Fostering

Beyond the goal of helping animals who are in need of critical care, there are countless animals at shelters across the country that will be euthanized if they are not taken into a family or fostered while a suitable family can be located. We have fostered before (although we are considered “failed fosters”) and for what it’s worth we have found it incredibly rewarding so if you have some extra time and space we highly recommend it.  If you talk to people who foster multiple dogs every year, they will tell you that saving a dog’s life is not an experience you will soon forget.

Here are our ideas for fostering at this point:

  • Make sure to have lots of videos and pictures; most fosters we have seen usually give one or two pictures. We think better back stories and videos of the pets when they are first rescued help remind people how much good they are doing by adopting the animal.
  • When fostering, have as many updates as possible throughout the fostering process. Most people just put up a description in the first couple of days and never update it. Information on how great the pet is to live with on a daily basis is helpful to prospective families.
  • If the animal is a special case, ask specialty sites to post the profile (e.g. site for deaf and blind dogs, etc.).
  • Use social media. Twitter, facebook, etc. The right animal has to be matched with the right family so a wide audience is ideal.
  • Again, very important, post as many pictures, videos, stories, and updates possible to enable the right home to find your foster dog. People often spend more time listing a used car than a dog. The more information you post, the faster you will find your foster dog a new home!

 

6/4/11

We just picked up a new foster dog today, and boy are we glad we did. Cosita is a real gem. She is extremely cute, loving, calm, and fun. She is one of the cutest dogs we have ever seen in fact. She is half chihuahua and half mutt, though her face almost looks like it is part Brussels Griffon. Cosita follows us around and we have only heard her bark once in four hours. We would be shocked if the first person who met her did not want to adopt her. Cosita loves to be held and to cuddle. She is mesmerized by Maverick and watches everything he does. She will be a real find for some lucky family. We fell in love with her the minute we met her and are already attached. We are fostering her for SFTH so please either email us or them to inquire about her. We would be absolutely shocked if she was not adopted within days (though we won’t be disappointed if she ends up living with us for a while).

6/5/11:

Follow up on Cosita: our first notes seem to be correct. She is as described, incredibly sweet and a great companion. She is coming out of her shell a bit but overall she is just super-attached to Jen. She follows Jen around everywhere and asks to be picked up incessantly. Not sure how this fostering thing is going to work if we keep falling in love with all of them. Once we start posting her online aggressively, she will be adopted quickly. She has no faults that we have noticed yet and even sleeps through the night already. If you want an amazing pet give us a shout about Cosita. Here are some pics of her first bath:

6/13/11

Cosita continues to become more comfortable in our house by the day and gets along well with Maverick, though she still is super attached to Jen. She still never barks and is hilarious and sweet at the same time. We have taken her to the vet twice now and were saddened when we figured out she had an unhealed broken leg. We noticed it a week ago and asked the vet to look at it. He said it was either a birth defect or she broke it and never got treatment. It makes us sick to our stomachs to think she might not have gotten treatment for a broken leg. We have to figure out long term if she will need surgery or what and will offer to endow her for her adoptive family so she gets to live the happy and healthy life she deserves. She becomes more a part of our family by the day so it is getting increasingly difficult to think of giving her up, but I am convinced it is the right thing to do. We are now witnessing first hand why fostering is so hard. We have thought about and are still thinking about fostering children, so I can now only imagine how difficult that is.

6/21/11:

Emergency situation: found male German Shepherd in Anniston, Alabama. The dog was left outside along with another small dog without any food or water. A family member of ours rounded them up, made flyers, and fed them. Nobody came to the dog’s rescue (not surprisingly) and though they have already found a home for the small dog the Shepherd still needs a home. He is maybe a purebred maybe not; we can’t tell yet but could be half something else. He has a great temperament, some cuts on his legs and some scratches under his neck. He is “playful,” “beautiful,” and has a great temperament. We are going to try to find him a home over the next few days or a foster, or we are going to try to pay a local human society to keep him until they or we find him a good home-he cannot stay at the house and medical clinic at which he was found forever. Look at the picture-he is a really great dog.

6/24/11

Well, we are continuing to learn just how hard it is to help foster and save dogs. This shepherd we are trying to find a home or rescue organization for seemingly has no takers even though we are offering to give a donation to cover the space, time, and money needed to hold onto him. He is a beautiful, purebred shepherd that is very sweet and playful. What else could you want in a dog? We have posted him on a couple of shepherd forums and emailed several local rescue organizations in Alabama. We have received no responses thus far. It is pretty disheartening, but we are going to make it happen! And, in case you are wondering, Cosita is still amazing. Jen says the only way we are going to give up Cosita is if I pry Cosita from her hands.

6/25/11

So, Cosita is still here and we are growing more attached. I mean this dog sits on Jen’s shoulder like a parrot. She is extremely sweet, well behaved, and nice. We have been surprised we haven’t been able to find a home yet. We are bringing her to a SFTH Boat Basin event tomorrow so we will see how that goes. Other than that, she is still a breath of fresh air.

 

 

 

 

6/26/11

We took Cosita to the SFTH Boat Basin event today in Manhattan. It was a fundraiser and adoption event of sorts so we thought we would take Cosita to show her off. She was a really big hit at the event and everyone stopped to say hello and many people were thinking of adopting her. The issue of course is that Jen (we) is having a difficult time thinking of giving her up. She does not need a lot of space, but she needs a lot of love. We have been asked to bring her back to the city on July 8th for an event where Broadway stars take adoptable dogs on stage with them and get them a lot of exposure. Jen’s face did not light up so much at this idea, and either did mine. Fostering is tough. What can I say-equal odds we end up keeping her. The issue will be that this will limit our ability to foster in the future, so I am still hoping we find her an amazing home.

6/27/11:

So, after several days of posts on various websites and emailing back and forth with rescue groups and shelters, a new home has been found for the Shepherd we were helping place at a home near the clinic he was found. The very nice man loves Shepherds and has already named him Max, who is already very fond of his new owner. The clinic treated and neutered him and now Max is on to start his great new life with his kind new father. Hooray for Max!

7/18/11

Well, we wanted to put an update on here about Cosita. We have written a few posts about adoption events we have done with her in New York in our posts section under the Mav’s Friends header. The short of it is that everyone who sees her stops and fawns over her and says they are going to put in an application and then don’t for one reason or another. It is quite shocking in fact given how many dogs are sold for $2,000 a day in NYC pet stores and this dog is nearly free and is truly a gem. Fosterland is tough. It is quite frustrating because you take care of a dog you fall in love with and for whom you want to find a great home yet you feel badly about not keeping her yourself. It is very time consuming to go to adoption events and post information about her but well worth the time if we find her a great home. Although we are determined to finder her a home so that we can keep fostering other dogs, it is becoming increasingly likely Cosita becomes a permanent fixture in our home.

Regardless of how this plays out, we are going to do our best to make sure Cosita has a great life whether with us or others. She is actually the perfect first foster experience because she is coloring our views on rescuing. If a 7 month old, 8lb, gorgeous and well-behaved puppy cannot find a home in a reasonable amount of time, then the average foster dog must be kept for quite a while. I don’t have the stats, but we suspect that many fosters end up just fostering once and keeping the dogs they are fostering. This makes sense intuitively. It would be much easier if you were able to find a dog a home in a short period of time, but every day you become more attached.

We have been fortunate to have several amazing learning experiences so far and are very happy we didn’t file to be a charity upfront because our plans are surely changing. We still want to help pay for dogs in need of medical care but where we have changed most is our desire to commit more energy and resources to figuring out a national spaying and neutering solution.

8/16/11

Well, in what may not be a surprise to the two or three people who have read this blog we officially decided that Cosita was off the adoption market. Apparently, this was entirely predictable to those that know us. We love Cosita and loved her from day one, as we would any dog, but we resolved to find her a home so we could continue to foster other dogs. The issue was that the longer we had her the more integrated she became in our family and the harder it seemed to give her up. We were prepared for this from the start, but there were a couple of things we did not think through as well: 1) when fostering a puppy, they imprint on you (in this case, more Jen than me) and 2) when a dog has been abused or neglected, you may become even more protective of them.

We do not know what happened to Cosita in her early days but she has what our vet thinks is a badly healed broken bone on her left leg that makes her walk funny. We will know more when we have her x-rayed during her spaying but we had been nervous from the beginning that the new owner might not have the means long term to take care of this. It is the kind of thing that you can delay and not do anything for but the best solution for her might be prohibitively expensive for many. When we took her to adoption events, we became extremely protective of her and it did not appear that we really wanted to let her go. We felt she had such a poor start to her life that we just wanted to make sure that the person who took her in would make sure she never had a bad day again. I am sure almost everyone who was at these events would have been great parents, but you can never be sure. We even thought of asking the rescue organization we volunteer for to see  if we could microchip her with our information so that we have peace of mind that she would never end up in a shelter.

Cosita imprinted on Jen from day one and follows her around like a duck. She now even follows Maverick around the backyard and pretty much everywhere he goes as well. It seemed like an awful lot to do to her to make her leave her first family, then become part of our family, and then give her up again. Dogs are very resilient so we could theoretically have gotten over this hurdle, but it was extremely tough given there is no reason we cannot have two dogs and still foster others. She is just so great and fits in so well with our family that at a point it became why should we be asking other people to adopt her when we were capable ourselves? Our answer had been that we wanted to continue to foster but we concluded that we can still foster while having her and Maverick in our lives. Granted, it will be harder, but still very doable. In the end, the simple fact of the matter was we became extremely attached to Cosita, and it is impossible to give up part of your family.

Our friends tell us it was obvious from day one that we were never giving her up and perhaps it was, but it was not obvious to me. We knew fostering would be extremely tough but we did not realize it would be this tough. Our game plan is to continue to foster but not to do a puppy ideally and to try to more firmly get in our heads that we are going to have to be willing to find her or him a new family. Who knows, it may just mean that we end up with three dogs which would be a good result except for then we would really have trouble fostering. Stay tuned, I think it would be extremely difficult to have more than three dogs living with us given we work full-time so hopefully the fostering process works better for us next time. We knew from the beginning this would be a learning process but have even more respect that we already have for all the people out there who have added so much value to the world by fostering numerous animals.

8/27/11

So, in what will likely be one of the last posts about Cosita in the fostering section, we wanted to write that we just recently got Cosita back from getting spayed, microchipped, and x-rayed. She is doing well but we are pretty upset by the x-ray results. Her leg basically did not grow right as a result of an untreated broken leg when she was a puppy. She walks up stairs and runs mostly on three paws and although she is a trooper we can’t help but feel for her for all the pain she has gone through and the fact she has to suffer through her leg. We asked the vet to call an orthopedic specialist with the x-ray to make sure there is nothing we can do for her but he said it was very unlikely. The only thing you might do he said would be to re-break the leg which is unnecessary and would be risky and painful for her. We will wait to hear back from the specialist but as for now we are happy she is back home from surgery and she went through hopefully her last bit of pain for quite some time.

9/5/11

We were speaking with someone about fostering and told them about our experience with Cosita and they remarked at how common it is for fosters to keep the dogs they are fostering. They told us of a rescue group they know of that makes fosters agree to not keeping any of the first three dogs they foster. It seems like a very smart idea. Obviously, if you really put up a fight, I am sure the organization would let you keep any dog you fostered. However, what is intelligent about it is that if you foster and get in your head you are contractually obligated not to keep your foster dog, I imagine it makes you attach yourselves less to the dog and thus makes it easier to give them up. This seems intelligent as it alleviates the feeling you have while fostering where you feel like you owe it to the dog to keep him or her. If the organization tells you that you aren’t able to keep the dog, it follows that your state of mind might turn from “I have room in my home for this pup and he or she is in need so I am going to adopt them and care for them” to “I am helping this dog and the head of this pet rescue group has told me I cannot keep them, so I need to follow their rules and give them up to a great new family.” I am going to try and follow up with this group and see how this policy has worked over time.

9/17/11

An orthopedic specialist for dogs has recommended that Cosita get surgery on her leg. We are still doing work on understanding everything right now and are in the process of getting a second opinion but the surgery is far from a no-brainer and our vet thinks we should not put her through it given she is in no pain now and can run around fine on it. The surgeon’s point of view is she is likely to need it ultimately and she has the best chance of healing well while she is young. We have been reading around on the surgery and it is very tough for us to put her through it as she has already had so much pain in her life. The recovery time is well over six months and she will be cage bound for at least a few. We will do it if we can get comfort it is the best thing for her obviously, but we are right down the middle on it right now. We really want to find out what the downside to not doing it right now is-is it that she gets it in a few years and the prognosis is slightly worse or is it that the leg will become more misshapen and it won’t work down the road? Also, is it possible that the best thing for her is to let her live a normal life now and maybe someday she needs to have it amputated but that will be less painful for her than going through having metal plates put in her leg? The problems of the surgery is that it is very painful and there is maybe a 20% chance she will be worse off afterwards from a functionality standpoint, not to mention she will likely be in more pain by definition as she is in no pain now. We are glad we have the opportunity to spend some time and figure this out as the decision doesn’t need to be made today, but what a tough decision. If you have ever gone through such a decision for your dog we would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Update

So, we decided not to do it in the end and over time her leg has started to get stronger and she actually almost never limps, maybe once every six months. It appears for now it was the right choice. Did I mention how fast she is?

“If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat.” ~Anonymous

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