Exploring the Rewards and Challenges of Fostering Dogs

An Interview with Pet Rescue Advocate Rocky Kanaka

Rocky Kanaka, a prominent figure in the world of pet rescue advocacy, has dedicated his life to helping dogs in need. With a heart of gold and a passion for making a difference, Rocky has fostered numerous dogs throughout his life, making it his mission to contribute to the welfare of these furry companions. In a candid interview, Rocky shares his experiences and insights into the world of fostering and pet rescue, shedding light on the joys, challenges, and profound impact of his efforts.

Fostering Dogs

The Power of Community in Dog Rescue

When asked about the number of dogs he has fostered, Rocky humbly admits that he doesn’t keep track. He says, “I really try to focus on the dog I am currently helping because dog rescue is such a group effort that I never solely want to take credit for a pup’s success.

I am just a small piece of the puzzle on their journey.” For him, fostering is not about personal accolades; it’s about being a part of a collective effort to give every dog a chance at a better life.

He emphasizes the power of community in the world of dog rescue, acknowledging the contributions of various individuals, “From the person who found the dog like an animal control officer, or a good Samaritan, to the shelter caretakers, the veterinarians who provide needed treatments, to the thousands of people online who are part of sharing a dog’s story, and people who volunteer their time or give their money in donations. I really believe in the power of community, and together we can help so many more dogs than I could ever do solely on my own.”

Addressing Behavioral Challenges in Fostering

Fostering dogs

Every foster dog presents its own unique set of challenges, but some situations can be particularly demanding, especially when it comes to behavioral issues. Rocky emphasizes the importance of addressing these problems early on, be it food aggression or difficulty in socializing with other dogs.

He shares, “These dogs often need some sort of training, potty training, leash training, or just learning how to be a dog because they’ve never been loved in a home environment.” Training, patience, and a nurturing environment are key to helping these dogs become well-adjusted and prepared for their future forever homes.

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Rocky shares a personal experience with a foster dog named Tulip, who struggled with aggressive behavior when her companion, Kobe, displayed anxiety. “Tulip wouldn’t recognize or understand this behavior so she would attack him and latch onto his neck. Kobe never fought back, but it would be so stressful when it happened,” he adds.

Implementing separation and consistent training helped alleviate the tension, and Tulip ultimately found her forever home where her new owner continued the training sessions with great success.

Choosing a Favorite Foster Dog

Blind dog Willie Gets His First Puppuccino

Selecting a favorite among the dogs Rocky has fostered proves to be an arduous task for him. He finds it most rewarding when a dog effortlessly fits into his family, making him question whether to adopt them. However, he emphasizes that sometimes, a better-suited home is found for the dog’s unique needs, and finding the perfect match is ultimately the most gratifying outcome. Some of his most memorable Foster Dogs include: Jalapeno, Blossom, Winston, Tulip, Willie and so many others.

The Tale of Kobe: An Exceptional Adoption


Rocky’s decision to adopt Kobe, aside from being an incredible dog, was influenced by the dog’s dire health condition. He recounts, “We wanted to make sure he had the best end of life as possible because he had already been through so much.” The compassionate desire to provide him with the best care led Rocky to make the commitment. Three years later, Kobe defied all expectations, thriving in a loving home.

The Heart of Fostering: Selflessness and Dedication

Rocky emphasizes that fostering is not for the faint of heart, and it requires a selfless commitment to the well-being of the dog. He acknowledges that foster families may get emotionally attached to the dogs they care for but adds, “I know that I simply cannot keep every dog that I foster. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to foster anymore!”

Choosing the Right Rescue Group

fostering dogs

To avoid situations where a rescue group fails to fulfill its promises (ie: getting a dog a promised surgery) Rocky recommends prospective foster parents to volunteer with local shelters and rescue organizations first. This firsthand experience will give them a better understanding of the group’s operations, values, and commitment to the cause.

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The Duration of Fostering

The length of fostering engagements varies depending on the dog’s needs. Rocky explains, “Every dog is different, it could be a few weeks to a few months.” Factors such as medical care or the dog’s ability to adapt to a home environment play a role in determining the length of the fostering period. Nevertheless, the joy of witnessing a dog find its forever home makes every moment worth it.

Fostering with Children: A Learning Experience

Fostering dogs with small children can be an enriching experience for both the child and the dog. Rocky believes that dogs getting exposure to kids helps set them up for success, and it opens the possibility to more families that may want to potentially adopt them. He emphasizes the importance of doing it safely and teaching both the child and the dog how and when to interact with each other.

“Foster Failure”: An Endearing Outcome

Rocky affectionately refers to “foster failure” as the heartwarming phenomenon when a foster family decides to adopt their foster dog. He explains, “Fostering a dog is a great way to see if you’re interested in adopting a dog. It allows you to ‘test drive’ each other and make sure it’s a great fit.” This outcome is welcomed by rescue groups and shelters, as it means the dog has found a loving forever home. Fostering is indeed an excellent way for families to test compatibility and decide if adoption is the right choice for them.

Rocky Kanaka’s dedication to fostering dogs exemplifies the profound impact that individuals can have on the lives of animals in need. Through love, patience, and a supportive community, Rocky continues to be an inspiration in the world of pet rescue advocacy. His journey teaches us that by opening our hearts and homes to foster dogs, we become a crucial part of their transformation, helping them find their way to a brighter future and a forever home filled with love and care.

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