DETROIT – More than 3 million dogs show up in the United States every year, but shelter life doesn't work for all of them. Some get to go to foster homes.
Every year, volunteers at NBS Animal Rescue get together to send holiday cards to the families who have adopted dogs through them over the past year.
"We average about 75-100 adoptions per year," volunteer Aaron said. "We get contacted by local shelters -- some local, some not so local -- when they get overfilled or when they get special cases like this guy, who is older or blind or has special medical needs.
"We provide all their food. We provide a crate if needed. We provide a lot of their vet care, so literally, it's just providing the love, consistency and training that the dog needs until it can find a home."
NBS doesn't have a physical shelter. It relies on a network of foster families to provide temporary homes for dogs. Volunteer Amy Stipp picked up her latest foster dog, Lulu, at the gathering.
She started fostering about a year ago.
"Our first foster was Frisco," Stipp said. "He was super scared. Timid. He wasn't potty trained. He didn't know much. Frisco is a goofball. I thought he would be a little difficult to adopt out. He didn't want to be picked up. He would kind of snip every now and then, but the more we got to know him, the more he relaxed, and that's the great thing about putting them into a foster home. They can act one way in the shelter, and then as soon as you get them home and they feel like they're at home, they're relaxed. They start to open up.
"So after Frisco, we got Lisa, and she was a little tiny terrier mix found under a dumpster. She was here for probably about a month, and then she went out to one home. She got returned, which is the good thing about NBS is their lifelong commitment to their dogs. If it doesn't work out, they ask that you return them, and she got returned, but already had another application in. So she went to her next home and she's been there ever since.
"The third dog was Mattie. She was just another cute little spunky, maybe Shih Tzu mix of some sort. She was believed to be about 1 year old. She was lots of puppy, lots of energy.
"After Mattie came Dallas. Dallas was a little Yorkie mix, and now he's at his forever home. We just had an update on him the other day. He's doing really well."
Local 4 played a part in finding Frisco his forever family.
"I have an Instagram page that I created just as a way to talk about what is fostering, educate people about fostering," Stipp said. "Frisco's parents saw a post that you guys put up about Frisco, and then they got in contact with me and NBS, and that's how he found his home."
The All 4 Pets Instagram page shared Frisco's picture quite a few times.
"I kept seeing pictures of this little white puppy that looked exactly like Frankie pop up, and the more I looked at him, and I kept showing my husband, they have a lot of the same personality traits," said Tara, who adopted Frisco. "Neither one of the likes to be picked up."
Now Frisco, who Stipp had worried would be hard to place, has his own permanent mother and father, and a forever brother in Frankie.
"They love playing together," Tara said. "They're big snuggle bugs. If they're not lying on me, they're lying on top of each other."
Current foster dog, Lulu, had surgery for a large hernia and is recovering at home with Stipp and foster brothers, Obi, Tucker and Wrigley, who's not only Lulu's lookalike but also her special friend.
"In all of the dogs we've fostered, this is the first dog he's truly liked and loved and wanted to play with," Stipp said. "They chase each other around the house. They cuddle together. I told him he's not allowed to date his foster sister, but he's not listening.
"It only takes me a few days to get attached to them, so it can be hard. But that's the goal of fostering: to find them a home. So if they're leaving, you've succeeded."