Tanya Tompolski

Why did you get into fostering?
Dale and I (Tanya) have always loved dogs but had never had one of our own. We had heard about HART and both thought "what an amazing volunteer group!" It really intrigued us because of the opportunity to learn about dogs (more than we ever anticipated), help a dog adjust to home life and then help them find their forever home. And then get to do it all over again with another foster! It seemed so rewarding and it is!

Which hart dogs have you fostered?
Tammy (our foster failure as we fell head over heels in love with her) and currently Cola (our snuggle bug).

What has been the most rewarding aspect to fostering?
There are so many! At the top of our list would be the following:
1. Building trust with the dog and seeing them realize they are now in a safe home, are surrounded by love and have a wonderful future ahead. Our fosters have been polar opposites. It took Tammy months to realize we are here to love and protect her and when it clicked she opened up finally to us and the rest is history! Cola on the other hand took about 5 days to settle in and understand we are here to help him and we has been just a hoot!
2. Seeing them make progress in their rehabilitation. From the little things to big milestones, you completely become the proud parent.
3. Laughter and joy the dogs provide. It's an endless supply.
4. Understanding the dog's personality. I know some people think dogs don't have personalities but they totally do and they are the sweetest and kindest.
5. Strengthening our relationship. We spend way more time together when we have a foster in the house. We have to work together to help the dog become the very best it can be. Plus we both love playing with them, walking them, snuggling them and training them, so we do it together.

When individuals think it will be too much work or too emotionally taxing, what feedback do you have for them?
This is a tough one. The big one is to stay positive and reflect on all the rewarding and happy moments. You are never alone. Never doubt yourself or your ability. Volunteering with HART is signing up to become part of a big loving family. Everyone involved is always available to listen; they can offer words of wisdom and comfort and provide a good laugh (which sometimes you might need). You are never alone so don't be afraid to ask for help. It has never really felt like work for us and I think it is because we really try to make it a rewarding experience for not only us but for the dog. It doesn't even need to be monumental changes. Because the dogs often come from an abusive and/or non-loving environment, they use to dread the future and unknown. So something simple as a routine can be comfort for them. Seeing a foster dogs eyes light up with joy because you are home from work at 6pm to play with them make you feel good about what you do. Again reflecting and acknowledging the positive and rewarding moments can make help you through the difficult moments. With our first foster Tammy (who eventually became apart of our family) started off pretty rocky. We had had her for about 2 weeks and I called HART crying and at a lost of what to do because she hadn't opened up to us, she seemed depressed and she wanted nothing to do with us. We couldn't even get within 5 ft of her otherwise she'd mess herself out of fear. I remember them saying she will come around, just give her time, be patient and do as much as you can to make her feel safe and comfortable, even if it means giving her space. And slowly but surely (we are talking months here) she started building up courage and realizing she was not going to get hurt. The first time she came up to us, smelled us and then lied down beside us will be my most favourite moment of fostering. We were beyond excited for her and so proud of her courageousness. That moment made all the tears and frustration worth it. And she continued to grow and learn to trust humans and that we are all not terrible people! Once she ok'd that you were a good person she'd be snuggled up to you on the couch...something we never thought we would ever see with her. Her transformation was truly remarkable and the support from HART with her made it all possible. Tamtam has really tested our patience but it has made us better individuals and we are forever grateful for that.

If your foster dog(s) could speak, what do you think they would say to you?
Thank you for giving me a chance. Thank you for being patient and loving me. And Cola would say, "Please throw the ball just one more time!"