Choli, Stormy, Pink, Purple, Yancy, Yasmin, Adam, Andrew, Simpson, Harry, Cheech, Rocky, Sophie, Jasper, Chong, Patryck, Tonya – All the Lucky Dog’s I’ve been lucky enough to foster!
It’s true what they say, “Fostering saves lives,” but it’s not enough to host events every weekend for potential adopters. First, rescues have to get the dogs out of the shelters (before it’s too late) and that’s why fostering is so important. It can sound a little scary at first, not knowing what to expect, especially if you don’t have a dog of your own. But after 16 fosters pups in the past year, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way that can help you should you decide to start fostering. Also! Something that’s super important that I want to mention is that if you can’t foster that’s totally okay too. There are still so many other ways to get involved and make a difference. And if you need help knowing where to start, let me know, I would be happy to help!
How do your dogs handle it?
Neither of my girls really love having other dogs around. I know many of you have worried about this too. Something I always say is, dogs are really resilient so if you’re worried about jealousy I wouldn’t worry too much. However, aggression is a different story. Flower mostly ignores other dogs and does her own thing, but Gracie can be pretty territorial. I would start by introducing them in a neutral territory (like, outside). Then, make sure you’re not favoring the new dog. I’ve read a lot about keeping the “pack order” and that’s helped. For instance, give your dog a treat before the new foster gets one. But just because Gracie is so small and can be aggressive (as aggressive as a Maltipoo can be) I’ve made the decision to mostly foster puppies (or super shy/submissive older dogs). It’s easier to keep them separate and puppies won’t respond to aggression and usually do their own thing. Which leads me to my next topic… Puppy fostering!
Puppy Fostering Tips
Puppy fostering is so fun! And they usually get adopted super fast. While you may think you need to be home more often with puppies, it’s actually the opposite. Lucky Dog will provide you with pens and crates if you need them and then you’re good to leave for the day! Here are a few tips if you decide to puppy foster: Bring baby wipes and a fresh towel when picking up a puppy foster because they’ve probably gone to the bathroom in their crates. You’ll also likely want to give them a bath when you get home, so buy puppy shampoo. Then set up an area to contain them in at home with puppy pads, a soft bed, toys, water, etc. Puppies are also usually teething so I’d recommend buying puppy Nylabones or other teething toys for them to chew on. At night, let them sleep in a crate next to you and if they whine just ignore them until they settle down.
A lot of my foster dogs, having only lived in a shelter, have cried when being left in the crate. I googled “How to crate train” and found some great video tutorials on YouTube. Feeding your foster dog every meal inside their crate is crucial to help with this. Make them go in the crate, by pointing and saying “crate,” and then reward them with treats or food once they’re inside. If you want to leave the house, start by leaving for short amounts of time (15 minutes to start) and reward them with treats when you get home. High value treats (like hot dogs) and Kongs help too. I will usually freeze a kong with peanut butter and greek yogurt in it to give to my dogs before I leave the house. I also bought some video cameras that I use to watch my foster dogs while I’m gone. It gives me such peace of mind to see that they’re okay, or I know when it’s time to come home. 😉
How To Not Foster Fail
Just remember the job you’re doing! And, if you keep your foster, then it’s likely you won’t be able to foster more dogs. I almost kept my first foster. I had him for three weeks and giving him up seemed impossible. It felt like a death, I’m not going to lie. But then by my next foster I was fine and on to the next. Looking back I know I did the right thing and I’ve been able to foster so many more dogs since who have all been amazing dogs that I adored. It’s hard, but the good outweighs the bad, so just hang in there!
How do I foster?
To foster with Lucky Dog, you will need to fill out a volunteer application on their website. Once approved, you will begin receiving a weekly-ish email about dogs who are in need of a foster. The list will have the a photo, name, breed, weight, age, and other information like if they are good with dogs/cats/etc. If you see one you’d like to foster, then you sign up. I do full-time fostering which means you keep the dog as long as you can or until they get adopted, whichever comes first. Alternatively, you can do overnight fostering. I always suggest this if you want to try it out since you only have the dog (or cat) for one night. Typically, you will attend a “transport” on a Saturday, keep the dog overnight, and then bring them to an adoption event on Sunday. If you can stay and “handle” your pet at the event, even better! This really helps dogs get adopted faster since you know the most about your foster dog and can help them find the right home. Lucky Dog, and I’m sure other rescues are too, are very accommodating in the chance that you can’t bring your dog to an event, need to find coverage due to travel, or any other scheduling conflicts that might effect fostering.
Does Lucky Dog provide the dog food?
No, you will need to purchase this yourself but it is tax deductible!