It’s failure at its best: When you bring pets into your home temporarily and decide you just can’t part with them, so you give them a forever home.
Many dogs and cats enjoy the comforts of home while they’re waiting to find an adopter through a shelter or rescue, thanks to generous foster families. And many unwittingly woo those fosters into giving them a home for life — making them “foster failures.”
We asked our readers to share photos of their sweet foster failures, and we’ve included some of our favorites in the gallery below. Check them out and tell us your pet’s story in the comments.
Rudy was brought to a shelter when he was found as a stray with a severe injury to his leg. "After a couple of surgeries, he was on the mend but then came down with ringworm," his owner said. Still, she was willing to foster him. "When he was healthy, I showed him for months at adoption events. Everyone went for the other four-legged kittens and overlooked Rudy [who is missing a leg]. Now, years later, he is still with me. He is a permanent part of my family."
It's a full house of Shepherds! The dogs pictured on the far left and far right are foster failures. The dog on the left "needed some manners," but his owner didn't want to give him back to the shelter, his owner said. And the former foster on the right would never have come out of her shell without the help of her two big sisters, who are in the middle, he said.
Mr. Spock and his friend, Captain Kirk, were hours from being euthanized when their foster parent came to their rescue. After a month, their temporary owner said, "I figured what's two more?" and gave them a home.
Onyx "adopted us" when she was 3 months old in 2009, said her owner. She credits the sweet dog with helping her cope with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. "She will come near me when I am having a bad day and nudge me until my episode passes," she said. Now 7 years old, Onyx has a companion in the family's 17-month-old yellow Lab, Helios.
Three months after losing her "soul dog," this owner agreed to foster a 4-year-old German Shepherd named Nadia. "I was worried how an adult GSD would be with my cats. She walked in my house, looked at my cats and laid on the dog bed. As you can see, they love her. And I love her," her owner said.
Former fosters Zachary and Gordi pose with their owner. Zachary, left, was "the dog nobody wanted" at the shelter when his owner met him. Gordi is a "happy senior guy who enjoys food and walkies," his owner said.
This sweet little one's foster "got too attached to let go," she said. The pup is now 8 years old.
Moonie, left, and Teddy, right, arrived in their home as fosters. Here, they comfortably snuggle together and with another cat in their home.
Pepper was a feral kitten found on the side of the road. Initially, his family planned to keep him for two weeks, until a friend could take him. "I always wanted to keep him, but my mom didn't want pets. He was sleeping on my chest when Mom saw him for the first time, and when he heard her come into the room, he picked his head up and gave a tiny little mew," his owner said. "She fell in love and let me keep him. Almost six years later, he's still my cuddlebug."
Beautiful Raegan, now 5 years old, basks in the sun at her forever home. She was adopted when she was a year old. "She is the sweetest dog. Loves people and other dogs. Loves to just be loved after her first year of life spent in a cage," her owner said. The family also rescued another dog, and the two are pals.
"I kept two out of eight, so not good odds," admitted this fosterer. One of the cats has since passed away, but he still has Miss Charlotte, who he fostered 7 years ago along with her two tiny kittens. Both of the kittens went to great forever homes, and Charlotte forever stayed with her foster.
This beauty is one of five her owners rescued. "She was our last foster fail and biggest heartbreak to have to see her cross [the] rainbow bridge," her owner wrote. "Foster failing is a bittersweet road and much worth the sunshine and rain associated."