A Hit of HappinessWiley to the Rescue

Foster Dog Mom Jessica Says ‘Failing Isn’t an Option’

Let’s all say hello to Jessica Zylberberg, a hooman who gives temporary homes to rescue dogs so they can leave the shelter and get snuggles, beds, and park visits until they find a furever home. Chorus of my eight million fans: “Hiiii Jessica!” So, tell us a little about your first foster experience.

Well, everyone thought that I was going to foster fail (translation: keep the dog), but I kept telling myself that I couldn’t, because that would mean I wouldn’t be able to foster and help more dogs in need. Our first foster, Dave, arrived in October of 2017. I took him everywhere: cheering on the NYC Marathon runners, shopping at Trader Joe’s, and even to work everyday. At first he was shy, but within a couple of hours he knew he was safe with me and acted like himself, a happy, funny pup.

Was it hard to say goodbye? I imagine it’s kind of like eating the last piece of kibble in your dinner.

Definitely. When it was time for him to go to his forever family I cried a lot, but I knew he was in great hands. His new mom and I kept in touch days after and she even created an Instagram account for him which I of course follow. I’ve had nearly 10 fosters from Friends With Four Paws Rescue since then, and I plan on fostering more.

What was the scariest thing about your first foster experience?

Dave, developed a cough within the first couple of days after arriving to New York, so I reached out to our medical team right away and they recommended Robitussin DM. I tried a syringe, which was what was originally recommended, but every time I tried to squirt the medicine in his mouth he would freak out and the medication ended up getting all over.

For what it’s worth, I would do the same thing. Please continue. 

Then we tried to soak the Robitussin onto bread. The only bread that I had at home was gluten-free bread because I am gluten-free. Luckily he was a big fan of the bread because he ate it all up, and was fine after a couple of days on medication.

Great, that’s what we need now. Gluten-free dogs. Sigh. What was the most surprising part? 

My fiancé and I had recently gotten a framed picture of my family dog, Lucy, and we couldn’t figure out where to hang it so we left it leaning against our console. One day Dave decided to pee on it. He was basically saying “Lucy doesn’t belong here. This is now my house!”

I like his style. Speaking of which, have you ever had a foster fail?

I’ve had around nine fosters so far, and thought about keeping two of them. They were all perfect in different ways but I am not ready to become a full time mom. I want to continue fostering and helping others in need.

Some people say they don’t have the heart to foster, meaning they’d get too attached and the separation would be too much.

A lot of my friends and family told me that I wouldn’t have the heart to foster. They thought I would foster-fail right away, and many people thought I was crazy for doing this. Well, here I am still fostering. I always knew I wanted to help save dogs, so I felt I had to keep fostering even though I seriously thought about adopting several times.

Do you ever stalk your former fosters on social media?

I follow up with them from time to time or follow their Instagram accounts…THANK GOD FOR INSTAGRAM!

What does your human bae have to say about all of this?

At first Ted, my husband, was hesitant. He knew it would be a lot of work. I wanted to make sure that I would take the lead with walking, feeding and caring for the dogs. After a couple months of convincing and volunteering, he finally caved in! I am pretty sure that now he likes fostering more than I do.

Boys R Dumb. Anything else you’d like to add before I go back to sleep?

If you are thinking about fostering, just do it. Accidents (pee and poop) will happen, but it’s definitely worth the love and transformation that these pups will give you in return.

For more amazing dog stuff, check out my philanthropic online store, Wiley to the Rescue. I donate 50% of all proceeds to animal rescue! I also make a special appearance in mommy’s book, After 9/11.