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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any of you who have read my post in the general forum will know that I've started volunteering at the local (well...in town) shelter. I've only been in once since I started four days ago, but I'm already hooked. I think I might have my DH convinced to do some fostering in the future, not immediately, but eventually. I want to be prepared for the whole concept/process/situation, at least in terms of ensuring things go as smooth as possible, especially for the dog (and hopefully put as little requirement on my DH as possible, he'll help, but this is more my deal than his).

Anyway, that said, general questions:
Is a meet and greet at the shelter with Caeda an appropriate thing to do first before agreeing to foster a particular dog?
We don't have two crates to "crate and rotate", but would it be too difficult for the foster to deal with being in the crate (which is in the livingroom), while Caeda roams the house during the day (which she does now anyway)?
Is it safe to assume the dogs will have to be walked seperately?
Has anybody run into jealousy issues? Any way to "nip it in the bud"?
Any particular things I should "watch for" at the shelter that might be a sign of potential issues that aren't completely obvious (at least to me), that the shelter may not remember to mention?
Should I consider only taking in dogs that have been around for quite a while?
Should I keep notes (or even video) of a foster to potentially help with adoption? Has anybody had anything like this help?
I work 7 hour days (plus 2 days a week where I have 1h of physio). Does this seem like enough time to give Caeda and a foster enough attention? I'm not counting in my DH's schedule, sometimes he barely works, other weeks its 16 hour days.

Any other suggestions or things I should consider would be great. I know I'm talking about some situation specific stuff, but I'm more looking for general info on these kinds of situations....I know its at least somewhat dog dependant. Yes, big questions, but any little insights would be great so I can consider them before I commit to something that I really don't want to regret.

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Here's something to read that I think might answer a bunch of your questions about how to start. Obviously, all things can be modified to fit your personality and situation, but I think this is an interesting and valuable starting off point.


Fostering is wonderful. Dogs who have skills are so much easier to place and more likely to STAY placed than dogs with no skills. I hope you love it!

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So far I've only done short term fostering, basically vacation coverage for other fosters ranging from 3 days to 11 days. In all those cases I've had the foster who was going on vacation bring the dog over for a meet and greet before their trip. Jubel and I would meet them outside in front of our townhouse and introduce the dogs then head inside so we could chat a bit about the dogs. Give the dogs a chance to hang out and the foster a chance to tell me about the dog and their routine, and for me to share Jubel's routine and how well the foster dog will fit into that.

The 9 year old basset I've watched a few times now and will again next weekend is fine with Jubel and our routine gets her a bit more needed exercise to help shed some pounds. Generally I try not to leave them alone together because she does NOT want to play with Jubel and he's tried a few times and gotten snapped at. My brother isn't the best about remembering to close his door when he goes to bed either with both inside his room or one in and one out but we haven't had an issue.

The two 6-7 month old puppies (chi/terrier mixes) I watched for 5 days where happy to just play with each other, one wanted to play with Jubel but got a little overwhelmed if he started to chase her. Anytime they couldn't be watched they were placed in the kitchen which is already gated off in my house to keep Jubel out. None of the dogs had a problem with that.

The last foster dog I watched was a sister of the two chi/terrier mixes I'd watched before but was raised by a different foster... This dog was a fearful, resource guarding, crazy thing that of course was staying for 10 days and the foster didn't bother to mention any of that before dropping her off. Thank God Jubel is such a nice tolerant boy of she would have gotten hurt. She came with a crate provided by the rescue and thankfully was happy with her crate. You can look up my threads for more details on Belle's craziness if you want.

I just started going out to the shelter to walk dogs last weekend and part of the reason for that is to pick out a long term foster. I intend to spend a good amount of time with the potential fosters and then take Jubel out at least once, probably 2-3 times, to meet them and go with the one that seems to get along best. Which ever dog I end up with is probably going to be a bit of a challenge as I'm intentionally looking at the dogs who are still young (under 5) but have been at the shelter for over a year, most were rescued from hording situations and are very shy.

It depends on the shelter I'm sure but the one I've volunteering with does have crates they will loan to fosters, but they said they like to put a time limit on it because they prefer to not have the dogs crated long term. So sort of an adjustment time to gauge destructive behavior, house training, etc then maybe keeping the dogs separated when no one is home but not crated. One dog I'm considering actually has a crate in her kennel at the shelter because she's scared of storms and likes to hide in the crate during storms so if I foster her I might get to borrow a crate full time. As for having one dog crated and the other free it shouldn't be an issue as long as Caeda isn't taunting the foster in the crate.

Walking all depends on the dogs, I've walked all the fosters together with Jubel with no real issue. It was most complicated with the two puppies because they'd twist their leashes all around and I did end up doing a few separate walks for them or timing my walks with a neighbor who'd help by taking one of the puppies. The fearful puppy was also a bit of a pain to walk but that had nothing to do with being with or without Jubel. She was just fearful of everyone and barked and lunged at them, meeting one person/dog at a time did help and she would calm down but multiple at once and she was just a mess. The fearful dogs from the hording situations are actually always walked with one of their buddies at the shelter to make them feel safer so they'd definitely be walked WITH Jubel.

The closest thing to jealousy issues I had was the resource guarding puppy treating ME as a resource, snapping a Jubel when he came over to me for attention. What I did for that was to tell her NO and calmly pick her up and put her in the kitchen or her crate for a few minute time out. I only had 10 days with her so it didn't fix the problem but I think it time it would have helped, it did seem to decrease a bit during her stay so it may have been working. The only other 'jealous' situation I had was when I came home from work and Jubel and Harlee (basset) were free together in the living room. Jubel wasn't thrilled to have Harlee rushing to greet me too and kinda snapped at her to back off until he said hi first. I'd hope that won't be an issue with a long term foster who he likes (he tolerates Harlee but they aren't buddies) but if it is I'll have to work on it.

I'd recommend spending as much time as you can and getting as much info as you can out of the shelter before deciding on a dog to foster. Odds are high the dog will behave differently out of the shelter and in a home but hopefully you'll be able to at least get a decent feel for personality. I'm leaning more towards dogs who have been at the shelter for a long time knowing they are going to need some extra help but I'm prepared and ready for that. If you aren't sure I wouldn't going looking for a challenge right away.

I put nice comments up on the shelters website for both the puppies I watched together. Telling about how nice and sweet they are, how good their potty training was going, etc. For the fearful, resource guarding puppy I didn't have much nice to say about her so I didn't post anything on the site but I did tell the foster coordinator about her so the information would be there for potential adopters to be told. The basset is actually a permanent foster due to health issues, she basically in her forever home but stays as a foster so the shelter will cover the vet expenses of her addison disease and she has a loving home. I think the more information you can give potential adopters about a dog the better so whatever system the shelter your volunteering with has you should be able to share that info somehow.

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If you haven't read my "Luna- the Foster Pit Bull" thread, it has some good stuff in it about day-to-day life and what kind of things you might deal with.

I don't know how your shelter is run or if there are any rescues around. I fostered once for my city run shelter and although I hate to say it because the dogs there are very much in need, I will NEVER again take a dog directly from the shelter (and foster through the city). Unfortunately, kennel cough, distemper and contagious skin diseases are way too common in the city shelter. Since every stray brought in bring goodness knows what into the shelter, even the dogs that have been there awhile are constantly getting re-exposed to everything. The foster program there told me the dog I was going to pick up (on the PTS list for the next day) was healthy and had a full vet work up..... when I arrived the next day to get her, they brought a coughing dog down the MAIN aisle and handed me a bottle of antibiotics for her kennel cough (which, thank god was only kennel cough because the shelter was also having a distemper outbreak at the same time which they told NO ONE about until several weeks later when they couldn't hide it anymore). She didn't come with any preventative HW or flea meds.
Thankfully the dog was sweet and trained and after 2 weeks of annoying and time consuming quarantine she was adopted by a couple that saw her on petfinder. The city shelter doesn't do any adoption events or promote the fostered dogs in any way.

So, really, that is the story of what to watch out for and things to ask questions about--
Support (crisis, promotion, etc)
Health (do they quarantine well, do they have a good track record of safety and honesty? Obviously don't ask them that second question directly, but try to observe)
Returning the foster (if there is an issue between the dogs, can you return the foster without it being PTS?)

Then I fostered Luna with a well respected rescue group. While she was with me for much longer (5 months) and was far more work behaviorally, the experience was much better.
A crate was provided and they prefer their dogs crate trained as it makes them more adoptable. In Luna's case, crating was mandatory because she was destructive otherwise.
The meet and greet was handled by the rescue bringing her to my house and use introducing the dogs with a walk in the neighborhood and then by dropping the leash in my yard. Chester likes everyone really, so it was testing Luna mostly.
A supply of HW and flea meds was brought with her, along with collar and leash and some toys and a bit of food. When she needed a car harness for safety, the rescue reimbursed me when I bought one at Walmart and emailed the receipt.
They did adoption events and of course have a FB page where they promote the dogs and network with other animal groups. I put flyers up on my own at petstores and coffee shops.

I crated Luna in a separate room and Chester had free roam of his usual area of the house. I wouldn't keep a newer foster in a crate with another dog loose in the same room.

I walked them together after the first week or so as Luna needed a lot of leash skills help.

If an aggression issue cropped up, the rescue would have boarded Luna while searching for a new foster.

I prevented resource guarding from day one by feeding separately and giving treats and toys separately. They did both try for my attention but more in a "dog on either side of me on the couch" way than a resource guarding way.

I work full time and don't have anyone else around the house and didn't have any trouble giving enough time to both dogs after Luna was getting better trained. The first 3-4 weeks was ROUGH though and I was very very tired all the time.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Awesome input everybody!!!
Trainingjunkie, I'm going to print off that article and take it in to the shelter (BC SPCA) and show it to them, if they don't have anything like that to give to new adopters I'm going to suggest either that or a version of it. Very valuable thank you!! I know I'm going to love it, taking care of Wally (lost dog) for a day or so is what gave me the idea...I was at the SPCA the next day signing up as an in-shelter volunteer :)

The main reason I brought up the jealousy thing is because when we had Wally here, and once Caeda was ok with it being around (ie: stopped trying to play crazy and just hung out), he would come up to me...actually tried to be my shadow while he was here, Caeda would bump him aside. I could see it developing into a potential issue if Wally had stayed longer. Thankfully that situation did show me that with a dog in the crate Caeda would hang out near the crate for a few minutes, looking for interaction, then didn't bother him any. I would probably put the crate behind the baby gate for a longer term situation, but at least its good to know!

I've read some of that thread Shell, I'm going to go back to it and read it all now :)

I'm not seeing us doing fostering really soon, maybe in a couple of months, but I want to get my head prepared for it well ahead of time, and discuss anything necessary with my DH as well (and of course the shelter!). I want to be responsible about this. I like the filling in for vacations idea, might try that first. I've got to admit a minor alterior motive, actually what my DH is the most interested in: It will help Caeda as well, she has been getting progressively calmer, faster around other dogs, but the more the better. Despite being a crazy hyper beast sometimes we have noticed (and so has everybody at dog social), pretty much every dog ends up liking Caeda to some point, she seems to go to aggressive dogs, shy dogs etc and get them playful, she might be good for fosters too....so long as we watch carefully! Meet and greets will be a requirement for us I think.

I'm so excited to do this!
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