5 things I learned as a foster dog parent and the 1 reason why I keep doing it

As a foster parent with Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, I take dogs into my home and care for them until they find their forever homes.

These dogs come from high-kill shelters in the southern U.S., and so far, I have fostered two dogs, both of whom found fantastic forever homes.

Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue likes to give its dogs celebrity names, which makes calling them in the park even more fun. The first dog I fostered was named Ezra Klein and the second (who stole my heart) was named Ellen Page.


This is Ezra Klein, my first foster dog, a 2-year-old dachshund-chihuahua mix.

This is Ellen Page, my second foster dog, a 4-year-old "muttigree."

I'm a video producer here at Upworthy, so when I brought Ellen Page into my home, I decided to document the highs and lows of being a foster parent.

Here's what I've learned.

1. You get very little information about the dog you're welcoming into your home.

Most of the time, foster parents have no idea what we're in for — we get very little information about the dogs in advance. The anticipation of a new foster pup always makes me nervous. I call it my "pre-foster jitters."

With Ellen, all I was told was that she had "bad manners" and was "aggressive with small dogs."

Living in a community with a ton of small dogs, I was really nervous that Ellen would try to eat one for breakfast each morning. Luckily, it turned out she preferred chasing squirrels over small dogs.


Ezra Klein, day 1, checking out his new temporary home.

2. Teaching foster pups that it's OK to "go" on NYC sidewalks can be stressful.

Training a dog to be housebroken is tough, especially in NYC where grass is sparse. It's a learning process for everyone involved.

But that moment when they pee outside for the first time is pretty exhilarating. After three long days of trying to get Ellen Page to pee outside, I basically threw a party for her the first time she got it right.

Pee party for Ellen!

3. Being a doggy foster parent to a nervous puppy can be a round-the-clock job.

Pee on the carpet? Diarrhea at 4 a.m.? Constant barking and separation anxiety? Fear of being outside? These are all issues that require constant love, patience, and understanding to help resolve.

My first foster puppy, Ezra, was so fearful on walks that he would drag me down the sidewalk back to my apartment building. (He only weighed 12 pounds, but those little front legs have power — let me tell you.) I didn't know his history, but I suspected he spent most of his pre-foster life stuck in a crate and had probably had never been outside before. So I worked with Jason Cohen, a dog trainer, to help Ezra become less anxious outside ... which meant sitting outside with him for extended periods of time.

Ezra and I watched the sunset (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment). Ezra and I went on long walks (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment). Ezra and I sat and people-watched (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment).

And, eventually, Ezra realized being outside wasn't so bad.

Classic Ezra butt-wiggle

It was a relief to know that all that patience had paid off. By training Ezra to be calm outside, it was less likely that he'd be sent back to a shelter for misbehaving.

4. Walks are required frequently, even when you feel like being lazy.

You know how I mentioned it took a nervous Ellen Page three days to learn to pee outside? Well, until that joyous moment, I was walking her multiple times a day, and even occasionally in the middle of the night, just in case she suddenly figured out where she was supposed to go to the bathroom.

At one point, I found myself scraping explosive doggy diarrhea off the sidewalk in the middle of the night (which is as fun as it sounds) when I would've much rather been sleeping. But getting up to take Ellen on a 4 a.m. walk was worth it for that mess to end up outside rather than in my apartment — and to reinforce for Ellen that going to the bathroom should always happen outside.

5. The goodbye is by far the hardest part.

After I handed over Ellen's leash to her amazing new adopters, I cried. In the corner. While my boyfriend patiently patted my head.

After spending countless hours training, petting, picking up poop, loving, feeding, and playing with your foster pup, there is nothing harder than seeing that pup walk away with its new family. Leaving you. Forever.

Or you can do what I did with Ellen's adopters, and offer to dog-sit, should they ever go on vacation. I am Ellen's self-appointed cool aunt. No promises that I won't spoil her if her adopters take me up on the dog-sitting offer.

Ellen Page walking off into the sunset with her amazing adopters.

Of course, I always try to play it cool, as if I'm not crying and completely crushed, when my foster dogs walk away. But after saying a tearful goodbye to Ellen Page, another Badass Brooklyn Dog Rescue puppy, Vin Diesel, tackled me with a big doggy hug.

Vin Diesel is so intuitive. It's like he knew I needed a hug. Photo by Nikki Tappa.

Which brings me to the most rewarding part of fostering:

There, in Vin Diesel's paws, I realized that there will ALWAYS be another dog in need of a foster. Yes, I wanted to adopt Ellen Page and keep her as my own, but being a foster parent isn't about me, or about Ellen.

It's about the next dog on the kill list in a shelter down south, who needs a foster home in order to find a forever home.

As a doggy foster parent, you're saving dogs lives.

According to the ASPCA, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year. And every dog that gets fostered and adopted is one fewer dog on the kill list. My boyfriend and I decided that for every dog we foster, we are going to make a "paw print" (with nontoxic finger paint).

We plan on framing each paw print, so that one day, we can have a wall full of paws — all shapes and sizes. Whenever we have post-fostering blues, we'll have this wall of paw prints to remind us of the big picture.

Fostering is about saving as many dogs as possible. And that makes it all worth it.

Watch my journey with Ellen Page below:

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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