Thinking of Fostering?
I have always grown up with dogs. When I was a little girl my family raised hunting dogs. We had German shorthair pointers, Vizslas, English setters, and Labrador retrievers. My favorites were the Labrador retrievers. I loved that laid back personality and their eagerness to please their owners. So, when I got married it was natural that I wanted a dog. I knew I wanted a purebred. I chose a chocolate lab which we then named Kayla. If you ask my family what Kayla was like they will more than likely describe her as the perfect dog. For fifteen years Kayla was the best companion, hunting dog, and the best big sister to my girls that there ever was. When Kayla passed away it would be a long time before another dog would touch our lives the way she did. That is until my girls, Cari and Jamie started volunteering at Foothills Animal Rescue. Cari and Jamie have been wanting a dog for awhile and finally my husband agreed to a foster dog. It became part of their Christmas present complete with a contract signed by both girls and dad. So, off to the shelter we went.
Sadie was our first foster dog. She was a three year old basenji mix. Sadie was a very sweet dog. She was energetic and affectionate. However, when she went to the adoption events she was very nervous and acted well, a bit crazy. So, it would be awhile before Sadie would be adopted. Sadie stayed with us for about four months until she was adopted. I have to say that it was probably the toughest when Sadie left. Partly because she was our first foster, the first dog to come into our home since Kayla, and she had stayed with us for so long but when I met Sadie’s future parents I knew it was a good match. They understood her and would provide a good home for her. All of the things that I wanted for her.
Then entered Wilson, a four year Golden retriever/Pyrenees mix. I love big dogs, so Wilson and I bonded immediately. He was a big fluff ball with the most love able personality. However, he had very bad hips. A degenerative hip problem to be exact and because of it, Wilson was not expected to live a long life. So, it would take a very special person to adopt Wilson. Someone who would be willing to help with his medical conditions and just spoil him rotten. Once again a special person from Colorado, the perfect place for this fluff ball, would step up and offer to give this fella a home.
After Wilson, we thought we would take a break from fostering for a short time. That lasted about a month. Eddie from Foothills called and said they had a special dog that they really needed to put in a foster home. This special dog was Lenny a three year Labrador retriever mix. With some prodding from Jamie, we decided to take Lenny in. Lenny had been abused before he was rescued by FAR. He had a broken front leg that had not been set and therefore caused him to limp, and he definitely had some trust issues. He was a very mild mannered dog but he definitely did things his way. Lenny needed to know that people could be trusted. He spent nine months at the shelter and another two months with us learning that. It was great to see this boy turn around. He eventually would greet us at the door with his wagging tail. He loved to go for walks and chase the bunnies out of our backyard. Again a special family would be needed to adopt Lenny and that is just what happened. Steve and Cindy seem to understand Lenny’s history and Lenny seemed to be taken by their daughter. He was showing off like I had never seen him before for her.
When people hear we have taken in a foster dogs they will ask us how we do it, then they often say “I couldn’t do that. It would be too hard to let them go.” I do agree it is hard to let them go. Sadie, Wilson, and Lenny have become part of our family and will have a special place in our hearts but when you meet the families who are willing to give these special dogs a home you know it is the right thing to do. You get this sense that they will love them just as much as we have. I have always thought I would only own purebred dogs but these special dogs that have not always had the best experiences in life have changed that. They have shown me and my family love and that people are good by nature.
FOSTERING: A “PRICELESS” & REWARDING EXPERIENCE
The opportunity to foster a cat or a dog provides much joy and satisfaction to both the foster family and the animal. Foster families are a very important part of a FAR’s role in saving cats and dogs and helping to place the animal in its new ‘forever’ home.
Foster families begin the process by welcoming the scared and abandoned pet into their home after FAR has rescued and evaluated the animal. The animal becomes part of the family until he or she is adopted. Spending time loving, training, playing, and nurturing the animal helps them to develop valuable social skills making him or her, a more desirable pet. It is such a rewarding feeling to see a dog grow to overcome social and behavioral setbacks and know that you have personally succeeded in correcting the problem. Usually the issues are fairly easy to work on. Examples include: inability to walk on a leash, food aggression, diet issues, socialization, manners, and feeling ‘safe’ with the people they are with.
If the foster family has children or other pets, an introduction with the prospective foster animal is necessary in order to make sure everyone gets along. The dog’s age, health, and breed play a significant role in the length of time a foster animal is with the foster family. Usually the best source of information about the animal’s temperament and character comes from the foster family, so it aids in the adoption process.
Many people have asked, “How can you give up the foster pet after bonding with it? Don’t you get attached?” Of course you do, but the benefits of knowing you have helped the pet far outweigh feeling sad that it is gone. Really, it is much easier to foster an animal than you think and it does become easier over time. Our family has taken much pride in all the dogs we have fostered. We know that we played a very important role in improving the dogs’ lives and we are confident that they are providing their ‘forever’ families much love and friendship. Our personal dogs have had fun teaching the ‘rules of the house’ and playing with our special guests. And more often than not, the new family keeps you and FAR updated with pictures and stories of the dog’s progress.
Fostering a pet is a wonderful way to donate your time and help FAR rescue more dogs and cats. It is also a great opportunity to ‘sample’ different breeds and to experience caring for a pet if you are not quite ready to commit to owning one yet. The happiness of fostering and nurturing an unwanted cat or dog into a well-behaved, happy, and lovable pet is truly “priceless”!
We rescued Wilson, a beautiful Golden Retriever/mix by pulling him from the Maricopa County facility in late February. Unfortunately for Wilson, as in the case with rescue animals, looks can sometimes deceive. Wilson was a bit cranky around other dogs . Although he was sweet with people, his constant barking at other dogs did not help him to get adopted.We also noticed that he lacked strength in his back legs and did not run or appear to be active like your typical Golden. We had him examined by our vet and the results were not what we wanted to hear – he was suffering from a congenital myopathy – even though he was only four years old. We were informed that in his later years, he would slowly use the use of his legs. Although the prednisone we treated him with was working, we knew the advice we were going to get, and that would be to put him to sleep.
Spending time with him led me to a friend he could spend time with, my dog Elvis. For reasons I can’t explain, Elvis has a calming influence on hyper and indifferent dogs. We went on walks together and I brought him to the park so he and Elvis could run around. Fortunately for us, a volunteer family stepped up and took him while we could explore other options for him. Our prayers were answered in late April when I received an email from a woman in Akron, CO (one hour north of Denver). It turns out she had been following Wilson and she said to me and I quote, “I have four acres of property and I love him so much, I would like for him to retire at my home.” Well, that was all I needed to needed to hear. After receiving a ringing endorsement from the Golden Rescue of the Rockies, the last challenge was getting Wilson to Colorado.
I loaded up the car with Wilson and Elvis and headed east. We met in Albuquerque on a sunny Sunday afternoon and it was love at first sight! Chris is a great lady who really cares for dogs. At the time of writing this story, he is been running and playing like a normal dog and living life to the fullest. In my time involved with animal rescue, I have seen many come and go, not just through Foothills but from other rescues. I learned a very valuable lesson here as well. When things appear to be approaching a dead end, there is always hope for all rescue animals……
By Eddie Nichols, Foothills Animal Rescue