What does it mean to foster a dog?

A lot of rescue organizations post requests for help with 4 great options: adopt, foster, donate, volunteer.

The one I knew the least about was fostering. How do you become a pet foster?

We wanted to know! So, we asked an expert to help us better understand this important role!

Today, we’re sharing them with you and providing some easy STEPS to get started if you are interested in fostering!

Below is our Q&A with Amie Hagar, dedicated and experienced foster parent volunteer and advocate.

How do you become a foster?

There is always such a need. First deciding how you want to help is important. Does your interest lie in medically needy animals? Or is there a certain size you’d prefer? Contacting a rescue or shelter to find out if they have a foster program is your first step..

What does it mean to foster a pet?

Animals living in a shelter are usually stressed and scared. Their true personalities are not able to show. Fostering an animal gives you the opportunity to learn what kind of forever home they truly need. You’re an invaluable stepping stone in their journey to a forever home. Most rescues work solely with foster homes so for them to be able to take in animals they must have foster homes lined up.

Typically, how long are “foster assignments?”

Ideally fostering a dog would be until they get adopted. Which could only be a few days or I’ve had fosters for close to a year. There is no guarantee on adoption sometimes puppies go without any interest and sometimes a special-needs one gets adopted right away

What makes a pet foster assignment a success?

Dedication. If you teach your foster basic commands, house training and you’re socializing them, all of those things make them more adoptable. Making sure they are been seen at adoption events or on social media. I have been quite successful walking a foster dog around a market or a dog friendly restaurant with an “adopt me” vest on.

What if you already have a pet?

There are lots of great dogs that need to be the only pet and that lessens their chances of being adopted. If you already have a pet, you want to make sure the animal you want to foster is friendly. And have someone help you introduce them. I have found it less stressful to keep animals separate especially in the beginning – even if they are friendly.

How do I know what behavior “issues” I can handle or not?

Honestly you won’t know until you try. Meeting the animal first will give you an idea if you’re comfortable with them or not. Maybe meeting a few times. Dogs with behavior issues can be challenging but is well worth the reward. Some common issues are dog reactivity, fearfulness of various things, stranger danger, separation anxiety and all around lack of training and/or socializing. Educate yourself on the suspected behavior issues. Read and ask questions!

How do I prepare my house? How do I know if any breeds are restricted where I live?

Pick up things of value! Sort of like baby proofing your house. It’s a great idea if you have a spare room or quiet corner you could set up as a safe place for them at least for the first few days. You can call your rental company or your HOA to see what is allowed. If only a certain number of animals are allowed sometimes an exception can be made for a foster.

What supplies do I need?

That depends on the resources of who you’re fostering for. Some rescues are able to supply most if not all of what you need. A crate, bedding, food, bowls, toys and any medication. If you’re fostering for a shelter they typically have very limited resources. You may have to supply most of those things.

What am I responsible for financially? Vet visits? Supplies?

Medical and food are typically covered. Sometimes boarding is covered also if you have to travel while fostering. Help is needed everywhere so if you’re willing to contribute financially that is a huge plus. And if what you have to offer is housing, that is great also.

How does my foster pet find a furever home?

These days social media is a huge part but also adoption events. Ideally, if you’re able to bring your foster to these events and can talk to potential adopters, you’re giving them the most valuable information. Events are almost always on the weekends so some places offer help if your schedule doesn’t permit you to attend or transport. Always ask what’s expected of you.

What if I can’t bear to part with my foster pet?

This happens all the time. Most groups give their foster homes the first option to adopt. This may not always be the case so if you’re having those feelings I would let the group know immediately. Fostering is not for the faint of heart and it is always sad to see them go. But there are so many that need help. Often we can find the strength to let them go knowing another needs our help.

What 3 things do you recommend a new pet foster parent needs to know?

  1. Educate yourself on body language and watch your foster pet’s body and behavior.
  2. Reward anything and everything positive.
  3. Be patient and forgiving, not only with the pet but with yourself.


If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent for a dog in need, here are steps to help get you started:

Step 1: Know what you can handle and know what your home can handle.

Step 2: Contact a shelter near you and tell them you’re interested in fostering. Complete their paperwork.

Step 3: Ask questions! Start to get to know the shelter staff and any rescue organizations that support the fosters. They will be the best resource for information and support along the way.

When they say, you’re “saving a life,” you truly are.

We hope this helps answer some of the questions you may have about fostering! Please share this with any friends you think may be “pawing” with the idea!

Sending love!

Jody, Gigi, Ryan & Sugar

Professor’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Fluffy

Too Fluffy, Professor


In 2007, I received an email forwarded to me from a friend who was highly involved in the local shelter and rescue. It showed photos of a very depressed “Poodle,” who wasn’t handling shelter life very well and needed a home as the end of his time was near. He had been found wandering in a field so matted and dirty that he had to be shaved. He looked sad and naked!  I sent my now husband to the shelter because I was sure I’d have to take every animal home if I went. He described walking past all the happy bouncing balls of fur to the last cage, where he found a dog that looked sick. Professor wouldn’t look at him. My husband came home to get me and our other dog so we could see how they would do together.


As soon as Professor was brought out of his cage into the meet-and-greet area he was like a new dog! Smiling and sitting up! Excited as he could be to meet us and our other dog! So, guess who came home with us that day? Over time his very fluffy fur grew back in and we discovered he is really a Bichon. We tend to keep his fur short, but he’s quite fluffy if we let it grow. Professor’s now a sweet old man at 17 years old. He’s been an amazing doggy over the years!


Maddox’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Fancy

Too Fancy, Maddox

Maddox is our rescue dog from Puerto Rico. My husband was working in the rainforest when this little puppy found him. One phone call and I was smitten! Then, $100 and three days later this little Sato was flown to Tennessee. We had to work through a lot of issues when he first came to our home, but within the year we welcomed our first daughter and his demeanor completely changed.


Everyone says this, but he truly is the BEST dog there ever was. Calm, patient and loving. Clearly, he is easy going as he’s pictured wearing a princess dress for a tea party!



Barkley’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Spotty

Too Spotty, Barkley


Barkley was rescued after following children to a school bus. Rescue Adoptions found him and I adopted him in October 2016, the weekend after Hurricane Matthew hit. We realize he could have been stuck out in the storm, but thankfully he was found just in time!


Although we got Barkley for our daughter who is on the Autism spectrum, he has stolen all of our hearts. Barkley really is her best friend. He instantly knew she was unique and loves her dearly.


We are dumbfounded as to why anyone would’ve given up this little guy. When we got Barkley, he was skittish and had numerous scars (presumably from abuse). The most amazing thing is how quickly and easily he released his past and was able to open up to our daughter. It really is an amazing bond.


Bella’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Fast

Too Fast, Bella


In October 2012, I came across a post on Facebook that said our local city shelter was packed to the gills and needed fosters. I looked through the album of dogs in need of fostering and saw this cute four-month-old puppy. She had an upper respiratory infection and needed to get out of the shelter to heal. I wondered how she got there all alone and what she had been through in her short life of only four months.


When I first laid eyes on her I knew, I was in trouble. She was adorable!


But, I already had three dogs. This one, whom we named Bella, we were intending to just foster…to save a life.


We made an adoption flyer and took Bella on several outings. As time passed, we knew we couldn’t let her go. We knew she was a part of our family so we decided to adopt her. Since, Bella has been an ambassador for her breed. She has her Canine Good Citizen® training. When Bella and I were turned away from a local event because of her breed, we stood up to the Jacksonville Beach city officials with the help of Pit Sisters. Now, you cannot have an event in Jacksonville beach that excludes any breed of dogs. Bella wants to end BSL! Every dog deserves love. Regardless of breed.



Skippy’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Small

Too Small, Skippy


Skippy is a special, special-needs dog. He’s a 2 1/2-pound Chihuahua with barely any hair and three legs. He was born with a birth deformity yet, he still can do almost everything other dogs can do. He has his own little ways of communicating what he wants, when he wants it.


Skippy was rescued from a backyard breeder’s home, and now fills our home with pure love.



​A tribute to Hagan… the “shelter dog” featured in “Too Licky”

The story of Hagan didn’t make it into this edition of “Too Licky.” And it’s too important not to share.

Hagan was the inspiration behind this beautiful illustration of a “shelter dog” by our incredible illustrator, Cynthia.

She shared his story with me written by his foster mom, Susan Richard. 

Now, we want to share it with you.

Another tissue warning….

A tribute to Hagan, my foster boy extraordinaire! So blessed for my time with him.

I’ve been thinking about Hagan often since his passing. Just reminiscing through my memories of our meeting and short time together. I remember every detail of our initial meeting. Walking down the hallway between kennels I spotted him. The first thing I said out loud to him: “We are going to be best friends!” I knew in my heart at first glance that he’d be a favorite. It was his sweet older face and how it bobbed slightly as he wagged his tail, though it hung a little low, maybe a little defeated. His eyes were full of kindness, maybe a little weary, and full of wisdom. I loved him immediately. He was sharing a kennel with a small yappy dog and seemed completely unruffled by the noise of his rambunctious roomie. I thought Hagan must have the patience of Job.

Hagan, or so we called him, because we had no way of knowing his real name, arrived at the shelter one night after the shelter had closed. Someone brought him to our rural shelter, tied him to the fence, leaving him to be found the next day. They turned their back on him forever, abandoning him completely, but there were signs that they had forsaken him long before they tied him to the fence. When I got him out of the kennel, it was apparent that life had dealt him an unkind hand. Someone did not care for him to the best of their ability. Hagan was very thin, despite his big beautiful shoulders and bully head. There were some signs of previous scars on his face and body. It was not a body of youth. His ears had scarring from recurrent unmanaged ear infections and his teeth were yellow and frankly, horrendous. Tests showed he was heart worm positive; no surprise there either.

But still there was a beauty enveloping Hagan’s spirit. I immediately saw his potential and even now I cry thinking how unfair it was that his owners did not see what I saw, nor did they treat him with dignity and respect. What could have been for him was not. Someone chose him from that litter of puppies and then robbed him of a healthy, full life. It was an injustice and unfair. My heart melted.

Hagan was friendly and kind to everyone, winning over each volunteer met and greeting other dogs at the shelter with a friendly demeanor. There were a few of us that fostered him to give him a loving home, a place to rest, recover, and heal. We all adored him completely. He had finally met people that gave him our hearts and were willing to invest in his health and wellbeing. I know we all loved having him in our homes. I have such sweet memories of him snuggling with me as I lay on the floor and playing with toys, pawing at them like a puppy. He was content. He was relaxed. He slept so soundly. I giggle at his fear of tile and coaxing him to follow us through the house. I took pictures…so many pictures… and I’m so glad I did! We took him out in public and he would ride in the car like a boss and sit like a gentleman watching people go by, looking at each one, wagging his tail, hoping they would stop to speak or pet him. Just the perfect companion. I had high hopes for him. Big plans for his full recovery.

Very kind people saw his pictures and wanted him immediately. Even knowing he was old, they were undeterred. Mom had wanted an older, calm dog. They fostered him, planning to adopt when his heartworm treatment was completed. I know they spoiled him and treated him kindly. I’m so thankful for that. Hagan finally had many people supporting him and a home and family that loved him. But his sweet time of the good life was too short. As it happened, it was too late for a full recovery. He started to drop weight and lose fur. Tests revealed that he was in a state of advanced renal failure. Our hearts broke. Our disappointment was immeasurable.

Hagan’s wonderful being, his gentle presence, was surrounded by admirers when he passed. Those admirers brought the love and support of many others. This dog that had been discarded had amassed an army of devotees and found love. We adored him down to his last breath. He was not alone or fearful. I won’t forget you, Hagan. We all wished for a different ending and there is much heartbreak in not getting our wishes fulfilled.

I learned much from Hagan: Be open to the goodness that comes my way by receiving and reciprocating. Don’t dwell on the past. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Always be ready for a new start and a new adventure. Each day is precious. Stay kind. Love unconditionally. There is beauty at every age. A nap is to be relished, especially with some snoring thrown in. Not every human is cruel and inconsiderate. Likewise, not every dog that looks like a pit bull is vicious. We are all individuals to be appraised of our own merits.

Though my heart exploded because of the injustices & apparent neglect, amid that some of the most loving and compassionate people on the planet rallied to love and serve a forsaken dog and call him their own. I have the utmost respect for these people.

Long live Hagan in our hearts!


We felt Hagan and his legacy are so important that he’s featured TWICE on the pages of “Too Licky.” 

As the deemed “shelter dog” inside the book as well as on the back cover. He is helping to share the message that with your purchase, Gigi and Ryan are able to give back and help more dogs like Hagan find their forever homes.

Thanks for your support of this great project!!

Pawful gratitude,

Jody, Gigi, Ryan and Sugar

Big Ben’s rescue story…featured in “Too Licky” as Too Big!

Too Big, Big Ben

Ben was our first rescue dog. He had been dropped off at the Humane Society and clearly showed signs of neglect. Thankfully, the Saint Bernard Rescue picked him up right away.


We had lost our first dog and were so incredibly heartbroken as our dog was very young and it was not expected. The woman who runs the Saint Bernard Rescue was a friend and she said she had the perfect dog for us. His name was Ben. Ben is so full of love and is excellent with kids. And, kids sure do love him! He is 180 pounds of pure love.



What’s the story behind the cover of “Too Licky?”

​Many of you have asked about the cover illustration for “Too Licky.” Who is that dog? Who is that little girl?

There are two things I love about this illustration. One, the girl represents every child who knows the love (and lick) of a dog. And two, the story of the dog on which this illustration is based.

To best share that story, I am sharing with you a ‘sneak peak’ of our illustrator, Cynthia’s preface for “Too Licky.”

Warning: grab a tissue. And, enjoy.

My daughter, Jillienne, and I are avid rescue advocates who have a passion for fostering shelter dogs and finding them loving, forever homes. From a very young age, Jillienne loved bully breeds and always wanted to be an ‘end of life’ foster for a dog with terminal illness. On November 16, 2015, both of her wishes came true when we became foster parents for Trucker, a six-year-old Pitbull mix who was brought into Clay County Animal Care and Control as a stray. Thanks to the shelter’s compassionate vet, Dr. Jennifer Broadhurst and FOCCA, a volunteer organization that pays for the medical treatment of the shelter animals, Trucker was not euthanized and was given a second chance. This sweet little lowrider was diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer and Advanced Heartworm Disease and simply needed a loving home to live out the remainder of his days.

We fell in love immediately with Trucker’s gentle demeanor, adorable grunts and grin that made everyone smile. We created a Facebook page for him appropriately named “Trucker’s Bucket List” and began our journey of giving Trucker the life he deserved. From beach visits to special treats, we wanted to make his remaining time with us as special as possible. But Trucker had a different plan and decided that he wasn’t ready to leave us any time soon. In March of 2016, his vet told us that he was doing so well on his medication that he could possibly live another two to three years! As much as we loved him, we knew that this boy deserved a forever family of his own. So, we began our journey to find a home for a six-year-old Pitbull who had heartworm disease and cancer.

We were not entirely optimistic that we would find someone who would be willing to adopt a dog that may or may not be a part of their lives for very long, but once again, Trucker proved us wrong. Everyone who met Trucker fell in love with him. He had such a special way of drawing people to him. Three different families wanted to adopt him, but each one fell through. We were becoming discouraged, but on May 21st, Jillienne decided to take him to an adoption event. It was there that he met an incredible family who fell for him instantly. He did a sleepover at their home that evening and found his forever home! He spent his days basking in the sun, sniffing the warm breeze off the lake and spent his nights snuggled in his human sister’s bed. His family adored him and continued to share his journey via his Facebook page.

Sadly, just six months later, on Thanksgiving weekend, Trucker unexpectedly became very ill and the Morales family helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge. For just a little over one year, Trucker touched so many lives, made so many people smile and was an incredible ambassador for his breed. Trucker was the sweetest, most loving dog we have ever fostered, despite the mistreatment he experienced at the hands of his former owners. The illustration of him sticking his tongue out while Jillienne kissed his head was based on a photo taken at the dog park, and it was also the inspiration for the name of this book, “Too Licky”.

As I painted the illustrations for this book and read each dog’s story, my mind kept wandering back to Trucker. A dog that most people would overlook provided so much joy and love to so many people. I encourage you to visit your local shelter and adopt a dog rather than purchasing one. Shelter and rescue dogs seem to have an innate sense that they have been saved and have a special way of changing your life. I also encourage you to get involved with your local shelter or rescue organization.  

As the illustrator of Too Licky, I hope to honor Trucker’s memory, and dedicate this book to all of the shelter dogs who are still waiting for their forever homes.”    

Cynthia Inks

How beautiful is that?!

Sending love and licks!

Jody, Gigi, Ryan and Sugar

P.S. If you’re waiting for your cop(ies) of “Too Licky” from Kickstarter, they will be mailed out soon!

We are waiting to confirm the final (physical) proof from the printer and then will launch this work on art and love on AMAZON!

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