Dog Foster Parents – The Life Blood of a Rescue


In this interview Gerry Phillips from German Shepherd Rescue of BC (GSRBC) share with us what it take to get “the best job in the world”: Fostering for a dog rescue organization.


Catherine: Gerry Good Morning


Gerry: Good Morning Catherine


Catherine: So Gerry how do you go from being a teacher to dog foster parent?


Gerry: Being interested in German Shepherds I came across GSRBC’s website and started following the progress of some of the dogs in their care.  I bought a ticket from one of their raffles and got hooked.  I volunteered to help out in any way I could … with no knowledge of how rescue worked and very little knowledge of German Shepherds in general.  The president of the society encouraged me to try fostering so when Zeeva, my German shepherd, was 6 month old she was spayed and there was a little pup that had been neutered and his dew claws removed who was in need of a “quiet place to recuperate..” Being a teacher we had time off in the summer so Spencer came to stay with us for 2 weeks ... It was the longest 2 weeks of our lives .... not a night went by when one of them didn’t poop, pee or throw up. But they had so much fun together; wrestling, rolling, cuddling and untying each others’cone. Zeeva was a little shy and it helped her become more confident.


Catherine: You said earlier to me that being a foster parent for dogs is the best job in the whole world. Can you elaborate on that?


Gerry: It is like bringing home your new dog, getting to know him and introducing him to everything. My job is to socialize the newbie to as many dogs, people and new situations as possible. We also work on house manners and basic obedience. I love to watch the dog becoming more confident and trusting. He becomes part of our family and learns from everyone in the house.

The hardest part but the best part is when he finds his forever home.  Luckily we have an amazing volunteer who has the ability to make fabulous matches, the right dog  to the right home.


Catherine: So you have to be willing to open up your heart to a dog that will move on and be committed to it.


Gerry: yes, but it is not as sad as you might think because you know that your foster dog is going to the best possible spot and there is always a another dog  waiting in the wings for our help.


Catherine: Do you want to share a few success stories


Gerry: They have been so many. Every time you find that perfect family for the foster dog .. it is a success. But they remain “our” dogs forever as they leave with a piece of our hearts. We know where all our foster dogs.  Most of our adopters keep us updated with photos and ‘news’ periodically of the dog’s progress. I have become great friend with a few of my fosters’ new families and as you can imagine they are pretty amazing people.


Catherine: How many dogs have you fostered since Spencer?


Gerry : 14. 14 success stories … well 13 successes … Reugger was kind of a failure at fostering as we ended up adopting him.  He was such a great match for our Zeeva and now he is a foster brother to the dogs that come to stay.



Catherine: Tell us more about GSRBC.


Gerry: German Shepherd Rescue of BC (GSRBC) helps dogs that have no one else. We are often asked to help specific dogs that will not likely be adopted easily from a shelter or animal control facility due to health issues at the time and the way they presents themselves in a stressful shelter environment.


Catherine: So you get a dog and what happen next?


Gerry: The incoming dog get a thorough health check from our vet and is evaluated with other dogs, children, etc. to see what her needs are.  Then she is matched with one of our foster families.


Catherine: Why do you need foster parents?


Gerry: Foster homes are the life blood of a rescue. They are the ones that help build the trust with the dog and work on the specific needs of the individual dog. Each dog is different but they all must learn to live in a new pack.


Catherine: How can you become a foster parent with GSRBC


Gerry: There is an application form on the website that we ask people to fill out and email to us. Because we are a small group we need foster parents to be committed to that foster dog. We hope that they will keep him/her until he/she is adopted which could take up to 3 months or more. If fosters cannot commit to this pooch then we have a huge problem because as one dog goes out to a foster home, then a spot is opened up for another and that original one is gone.


Catherine: I know you are very involved with fundraising for German Shepherd Rescue of BC. You need money for food and vet bills. How does it all work?


Gerry: Every cent we raise goes to help the dogs in our care. We do not receive government funding or grants and rely 100% on our fundraising efforts and donations from the public.


Catherine: If someone is looking for a dog why should they choose to adopt from a breed rescue?


Gerry: Usually breed rescues know that breed inside and out.  We can make recommendations regarding health and behaviour situations that are specific to German Shepherds. We spend a great deal of time with our dogs so we know the individual dog well.  For that reason we understand the personality, lifestyle and energy needs of the dog and are able to match them with the appropriate family.



Gerry Phillips is a retired elementary school teacher and taught 11-13 years old for 30 years in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. And She loved it.

She and her husband Tim retired to one of the Gulf Islands between Vancouver and Victoria in beautiful British Columbia.

She is an active volunteer for German Shepherd Rescue of BC. She does some fostering and organizes most of the fundraising. She has been involved with this registered charity since 2006. In that short time she has learned an amazing amount about dogs, people and has made tremendous friends.