Today’s Foster Friday starts when Jade and Tanner, from The Bachelor, went on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The rest is a Hollywood “forever love” story including 8 foster dogs, 2 foster fails, and a whole lot of tail wagging love.
Wait - so what does that all have to do with Wags and Walks? Well, without further ado, let us introduce Liz Harris, a game show producer turned crazy dog person and wonderful 8-time foster parent with Wags and Walks.
Take it away, Liz!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Gosh! I used to mostly identify with what I did for a living, so when people would ask me about myself, I'd say, "Well, I'm a game show producer." These days, my first reaction is, "I'm a crazy dog person..." In reality, both of those things are now true! I have a really unique work situation where I produce TV shows 7 months of the year, and for the other 5 months, I'm a full-time dog mom! Don't worry, it's not lost on me how lucky I am! I now have TWO Wags and Walks alums (Nora and Bandit), a Yorkie named Zoey, and an 8-year-old cat, Sadie! My apartment is basically a small farm and I wouldn't have it any other way!
What got you started fostering for Wags & Walks?
About a year ago, Jade and Tanner, from The Bachelor, went on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, which is one of the shows I work on. They were playing to win money for charity and were insistent on playing for Wags and Walks. As part of my job, I had to do my due-diligence to make sure it was a legitimate organization we could agree to donate to, and sure enough, it was! I loved what W&W was doing and decided that after I wrapped our Millionaire season, I would start fostering. Sure enough, I did...and foster failed on my first try! (Still one of the greatest choices I have ever made!)
To date, how many dogs have you fostered for Wags? Do you have a favorite? (Don't worry, we won't tell the others!
8 (including my two foster fails!). Naturally, my two foster fails are my favorites. Nora was such a surprise. When I first started fostering her, I didn't think she was cute at all (thank god she can't read!). She was so scruffy and wiry and looked like some kind of Alpaca-dog hybrid. After about a week, if you told me Nora wasn't cute, you had better duck, because I would get very offended! To me, she became the cutest dog in the world. I was in love.
With Bandit, I had seen his picture on the W&W site and immediately had such a strong feeling of, "He looks like he should be part of my family." I emailed Erica at W&W and said, "If something doesn't work out with his foster, I want to foster him!" Finally, after realizing I kept looking at his photo multiple times a day, I asked to foster-to-adopt him. As soon as I met him, and he met my other dogs, it just clicked. He came home with us, and within an hour, he was cuddling with Nora, and they've been inseparable ever since. That's the thing about fostering...it can lead to "forever love."
What has been your biggest challenge fostering?
Wanting to keep all of them? ;) Every dog is just so different, so it's always a little challenging trying to learn what their behaviors mean for each of them and how to alleviate any fears or anxieties they have. For example, I've had quite a few vocal fosters, and for some, it was separation anxiety, for others it was general nervousness around different types of people, dogs, or situations. Nora was terrified of stairs for a while, and there was a lot of time and patience that went into getting her down the first flight (she's a stair climbing champ now!).
How has fostering affected you?
I think I have become increasingly less selfish and more sensitive. There have been quite a few nights when I've cancelled plans to go pick up a new foster, scheduled my life around being able to take a foster to the vet, and arranged my weekends so that I could bring all of my dogs to whatever I was doing. There's a level of responsibility and sense of purpose that I think is really important to feel. Especially with a foster or any rescue who has likely had a tough life, it feels good to do good...and you really become invested in improving that dog's life. I think that's made me a better person.
What has been your biggest surprise as a foster parent?
How rewarding it really is. What makes fostering so helpful is being able to truly tell a potential family what a dog is like in a home environment - what they may need to work on, what makes them special, and what they enjoy doing with their time, so they can truly find the perfect home.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in becoming a foster?
Do it. The great thing about fostering is that it's not permanent, unless you want it to be. So if it ends up not being for you, that's totally fine! But, there's a very good chance you'll find the same fulfillment that I have. And who knows...you might just meet your future family member!
No matter how many foster stories we read, no two are the same. There are so many ways that people end up finding Wags and Walks and getting involved, and Liz Harris’s foster story is testament to that truth. We are so thankful for our ever growing community of foster parents and volunteers. Each story is inspiring and sheds new light on the unbelievable ways in which we can both change a dog’s life and be changed by a dog, all for the better.
Fostering a dog is like many new experiences, sometimes it takes jumping in and trying it out to see if it’s a fit for your lifestyle. As Liz said, if you find out it’s not for you, that’s okay! Fostering isn’t forever (unless you want it to be). At the end of the day, even if you foster a dog only once, you will have helped to save that dog, and like Liz said, “it feels good to do good.” You might find, though, that your fostering experience will surprise you and end like Liz’s - in a story of “forever love”!
If you are interested in fostering with Wags and Walks, you can find more information about our program or apply to be a foster on our website. And, of course, to stay updated on what’s new at Wags and Walks, please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our e-mail newsletter. Who doesn’t love cute animal pupdates?