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.
Of 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.
The 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.