(BERLIN, Md.) - Fostering a pet can be very rewarding, especially if that animal has been through some "ruff" times.
Take it from Debbie Hitchcock, a permanent foster mom to senior dog, Flynn. She says being a foster parent is very fulfilling and works best with her busy schedule.
"It's just like any other mom, whether it's being a mother of children or dogs, they just become your own," explained Hitchcock. "You just take care of them and you do what's right for them."
Hitchcock says she officially became Flynn's permanent foster mom in April. Not much was known about his background, other than that he was surrendered to the Worcester County Humane Society at an older age.
"Even though he's 17, he will play, he will run, and he will sprint," said Hitchcock. "There's nothing wrong with an older dog or a special needs dog. They just need love and attention like all the other dogs do."
"[Older pets] deserve to be in a home, especially during their senior years," said Tina Walas, foster parent and WCHS board member.
According to Walas, foster parents like Hitchcock help out in more ways than one.
"There's not a whole lot of people who want to adopt older pets, unfortunately. So, if they're not put into foster families, then the older ones just end up spending the rest of their lives at the shelter, which we take very good care of them, but it's obviously a high-stress situation for all the animals," explained Walas. "It also helps the shelter because it frees up space for us to be able to save other animals. There's a point where we just can't take in any more animals. So if people are fostering animals then we're able to save more animals rather than turning them away if they come."
When it comes to adopting and/or fostering older pets, both Hitchcock and Walas agree the pets are usually the ones who are most appreciative.
"They're grateful, they're absolutely grateful and you can tell by [Flynn's] actions. He's always near me," said Hitchcock.
"I think they can sense when they're in a good situation, and you can just see it in their eyes they're grateful and thankful," said Walas.
"I hope that people don't overlook the older dogs. They have so much to give and there's so much life in them, and they're great. They are absolutely great. They know when they're loved, they know when they're taken care of and that is the most rewarding part of it all," said Hitchcock.
For those interested in becoming a foster parent, online applications are available on the shelter's website at www.worcestercountyhumanesociety.org or directly at the shelter located at 12330 Eagles Nest Rd, Berlin.