On Sunday, April 15th, Middle Tennessee Golden Retriever Rescue held a seminar here at The Farm on everything you need to know about fostering a rescue dog. Here is some of the things the organization taught us:
Why is fostering the “lifeline of the rescue?”
MTGRR and other organizations are always taking dogs who will need new forever homes. However, it is difficult to adopt a dog out immediately, and thus it is important to have a foster home for several reasons:
- The foster family will be able to discover vital information about a dog: their favorite things, their bad habits, how they get along with other dogs, with cats, and with children, etc… This information is important in getting a dog adopted and letting the adopting family know what to expect from the dog so that a good match can be made.
- The foster family can begin to acclimate a dog toward a more normal lifestyle. For example, some puppy mill dogs have never even seen grass.
- The foster family can also do some basic training to correct issues such as housebreaking and walking on a leash to make a dog more adoptable.
Why foster instead of adopt?
In addition to the great need for foster homes, fostering has several benefits over adopting.
- A foster dog will have all expenses provided for, from food and medication to vet care and supplies like crates to sleep in.
- Fostering does not require a lengthy commitment. If you can keep a dog for even just one week, you can help!
- You will not be responsible for transporting the dog at all, unless there is a medical emergency.
- MGTRR will work with you on your availability. If you need to go out of town for a couple of days, they will arrange for the dog to be taken care of while you are gone.
- MGTRR can match a dog to your circumstances and experience: usually they will start you out with an “easy” senior dog and later on you can work towards more “difficult” dogs. If a dog doesn’t work out, they will immediately take the dog back.
- It is very rewarding to watch a dog go from unwanted and abandoned to loved and cared for. You will often see a dog blossom with just a little bit of attention from you and, if you have other dogs, you may see them learn to trust and play when they have never done so before.
- Each dog can bring unique challenges and experiences. The rescue organization will always work with you and help out when any challenge arises.
What kinds of dogs need fostering?
There are many reasons for a dog to end up needing a home, and a foster home in the meantime. Some dogs are the result of puppy mills; others are surrendered because they had behavior issues their family could not work with; sometimes a family must surrender a dog due to financial issues; some dogs are found as strays.
Sometimes MGTRR has puppies that need homes (which are the most challenging to foster) but more frequently they need fostering for older dogs, sometimes even senior dogs. Most senior dogs are easy to keep, although some do have medical issues or special needs. Also, not all dogs that go through the agency are Goldens–some are Golden mixes or other breeds.
What is the process for getting started with fostering?
- Go to MTGRR’s website and go through the normal adoption application process, but while going through the questions as normal, note that you want to foster instead of adopt.
- MTGRR will set up a home visit with you and your family.
- MTGRR will, if you have pets currently, check with your vet on vaccinations and get a reference from them.
- You will then be notified of your eligibility to foster.
Once you have been approved
- MGTRR will match you with a dog that meets your lifestyle and experience.
- The dog will be transported by a volunteer to the vet, where the dog will have a checkup, receive vaccinations, flea preventative, heartworm, and, if requested, be cat-tested.
- The dog will then be transported to your home, where you will be able to introduce the dog to your home, family, a nd other dogs.
Responsibilities while fostering
- You will be asked to write a bio: what does this dog do? (good and bad) to help the dog find a good fit for a permanent home.
- Stay in touch w/rescue to know how dog doing via email (usually daily).
- Take pictures of the dog, which is very important for adopters. MTGRR can have professionals take photos if you can’t get a shot.
- You will be the dog’s “groomer, trainer (basic obedience, or working with issues from neglected or abused dogs), walker, pill-giver or medication administrator (i.e. ear infections), possible housetrainer, feces inspector, feeder, and toy referree.”
Introducing the dog to your home (if you have other dogs)
- Older dogs are easier to introduce to each other
- Bring both dogs on leash to your yard, let them sniff, watch for cues
- Take it slow. Walk around your yard together. Introduce your dogs to the new dog one at a time. Keep the new dog on leash most of the first night to help establish rules. -OR-
- Another option: keep dogs in separate areas and remove barriers as time progresses
- Crating may help with the process. The rescue has crates available for this.
Now that you are informed about all the aspects of fostering, if you are set up for it, please consider integrating foster dogs into your life!