Bren Harms helps find puppies their forever home

Dani Foust, photo editor

Fostering- taking in an animal for a brief period of time, providing them with love and care until they are adopted.  Bren Harm has been part of this heartwarming process for the past four years, working alongside The Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation (AARF) of Winston-Salem to find these dogs their forever home.  The truth of the matter is, there are more stray dogs in the triad area than we would care to admit; all of these sweet and playful pups need a place that provides them with the love and support they deserve. 

“Our puppies come from three main sources.  The shelters in Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, and sometimes other places nearby; they come from owners who surrender them or from mama dogs we have taken in and delivered in the Care of AARF,” Harm said.  “All of our puppies go immediately into foster homes. When our foster homes are full, we are unable to bring them into our program. Our puppies then spend the next two weeks socializing and adjusting to life in their new home with their foster families.”

It is a known fact that taking care of a puppy is a lot of work, oftentimes, it is very difficult to keep up with them considering they are full of so much energy and life.  Many times, they seem to cause a mess and need constant attention. Harm not only takes grown female dogs, but also takes in all their puppies as well (sometimes these puppies are newborns that have not even opened their eyes yet).  Sometimes, the mother of these puppies can not be found, so Harm bottle feeds these puppies until they are big enough to eat on their own. Though the process of caring for these puppies may be difficult, Harm always finds a way to juggle multiple puppies at a time.  

“It is all about the right set up.  It is not much different than having a two-year-old and newborn twins,” Harm said.  “I have a puppy place gated in my kitchen that keeps them safe and contained during the day, where they can get used to being part of the family and all the noises that come along with that.  Then, at night we have a room especially for them in our finished basement. We painted the floor so it’s easy to clean up, and again gates to make it a safe and cozy space where they learn to sleep in a crate.”  

Though, it may be difficult, frustrating and stressful to foster puppies, Harm has continued to provide a safe, temporary home for these sweet fur babies.

“ I began fostering in February of 2016, and the times that I have taken a break, I find myself missing having puppies running around,” Harm said.  “They have become a part of what I do, and I love getting to baby them. It is a lot of work, there is a lot of pee and poo associated with puppies, but there are lots of snuggles, puppy breathes and puppy kisses as well. You just can’t beat the feeling.  There’s a true meaning to puppy therapy. I can’t tell you how many friends have come by for puppy therapy. I love being able to make that happen.” 

Harm first became involved in fostering when her neighbor, who also fosters some mentioned to her that AARF was in desperate need of new fosters. 

While fostering can be difficult at some points, there are many upsides to the process as well. 

“I absolutely love watching the puppies learn to trust humans and socialize,” Harm said.  “Often when they come to me, they have been in bad situations and are often very frightened.  Within the first couple of days, they begin to run to the gate in the morning and they want to be part of the family.”  

Throughout the fostering journey, Harm has been a foster mom for many different dogs.  She watches these puppies go from tiny and shy to rambunctious and grown. It is hard to not get attached to an animal that you have cared for, for an extended period of time.  

“I am always a little sad to say goodbye to each puppy, but I know they are going to good homes.  It would be horrible if I didn’t know that their families were fantastic,” Harm said. “Also, the majority of my families continue to send me updates and pictures of their growth.” 

To Harm, fostering means a lot more than just simply providing care for these puppies.  

“ Fostering is a lot of work.  Feeding, playing, and cleaning up after them, playing again, cleaning up again,” Harm said.  “However, these puppies are often left out in the cold with no human to take care of them, often in really bad situations and probably would not have a chance to have a good life.  I feel I am a crucial part of teaching them to be good pets to humans that love them, and I get to help find these amazing people. There are so many ‘unwanted’ puppies because pet owners do not believe they need to spray or neuter them.  Education is also a big part, teaching the importance of spaying and how to take care of their pets.”