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Will my dog be sad when my foster dog gets adopted?

I remember when I dropped off my foster dog Cosmo to his new home, I debated bringing my mutt Ace along for the ride. Since Cosmo had lived with us for five months, I wanted to provide Ace with some closure. I wanted him to see where Cosmo was going.

Instead, I ended up leaving Ace home that day. I knew my mutt would’ve been excited about a road trip, and I didn’t want that energy to make Cosmo nervous.

I didn’t try to explain anything to Ace and Cosmo before we left. I didn’t encourage them to play one last time. I didn’t encourage them to look at each other or say goodbye in any way.

Black lab mix and American Eskimo dog lying next to each other

Cosmo and I just left.

I’m pretty sure Ace gave Cosmo no thought as we drove away.

I also know Cosmo was not thinking about Ace during our drive to his new home, once we arrived or once I left.

When I returned to Fargo without Cosmo, Ace did not act differently. He wasn’t sad that Cosmo was gone. He wasn’t excited to be an only dog again. He was 100 percent neutral, as though the fostering experience with Cosmo had never happened.

I know some people will be offended by these statements. How could I “pretend” my dog is not sad? How could I ignore his feelings?

We live in a world where people need to believe animals experience the same emotions as us.

Instead, I try my best to accept my pets for what they are – animals. I treat them with respect by acknowledging they are not the same as me.

Ace would’ve enjoyed a road trip with Cosmo and I that Friday, but he certainly did not need any closure. He did not need to say goodbye to Cosmo.

Dogs come and go from our house often. Some stay for a few hours or a few days. Some stay for a week or a few months. The length of time is not relevant for Ace. Dogs come and go, and that’s that.

Although Ace can probably read my emotions better than anyone, he didn’t seem affected by the slight feeling of loss I expressed when I returned from Wahpeton without Cosmo.

I knelt down and gave Ace a hug the minute I walked through the door. He accepted the hug and was there for me, but neither of us lingered in sadness.

Each person who fosters dogs says goodbye differently

Many foster owners become emotionally attached to their foster dogs and will cry and feel depressed when the dogs get adopted. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all express our emotions differently.

Just remember that if you are sad, your dog will act accordingly. He will mope around simply because you are moping around. He probably doesn’t miss the foster dog as much as you think.

The day Cosmo god adopted, my fiance Josh did not say goodbye to him.

Initially, this made me sad. Why wouldn’t Josh want to say goodbye to a dog we’d lived with for five months?

But it makes more sense now.

Josh and Cosmo did not have much of a bond just as Ace and Cosmo did not have a bond.

Like Ace, Josh sees a lot of dogs coming and going and the length of time they are here is not relevant. He doesn’t form emotional connections with them the way I do. He cares about them and wants the best for them, but kneeling down and kissing a dog on the head is not something Josh would even think of.

The interactions between Cosmo and Josh were minimal.

Every few days or so, Cosmo would specifically choose to sit next to Josh. He’d wait next to him, panting, until Josh scratched him behind the ears.

In return, Josh would also make the point to kneel down next to Cosmo every few days. He would find him napping in a corner somewhere, pet him on the back and tell him he was a good boy.

They had a simple relationship – a good one – and neither had any reason to say goodbye.

Will my dog miss my foster dog?

Although my dog definitely does not miss any of our foster dogs, this may not be the case with all dogs.

Some dogs do miss one another very much. Some dogs form intense bonds with their foster “siblings.” Ace and Cosmo did not have that kind of bond. They never played or even acknowledged one another. They went for walks together, but they associated that excitement with the actual walk, not with spending time together.

Other dogs become best buds. They play all the time or nap on top of one another or feel some sort of love.

One of my pet sitting customers told me she brought her younger dog into the room too when their older dog was euthanized. I told her I thought that was an admirable choice. If I had two dogs with a similar bond, I would do the same. Sometimes dogs do need closure.

But when it comes to our foster dogs, Ace needs no closure. He doesn’t need to see where they end up. He doesn’t care.

It’s unlikely Ace thinks about Cosmo at all. He might catch a remaining scent every now and then. Maybe he picks up a whiff in the back of the kennel. Maybe a lingering piece of American Eskimo hair causes him to pause.

This is a simple part to my dog I appreciate. There’s no drama to it. He just moves on.

Did your dog get sad when your foster dog got adopted?


Monday 12th of September 2022

My dog is depressed. The Foster was adopted yesterday. Found this post looking for ways to help her. All animals have different personalities. She did not miss our first foster. Now she is so sad and depressed.


Monday 29th of January 2024

@Marla, my Great Dane is doing this right now after we had a foster puppy for almost a month and they became the best of friends. He’s moping around since he is alone now and looks sad the day after! He will be fine I know but I do feel bad for him today!

foster newbie

Wednesday 29th of July 2015

Do foster dogs miss their foster parents having been with them for extended periods and helping them feel secure and loved for the first time?

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 29th of July 2015

I think they do for a short time, and then they move on and learn to love their new families. Dogs are able to adapt easily when we allow them to do so.


Saturday 10th of December 2011

Thank-you for this. My dogs absolutely do not care about the fosters. They're used to dogs coming and going and, if their play buddy's here, cool, but if they're not, whatever. I do think dogs live very much 'in the moment' and their dog-friends are momentary, too.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 10th of December 2011

I agree! Thanks for your comment!


Friday 9th of December 2011

This was something I worried about when we began fostering -- would my dog miss the dogs that are leaving?

As it turns out -- no. With the exception of Wookie, our foster who we adopted, my first dog has become very indifferent when other dogs come and go. He has his Wookie and that's all he seems to need or want.

Wookie loves every new dog that arrives, and cuddles with them accordingly, but he too isn't the least bit phased. I think both of my monsters enjoy to return to "normalcy" after an adoption.

Your boyfriend sounds a lot like mine, though. I bawled after the first adoption, but the boyfriend shrugged his shoulders and said this is why we do it. Makes sense to me.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 10th of December 2011

I'm glad you have had the same experiences I've had. It's hard to let them go, but our dogs help us move on.