Our Featured Foster: Brooke Berneking
How long have you been fostering for SG?
I have been fostering with Saving Grace for 3 years.
Why did you decide to start fostering?
I have always worked with animals in my teenage and young adult years. I worked with a veterinarian and boarding kennels. Then I got out of it for years. About 3 years ago a coworker of mine introduced me to Saving Grace which was located 5 miles away from my home. I’m not sure how I never knew about it before then. But she talked me into doing a weekend host. From then I was hooked on Saving Grace! I signed up immediately for foster orientation.
Did you have experience with fostering prior to SG?
I didn’t have prior fostering experience, but I had lots of experience with boarding and caring for dogs and animals.
Do you have pets? How many and what type?
I have 3 dogs and 3 cats: Lex a 4-year-old German Shepherd, Izzy (SG Alumni) a 2-year-old German Shepherd, Titan an 8-year-old Cane Corso, Teek a 17-year-old brown Tabby, Chance a 16-year-old grey Tabby and Styx (SG Alumni) a 2-year-old Calico. We also have 1 duck named Quack.
Who in the household helps with fosters? (example: just you, children, whole family involved?)
It’s just me and my son Carter. He’s always a big help with the fosters.
Do you typically prefer singles, pairs, small litters, large litters, mom with pups, recoveries? Why?
What do I Prefer? Good question! I started out with a single. Then my next foster was a litter of 3 and I was like “I can do this”. Then my very next litter was a mom and 14 one week old pups. Since then, I have mainly stuck with big litters or moms with bigger litters. I also foster cats and kittens and we currently have a mom and 5 kittens. Why do I prefer the larger litters? Maybe because I like a little chaos in my life. I like having 24/7 therapy at my home. Who knows? To me I find the smaller litters tend to be more needy. With big litters, yes you have LOTS and LOTS of poop but you also have lots of puppy kisses. They tend to play with siblings more and they don’t tend to get bored easily. I almost find large litters easier.
Most memorable foster(s)?
My most memorable foster was probably my first large litter of 14. They were the Avenger pups. To be honest I’m not sure why I think of them as my favorite, but they were. Maybe it was because I had them for 9 weeks and I felt like they were all mine! Or maybe because they all looked different, and they all had different personalities. That litter was really hard for me to take back to SG. I wanted to keep them all! I just remember I would sit outside with them for hours watching them play and they were oh so sweet! They all loved to cuddle. I could sit on the floor with them, and they would just come and lay all over me and go to sleep. It was hard not to keep one, but my problem was I couldn’t decide who to keep. So, if I couldn’t choose, I knew I really didn’t need to keep one.
What makes you continue fostering?
I continue to foster because I see those emails from the placement team, and it hurts my heart to see the condition some of these dogs come in. Nothing deserves to live and be treated like some of these guys. I know by fostering I am saving lives. I may not be able to save them all like I wish I could, but I can do my part and save what I am able to.
Where do you keep your fosters, what works best for you and your family, what kind of schedule do you try to keep?
I keep my fosters in the back of my house. We have a sunroom that is also my utility room. They usually have a crate with an x-pen attached to it. When they are old enough, they have a large back yard to run around in or if they are on the petite side, I put them in a double x-pen enclosure in the back yard to be able to keep up with them better. This works for me; it has AC and heat and its near the washer and dryer to wash all of the poopy puppy pads.
Any advice or recommendations for new fosters?
Advice for new fosters, let’s see… First, it does get easier when dropping off your fosters for adoption. Some of them you can’t wait to take back (LOL), some you will definitely miss. But once I learned that more than likely your pups will find their new forever home that same week made all the difference! I mean that’s our goal, to give these guys a temporary place to grow up, get healthy, get loved on and get ready to find their forever home. Something else… its ok not to love every litter or foster you have. Some litters drive me insane, and we don’t mesh well, and some are perfect angels and I love them to death!
Something you should buy, washable incontinence pads from Amazon work great. I purchase one here and there, now I have accumulated many. They wash up nicely in the washer and the pups don’t tear them up like the disposable ones. Stock up on bleach and paper towels, you will need it!
SG is a great place to foster, you have teams of wonderful people to help you in every turn. All you must do is ask. We are all willing to help!
Tell us more about yourself.
About me… I was born and raised in Durham NC. I live less than a mile from the house I was born in and currently live in my great grandmother’s house. It was built in the 1890’s as a 1 room schoolhouse. My great grandmother owned and ran a little country store from the 1920’s to the late 1980’s. The store sits on my property which is currently being used to store my junk. We moved in 4 years ago after updating and remodeling the house. I am a single mom of my 14-year-old son, Carter. We do everything together, he’s my best bud and a really cool guy. I have a career in technology sales with Hewlett-Packard.
In our free time when it is not with puppies we are spending time with our family and church. Family is important to us, most of my family lives in a 5-mile radius from me. We still eat a home cooked meal together after church every Sunday and then eat leftovers on Monday nights. There is usually between 15–20 of us that eat together.