Foster Friday – Ashley Niedzwiecki
June 17th, 2016
Today we want to introduce you to one of our selfless fosters, who is an integral part of the Wags and Walks family. Ashley is a huge dog lover and even has a rescue pit/boxer mix of her own. Ashley has fostered a total of five dogs for Wags thus far and we can’t wait to see how many more she helps us save! We are so grateful for you and truly honored to share your story with our readers. Take it away, Ashley…
“I was born and raised in Clearwater, FL and decided to pack my car and drive out to Los Angeles for a change in scenery. I have been here 5 years. I currently bartend at a hotel in Beverly Hills while going back to school at Cal State Northridge for a degree in Marketing. I have an 8-year-old pit/boxer named Keely that I rescued back in Florida from the shelter when she was about 6 months old. I’ve always been an animal lover and even completed a 4-year vocational program in high school to be certified as a Veterinary Assistant.
I started fostering because my roommate and her dog moved out and my own dog seemed sad and bored…. I know I can’t commit fully to owning another dog right now so I thought fostering could be a fun, temporary, free way of having a dog to play with my dog while giving the foster dog a safe place to stay.
I am currently on foster #5 (I’ve had 1 little terrier and 4 pit bulls). I have adored all of my foster pups but I would have to say my favorite has been Spike, a year old pit/hound mix that came from an abusive situation and was terrified of everything except other dogs. It was a long process to get Spike to overcome his fears and learn to trust humans again. He was afraid of EVERYTHING…. gates, trashcans, cars, especially people…. the only thing that he was comfortable around was other dogs. I had a whole team behind me helping with Spike’s growth. With the help of his trainer we learned he needed lots of puppy play dates to build up his confidence and then would slowly go over to the people around them. It was a long and tiring process where we would take 2 steps forward and then something would spook him and we’d be 10 steps back. Potential adopters would meet Spike but he was so afraid of new people that he would just hide behind me and not show his true goofy self. Leave it to the Wags and Walks adoption team though to find him the most amazing family! A couple that had adopted their pup a year ago from us showed interest in Spike. I brought him over to meet their playful pup and it was instant friendship! They literally played for 2 hours non-stop and he approached the humans with little hesitation. We did a few more meet and greets with the future family to get him comfortable with them and then he made himself at home. I get lots of updates and pictures from his family and couldn’t be happier for Spikey! (I still cry tears of joy seeing his growth)!
The biggest challenge in fostering is having the dogs decompress. They can sometimes be on edge from being stuck in the shelter for so long so they need a few days to unwind. I try to take in a new foster when I have a few days off to be home and allow the dog to explore and get cozy and know they are safe. As much as you want to play with the new pup, let them get to know you and learn their personalities and relax. Their true personalities tend to come out after a day or two.
I didn’t realize how big of an affect fostering would have on me. I thought I’d do it once or twice and realize I don’t have the time or patience. It has been the opposite. I enjoy it so much and I love seeing these pups grow and mature and then go into their forever home knowing I helped. Yes, it’s hard to not want to keep every foster dog, but I know if I end up keeping one I will not have room to foster anymore and I don’t want this cycle to end. I try to keep that in my mind. I also find it incredible how Wags and Walks seems to find the perfect home for these dogs every time, I love knowing these dogs are going to an amazing home.
My biggest surprise as a foster is seeing how sweet and incredible these dogs are and wondering how they even ended up in the shelter in the first place. All my foster dogs have been absolutely amazing and if we didn’t find them a home I would keep them 100%.
On advice to people interested in fostering - DO IT! There are no cons! Just remember to puppy proof your house because you don’t know too much about the dog yet. It’s an extremely rewarding task. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns, there’s a whole community that has been there or going through it with you. I thought I was a big baby because I cry for days after one of my fosters gets adopted, but knowing I’m not the only one makes me feel so much better. I love connecting with the adopters on social media and getting lots of updates of their baby enjoying their new life. THAT is why I do this. You won’t regret it!”
Thank you so much! Team Wags is eternally grateful for all that you do for everyone around you. If you're interested in becoming a foster, fill out an application here. Make sure to share this post with your friends on social media, so that we can spread the word about how life-changing fostering is! It not only saves dogs lives, but it will change yours too.
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