A Hit of HappinessWiley to the Rescue

Yay, This Unique Dog Rescue Nonprofit is Expanding!

Adopting a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience—just look at me living my best life after everything I’ve been through!

Bringing one home from the shelter or saving them from another awful circumstance temporarily, falling in love with them, then letting them go forever is a whole lot harder, or so I hear (in my opinion, it was just more Wiley for everyone along the way, but I sure am glad I landed where I did).

Fostering is a dog is a key step in getting animals out of the shelter, thus keeping them healthy, improving their medical or behavior conditions, and preventing euthanasia for lack-of-kennel-space. Foster parents help these canines realize that people can be trusted, and that the world is not such a scary place. This gives the pet time to relax, unwind, and experience some serious TLC while they wait to meet potential adopters.

Sarah Brasky, founder of Foster Dogs Inc, says that while taking in a foster pup is a surefire way to bring more love into your life, it takes someone capable of giving a ton of selfless love to a dog they know they will have to say goodbye to.

“The most common question people ask me is, ‘Won’t I be sad when the dog finds a forever home?’ Yes, but someone else is going to love and care for them just as much,” Brasky says. “You’re making more room in your home for the next dog to be rescued from the shelter, so they can find a home, too.”

Brasky started her organization nearly ten years ago to help bring visibility to shelter pups who were down on their luck, bypassed by one human after another. Her main goal: get them out of the shelters and into comfy homes where they can await potential adopters. That is, after all, the idea behind animal rescue in general, getting them that much closer to a forever home and keeping them happy and loved—and working on getting to know them and their quirks—until that day comes.

“For my first foster experience, I asked the shelter for a small, old dog who could be okay staying home while I was at work. Little did I know, they would provide me with a geriatric Chihuahua with no hearing or vision,” she said. “He was more of an indoor-dog, who wobbled around on walks and wasn’t interested in exploring the city. He was sweet, and appreciated a caring home.”

Obviously, any chihuahua is worth all of the time, patience, and treats in the world. What? I’m not biased. I’m an objective journalist. I also like chihuahuas the best. No conflict there.

“My next foster experience was more of an eye-opening experience; she was a young-adult medium-sized active Pit Bull type dog. She was abused, emaciated, over-bred, unspayed, under-socialized. But Mocha was sweet and so grateful for a home and to be out of the shelter. I had no idea about all the tips and tricks I know now, and had no connection to a community of other fosters,” she said.

“It was the most difficult and rewarding experience handing Mocha to her adopter, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget! I learned so much from my first, second, and twentieth fosters – each dog brings new experiences to light.”

Mocha ultimately got adopted to a great home after just one month, and is now a senior dog with that same family and doing well.

As for Sarah, she learned new foster tactics daily and realized there was a real need for a resource on all things fostering, not just to help current fosters do their best, but potential new ones.

“I would have loved to have the Foster Roster to apply to or to utilize the Foster Forum on Facebook with over 3,000 fosters and adopters who are eager to share advice and dog care materials,” she said.

Of course, those are all resources her nonprofit offers folks now. The Foster Dogs Inc. website also hosts a forum where foster parents can share their experiences, reach out for help, and post questions and answers. There are some great tips here, on the Get Started page, where you can also download a copy of the tip manual, and other materials, like an initial shopping list to what people can expect in the first week.

So here is the big news—turkey drumstick drumroll please—they are expanding to Nashville!

The idea was scooted forward by Maddie’s Fund, one of Foster Dog’s biggest financial supporters of the Foster Roster, as well as Nashville’s municipal shelter Metro Animal Care & Control [MACC].

While Nashville might not be an obvious choice for our next stop, Brasky said, it makes perfect sense.

“Over 100 people are moving to Nashville every day, many of them unaware of the shelter and not yet experienced in fostering.” Brasky said. “MACC works incredibly hard under the leadership of Executive Director Lauren Bluestone, to raise their “save rate” and get more animals into homes rather than face euthanasia.”

And they will still be operating and expanding their “Fospice“ program, actively searching for elderly or terminally ill dogs to place in homes for the remainder of their lives so they can have a happy ending. The initiative helps out adult dogs, too, and came to life thanks to a partnership with Animal Care Centers of New York City.

“Each of the fifteen dogs we pulled from shelters the first time around in 2013 were eight years old, and ended up with a happy family who loves them for who they are, and wasn’t turned off by their age,” she said. “Since the start of our program and fellow organization Susie’s Senior Dogs, people in New York and around the country are far more aware of the presence of wonderful senior dogs in their local shelters.”

In addition to the Nashville expansion, other majorly awesome changes have taken place in recent years, including programs like “Famous Fosters,” “Puppy Parties,” creating a “Lending Library,” boosting their “Foster Roster” and “Foster Education Series” programs and enhancing their Fospice efforts.

And when Sarah had a tiny hooman two years ago, her volunteers stepped up to lend an extra hand. Since he’s only two years old, he can’t become a foster parent yet, which is why she, and so many other dogs, still count on foster parents and volunteers.

“The adopters of your foster dog will love the dog just as much as you do, probably even more, and you get to bring home another foster pup once the recent one heads to his or her new family,” Brasky said. “Nothing helps heal your heart like knowing you can help another homeless dog feel loved, safe, and secure while he or she waits for a home.”

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.

Photo credits:

Main image and image of two adoptable pups:  NYC Pet Photographer

Dude in bed with dog: Kevin Hsieh

Woman and Puppy: Sarah Brasky
Smiling hound: Animal Lighthouse Rescue
Big dog on stoop: Leda Photography
Adorable Pug:  Adrian Budnick Photography