The Vanna White Of Fosters

by Houndstooth on

This week, I was reading a few different posts from some bloggers who are considering fostering dogs in their homes.  We don’t foster anymore, because our house can really only hold four dogs within its walls, but we used to foster for a local Greyhound group that no longer exists.  Actually, that’s how Lilac and Blueberry came to be members of our family.

Still, the questions about fostering reminded me of those times when we were a foster family.  At that time, we were a two dog, two cat household.  We had our first two Greyhounds, Treat, a perfect little brindle and Hawk, a big white fellow with brindle spots.  Actually, Hawk still lived with us back when the blog first started.  We also had Scamp, a little Norwegian Forest Cat who was born under my bed when I was attending college and Blizzard, a solid white half deaf curmudgeon.

Treat ReadsOf course, we had a few reservations when we first started fostering.  We worried that we’d fall in love with the dog and not be able to part with it when the time came for it to be adopted.  The safety of our current pair of dogs was important to us, too, and we were vigilant about supervising interactions between them and our fosters, but we never, ever had any kind of disagreement between any dogs here at our house.  We also worried that perhaps the foster would cheat on the cat test and then come to our house and reveal itself to be a cat-eating demon.  However, we took the leap anyway, and only one of the fosters we got turned out to have been a cheater on the test.

Hawk PortraitThe truth is, we loved fostering and it was a really rewarding experience.  It’s also a family affair to help your foster dog find a home.  Everyone in our family was involved in helping the foster find a new home.

Treat and Hawk were great teachers.  The fosters would follow them and quickly learned to do our back stairs by watching the two of them do it.  They also quickly learned our routines from them.  Treat and Hawk showed them how to let us know when they needed to go outside.  They also helped us teach them leash manners.  Seeing the two of them face the world taught our fosters so much faster than we could have on our own, especially with the shy dogs we encountered.

Blizzard was The Enforcer.  For the most part, he only ever really liked me and Scamp.  If I got after a foster dog for something, he appeared from the basement and quickly became the long arm of the law.  He was completely declawed before we got him, but he didn’t need claws to make his point.  On more than one occasion, he taught our fosters that they had better respect him and me.  I recall one little fawn dog named Honey who was determined to get  a dirty plate in the kitchen sink.  I had scolded her a first, second and third time.  The fourth time, she turned from the sink, walked into the living room, but then bee lined right back to the kitchen.  In exasperation, I got up and headed to the kitchen to correct her.  Blizzard appeared before I got there and popped her little nose about six times in quick succession.  The stunned little foster retreated to the living room, laid down on a dog bed and didn’t get up until turn out time.  I can still picture the look of surprise on her face.

However, I think Scamp had the most unique job when it came to finding homes for our fosters.  She was, I kid you not, the Vanna White of foster dogs.  When potential families would arrive to meet a foster dog, we’d invite them in and spend some time talking with them and sharing what we knew about them.  Often, they would want to know how they got along with other dogs or the cats if they had either at their house.  I can recall one woman in particular who was about to be a first time dog owner.  She had several cats at her house.  Her big concern was how Pluto would do with her cats.  At that moment, Scamp appeared and began walking back and forth in front of Pluto.  She even threw in tail flourishes, wrapping her fluffy tail around his neck and snout as she sashayed past him.  It was what the woman needed to see.  Pluto went home to live with a house full of cats and did quite well.  I saw Scamp do that quite a few times with the eighteen fosters who passed through our house.

After Pluto, and several others, left, Mr. Taleteller and I had a good laugh.  I have no idea how Scamp knew that the Vanna White showcase routine was called for, but it really did look like she was showcasing them, just like Vanna would do on The Wheel of Fortune.  She had a knack for showing the dogs to their best advantage that we could never have trained her for.  We often joked that she knew how to get those extra dogs our of our house, although she generally did not mind the dogs.  That was Blizzard’s domain and he did a great job disdaining them and letting them know that he was lord of all.  I do know that Scamp helped quite a few dogs find their permanent homes.

Thinking back about it, though, does reinforce for me that fostering dogs, or any other animal, for that matter, requires everyone in the family to be on board with the situation.  Everybody has a role to play in getting a foster dog ready for adoption.  If it’s something you’ve ever considered doing, I strongly recommend giving it a try.  It was a great feeling for us, knowing the dogs we helped would go on to wonderful homes and seeing them months later at reunions with their happy families.  We went into it knowing that they wouldn’t be staying forever and while it was sometimes a little sad to see them go, there was always another foster waiting who needed a home to crash in while waiting for the perfect family to come along.

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  • MOM and I really admire those who foster. I can tell you my MOM would be a miserable failure at fostering. We’d have to move to a big ranch somewhere. Which I think would be pretty cool.
    Blessings,
    Goose

  • Sue

    What a wonderful post. I think those that can foster are fab people. It sure helps the animal when it goes into their forever home.

    Love the photos of Treat and Hawk.

  • Congratulations to you all on your wonderful ability to foster!! Our mama would have loved to foster, but we can’t get dad to agree. Actually, if we did … we would probably have to move to Goose’s Ranch somewhere…we would have WAY too many dogs….mama would not be able to give any of them up!! We admire foster families so very much and we appreciate all of the help that they gave to LadyBug before she came to live with us! Happy Weekend!! xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

  • I popped by just to prove I still like you! 😉 I can’t imagine a dog cheating on the cat test. *whistles*. mum would love to foster but our house really is too small. It’s a wonderful thing to do. Deccy xxx

  • Yea, I was thinkin’ da very same thing…Scamp did what he did to get da dogs out…hehehe.

    Oh how you foster hoomans are admired. I think it would be quite emotional to love a dog and then have to let it go…even if you is doin’ da best thing for them. Still, the emotions could be overwhelming.

    Puddles

  • Fostering is very rewarding. We lose most of our foster homes after they foster fail on their first pup. We’ve had dozens of fosters go through the house, and our only failure was Jaime. For the first few fosters, our guys were kinda in a huff, but once they realized that these guys came for a bit and left, they were on board. We don’t have a big house, we just have lots of dog beds in every room, so they can spread out.

  • I find those fosters are wonderful people with big hearts!

  • What a great post…fun to learn some new things about the Taleteller household. Foster families truly are so important to getting pups and kitties to forever homes. One of the greatest things…a foster family can give a potential adopter so much more detailed information about the pup or kitty, and I think that helps make sure the match is a good one.

  • sara, oreo and chewy

    Someday….I will foster. I toy with the idea now, but think it would just be too stressful on Oreo. YOu are right…the whole family has to be on board.

  • We would have two problems fostering here. Named Stella and Zkhat. Stella would love another dog, and want to keep it forever and Zkhat would want very much to kill it as soon as possible. Umm, Mom might have a little trouble letting go of a foster too. I’ve thought about this a lot, and somehow just can’t wrap my head around the idea. 18 for you sounds wonderful!

    The Minnesota Girls

  • Foster people have a special place in heaven. I could not do it. I would not want to give any of them up and I think it might break my heart.

  • We give foster pet parents a lot of credit! We don’t foster because mom would rather just adopt and we pet sit for friends and family, so we get enough dogs around our house. I am also a bit of the jealous type and mom feels like she would be spreading herself a bit thin with another dog at our home more than a week or two and then we have cats, so we have to make sure they would be safe.

  • Thanks for this post! I really enjoyed reading it, and it was encouraging to me. We are bringing in our very first foster this afternoon! I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I have been wanting to do this for a long time now, and I am thrilled to finally take the foster plunge! Thanks for your advice and sharing your stories.

  • My cousins foster dogs in North Carolina, that’s how I got Gracie! They love it!

  • Pip

    I am a foster failure. My assistant has been forbidden to foster because she ends up keeping them. Our bunny Lulu was also a foster failure. The only kind of fostering she does now is hospice foster care. Of course our last hospice cat was supposed to live a few weeks and lived 2.5 years!!!

    Your pal, Pip

  • One of the top posts on fostering I’ve ever read. It should be mandatory reading for anyone considering fostering.

    I love the way Blizzard was the enforcer. It’s not surprising, though. Animals are so physical. While I would never advise a person to cuff a dog in the nose, your cat knew just the right touch.

    And I’ll give some thought to your Vanna White cat. When potential adopters come, I’ve been putting Honey upstairs with a frozen kong. At times when she’s remained with us, she tries to upstage the foster dog with her “love me, love me, I’m a beautiful blonde” attitude. But maybe I could find some ways to teach her a Vanna White vibe.

  • This is such a great write-up and I am sure you have convinced many people to give it a try if they are able. I would love to be able to foster dogs as well one day but for now I am sticking with the kittens. Poopy litterboxes aside, they require much less of a time investment and are able all I can handle at the moment. That being said, the ones I have now are definitely worming their way into my heart. When they are ready to be adopted, I am going to have to remind myself I can’t keep them. After all, if I bring another permanent resident into the home, that is one less fostering space come kitten season. In this case, I think the kinder thing to do is let the little babies move on.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Blizzard sounds a lot like a certain cat I know all too well… 😉

  • I love this post! And I’ve been working on something that touches on pieces you wrote about. I knew you had done some fostering before but had no idea you helped 18! That’s fantastic. It is such a rewarding experience…
    -Corbin’s momma Jenn

  • BOL! That’s a grreat story. We’re a two-dog, two-cat household too, but the kitties aren’t always happy that there are dogs here!

  • We only fostered once so far and that was how Maddy became part of the family. Maddy doesn’t think we failed at fostering though…she says she excelled at it.

  • I love the story about Blizzard. We’ve had cats like that…it’s funny how they ‘just know’. You are to be commended for fostering…something I don’t think I could do.

  • KB

    Wonderful memories. I love the roles of Blizzard and Scamp!

  • Two French Bulldogs

    Fostering is so rewarding but must be so hard to let the little ones go. Moms brother always fosters a greyhound with the 2 he adopted
    Benny & Lily

  • The cats are actually the ones in charge at out house. 🙂 I’d like to foster some time in the future, although I’m sure I’d fail at least once.

  • I did not know that you fostered that many dogs! What a great way to help out other hounds 😀

  • Fank yeu fur this wonderful post! Fostering is one of the most loving things yeu can deu. Adopt and save one. Foster and save many!!!

    Before I came along, my the Mom used teu foster all the time. I guess I juss habbened teu be… difficult. The Mom iss juss now, almost teu years later, finking I amb ready teu be tested wif a foster.

    Fanks fur all yeu deu fur rescue!

    wif lubbs from Little Reufus

  • Oh, that’s just so funny, Scamp showcasing the fosters! It does sound as if she knew how to move them on, doesn’t it?

    We kind of failed fostering … when we took Jeffie it was with the intention of making him a permanent member of the family, but he just didn’t fit, and the foster home he’d come from got a new dog so quickly that we couldn’t send him back – it was within about ten days! Anyway, Jeffie kept injuring himself and of course, we couldn’t send him back down the kennels with a horrible mouth ulcer (which the fosterer hadn’t noticed), a broken foot, or gashes in his side from running into a brick wall, so we kept him ‘until he was healed’. After a while we figured out that his intention was to stay. One day I told him ‘OK, you can stop with the self-inflicted wounds, Jeffie, you can stay!’ and he’s had very little wrong with him since!

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  • When we move to another house, I want to get a place specifically for the purpose of fostering hounds. We failed with our first foster, Walker. But I want to try again. Getting them ready for their forever homes and making more room in the kennels for incoming hounds – that’s what it’s all about. I liked reading about your experiences and seeing these photos of Treat and Hawk.

  • Loved hearing about Scamp & Blizzard “helping” with the fosters 🙂 Yes, fostering is very rewarding. I enjoy it a great deal. Out of 21 dogs over 9 years, I’ve failed 3 times. Not too bad 🙂