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What does it take to foster?

This is a special section for dogs needing new homes and for inspiring stories of dogs that have found their furever home through Dogster or through the love and energy of rescuers. This is also the place to discuss shelters, rescue organizations, rescue strategies, issues, solutions, etc. and how we can all help in this critical endeavor. Remember that we are all here for the love of dog! If you are posting about a dog that needs a new home, please put your location in the topic of your thread so those close by can find you! Make sure to check out Dogster's dog adoption center!

  
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 10:40am PST 
I've always been interested in fostering. And I always considered doing it when I get a place of my own. I keep going back and forth on the idea, but I just end up realizing that I really don't know what it truly takes to be a foster home. So, could all you fosters give some tips, advice, lectures, and whatever ideas you feel like sharing when it comes to fostering?

Do you think it takes a certain person/personality to foster? How did you get into fostering? How did you choose who you'd foster with?
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Corky

Looking for my- forever home!
 
 
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 2:37pm PST 
You need to be able, obviously, to handle another dog in your home. This depends not just on you but on your current dogs--will they be okay with it? Or at least cope without creating problems?

Different groups provide different amounts of support for fosters. I mean in terms of the cost. Some groups only handle the vet care; some also provide food, toys, etc.

The most important thing about which group you work with is that you understand what they are committing to and what you are committing to, and that you are confident that they will do what they say. No surprises!

You need to be able give a dog love and care without getting too attached. You're going to be saying good-bye to this dog in a few months. If you can't say good-bye, you're going to be a "foster failure" and have another permanent resident in your household.

Be clear with yourself and with the rescue group or shelter what you are able to handle, as a practical matter. I have a No Big Dogs rule, and I'm willing to work with fear, but not with aggression. Corky is also a special needs dog; he's blind. Can you handle a dog with a handicap of some kind? What kinds of handicaps? Can you handle a dog with ongoing medical needs, or who needs to be treated for heartworm? Or do you really need to stick to basically healthy dogs?

Don't let guilt lead you to agree to something you're not prepared for. It's no kindness to the dog, as well as being deeply unfair to yourself and your household.

Any dog you foster helps that dog and another dog, who gets the shelter space the dog you're fostering had occupied. That's true even if you take only "easy" dogs, which then frees up a space in a foster home that can handle a more challenging dog.

Get to know the people you'd be working with, because trust and confidence between you and the rescue or shelter is vital.
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Sarah,- CW-SR,- CW-G1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
 
 
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 3:53pm PST 
Corky gave some good advice! Especially about knowing your limits! Don't let guilt make you stretch yourself too far.

You need patience, time, and a sense of humor. The ability not to sweat the small stuff. You have to be able to keep yourself from getting too attached. You need to be strong to tell adopters 'no' if they are not a good fit.

You need to find a GOOD group that is well organized and has principles that align with your beliefs- some of my biggest frustration has been some of the training methods that are used and encouraged by some of the higher ups in my group.

Different groups provide different levels of support and physical items. My group pays for vet bills, kennels, food, beds, blankets, pretty much everything,
although I do buy extra "goodies" like treats, toys, and grain-free dog food.

It's a very good feeling to foster- and you get to meet and live with all kinds of different breeds. I love the excitement of getting a new dog every few weeks and getting to know them!
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Sawyer- *ADOPTED*

Shy Boy
 
 
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 4:41pm PST 
Great advice so far. I agree you really need to know what you feel comfortable taking on and stick with it. It also helps to find a group who gels with your training philosophy and other beliefs. You really need to feel comfortable with the rescue group and the dogs they handle.

The group I volunteer with covers pretty much everything. Toys, treats, food, vetting. It's like having a second dog for free. wink (Honestly, if I fed kibble I would provide my own food for the foster dog. But Risa eats home-cooked.) They are also have quite a few adoption events to really get the word out there about their dogs.

You also have to remember that you might have this foster dog for a week or you may have him for months. Some dogs don't stay in foster long. Others are either less in demand or have issues that prevent them from being adopted immediately. I'm on my second foster dog and both of them have been "long term" fosters. Jagger was with me for 2 months. Sawyer has been here for one month so far. I expected Jagger to stay for a while. He was odd-looking and a high-energy guy. A bit harder to place. Sawyer I expected to get picked up in a heartbeat being a super-cute young puppy.

It's also critical you keep your own dogs in mind. I have only fostered male dogs who are good with other dogs and small or medium in size. (Though it turns out Sawyer is actually dog-selective and leery of other dogs. He is GREAT with Risa, though.) My house isn't huge and most of the dog things I own are for medium-sized dogs. It's just easier for me to have another dog about Risa-sized. With her dog issues, I need to have a dog who's socially savvy. Keep in mind that sometimes the report you get about a dog isn't entirely accurate. Dogs may behave differently in a shelter versus in a home. Be prepared just in case you discover your foster dog isn't who you thought he was. wink

I think it's also important to have baby gates, crates, and/or x-pens to keep the new dog separate from the current family for a while. For the first week, I keep everyone apart; they live separate lives. Certainly they are able to smell and hear the other dog but I don't let them see each other or meet. It gives everyone time to settle in and destress. After that, I tend to keep the foster in the x-pen when I cannot supervise and I slowly introduce him to Risa. I play it by ear depending on what I see from both dogs. I let Sawyer meet Risa much faster than I did with Jagger because they are very different dogs.

I think PATIENCE is also key. You have to keep in mind these guys have been through a lot. Sent from the life they knew to a shelter then from a shelter to one foster home and possibly to another before arriving on your doorstep. They need time to figure out you, your schedule, and the new environment. It's likely they haven't had a lot of training and possess some bad habits. You need to realize that it will take time for them to feel comfortable and that you will have to give them some guidance so that they can become the wonderful companions they were meant to be.

Most people say the hardest part is letting them go. It hasn't been for me. I take them in knowing they're not going to stay. I knew from day one that both Jagger and Sawyer were not meant to stay here. I like both of them and they both have characteristics I like in a dog. However, I knew they weren't the right dog for me. I was simply a rest stop on their journey.

Good luck if you decide to foster!

Edited by author Sun Feb 17, '13 4:45pm PST

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Natasha - 美花- ~Beautiful- Flower~

Let's play tag!- You're it!
 
 
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 5:12pm PST 
Here's my experience. A few years ago I decided I wanted to foster for my local shelter. So I went in, got all the information I needed, filled out some paperwork, and they handed me a dog. They told me I had to pay for everything, food, any vet visit, flea product(unless they were stocked with some at the time I asked for it), etc...basically it would be like my own dog. shrug

I didn't start out this way, but I ended up becoming a temporary foster, as in, I didn't keep the dogs until they're adopted. What I did was take in a dog, have it groomed, do my best to house train, leash train, other very basic training, see how it does with resident pets, dogs in the neighborhood, etc...and return the dog, wait a long while, and foster another dog. The dog would then have more information on its bio, then just the basic "xx came in as a stray, is a good dog, loves everyone". The basic training made them more likely to be adopted sooner.

ETA: I've also just brought dogs home for a only day. At my shelter, there is no place for the dogs to run off leash, so the only exercise they get is when on leash. As a result, many are so hyped up when a potential adopter comes and decides to walk one, that the person can't control them. So, I have brought hyped up dogs home so they can simply run without the restraints of a leash. That's not really fostering, but it is good for the dogs.

Edited by author Sun Feb 17, '13 5:18pm PST

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Rolo

1236640
 
 
Barked: Mon Feb 18, '13 10:11am PST 
Don't be me! I foster failed on my first foster! I fell in love at first sight and so did he! His smile did me in, and his need for a mommy! Out of my 3 dogs, I finally needed a dog ALL MY OWN!cloud 9

I did have the shelter dog test him with both aggressive and submissive dogs first, which I think really helped. He is completely non-reactive to other dogs, and my pack is not the most open-pawed, but he had no problems here. They didn't know he feared tall, thin men, but I figure most of the shelter workers must have been women. We have been working through this with a good deal of success.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Mon Feb 18, '13 11:14am PST 
Wow, great advice all!

I am definitely going to be a bit picky on any dog that I'd plan to keep. A lot of dogs may not fit that bill, so I don't think I'd be a "failure." laugh out loud

I'll look into a few places and see what they're all about. Then, if the time comes where I'd like to give it a go, I'd have an idea as to who I'd want to foster with.

Thanks again!
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Mon Feb 18, '13 6:35pm PST 
Second on the time thing. One down and one to go on two dogs that arrived to me seven months ago. I was positive neither would be here long. I had one I swore wasn't going to be a foster fail, but the squatter....destined to turn into my dog by default. That was Fat Boy. Finally lucked out with him and sent him on his way with a very happy young lady. I have a Maltese right now who keeps bouncing back. I am sure HE thinks he lives here laugh out loud (besides hating my husband for reasons unknown, he tends to behave like a real star here with me), and then periodically goes on really long vacations with weird people big laugh

Sense of humor. Gotta have it!

Edited by author Mon Feb 18, '13 6:37pm PST

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Jewel, PCD

8.6lbs of fury- in a bow!
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 19, '13 7:17am PST 
If you're a "doer" get ready to be frustrated. Because you can't just "do" something, you've got to e-mail this person and then let this other person know and then wait for that person to fax them people and blah blah!

Also be ready for vets that tell you nothing because you're not the owner and vet that expect you to be able to make decision because they don't understand that you're not the owner. And for people/shelters to lie to the rescue to get them to take animals. I have had dogs that were "good with other dogs" come to me and it turns out they can't even function if there's a dog three blocks away. A dog that was pregant. My friends got a dog with a CONTAGIOUS skin disease and lumps on her, the vet said it never should have been released to her just based on the skin disease.

Also be ready for no one else to see what you see in your foster dog! I have had Chloe since mid November and I don't know why!! She's the best dog I have ever had in foster. She is not the flashiest by far but she is the best and no one has looked beyond her looks to see how great she is! She is bomb-proof. Kids can grab her face, other dogs can bite her in the face, you can pull a raw bone from her mouth...it does not matter, she wags her tail. You can do anything to her as long as you say "good girl" or pat her head she's the happiest thing on the face of the earth. She can adapt to play with a larger dog, a smaller dog, a dog with three legs, a puppy and etc! How can no one want her?? shrug

And that's the hardest part of fostering for me, not letting them go to loving homes. But having to keep them knowing that they are awesome and no one wants them.
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 19, '13 10:26am PST 
You need to write Chloe's listing laugh out loud She sounds awesome!
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