I don’t read much of Cesar Millan’s stuff these days; but every now and again when something comes along that is of use, I like to pass it along.
I do transport for the rescue of dogs (primarily). I have 2 foster failures which is not unheard of in this field lol.
If you are wanting to foster but are unsure how to go about it, Cesar’s article will help you.
Fostering is a wonderful thing that saves dogs’ lives. It gets them out of shelters and into human packs, where they can receive the rehabilitation necessary to make them adoptable.
However, fostering comes not only with the responsibility of caring for the dog, but the necessity of eventually giving up the dog when it finds its forever home. Attachment can make this process difficult. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the process easier.
- Start before you even foster
When selecting a foster dog, don’t pick the one that you think is the cutest and ideal for your family. Pick the dog that you wouldn’t necessarily want to keep long-term. For example, if you don’t like tiny dogs, consider a Chihuahua or Yorkie. If you don’t think you’d have the resources to care for a handicapped dog for life, then find that dog who’s blind or deaf, or is missing a limb.
This will make it easier for you to adjust to the temporary status of the foster dog, but it will also be an educational process. As Cesar says, “You don’t always get the dog you want. You get the dog you need.” If nothing else, it will allow you to experience types of dogs you would never normally adopt, and to learn even more about dog behavior.
- Assist in the adoption process
Find out whether your foster program will let you help out in finding that forever home. This can range from documenting your dog’s behavior and personality for future owners to locating and interviewing potential owners themselves.
This will help you be more confident in letting go because you’ll have a stake in the process, and you can assure yourself that you’ve found the right home for your foster.
- Ask for progress reports from the new family
You can continue to take part in your foster dog’s life with photos and stories from her new family, and the Internet makes distance irrelevant. Many shelters ask this of people who adopt dogs from them, largely as a way to keep their staff positive about seeing dogs they’ve gotten to know be adopted.
If distance permits, you could even consider having regular playdates with your current foster (and permanent pack) and adopted past fosters, as long as the new owners are agreeable.
- Celebrate the adoption
Don’t think of giving up your foster to adoption as losing a dog. Think of it as a dog gaining a permanent home. It should be a cause for celebration because you have helped to save a life. Treat yourself and the dog to a fancy meal, go out to your favorite dog park, or invite friends and their dogs over for a party…
However you choose to celebrate, focus on the positive and make the adoption a source of good memories. Document your time with each foster with photos and stories and keep a scrapbook of your successes.
- Foster again
The best part about fostering dogs is that there will always be dogs to foster, and the best way to celebrate one dog leaving your life is to save the life of another. And another. With each foster that you help place in a loving home, it becomes easier to say good-bye. With each new foster, you have another chance to get to know a new dog and help him on the way to his forever home.
During the process, always keep in mind what fostering is. As Amy Romanofsky at FosterDogs.com puts it, “I never think of a foster dog as ‘mine.’ Each dog already belongs to someone else — it just so happens that I haven’t met that person yet.”
But, when you and your foster dog do meet that person, take comfort in knowing that you had a large part in making it happen, and preventing the unthinkable alternative.
Never fostered a dog before? You’re really missing out! See here the top seven reasons to foster a dog.
a super cute puppy, kitten, young adult cat or dog as a present. So often, pet stores have rabbits, hamsters, kittens, puppies for sale and we feel that this should be changed!
See we have so many animals in our shelters, just wanting to be loved and in their fur-ever homes. That when the Holiday season approaches, people seem to think that giving a pet is “the” best gift! It isn’t, it is called Impulse shopping and the animal is what pays the price when the one it is intended for gets bored and decides to return it from where it was purchased or dropped off at the local SPCA or animal shelter, where the “hope” is it will get adopted or rescued. Not thinking of the very likely and real chance that their once present, is now on death row waiting to be euthanized.
If you still need a reality check, take a look at the information below:
- Animal shelters experience a spike in animal surrenders right after the Holiday is over.
- The one presented with the “gift” didn’t want an extra commitment (average 15 years) in an already-busy life, or a household member had an allergy where short-term exposure was not problematic, but the person could not live with a pet.
- Some children, especially those not exposed to animals previously, became frightened of the strange new creature, and in turn spooked pet, which created an air of distrust for all involved. Although the previous guardian’s paperwork might say that the pet was good with their kids, their actual socialization might not have included what the next child wanted from a pet when they begged for a live Christmas present (playing dress-up, putting in a stroller, etc.).
- Resident animals in the home also got the short end of the stick. If any significant holiday activity was going on in the home, i.e., family staying over, holiday parties, etc., resident pets (especially cats) were already having tough time adapting their sense of “stable-sameness” to the unusual activities. Now throw in another animal, especially of the same species, and—more often than not—disaster is imminent. Once again, the paperwork at the shelter may have assured the adoptive family that the new pet would play well with others, but this assumes ideal conditions, which the holidays do not provide.
Now that we’ve outlined the reasons why you shouldn’t surprise family and other loved ones with animals as gifts, there are ways to bring four-legged love home for the holidays without such risk.
Many animal shelters have gift certificates you can buy to place in a box instead of an animal. (You won’t have to poke air holes in the box either!) These generally cover the cost of adoption, and you may be able to add the cost of basic supplies such as a collar, leash, brush, bowl, or litterbox. If your local shelter doesn’t offer gift certificates, make one yourself. That way, the next day or next week, you and your loved one can find the perfect new companion.
Nowadays, many shelters have websites with pictures of their adoptable animals, so the whole family can go online and check out the choices. (Check out Petfinder.com, where you can search all shelters in your area.) There is also empowerment in a child in going to a shelter and picking out his or her own companion. It’s also a perfect time to let them know that caring for a living thing requires responsibility. It’s never too early to instill the concept of stewardship.
It is essential to introduce everyone who lives in the home, from children to housemates to other pets, to the new pet before adoption. In fact, many shelters require this. There’s nothing to lose, but important lessons to gain. For instance, the adoptive family may discover that the dog requires a bit more training in the “down-stay” so that he or she doesn’t relentlessly pursue the new addition. A housemate’s allergy may or may not act up in the presence of specific animals. (See our articles about setting up a “base camp,” cat-to-cat introductions, and cat-to-dog introductions.)
Remember, no surprises are good surprises when it comes to animals this holiday season. Have a great one, and congratulations to all of you who will adopt and bring a homeless pet into your heart and home!