Features July 2009 Issue

Dog Fostering Programs

This is the puppy that WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns brought home from a shelter to foster, intending to spend a week or so socializing him . . . The project turned into a month of nursing as he developed kennel cough, then pneumonia.

Dog Fostering Programs

How to maximize the joys – and minimize the perils – of fostering a needy dog or puppy.

Had some prescient person warned me that I would spend nearly $1,000 on vet bills; miss out on a lot of sleep; experience many worried and tearful moments (and a certain amount of marital strife); and lose untold hours on observing, training, shopping for, and cleaning up after that puppy I was considering taking home as a foster; would I still have done it? Ah well, it’s a moot point. I did bring a puppy home from my local shelter, with the intention of spending a week or so socializing him to the world of humans (which he seemed to have little experience with), and then sending him back to the shelter to find a terrific forever home. And while I never sent him back to the shelter, I did find him a really wonderful forever home, so the story ends happily. I’m glad I did what I did, and I would love to foster another dog or puppy again someday. Knowing that I made a life-or-death difference for that one darling puppy still fills me with a warm feeling of satisfaction. But, to be perfectly honest, I’d want to be much better prepared before I fostered again. It was an experience I could barely afford – financially, emotionally, and in terms of the time I could spent on the pup. I made it work, but the experience took its toll. I’d want to be far more prepared next time, so as to maximize the joys and minimize the perils of the undertaking. My loss, your gain? Allow me to give you some helpful tips, in case you are thinking about providing a rehabilitative home, albeit a temporary one, for a needy dog or puppy. I can now share my own experiences, as well as those of a number of other foster providers (see page 22). If you are properly prepared for some of the worst things that can occur while fostering, you can prevent many of them, or at least be ready to deal with them in a graceful way. And that will make the joy of a successful fostering experience that much richer.

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