around after having such a great dog left a void that had to be filled. However, my wife and I decided we would not buy another dog, but would get a dog from a shelter and maybe, just maybe I would use my training skills for this dog and give him or her to someone else.

So it was that less than two months after Sable's death I found myself wandering through the Bucks County SPCA's shelter in Lahaska. Deep inside his cage crouched in a corner was a starved looking = six-month-old German Shepherd. The card on his cage said his name was Harley and he was available for adoption. No one was looking at him, for he was big, gawky, drab looking and so scared that he just didn't look like much of a prospect. I noticed he had an outsized head, feet that looked like they could take a size 10 shoe and the slinking look you often saw in captive wolves kept in small cages. I knelt down to call him. If he was congenitally shy and wouldn't come, I would pass him by. I didn't need a lot of trouble. Slowly he came up to me and I touched his head. He was afraid but he stayed there. I left that afternoon, determined not to take on another dog that would get me in trouble with my wife (I have a penchant for doing just that), but I could not get this pup out of my head. I was certain that as sick as he looked there would be a good chance he would be put down.

I told Hoa (my wife) about him and appealed to her softness; warily she said get this guy out. So it was that Harley came into our lives. This is about fostering, so it is not the place to go into our adventures with Harley, but suffice to say we helped him through the bundle of fears that come with abuse and abandonment, and some how I never could get myself to give him up.

Today, Harley is a magnificent three-year-old, nearly 30" tall at the shoulder and over one hundred pounds. More than that he is loveable, confident, possessed of a tremendous joy for life. It was this big character which made me take notice of German Shepherd Rescue and volunteer to do several things --but not fostering. No, indeed. I knew when to quit. I mean you have to know when to hold and when to fold right?

For three months I quietly read the Rescue e-mails going back and forth like so many ping pong balls. Then, one day, I saw an urgent message that two dogs were going to be put down. Only one foster person was available. Unless someone stepped forward... Well, back to my spouse I went and told her I guess we could just not do anything, I mean if the dog had to die...

Well, that's how we got "Coffee". Seeing this young dog narrowly escape death and then finding out what a sweet tempered youngster she was made me feel really good when we placed her in an excellent home.

After Coffee came "Astra" an old dog with a big heart, and through her we met the Snyders a wonderful family that took Astra with all her infirmities and today have her, and whom I count now among my friends.

There was "Callia" after that, a pretty blond shepherd declared un-adoptable and not to be placed with kids, now a whiz kid who can learn anything you can teach to her and a dog that dotes on children. Her family too we count as friends.

Then came "Sunshine" who lives up to her name and lives with a wonderful family.

Next "Aspen", a Rottweiler-Shepherd pup that stole my wife's heart, and most recently the beautiful "Lisa", a tall black shepherd also declared unfit to be a child's pet who loves kids and whose owner had her tested for sheep herding ability, and who may one day be trying her paw at sheep herding trials.

There will be more.

Why? Because of the wonderful characters I've had the privilege of knowing, both human and canine, because it's a good feeling to see a frightened waif blossom into somebody's beloved companion, because in one small way I can give something back for the privilege of being alive and fortunate enough to live a good life in a benign place.

Harley and I are mulling over some other adventures for ourselves and along the way we hope that more dogs will share some of them and get to live happy lives with good people who deserve to have them as companions.


The Foster Agreement ~ View