The foster experience is very much like parenting a child, and every bit as rewarding… if not more so. Fostering is about taking a deserving creature into your home during their time of need, nursing them back to health, removing the pain of their past... loving, teaching, and guiding them… and then sending them off to live the lives they deserve. Fostering is about giving a dog (or cat) the one thing they’ve never had… hope. And with the simple act of opening up your home to them, YOU are able to grant their one wish. YOU are able to make their dreams come true. YOU are able to save their life.

How many times have you actually been able to save a life? I don’t mean watching on the sidelines as a life is saved… I mean literally pulling a dog or cat from death and bringing them back to life. It’s an incredible experience… there’s nothing like it. But far too many people let the inevitable pain at the end of the experience blind them from the joy of the journey.

For a short time, I am everything to these dogs. I am their world. I represent comfort, love, and hope… when they’ve only known pain, hatred, and despair.  In providing these gifts, I receive so much more in return… more than I could ever describe in words. During that time, I make them whole, and in turn, they make me whole. They remove any sadness, anger, or hopelessness I may feel, and replace all of the bad in the world with the purest good that exists. In truth, they repair my soul.

Never forget, that without YOU, others will die too. Please don’t let your fears, anxieties, and anticipation of the pain be the reason for their deaths. I’d say that the sadness of their unnecessary deaths is far more devastating than any heartbreak we could ever feel. And trust me… the love you’ll receive during your time with them, is far greater than the pain of letting go.

To put it simply, this is why I foster:

Fostering is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It’s given me more joy, laughter, and love than I deserve. At the end, there's always heartbreak. But never for a second does the sadness outweigh the joy. Never do the tears outweigh the laughter. And never does the pain outweigh the love. Heartbreak heals... but love is forever.

Ashley Owen Hill, Founder of Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi and Co-founder of the Facebook app Pet Pardons -