So, you’re thinking about becoming a foster?! That’s great! Your primary role as a foster is to be a loving and patient caretaker while your foster dog acclimates to a loving home! Your other “job” is to learn all about the dog’s personality, behaviors, likes, dislikes to help us find a great adopter. Sometimes, we will ask fosters to review an adoption application or speak with a prospective adoptive family.
FOSTER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What does it mean to “foster a dog”?
A: Becoming a foster to one of our dogs means opening your home and heart to a dog in need while he/she awaits adoption. You provide daily care, love, and attention. We also rely on our fosters to help us learn the dog’s personality, which helps us ensure the dog finds a great adoptive match.
Q: Why should I become a foster?
A: Fostering is such a rewarding experience. You get the experience of rescuing a dog and helping it to have a second chance at a better life, without the long-term commitment of adoption. Foster families play a vital role in rescue, especially for foster based rescues like us! Shelters can be very stressful and scary places for dogs and fostering allows the dog to learn how to be a good pet in a normal home environment. Dogs in foster homes get to meet new people (maybe even potential adopters or future fosters!).
Q: You mentioned a “foster based rescue” – what does that mean?
A: A foster based rescue relies solely on fosters to save dogs. We do not have a brick-and-mortar location and the more active fosters we have, the more dogs we can save from high kill shelters. When we don’t have enough fosters, our dogs have to go to boarding. Boarding costs quickly add up for the rescue and boarding also can be very stressful for the dogs.
Q: How long will I have my foster dog?
A: Fostering can last as long as you’re able and willing. It could be a matter of weeks or months. Any amount of time you’re able to commit is helpful, and we ask that you be up front with us about the length of time you think you can handle. Again, please keep in mind that we are foster based and we may need a few days to find another foster or secure boarding if you’re fostering journey must end.
Q: What supplies do I need? What does the rescue provide?
A: We typically like to place our dogs in homes with fully fenced yards, but we have had successful placements without fenced yards. The rescue will provide food, leash, collar, and a crate, as well as covering any medical expenses that may be incurred. We will also provide monthly heartworm and flea/tick prevention. Occasionally, we will ask that the fosters help transport the dog to an appointment.
Q: Will the foster dog be house trained and happy and sociable?
A: The short answer is it’s typically an educated guess. It’s often that we don’t have any background on the dogs that come to us. They could have been strays or owner surrenders, and even then, the shelters we take dogs from don’t have a lot of info. We learn the most about the dogs when they are in foster homes! We encourage you to figure out your true deal breakers and the things you’re willing to work with. Maybe you need a dog that’s absolutely good with cats, but you’re willing to work on house training. We ask that you please be up front with your deal breakers.
As far as house training, we always expect even house-trained dogs to have accidents when they go into a new environment. The key is to be patient and try not to get too upset if the dog has an accident on the floor in the first few days. If possible, place them outside immediately after the accident and tell them “go potty outside”. It’s even helpful to go outside with them and say “go potty” – or something similar – and then praising them like crazy when they do go potty outside. You may even give them a little treat right after they do their business!
Q: Is it hard to say “goodbye” when the dog goes to their new family?
A: You may very well get attached to your foster dog. Often, saying goodbye to your foster is a bittersweet feeling. Remind yourself of the vital role you played in saving that dog’s life and that the new family will love the dog just as much as you do. We’ve had many fosters and adoptive families stay in touch and random text messages from the adoptive family with “pup-dates” are always exciting!
Q: Ok, I want to give it a try! How do I get started?
A: Visit our website and fill out the foster application (under the Forms tab). Email the completed application with photos of your yard and house to email@example.com. Once your application is screened, a volunteer will reach out to you for a home visit. We can often do this virtually via Zoom. After that, we will add you to our private Facebook group for fosters. When we have a dog in need of a foster, we will post their first with as much information as we currently have about that dog. If you’re willing to foster that dog, comment on the post and we’ll work to arrange transport to you.
Common words or phrases:
Transport: When a rescue group brings dogs from outside their area. This can be by car, but often times, it’s by plane. There is an amazing organization that we work with called Pilots N Paws and pilots volunteer their time and their own planes to help us transport dogs!
Foster-to-Adopt: Fostering for a set period of time (usually about 2 weeks) until you officially adopt.
UTD: Up-to-date (on vaccinations)
High-value: Something the dog wants and is very motivating. For a lot of dogs, this could be treats or toys. This is great for training, but could make the dog guard it since it’s so special to them. Be careful if taking a high-value item away from a dog (consider trading for other treats or taking it away when the dog isn’t looking).
Resource guard: a dog may protect things that it finds valuable. It could be food, bowls, toys, bones, beds, or even people. It is important not to push a dog that growls or acts defensive, and instead trade for something else motivating to the dog (like a piece of deli meat or cheese) and remove the item when the dog is distracted and at a safe distance.
Separation anxiety: when a dog gets nervous about being left alone, it may bark, cry, whine, dig, etc. There are many ways to work on this with your foster dog!
Decompression: a period of time where a dog may still be sleeping off the stress of the shelter or acting up with the change of entering a new home
“Foster Fail”: someone who intended to just foster but ends up adopting their foster dog. By the way, we don’t see this as a “fail” because it resulted in the dog ending up in a great home and you saved a life! We also tell people to think about all the lives they could save by continuing to foster!