Sandy Silvester – Puppy Fostering is Easy Way to Save a Life

animal foster aberdeen
Sandy's most recent involvement has been with Great Pyrenees breeds - fluffy bundles of fun that are sadly being bred at unfortunate rates down South before being transported North in hopes of rescue.


By Chelsea Royer

grays harbor community hospitalSandy Silvester is your friendly neighbor who loves kids and chatting with those around her. In the many years I’ve lived near Sandy, I can’t remember a conversation that didn’t include some mention of dogs – whether her own or someone else’s. Sandy owns three dogs and all of them are rescues. Not only does she go out looking for dogs that have been rejected by previous owners, they seem to do a decent job of finding her as well.

animal shelter aberdeen
Sandy’s three dogs, Jack, Sedona, and Stella, all adapt well to the foster animals Sandy brings home on a regular basis.

Sandy has brought dogs out of terrible shelter conditions, discovered them wandering without owners at garage sales, and volunteered her time as a foster parent. With her soft heart, it’s no wonder one of those foster-dogs became a forever pet. Sedona is Sandy’s four-year-old Golden Retriever. At eight months old, Sedona was found huddled with her sisters and terrified of humans. She arrived at Sandy’s home skin and bones, refusing to play or interact. Sandy would have to leave the room in order for Sedona to eat and even now, four years later, Sedona still skulks and cringes whenever someone stands up in her vicinity. After years of love and care, the memories of being kicked and abused haunt her everyday interactions.

When asked why she chose to keep Sedona, Sandy replied, “No one else would understand her.” It’s taken months and years to get Sedona to a place of being able to play, smile, and eat while Sandy is still in the room – a testament to the love and patience given her by Sandy and her Labrador mixes, Stella and Jack. Sandy explains that many people assume that shelter dogs have something wrong with them and thus are hesitant to adopt. Although there may be the occasional bad-tempered dog by nature, Sandy is adamant that more often than not, the problem lies with people, not the pet. With love and attention, most dogs can be taught to behave and to bond with their new family members.

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Sandy has helped foster at least of 25 dogs over the last fifteen years.

For fifteen years, Sandy has been adopting and fostering dogs. Sometimes these pets stay for as little as two weeks, other times they stay for months. “The first six dogs were the hardest. I cried all the way home after delivering them to their adoption homes,” says Sandy. “Then I recognized how arrogant it was for me to think I was the only person who could give them a loving, adequate home. I don’t cry anymore.” She’s learned to smile every time she helps a dog find their new forever home. “They’re all memorable,” Sandy says of the Boxers, Pyrenees, and Golden Retrievers she’s helped rescue. “They all have different personalities.”

Every year, thousands of backyard breeders and puppy mills churn out dogs, often with health problems, and deliver them to owners who are looking for a perfect pet. Unrealistic expectations and busy schedules result in dogs delivered to local animal shelters. Dogs are often considered disposable members of the household with owners abandoning their pets for something as minor as not wanting to pay for boarding over a vacation. What many don’t realize is that shelters are so overloaded with pets that an enormous number of healthy animals are euthanized every month. And then there are the animals found sick and abused – rescued from horrific living spaces and abusive owners. These animals have an even slimmer chance at survival than the healthy ones once arriving at a shelter.

Desperate to be a part of the solution, Sandy chooses to make a difference by being a puppy foster mom. “It’s like being a grandma – you get your puppy fix, play with them for a few weeks, and after you send them home you’re exhausted,” Sandy laughs. The sponsoring shelters pay for vet care and Sandy is more than happy to provide food, beds, and toys for every fluffy critter entrusted to her. She communicates with shelters and takes only one or two at a time and can be selective of what ages, breeds, and temperaments she invites into her home.

animal foster aberdeen
Sandy’s most recent involvement has been with Great Pyrenees breeds – fluffy bundles of fun that are sadly being bred at unfortunate rates down South before being transported North in hopes of rescue.

Sandy encourages anyone with a love for dogs to try being a foster parent. “Just do it! Try it! You’re saving a dog and all it costs is food and love and you have the satisfaction of helping that dog find a home.”

With good communication and honesty about what you can and can’t handle in terms of size, temperament and age, foster programs can make it easy for you to invite love-hungry pets into your home. Even if fostering isn’t for you, Sandy is a firm believer in adopting. “Don’t become a backyard breeder. Adopt your pets. Neuter and spay your pets and treat them with respect.”

If you are interested in learning more about pet foster care, think about starting where Sandy has at one of the following organizations: Great Pyrenees Rescue Society, Northwest Boxer Rescue, or Evergreen Golden Retriever Rescue or think about volunteering at your local shelter, PAWS of Grays Harbor or North Beach PAWS.

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