Sunday, November 10, 2013

Some of my fostering experience....

I have talked to so many people about fostering a homeless basset hound. Some people can’t do it because of their living arrangements. Some people can’t do it because of their family situation. What I hear most of all is “I could never foster a dog and then give them to someone else.” or “I would have to adopt them all”. That is exactly what I thought when John and I started talking about fostering. What I’ve learned over the past year and a half is that you really don’t want to keep them all. What you want is for all of them to find good, stable forever homes.

Our foster experience started with a phone call from Shelly Gordon asking us to “babysit” a dog for two weeks. There were a few dogs that ABC brought up to NY for the adoption event at last year’s Spring Basset Blast and they didn’t have any place to go for two weeks. We took home our first foster, Claude, whom we renamed Claudius to better represent his size. He was a beast of a basset weighing in around 85 lbs. John fell in love with Claudius after about two days, but I was weary of his aggression toward our two cats (Bleu and Chaz). In the end, we had to pick our cats, which have been part of our family much longer than Claudius.

When we arrived at the Spring Basset Blast with Claudius there was an adopter waiting on him. He met him. Talked to us a little about him and decided that he was the dog for him. John gave Claudius what we lovingly call “the talk” where John explains to our foster that they shouldn’t  “embarrass the family”. We gave him hugs and kisses and walked away…crying and a little lost.  We were sad to see him go, but we knew that he would have a better life in a house without cats. It is a little bit sad that we don’t have contact with Claudius’s new family, but we’ve heard that he is doing well and attending a lot of mudding truck events.

After this experience, John and I realized that although we were sad about Claudius not being able to stay with us …we were happy that he found a good home. It made us realize that we could help other hounds by just giving them a home to stay in for a while, a couch to sleep on, some food, some love and attention. Most of those things we already had and the other things we just share from what we have for our other dogs and they don’t seem to mind all that much.

Since Claudius we have had 8 additional foster dogs. Each one of them has their own story and are special in their own way.

Penn is our “Famous Foster” as his adoption story made it to the Buffalo News.

Remus is “my little Peanut” who was adopted before we even had him in our house.

Gump was John’s first intake, well before he was our Intake Coordinator, and our first puppy (which convinced John a puppy is NOT for us).

Billie, or Pumpkin, as we call her is our “foster failure”…sometimes a dog comes to you as a foster and doesn’t ever leave.

Flash was our challenging foster as him and our Cooper did NOT get along at all.

Then we fostered Polly. She is a senior basset who flew in with Pilots for Paws and took awhile to adjust to our home.

Siphera was John's favorite foster and our most heart wrenching story. She ended up having 4 dental surgeries before the issue was completely gone. None of it seemed to phase her at all.

Lunchbox "The boxman" was our shortest week of him trying to eat Charlie. He also had the coolest name of the group.

One of the best things in the world was having Gump jump up on the table John was sitting at during The Basset Blast this April. He knew who we were and wanted to see both John and I. We cried almost as much as when he left our care at the adoption event where he found his forever home. Seeing Siphera (Sophie) at Droolfest was also an amazing feeling. I didn't even know she was there until she walked up to me. I petted her and she gave me the kisses that I had missed so much. I finally got to meet her mom, Kathy, who was/is great at sending us updates on her progress. She got to see John too and he cried when she ran right up to him then she peed on his cooler and he couldn't even be mad. You get a real sense of accomplishment when you see your foster again….”I was a part of that dog finding his/her forever home”. You get a sense of joy when you see a family so happy with the hound that they’ve adopted (I feel that way for dogs that haven’t even stayed with us but I've known of their story). You also get the opportunity to see how happy your former foster dog is with a stable forever home.

Every foster is different and comes from a different situation. Some dogs aren’t healthy. Some dogs aren’t house broken. Some dogs need to learn basic manners. Some dogs need training.  Some dogs need to lose weight. Some dogs need to gain some weight. Some dogs need extra vet care. Some dogs just need some…any attention that they can get. John and I have learned something from every hound we’ve taken into our home. We’ve learned a lot about teaching and training, health issues, vet procedures and dealing with dogs who don’t get along. Every foster home goes through similar things.

If you’ve adopted from ABC, then someone fostered that dog for you. The basset lying at your feet or on your lap benefited from the foster system that they have in place. Let’s face it, ABC couldn’t rescue all of the dogs that they do without foster homes because they don't make it a habit to keep dogs in kennels for any period of time. It's better for the dogs to be in a home and have some sort of routine with loving basset people. I know that every rescue organization needs foster homes all the time. Why there aren't more people willing to foster is beyond me? 

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