Fostering family



Duxbury, Vermont
With Fran Olsen, volunteer and foster extraordinaire for Golden Huggs Rescue (GHR), and her dogs Bella and Lucy.  We have always been a two dog family. When we lost one of our oldies, we needed to have another dog – we always need to have two. We started looking and looking, and I applied to Golden Huggs. Amy [GHR volunteer] came and did my home visit, and she convinced me to foster with intent to adopt. I didn’t know about that foster thing… but I agreed.

That first foster worked out fine because my son Matthew ended up adopting her. It was a huge litter. There was about eight or nine of them that came from Tennessee. That was seven or eight years ago.

We’ve done 15 fifteen fosters. Bella is our foster failure.  I think every foster has at least one foster failure – one comes through the door that you know is staying… We picked her up in Richmond. She was part of a whole litter that came up in Brigitte’s [GHR founder Brigitte Ritchie] car. When I saw Bella, I said to Brigitte “That’s not fair.” Bella’s now about 6.

And then from there, Golden Huggs had a lot of dogs and a lot of vetting, and was robbing Peter to pay Paul. I called Laura Howe [a GHR volunteer and organizer] to say we needed to do something. Selling t-shirts wasn’t cutting it. So we put our heads together and came up with Party for the Pups, which we did for five years. It was a lot of work, and as time went on, we found that the new type of adopters is of a different mindset than the party and drink and dance type we had in the early years. Now they are more the outdoorsy type, so we need to change up our [fundraising] activity. We’re thinking we’ll do a big yard sale mid-summer. Collette’s Furniture – a big supporter of GHR – has offered to host it at the store. [The yard sale fundraiser is still in the planning stage, so please check the GHR site in the coming weeks for details.]



Lucy is not a Golden Huggs dog, but she is a rescue. I went into Pet Food Warehouse to get supplies, and some arbitrary rescue – I couldn’t tell you the name of it – had a pen in the middle of the store. I walked by and thought “That one’s cute.”  I felt like she was watching me walk down the aisles all through the store.

I tried to call my husband, but he was off snowmobiling with a buddy and didn’t answer and didn’t answer. So I said “C’mon.” She jumped right into the front seat of the car and I said “Lucy, we’re in trouble. We have some ’splaining to do.”

The adoption lady was really nice and told me to call her if the dog didn’t get along with our old dog or if my husband was mad, and that I could bring her back. When my husband first met Lucy, he picked her up and that was the end of that. We’ve had her for about 10 years.

Lucy isn’t a lover of big dogs or older dogs, so we foster only puppies. Lucy teaches them. A lot of people don’t like to do puppies because they think they’re too much work. But I bring [the puppy] with me everywhere.

And, my husband loves the fostering. He calls it “test-driving puppies.”


Bella & Lucy

Editor’s note: The Mad River Valley has many active rescue groups with beautiful pets that need loving homes. Some of these organizations and their volunteers have been previously featured in We so happened to have adopted all three of our dogs from Golden Huggs Rescue, beginning with our Lucy. Laura Howe was Linus’ foster mom. Charlie Brown is our “foster fail.” I first met Fran several years ago at the Party for the Pups fundraiser for Golden Huggs Rescue. The GHR adoption network has become a community that grows with every adoption.

To learn more about Golden Huggs Rescue, please visit their website at

If you have any comments about this post or questions for, please share them in the reply box, below, or contact me via email at



2 thoughts on “Fostering family

  1. Fostering is the BEST experience, and so necessary. GHR doesn’t bring a lot of dogs up into foster care but there are always times when we really appreciate having a volunteer who will step up and take a dog into their home when necessary. We’ve all been “foster failures” at one time or another, and that’s OK 🙂 Whether it be for Golden Huggs or another rescue, I encourage you to consider opening your heart and home to a pup in need. The knowledge that you helped not one (the dog you foster), but two (the dog who takes it’s place in the shelter), is enough to keep you coming back!


  2. Love this. I ‘test drive puppies’ too! Love those big beautiful goldens you have. I fostered a ‘lab’ last fall who had 12 puppies. She was one of the nicest dogs I’ve ever encountered. When her adopted did a DNA on her, turned out she was a golden (with black curly coated retriever)! That was my first experience with a golden. Such nice dogs. Hope the fostering is still going well. Blessings on ya.


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