You Know You Foster A Service Dog In Training When...
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You Know You Foster A Service Dog In Training When...

It's harder than it looks, but worth more than you could ever have imagined.

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You Know You Foster A Service Dog In Training When...
Alyssa Tomcho

Over 50 million individuals in the United States have a disability. Service dogs have helped many of these individuals live normal lives. A lot of work goes into training a service dog, including some initial fostering and socializing when they’re puppies. I have been fortunate enough to foster one of these puppies, and I’ve learned a great deal about myself and service dogs during the process. Here’s a list of ways that you know you’re a puppy foster parent:

1. When every new experience with your dog turns into a party

A surefire way to prevent your pup from being nervous of a new sound or sight is to seem really excited about whatever it is, even if it’s exceedingly boring (i.e. lawnmowers or statues).

2. When there’s a 99% chance that there are treats in your pocket at any given moment

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F19%2F636151873999859772724121585_giphy.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=250&h=b2d3b654b049fcecbc93edcdf8a7f4ebd6ba45fa35258aa98731e3619929a183&size=980x&c=341881797 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F19%252F636151873999859772724121585_giphy.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D250%26h%3Db2d3b654b049fcecbc93edcdf8a7f4ebd6ba45fa35258aa98731e3619929a183%26size%3D980x%26c%3D341881797%22%7D" expand=1]

I have no idea where these came from…

3. When you talk about poop more than you care to admit

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F19%2F6361518756833767771758741426_no1aYZc.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=212&h=debd53d6296b7a62a5876f8ccf70c4e5079dc0b97dd9168f3a1cc0c6791a0b93&size=980x&c=3173496092 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F19%252F6361518756833767771758741426_no1aYZc.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D212%26h%3Ddebd53d6296b7a62a5876f8ccf70c4e5079dc0b97dd9168f3a1cc0c6791a0b93%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3173496092%22%7D" expand=1]

No explanation needed.

4. When dog hair is just part of everyday your wardrobe

In the beginning, you used a lint roller to get rid of all the hair. But now, you embrace it.

5. When your Instagram, Facebook, and photo stream are filled with an obnoxious amount of dog pictures

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F20%2F636152102311032967-2027425722_tenor.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=499&h=db8a6a9f0af041c9cb63dd747b2bc8efb8096131d6aedf16019b6314cee3f71c&size=980x&c=1348115689 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F20%252F636152102311032967-2027425722_tenor.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D499%26h%3Ddb8a6a9f0af041c9cb63dd747b2bc8efb8096131d6aedf16019b6314cee3f71c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1348115689%22%7D" expand=1]

It’s very important to document every single moment of his life while you have him, even if that means taking 15 pictures per day of him eating, sleeping, and chewing on his bone.

6. When people give you rude looks for reprimanding your dog

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F20%2F6361521094597764161057217946_giph.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=680&h=4784b61daffda84a219916e80c67858cd745905b09c724e4614841f72cda73b4&size=980x&c=739000096 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F20%252F6361521094597764161057217946_giph.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D680%26h%3D4784b61daffda84a219916e80c67858cd745905b09c724e4614841f72cda73b4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D739000096%22%7D" expand=1]Unless you think that it’s a good idea for the dog to chew on the carpet or jump on small children, you should probably let me do my job.

7. When your dog farts in a room full of people

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F20%2F6361521239845109191052448769_5e4c0e76295d0097d94f829a4d73d84c.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=500&h=42ca26eedc45202eb803211fd02b3b8bc12d533b8f2530a9b5e1525af15d6d71&size=980x&c=3140762266 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F20%252F6361521239845109191052448769_5e4c0e76295d0097d94f829a4d73d84c.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D500%26h%3D42ca26eedc45202eb803211fd02b3b8bc12d533b8f2530a9b5e1525af15d6d71%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3140762266%22%7D" expand=1]

There’s absolutely no way that you can ignore the smell of a puppy fart, which means that a lot of people are going to look at you with judging eyes.

8. When people say that your dog is so well behaved

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F20%2F636152119352656815-1729606157_gip.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=0&h=6587fc9951dfd6360383d895b7f43dd94877cd4511c60db605ffe168d2e53b9c&size=980x&c=1236295495 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F20%252F636152119352656815-1729606157_gip.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D0%26h%3D6587fc9951dfd6360383d895b7f43dd94877cd4511c60db605ffe168d2e53b9c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1236295495%22%7D" expand=1]

Little do they know that she is much different at home…

9. When you don’t know how to respond to people saying that your dog is cute

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F20%2F636152139183374068-684178308_Phoebes-Awkward-Thank-You-On-Friends-Reaction-Gif.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=911&h=6ecd4c1585e735c783455a0ad7c41f7ebfe8e3b71b20e7ca422373092da0b279&size=980x&c=2069176648 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F20%252F636152139183374068-684178308_Phoebes-Awkward-Thank-You-On-Friends-Reaction-Gif.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D911%26h%3D6ecd4c1585e735c783455a0ad7c41f7ebfe8e3b71b20e7ca422373092da0b279%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2069176648%22%7D" expand=1]

He is not technically my dog, and I am not responsible for his physical appearance,

but thanks anyways.

10. When your dog goes to the bathroom in the middle of a store and you don’t know what to do

Do I tell someone? Do I just clean it up and walk away? Did anyone just see that? HELP.

11. When you’re pretty sure that everyone around you thinks you’re weird, because you have conversations with your dog in public

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F21%2F6361529931277480781548887154_giphy.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=780&h=01b68b310f6912f4d7700232f943ff72d07296da1b26333defb2ab4a3d8bff9e&size=980x&c=1450669954 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F21%252F6361529931277480781548887154_giphy.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D780%26h%3D01b68b310f6912f4d7700232f943ff72d07296da1b26333defb2ab4a3d8bff9e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1450669954%22%7D" expand=1]

“Have you had a good day so far? You have?! I'm so glad.” “Are you ready to go to class and see your friends?” Look what’s over there! Do you see that?”

12. When you know where all of the outdoor trash cans are

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F21%2F636152998823419387897434131_giphy.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=612&h=26067765c0c95d164b3a7989d2d1fb4a9da24d75bc2bd8ecf499d6fcea08dfda&size=980x&c=2954758673 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F21%252F636152998823419387897434131_giphy.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D612%26h%3D26067765c0c95d164b3a7989d2d1fb4a9da24d75bc2bd8ecf499d6fcea08dfda%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2954758673%22%7D" expand=1]

Although I’ve managed to make carrying a bag of poop look pretty casual, I would rather not be holding it in my hand any longer than absolutely necessary.

13. When every trip to the store takes twice as long as it would without a dog

You have to allow for sufficient potty time and interactions with all kinds of people wherever you go, meaning that a quick trip to the grocery store will last approximately one hour. At least you have an excuse if you're late to something.

14. When you feel horrible for anything mean that you accidentally do to your dog

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F21%2F6361530122394362231897614332_jW8Me_s-200x150.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=1016&h=3f0fb872428d8aa5ac4624617231c8190cb10d68d850875b3dc94c98a436515f&size=980x&c=1452079454 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F21%252F6361530122394362231897614332_jW8Me_s-200x150.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D1016%26h%3D3f0fb872428d8aa5ac4624617231c8190cb10d68d850875b3dc94c98a436515f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1452079454%22%7D" expand=1]

Whether you step on her tail, hit her with a door, put her in the kennel while you go somewhere, or forget to feed her on time, you feel like a bad parent. Fortunately, dogs are quick to forgive and they will love you unconditionally, so she’ll soon forget about that one time you took away her toy.

15. When you don’t want to give your dog up at the end

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F11%2F21%2F6361530177045377601579503159_tumblr_inline_oco1iwzZnz1t93zn2_500.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=485&h=51ec645ecd282781d8a8e033c945d63d6ae155b97018558766a386fd66c6d0b3&size=980x&c=1801334619 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F11%252F21%252F6361530177045377601579503159_tumblr_inline_oco1iwzZnz1t93zn2_500.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D485%26h%3D51ec645ecd282781d8a8e033c945d63d6ae155b97018558766a386fd66c6d0b3%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1801334619%22%7D" expand=1]

Saying goodbye is the hardest part. It’s like losing a best friend, since you’ve spent so much time with him over the past months. There will always be sad tears when a dog leaves, but happy tears to follow when you find out that your dog has a forever family.


Despite all of the difficulties that come with fostering a service dog in training, it is incredibly rewarding. Waking up at 2 a.m. to take the puppy outside is a small price to pay for everything I receive in return. I get to watch a puppy grow and learn, have a companion constantly by my side, celebrate the understanding of a new command, and make a difference in a family’s life. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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