How Fostering and Training Dogs Saves Lives
At BARCS, we depend on our fosters to help us care for Baltimore’s homeless animals. Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Matt Robeson, one of our dedicated dog fosters.
Three years ago, Matt’s life changed for the better when he adopted Kima, a bully type dog, from BARCS. Matt was fully aware of the stigma that came with owning a pit bull type dog, so he did everything in his power to subvert the stereotypes by showing others in public how well behaved a dog like Kima could be by training her to the best of his ability. Now, Kima is an official AKC Canine Good Citizen.
“I know it all sounds cliche, but Kima truly changed the course of my life. And in doing so, she has helped many other dogs,” he says. “Kima is my sidekick, and I've seen other dogs learn from her just by watching. She has helped me with teaching other dogs who were struggling with leash reactivity as a demo dog, and as a dog who would not react in the presence of a reactive dog, she knows we are helping. It is incredible to watch sometimes!”
In addition, Kima’s adoption inspired Matt to learn more about animal welfare. In his research, he quickly learned about the epidemic of homeless animals in shelters. BARCS is particularly unique because, as an open admission shelter, we don’t turn away any animal in need of medical care, shelter, food or love. Inspired to give back, Matt first started walking dogs in his free time. But a change in his work schedule prompted him to start fostering.
Matt wanted to foster for a couple of reasons. First, he understood that some animals can be very stressed in a shelter environment and fostering gives them a safe place to decompress and heal, both physically and emotionally. Second, Matt was very interested in training dogs, so fostering would give him the unique opportunity to help himself refine his skills while helping dogs who need it most.
Matt has fostered eight dogs so far, and all of them have left an impact on him. His most memorable foster was “Skinny Minnie,” who was so emaciated she needed a strict feeding plan. Being able to watch Minnie become healthy was something Matt never imagined before he started his fostering journey, but moments like that have made it all worth it.
Matt says about fostering, “I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly in fostering. I love being able to help a scared, nervous, fearful dog gain more confidence. I love being able to train them on basic obedience. I love watching them come out of their shells. I love seeing their adopter’s faces when they meet a foster and know that THIS is their dog. I love fostering because it gives me a true sense of purpose that my 9-5 job does not.”
Another fond fostering memory he has includes watching a once scared and unsure dog turn into a chunky goofball. Physical healing is critical, but mental healing is just as important to a dog’s overall wellbeing. More than anything, seeing them go from cowering in fear to romping about and just being a dog is an undeniably rewarding experience.
Now, Matt balances fostering dogs in need with his personal training business, Bmore Balanced Dog Training. He says, “Training foster dogs has helped me hone my craft. More importantly, it has helped those dogs become more adoptable. I take great pride in hearing comments from others on walks about how well behaved my fosters are. That's a huge reason I started: training them up to be more adoptable and have good manners when they do find a home.”
BARCS' fosters provide a lifesaving service for homeless cats and dogs. Fosters open their homes to care for sick and injured pets, animals having trouble adjusting to shelter life, pets who need work on their socialization skills, or those who simply need time to grow before being ready for adoption. By fostering a homeless pet, you open up space at BARCS, allowing us to rescue more animals. The more animals BARCS can take in, the more lives we can save. By giving your time and home to an animal in need, you help save a life.
If you’re interested in fostering, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.