Foster Failures: Julie & Alan’s Story

Recently someone posted on Facebook, asking the question, “What happens when you fall in love and can’t let go of your foster?” Well, we call that a foster failure. And that is one of the most loving terms known in the rescue world.

Many rescues fully depend on foster homes. Without these homes, many animals would not have a chance for a new life. It is difficult for a foster parent to give up a foster as they have invested so much and have watched their foster grow and blossom into a loving and confident dog that would be a great addition to a family. Sometimes there’s a feeling in their hearts and for many reasons depending on each situation, the foster parent decides to adopt the foster.

Here is Julie Ann and Alan’s story:


Michael Henri was their first foster. He came as a stray from Kentucky and was facing death row if no one spoke for him. When Henri first arrived, he was underweight and had little fur on his body. But that happiness in him still showed through as though he knew that his life was just about to begin.

The first night he spent in Julie and Alan’s home, he ate and didn’t want to stop. He was so happy to be in a home that he would wake them up in the middle of the night with kisses. He bonded immediately with Lucy, who was also being fostered by Julie and Alan.

Henri loves everyone he meets and has a kind and loving nature. Henri was adopted but did not get along with one member of the new pack and he once again returned to Julie and Alan, and his foster sister, Lucy was happy to have him home.

Lucy was Julie and Alan’s second foster. Her story is a little different where she came from a loving couple but was surrendered because they could not handle her behaviour issues. They were told she could never be with other dogs. Lucy came from Kentucky as well and this would be her second foster home, and prior to that, she had been in six other homes in the span of two years. Julie and Alan agreed to take her in despite the fact that they had four other dogs at home.

Lucy was healthy and very loving but would attack other dogs when she got upset or was frightened. Within a week, they were able to figure out her triggers and began to work with her to build her trust. Julie and Alan found that it was as though Lucy did not know how to deal with other dogs and would attack them. She was also anxious when her people left and would take out her anxiety on the dog closest to her. They realized that Lucy needed a lot of reassurance and once she got that, she would be fine. They worked really hard to correct her behaviours and were successful. In time, Lucy was ready to be adopted.

Julie watched Lucy’s online adoption profile as she waited for her forever home. It tugged at Julie’s heart that Lucy had worked so hard to learn to be a good girl and that it wouldn’t be fair to reward that by taking her from a place where she felt safe, secure and loved. Julie and Alan did not want Lucy to have to go to an 8th home and if the move caused her to regress, they would have felt like they failed her. So the decision was made and they adopted Lucy.

Lucy has transformed from a problem child into a wonderful mentor to new fosters that enter the home. She immediately welcomes them with cuddles and shows them the ropes. She takes them out to the yard and follows them closely as though to show them that they are no longer alone.

Lucy and Henri became very close and Julie and Alan were concerned how splitting them up would affect each dog. Because Henri required a special diet, it usually takes more time to find the right family that would be willing to deal with special circumstances. This meant that Lucy and Henri would be spending more time together. They couldn’t bear to split them up so they decided to adopt Henri as well.

Julie says that if Henri were an emotion, he would be happiness and if he were a colour, he would be bright yellow. He brings joy and sunshine wherever he goes. He is always up for play but will listen when told that it’s quiet time and will go sit in his chair.

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Lucy is the apple of Henri’s eye. He is her protector and best friend. He digs holes around the fence and deck where Lucy hides to surprise him when he walks by. Both dogs have blossomed into healthy and well-adjusted dogs.

Even though Julie and Alan are two-time foster failures, they continue to welcome dogs into their home. According to Julie, “I will never give up fostering [as] it has brought so much joy and love into our lives. To see frightened little dogs, many so malnourished you wonder how they have survived and some so dirty you cannot tell what colour they are, transform into confident, healthy and happy little balls of fur makes life worth living.”

We will continue to share more stories of foster failures in the future. If you would like to find out more about fostering, email us at foster [at] russellrescue [dot] org and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


One response to “Foster Failures: Julie & Alan’s Story

  1. Melissa Ramser Miller September 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Beautiful Story, Beyond Wonderful People!!!

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