How Do I Teach My Kids Responsiblity and Compassion? Foster Dogs

Caring for animals teaches children to think about something besides themselves. If you have a pet, you know that taking care of it is a great way for kids to learn some responsibility. You also probably know that most of that responsibility falls on you … but still.

We have a dog and two cats. My kids feed, walk, brush, bathe, train, and scoop their poop.

Sometimes we foster dogs from shelters.  It allows shelters to spring animals from the pound so they don’t, well, there’s no polite way of saying it—get killed. Shelters and rescues love to have volunteers who will foster dogs for a couple of weeks until the animal is adopted.

Dogs in homes do better than dogs in shelters. You would, too. A dog from a foster home is infinitely more adoptable than a dog who has been living in a shelter. They are healthier and better behaved. My house is a trifecta of dog challenges: Cats, kids, and no fence. Dogs who fit in at my house make pretty good pets.

I know it’s not for everyone. To be honest, I plan to quit fostering soon because I want new carpet. I’m not so great of an animal-lover that I’ll sacrifice new carpets. But it’s a small thing to do to teach my kids to be good stewards of the living things in this world.  Click on the slideshow to see some of the dogs we’ve helped and what they taught us.

  • My Dog Frances 1 of 8
    My Dog Frances
    We've had Frances since she was 3 months old. Having foster dogs when she was a puppy was a great way to socialize her to other dogs. It also gives her someone to play with/bother.
  • Oakley the Pit Bull Mix 2 of 8
    Oakley the Pit Bull Mix
    Kids learn to look past stereotypes when you foster dogs. Oakley was sweet and calm ... and RIDEABLE! Not your typical pit bull.
  • Charlie the Border Collie 3 of 8
    Charlie the Border Collie
    Our first foster dogs were two adorable border collie puppies. They were irresistible. But kids learn fast that puppies are a lot more work and a lot less cute than you think.
  • Max the Border Collie 4 of 8
    Max the Border Collie
    Puppies land in shelters when people aren't prepared for the hard work of raising them. My kids have learned that it takes time and effort to care for fun things like puppies. These puppies ended up on a farm in Idaho. And they lived happily ever after.
  • Ollie the Shetland Sheepdog 5 of 8
    Ollie the Shetland Sheepdog
    Ollie's is a tale of woe and he is the reason I foster dogs. We adopted him on a whim one day. He was trained and beautiful. But he had been abused and he became ferocious after a few months. We had to put him to sleep. He would have done better in a different setting. There is so much more information about dogs who have been fostered.
  • Ruthie the Chesapeake Bay Retriever 6 of 8
    Ruthie the Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    I loved this dog and I wish I had kept her. She had a great temperament. My kids have learned to spot a "good" dog whether it's a pit bull or a Lab. They also know a lot about different breeds, exercise, and how to act around furry friends. They are not afraid of dogs, but they know which ones to stay away from.
  • Awww, Kitties! 7 of 8
    Awww, Kitties!
    We fostered a mother cat with kittens and it was one of the most educational things we've done. We weighed the kittens and observed all the instinctual things the mother cat did. People are just not learning this stuff by growing up on farms anymore. The best part? After a few weeks they were weaned and off they went to find permanent homes.
  • Dodger the Mutt 8 of 8
    Dodger the Mutt
    We've fostered over 20 dogs and they have all found homes. Most of them end up happy and wanted. It's a small thing to take a dog for a week or two, to feed it and to take care of it. But I think it teaches children that they can make a difference and that they can be responsible for something outside of themselves.


Read more from Kacy at Every Day I Write the Book.
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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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