A First Time Foster’s Story


A GREAT foster, Joanne O’Neil, shares her story of being a new foster mom:

“Hi everybody. I wanted to share my experience as a new foster mom with GREAT. I had originally applied to adopt after having lost both my beloved Golden Retrievers to illness last summer. But I came to realize that as much as I missed having a dog in my life, I also hadn’t finished grieving for my own loss and just wasn’t ready to make the commitment to being a forever Mom. I discussed this with one of the GREAT staff who provided wonderful support, and we put my adoption application on hold until I was ready.

About a month later I received an email from Linda the Foster Coordinator asking me if I would be interested in fostering a female that needed to be in a home without other dogs. They really needed help because all the other wonderful foster homes had multiple dogs and she would have to be kenneled if a home couldn’t be found. So, I discussed the opportunity with my family because I am a working woman and we work as a team to care for our pets. We were a little unsure at first, having never done anything like this before, but our desire to give back to this wonderful breed and provide some love and comfort for a dog in need overrode any hesitancy we may have had.

A couple of days later the Volunteer Coordinator brought “Janie” to me and a wonderful relationship was begun. Janie was polite and a perfect house guest from the start. She was a little timid at first, but after only a day or two that sweet Golden temperament shown through and she settled right in. It was wonderful having a little girl in the house again and I enjoyed her company tremendously. We worked a bit on leash training to help her be a better walker and she even learned some new tricks during her time with me.


About six weeks later GREAT let me know they had a person who was interested in meeting Janie. GREAT provided me with the proper forms, suggestions for facilitating the meeting, and instructions for completing the adoption tasks if Janie was wanted.

Well, Janie was adopted the very night she met her new mom! They were very well-matched and I think it was a little bit like love at first sight. I wasn’t sure how I would react when Janie left, but you know what? I was happy and felt a great sense of accomplishment to have helped this sweet little dog find the forever home that was meant for her. And I received an unexpected gift in that her new mom had allowed Janie to stay with me while she went on vacation. What a thrill for me and my family to visit with Janie again and see how she has thrived in her new forever home in just a few short weeks.

For me, fostering is an incredible opportunity to experience the companionship, challenges and rewards of having a Golden share my home without having to make a forever commitment. And fostering is a much needed way to serve the Golden community and really make a difference, one life at a time. Thank you GREAT, for bringing these wonderful dogs back into my life.”

Post script note from GREAT. Two months later, Joanne adopted Maggie and Sasha, a mother and daughter pair from a rural backyard breeder. We really wanted to keep them together as Maggie was depressed when she was separated from her daughter while being fostered. Joanne stepped up to the plate and adopted them both. 

A Beautiful & Happy Family – Sasha, Maggie & Mom