Cost of Fostering a Dog

Stray foster dog
Could you leave him?

If you’re unsure if getting a dog is a good idea or if you don’t have the money to spend on costs of pet care, fostering is a great way to have a dog without all the responsibilities or expenses. However, there are costs, monetary and otherwise, of fostering a dog. Since we’ve had a few fosters over the years and I just picked up a new one  last week, here’s the real stuff you need to know if you are considering being a foster dog parent.

Why Did You Get a Foster?

You probably know that we are loving family travel at the moment. We just got back from San Diego, my daughter and I are going to Kentucky for Memorial Weekend, our family is heading to Hawaii in a couple of months, and we just planned a trip to Yellowstone National Park for Labor Day, why on earth did I bring home a new dog right now?

Well, I think you can see from the picture that this was one I just couldn’t leave behind. I work on a reservation once or twice a week and stray dogs are as common as air. I am usually pretty good at looking the other way, but sometimes I can’t. I brought two puppies home last year. They ended up in good homes, and I see them from time to time. It makes me happy beyond belief that I helped them escape.

This guy was out in the parking lot at lunch. I was making a phone call and he came up to me, very tentatively, to see what I was up to. After some coaxing, he let me pet him. I promised that if he was there when it was time to leave , I’d take him with me. I texted Jim asking him to please not divorce me.

Rez Dogs Are Smart

I looked out a few times after that and didn’t see him. Then about an hour before quitting time, there he was. I told him to hold out for one more hour. I finished a little early and went out to the car, but no doggie. Now, I normally don’t drive around on the rez. The clinic area is pretty safe, but lone, white girls just don’t spend time cruising around the neighborhoods.  I still decided to make a lap to see if I could find my new friend.

When I had just about given up, I made one more pass by the parking lot, and there he was, right at 4:30, just like I’d told him. Shame on me for being early! Sadly, he also brought his brother or sister. Both of them were skin and bones and filthy. I know dogs don’t talk, but in my head I can just see my buddy telling his sibling that a nice lady was coming at 4:30 and he/she needed to come too.

My friend let me pick him up and put him in the car, but his sibling wouldn’t let me get very close. He or she eventually let me pet it a little, but ran off when I tried to pick it up. It’s amazing these dogs like humans at all with all they go through, so I can’t blame this one for not trusting me.  I’m really sad he got away, but I can’t save them all.

Foster Dog Blake

On my way into town, I called our vet and set up an appointment for next week. I called the humane society, who agreed to take the dog on as a foster. Normally, you should ask  them if they have fosters, not pick one up yourself, but I was on their board for 10 years, so I have a little street cred when it comes to dog rescue. Jim isn’t going to divorce me.

We decided to call him Blake after the country music singer. It was as good a name as any and will probably get changed at some point when he gets adopted. Blake was starved, but we only gave him a little food to make sure he didn’t throw up. He also drank about a gallon of water.

Next step was a bath. I could tell he was a white dog, but he looked more like reservation red from all the dirt. We also pulled 18 ticks off the poor fellow. He didn’t like the bath or delousing, but took it like a trooper. After some more food, and lots of whining when we put him in a kennel, he fell asleep. He has since taking a liking to my pillow, and I’ll probably let him have it.

foster dog napping
Waking up from a nap

What’s This Foster Going to Cost?

Even though the humane society covers all costs associated with foster dogs, I felt bad because it wasn’t their choice to foster this one. I knew I would pay all his vet bills. I just wanted the exposure of the organization to help get this dog adopted when he’s ready. That means I’ll be paying for shots, neuter, flea and worm treatment, dog food, and probably some toys. I’ll let them technically pay for all this and then make a donation to cover it. That way I’ll at least get a tax deduction!

We will probably also have costs associated with anything he chews up, cleaning up when he pees on the floor, and for a new pillow for me. This will also take up lots of time I really don’t have, but I don’t care. It’s worth it to me.

It will also probably break my heart a little bit when we have to let him go. I think with most fosters, you always consider keeping them. I know we don’t need another dog with all the travel coming up. We have a great friend who loves to keep our dog right now, but we can’t add another. It’s not the right time.

My Heart is Happy

Like Shannon at the Heavy Purse says, spending money should make your heart happy. I don’t know what my ultimate legacy will be. I hope I raise a child who is a productive member of society. Maybe someone will remember that I helped them with their eyes. The only thing I really know for sure is that there are going to be many dogs that lived to have a warm bed and full belly because I scooped them up. I’m not sure why I can walk away from most of them and why certain ones just seem to call my name, but it’s a fact. Leaving this dog would have been as likely as sprouting wings and flying away. It wasn’t possible. As I am watching him nap by the fireplace right now, I know whatever this dog ends up costing in money or emotions is worth every penny.

cost to foster dogs
Clean, full, and happy

Do you need a good dog? Would you consider fostering?

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, hiking.


  1. Such a great story and I’m so glad you were able to save him! It’s unfortunate when animal control is unable to control animal populations in certain areas like Reservations because they don’t have their own and don’t allow outside agencies in.

    We recently adopted a street cat and her one baby and unbeknownst to us, the mom was pregnant! So after having the babies, we’re waiting to get the four kitties adopted as we can’t have 6 cats! but it’s so sad because there are so many un-spayed and un-neutered pets out there. I’m glad you’re able to foster. 🙂

    1. They actually do have an animal control officer who sometimes just shoots the dogs if he doesn’t feel like picking them up. They also have a shelter, but sometimes they forget to go in and feed and water the animals over the weekends. I’m not making that up. The local humane society has spent years building enough good will with the tribe so that they allow a non-profit from Denver to go in every couple of months to do a free spay/neuter clinic. This organization also paid to have a heating system put into the shelter because they had no heat in the winter. It’s two steps forward and one step back, but believe it or not there are fewer strays than there were years ago down there. It’s very hard to change cultural attitudes. That’s cool about your cat. You never know what you’ll get when you adopt a pet!

  2. Nice job Kim! My wife and I considered fostering for some time, but my wife gets a serious attachment to dogs. We probably would end up with 10 dogs and then keep them all. That would be bad for the wallet. I think you did a noble thing taking him in.

    1. I have that attachment problem myself, but I think I’ve learned that it’s much harder with multiple dogs.

    1. That is really great to foster for someone serving in the military. That would be awful to not be able to keep your dog while on duty.

  3. I”ve known too many people who insisted on buying their pets as puppies because shelter dogs have “too many issues”. Both of my dogs were strays before they ended up in a shelter and both are totally awesome people loving pets. Thank you for giving that stray a chance to find a home and a family.

    1. I’ve only had one purebred dog ever and it had way more issues than the mutts. I love them all, but the Jack Russell was neurotic to the bone, had allergies, and skin issues, and was know to pick fights with really big dogs!

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