Puppy…. Love?

Do you all remember my best friend Sarah and her first foster dog, Jack Rabbit? Well he got adopted after only two short weeks! Sarah very quickly got to experience the joy and heartbreak of getting a foster pet adopted. She, like me, missed her furry friend when he went to his forever home, but was excited to have her care free life back.

I was really proud of her when she started talking about fostering again (specifically I was happy that the first experience didn’t scare her away for good!). We talked a little bit about the next dog she would take, but then all of a sudden she texted me a photo of a puppy. I knew there was no way that Sarah in her right mind would agree to foster a puppy, so I asked what dog that was. Sure enough, she had volunteered to foster a three month old beagle mix from a West Virginia shelter that lost power during the hurricane.

After I did a quick mental check over to see if she’d totally lost her sanity, Sarah explained to me how she planned to handle said puppy. She has a very flexible work schedule and can even bring little dogs into work, so that covered the supervision issue. She immediately went to PetSmart and bought a whole bunch of puppy supplies including food, puppy pads and lots of chew toys, followed by her “puppy proofing” the apartment. She armed herself with lots of treats and a crate and set out to teach the puppy boundaries and manners. This time around, the puppy is not allowed on the bed and must sleep in his crate – two things Jack got away with.


She admitted to me that the first couple hours were extremely stressful, and she wasn’t sure if she could keep it up. I told her she’d had it easy with Jack because, in general, the first day or so of having a new dog is very full of, “Oh shit, what was I thinking?” thoughts.  But Sarah had a talk with her roommate, Natalie, and Natalie convinced Sarah to stick it out for a few more days, offering to help care for him. Together they would make it work and get him adopted.  Besides, after only a few hours of being in their apartment he began to settle down (and then bounce around, and then settle, and then bounce. . .).

To me their harebrained scheme sounds totally crazy – but they seem to be doing just fine so far.  The puppy’s name went from Spencer to Lincoln to I think they’ve settled on Sinatra, and he is happily living it up puppy-style in their apartment. I can almost surely say that Sarah will not be fostering a puppy again for a very long time, but for now she is learning what it takes to care for, teach and love a little wiggling three month old bundle of energy and fuzz. In her own words, he is “the love of her life and the bane of her existence.” Ah, puppies.

If you’re interested in adopting this sweet guy, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Jack Rabbit, Foster Teacher

I was thrilled when my best friend Sarah told me she decided she wanted to foster a dog. It would be an exciting experience, as Sarah’s never had a dog before.  She brought home her first Homeward Trails foster dog on Friday night!

Jack Rabbit is a whopping twenty pounds of all legs. At only about a year old, he seems to have his house manners perfected (he was adopted as a puppy and recently returned because of a divorce). I would honestly say he is close to ideal for a first time dog owner. House broken and crate trained, Jack minds his own business while he’s in the apartment and spends his time either sleeping or prancing around with a toy.

Because Sarah and I are so close and I’m the one with the doggy experience, I immediately assumed the role of FosterAunt. Like any good Auntie, I showed up to the first time meeting him with many gifts in hand: a kong, an antler, and a stuffed elephant. He loved all of them!  He actually plays with both by himself – especially the antler – keeping him busy for long periods of time.

Like with any new dog, Sarah and Jack are still getting to know each other. Sarah is eager to learn about caring for dogs so I am telling her everything I know about basic training, interpreting behavior, etiquette for meeting other dogs, etc. She’s being patient and understanding when working with him, and he is teaching her what it means to be responsible for something another living thing.

I’m sure he’s going to get scooped up in no time, and she’ll learn the bittersweet heartbreak of having to say goodbye. But then hopefully down the road she’ll get a new one, realizing again the satisfaction of saving a life and making a bond with a new dog.

For now, we’re all enjoying have a dog around again!


For a First Time Foster

For the longest time I was one of the only one of my friends to have a dog, but this weekend that changed. My best friend got approved to foster, and she brought her first dog home on Friday! My friend Sarah has never had a dog before, let alone a foster – so she is learning a LOT.  It’s almost hard for me to help her because there is just so much I want to explain to her.  So I turned to the real experts: you all! On the Peace, Love, & Fostering Facebook page I asked the question, “If you had to tell ONE thing to someone fostering/owning a dog for the first time, what would it be?” As I expected, you came up with thoughtful responses that were all great advice for a first time foster (or any dog owner, for that matter). Check out the wise words of wisdom:

–  Have patience. Lots and lots of patience. :)

– Patience.

– I recently fostered for the first time, an adult (not quite senior) male beagle. This is my advice: Don’t be surprised if it takes a dog a long time to get used to you. Some are shyer than others. Also don’t let the shyness fool you. :)

– It’s so worth it

–  Stay positive and give it time. Dogs are SO sensitive to negative energy; don’t get discouraged if things aren’t perfect right from the start. Give the dog time to settle in, and in the meantime, keep being kind and encouraging.

–  Educate yourself (with updated info) and learn as much as you can about dog body language and how they learn. It’ll come in very handy in helping you understand your dog/foster better.
–  Have patience! And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
– Read Patricia McConnell’s Love has No Age Limit. It breaks it down in an easy to digest way!
 
–  The anticipation of sending them off to their forever home is so much harder than the actual event.
– Patience!!!! It took mine 6 months before she would show her belly and truly be petted.. the first time she did I cried, I knew then she felt safe and loved. She was my foster failure! But my others were great and well worth it
– Exercise, exercise, exercise! A tired dog is a good dog :)
– Learn from your foster. Let them be themselves. My other foster failure.. Lol came to me from another foster home. They stated they cld not handle her. I got a 3 page letter about chaquita and not much of it was positive but I was going to let her, chaquita,.show me who she is. She was/is NOTHING like the dog described. She is my baby!!!
– Everyone is adjusting…not just you
– Routine and time. Dogs love routines, it will help them adjust and be less stressed. Also, it’s so tempting to get a new foster (or a new dog in general) and want to show them off and do everything and train everything. Don’t. They need time to just BE. Keep their world small for at least 2 weeks. Not too many visitors, not too much excitement, not too many road trips, etc. Let them learn to trust you (even if they are not a scaredy dog they need to learn to trust you!) and get used to their new environment.
 
– Don’t be afraid to stand up for your dog, even if it upsets other people. One of our dogs is reactive, and I needed to learn to give a firm NO to people who wanted to bring their dogs over for a greeting.
– You will sacrifice your time, your home,your health and your sanity and it will all be worth it.
– Training, training, training. And don’t be shy to ask for help if you’re not sure what to do next!
– Exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise body and exercise mind. Tired dogs aren’t worried or bored. A tired dog is a happy dog.
As you can see, there are a few recurring themes. I think it is pretty clear that one of your best resources as a foster home are the people around you who have done it before! I’m so lucky to have this community of support, and I’m also thrilled to be here for my friend as she begins on the journey.

This is Jack (also known as Jack Rabbit, JackJack, or Jack Kennedy). He is about one year old and twenty pounds of total mutt. Stop by tomorrow to learn more about him and how his first weekend went!