Shortly before I came to Japan, I lost someone very dear to me. Two years ago my childhood pet, a golden retriever named Dakota, died very suddenly. Dakota was an incredibly funny, energetic, and sweet dog, and for 13 years he was the life and soul of my childhood home.
After he died it took a long time for my family to get used to his absence, and it`s hard to imagine another dog replacing him.
However, earlier this year my family started fostering dogs. In the U.S. there are animal shelters that take care of abandoned dogs, but they are very small and overcrowded. As a result people can volunteer to foster the dogs for a short period of time. This allows the dogs to take a break from being inside their small metal cages at the shelter, and to get one on one attention from their foster parent. While the dog stays with their foster family, the staff at the animal shelter looks for a permanent owner for them.
My family has always owned dogs, and we`re definitely "dog people". We`ve adopted other dogs previously, and my siblings and I have volunteered at animal shelters in the past, so becoming a foster family was an easy transition for my family. Even though I`ve only been able to hear about the dogs over the phone it`s been exciting to meet all of them via pictures and face time.
Right now my family is fostering a dog named Jake, who is a Grand Pyrenees/Greyhound mix. He is very quiet and gentle, but loves to run and chase squirrels. He`s quite a tall dog and he often takes up an entire sofa in our living room. My family is working hard with the animal shelter to find him a new home, and hopefully he`ll be able to find a permanent family to celebrate Christmas with.
Although it`s a lot of fun fostering dogs is also a lot of work for my family. The dogs always need exercise and attention, and in some cases they need pretty significant amounts of training or socialization. It`s also not easy to get to know and care for a dog and then give them away to a stranger, who may or may not be a good pet owner. In the end though, I think it`s worth it. My brothers and sisters are kept busy exercising and playing with the dogs, and they`re happy to know that they are helping an animal in need. The foster dogs are also helping my family to really get over the loss of Dakota. It`s helping my family realize that even though we`ll never forget him, we can love and care for other dogs in the future. For that I am very thankful.