While It is noble, commendable and appreciated that you are considering becoming a temporary foster for DRC, we feel that it's important for you to understand the responsibilities involved with fostering a doodle. Once the initial emergency of saving a dogs life is past, fostering like adoption, requires a tremendous amount of time, commitment, patience, flexibility and tolerance among other things. Fostering is not always easy. We hope that if you decide to foster for DRC that you will be willing to work with the dogs in your care and not only help them find their way to their new forever homes, but help them to also become wonderful family members.

There are many reasons why a doodle ends up needing a new home. Some were purchased on a whim by people that didn’t understand the temperament and needs of the breed. Sometimes lifestyle changes such as job loss or divorce are a factor in a dogs re-homing. Other doodles lose their homes when their owners become too sick or elderly to provide them with the necessary care. Sometimes owners are forced to enter an assisted-living facility or they pass away.

Others are surrendered by people who just no longer want them. Regardless of the reasons why a doodle finds it's way into rescue, the care that the dog will require while in a transitional foster home can at times involve more than just the provision of basic food, water and shelter.

We are always looking for special loving foster homes and families that will provide not only the basics, but the extra care and attention that is sometimes necessary to ensure that the doodles in our program become better companions and ultimately find their way to new forever homes.

Fostering Puppy Mill Survivors

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why a doodle ends up in a shelter or needing a new home.

In the case of mill dogs, they have never had an actual home and are usually completely unfamiliar with human contact and life outside of their small cramped cages or enclosures. Many have never felt the ground or grass beneath their feet. Many suffer from muscle atrophy and have never actually used their legs to do anything but stand within the confines of their cages. Many have never walked at all and need to learn how.

Mill dogs are unfamiliar with human interaction, love, kindness, play, house manners etc. Many of these dogs were starved, physically abused, neglected and have had little or no veterinary care. They tend to be frightened, unsocialized, easily stressed and have difficulties with the concept of house training. Because of the lack of food available to them, many mill dogs have grown accustomed to eating their own feces and other non-edible substances just to fill their bellies.

Many puppy mill survivors are so completely terrified of humans and anything and everything in the outside world they are what we call "flight risks." This means they have a strong instinct to flee and hide from any unfamiliar and scary situation. There are precautionary measures that must be taken with puppy mill survivors to ensure their safety.

In most cases as a foster you will be providing these dogs with their very first experiences of life as a normal dog.

Whatever the reasons, some doodles do come into rescue with “baggage.” A foster home should be prepared for anything and have a basic understanding of the techniques used to help dogs in transition adjust.

What Will Be Expected of Me If I Decide to Foster for DRC?

Fostering can involve house-training and/or crate training as well as introducing some basic obedience. Some will require special care, such as medical attention and you may be asked to take the foster dog to scheduled veterinary appointments. It could require giving them medication at certain times of the day or perhaps bathing them periodically. They may need to increase their weight and/or strength. They may be fearful or timid and/or have other issues such as fear, chewing, jumping, resource guarding, submissive urination, and separation anxiety. They may be sad, mourning for a beloved owner. They may have suffered cruelty or indifference. It all depends upon the dog.

Fosters should be prepared to evaluate dog(s) recognize issues if they exist and address them accordingly. This is all achieved through confidence building exercises, positive reinforcement training, and by providing the unconditional love and affection required to ensure the emotional stability of the dog and facilitate the breaking of bad habits.

Here are some important things to consider before applying to be a foster home:

Make sure your entire family is in 100% agreement with the decision to bring a foster dog into your home and that they understand the responsibilities and possible problems that could occur while the dog is in your care.Will your spouse support your fostering? And will he or she pitch in to help? What about your kids? Will they pitch in? Will they be able to let their new furry friend go to their new home when the time comes?

Do you have the time to foster?

A rescued doodle will need love and attention – and patience – so be prepared for the time commitment involved.You may be asked to foster from two weeks to two months, depending on circumstances. Foster parents don't need to be home 24 hours a day, but you might have to postpone that weekend getaway or family vacation if you're serious about fostering.

If you have other pets, will they be accepting of the rescued doodle?

Some jealousy, "pack hierarchy" behavior and "posturing" can almost always be expected – are you prepared to deal with this?

Do you have a safe place to keep the rescue separate from the other animals in your home if necessary?

Your foster doodle may need an area where it can be quarantined from other pets for anywhere from a few days to a week depending on the dog and their origins. Typically, we like to give each rescue dog a day or 2 in a separate area to decompress before introductions are made to other dogs in the home.  This decompression time makes the transition into the foster home less traumatic and less frightening for your foster dog by allowing the dog time to become familiarized with all the new scents and sounds of a new environment without the over-stimulation that often comes with introductions to other resident dogs.  

Shelter dogs from unknown origins , puppy mill rescues and sadly, yes......even owner surrendered doodles, often come into the DRC Rescue Program with intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks and other forms of contagion or types of infections etc. that could possibly be passed on to your own animals, if proper precautions are not taken.

This is why it is critical to have your own, resident animals up to date on all vaccinations (rabies, DHPP, bordatella etc), and monthly flea and tick preventative if you are considering bringing foster doodles into your home.

Of course, your resident dog(s), should you have any, should be able to get along well with other dogs.

Do you agree with crate training?

You should be open to using a crate when you are not home or during the period of work on house-training as dogs will often find the crate to be a secure spot. If you have never utilized a crate, you will need to  familiarize yourself with crate training methods and how to properly use a crate with your foster doodle.

Do you have a nice white carpet?

Be aware that the many of the doodles that come into our program, are not completely house-trained and will require training in that area. They may soil your carpets and other flooring while in your care so be prepared to clean up messes.

Do you have age appropriate children? And are they respectful around pets?

Some dogs can easily be hurt by children who don’t know how to treat them, while other dogs can be over-enthusiastic around small children, and are capable of knocking kids over while attempting to play. For the safety of both the dog and the children, we are quite cautious about placing dogs with families that have children under 10 years of age and will generally not place foster dogs in homes with very young children.

Are you willing to accept a dog with some behavioral issues?

Some doodles have experienced emotional or physical trauma, while others have never received adequate socialization or training. Others have absolutely no issues. It depends on the dog and the circumstances.

Are you willing to surrender a dog to it's new forever home even after you have created a strong bond with that dog?

This is one of the most difficult aspects of being a foster caretaker, but it is inevitable. For many foster parents, the single biggest concern about fostering is falling in love. It takes a very special person to open their hearts to one of these dogs, to love and nurture them for a period of time, and then give them up when their new permanent home is found.

We won’t lie to you.There are usually some tears when your foster pet leaves but there is also an immense feeling of satisfaction. It is especially rewarding to get an update from the new home and hear them brag about the most wonderful dog in the whole world, and know that it was your love and care that helped to make them such a special pet. Keep in mind, that if you choose to adopt a doodle that you're fostering, you may be at your limit of household pets and consequently you may not be able to continue to foster other doodles in need.

When you foster a DRC doodle, you have the full support of the entire organization. We are always available to assist you and answer your questions and address your concerns at any time of the day or night. We in turn will rely on your experience and opinions when the time comes to select your foster doodle's new forever home. After all you know the dog, his or her issues, habits and personality best and we will always take your recommendations into consideration. DRC adopters and fosters alike become part of our BIG family so you will be able to stay in contact with your foster doodle's adoptive family and see that dog's progress.

Please remember, it takes two weeks to a month for a dog to adjust to a new environment and it may not always be practical or possible to move a dog to another foster home at a moment’s notice so you must be flexible.

Still ready to foster? We hope so! We may not be able to save every doodle in the world, but we do mean the world to the ones we do manage to save.

 

Thank You!

 

This article is the authored intellectual property of:

Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc.



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Replies to This Discussion

I think FLEXIBILITY is one of the biggest strengths of a foster family. The ability to pick up the phone and within hours be willing to accept a sad, homeless (probably very stinky) doodle who hasn't had human love in a while. As Victoria Stillwell so aptly put "His only thing he did wrong was to be born". You have to expect a foster dog will not be housebroken, may be intact and possibly even be in heat, may have never had a bath or grooming and may have gone a long time since he had the reassurance of steady meals. Many of these dogs don't even know what a home is like, so you need to have a crate and some kiddy gates ready to limit his roaming ability for his own safety. You need to be aware of his health needs and take him to the veterinarian on consultation with your area director.
The resilience of homeless dogs is phenomenal. Within 2 or 4 weeks of great foster care I've seen timid frightened babes as well as rowdy poorly mannered pooches grow into sweet adoptable doods. If only we humans were so resilient!

The reward of seeing the growth of your foster dog can be so invigorating. It is my hope that no foster home ever decides to adopt their foster dog. Adopting your fosterdog will often mean the end of using that foster home due to space and time limits. For a rescue group to lose one foster home that will prevent 10 or 12 homeless dogs from being brought into the program in one year alone!! Good foster homes are the lifeblood of our rescue program.
I think it's also important to realize that fostering is not a way to "test drive" a dog.

What Fostering Is Not
Some people view fostering as a trial period to determine whether they want to adopt a dog permanently. Some start out with the right intentions, but become too attached to the dog and are unable to give it up. Others are only willing to foster one particular dog that they already feel an attachment to. Some potential adopters think fostering is a good way to get a free dog, free vet care and supplies.
So how do you prevent yourself from becoming too attached? Don’t think of a foster dog as "mine." Each dog already belongs to someone else -- it just so happens that you haven't met that person yet. The dogs just stay with you until their special person is able to come and take them home. Another foster volunteer looks for minor, arbitrary faults in each new dog: "Oh, well, we don't need another male." "This one's nice, but we already have a white one." And of course the easiest way to keep from getting too attached is to remember that there is another dog that needs my help after this one goes home

Fostering is not a way to get a free dog. It is not a trial period before adoption. And it certainly isn't easy. Fostering is a way to help a dog that really needs you. At times, it's incredibly stressful. It requires dedication, hard work, serious time commitments, lots of stain remover, and -- above all -- an understanding of the purpose of the process. If you can't give your heart to a dog and then let it go when it doesn't need you anymore, you probably shouldn't get involved.

So what IS fostering? It's the most rewarding thing you ever do for a Doodle.

Ieed!  Fostering must be challenging at times.  These animals like children d idn't ask to be here.  We either conceived or in the case of dogs, or any other pet, we CHOSE them. 

they count on us to care for them like when they look up at you just to talk or listen.  It's heartbreaking that people are so indifferent to a dog's emotions-or even considering dogs have emotions.  Giving up a dog that you have bonded with has to be the hardest thing, however, to know that you have helped this dear creature get to the point of being adoptible and the joy it's new family will bring it and how it will bring joy and love to it's new family.

I will try to be the best I can be.  I like the idea in part of the application that you offer "counseling" if there is a problem. P,S, I would like to think of being a "foster-doodle-parent" as a bridge, like a rainbow.  kathy

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