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Discussion Starter #1
I know that details depend on the specific shelter or rescue, but I have some general questions about the experience. I imagine that in some ways it's similar to having two (or more) dogs, but how is it different? How important is having extensive dog experience? Is it advisable to begin by volunteering in a shelter or rescue? How do you know if your current dog(s) will respond well? Do you need a way to keep your current dog(s) and the foster separated (like a room or area of your home you can close off)? What advice do you have for someone interested in fostering?

Thanks!
 

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I've been fostering for not quite a year now and I'm on my 5th foster.
For me, fostering for a good rescue has been very important compared to the municipal shelter. However, I expect some non-profit or better run city shelters may make for a different experience.
The rescue I foster with is very supportive- they provide everything except food, they trust my judgment (once proven to be reasonable) on a foster's training needs and similar, they are pro-active in finding homes and they are available to me by phone or email. You should 100% verify what the rescue covers and their policies in terms of emergency vet care, what their backup plan is for behavior problems or your own illness or work schedule (as in, can they board a dog temporarily? Can someone come by to let the dog out if you have mandatory overtime?)

I always require a meet-and-greet before agreeing to accept a dog. Chester is dog-friendly 99% of the time but one never knows. I also keep the foster separate for a few days with only supervised walks mainly between the dogs and the foster drags a leash or traffic lead attached to a harness when they are both loose in the house. The foster and Chester are never left alone unsupervised- I will leave a room but never become unavailable (as in, I'll go to the kitchen for food but I won't take a shower with them loose in the same room)

If the dog is coming right from a city shelter or unknown health/temperament situation, they need a 2 week quarantine. My agreement with the rescue is no dogs that require quarantine. The city shelter was not honest with me and sent me a dog with kennel cough (saying "she's cleared the vet, no prob" until I got there to pick her up hours before PTS time) AND knowing they had a distemper outbreak happening and weren't telling anyone. Luckily it was truly only kennel cough and Chester was fine since he was both vaccinated and I took quarantine precautions but I don't tolerate being lied to.

Just start by looking at rescues on Facebook. See who you like in terms of adoption events, types of dogs, responsiveness etc. Then email them and meet in person.

If the dog they give you is known to be difficult, dog experience is more important and it can be a whole heck of a lot of work, but for your "average" dog, it isn't much different than an "average' two dog household.
 

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For me I started off slowly by being a short term foster before committing to my own foster dog. As a short term foster I did vacation coverage for the other fosters so I got a taste of taking care of another dog for 4-10 days at a time. This let me see how Jubel did with a strange dog in the house and what it's like to manage two dogs at the same time. In general Jubel at least tolerates, usually likes, the vast majority of dogs the only question for me was how he'd feel with another dog that didn't leave after a few hours.

I don't think it's important to have extensive dog experience, I'm a first time dog owner myself going on 2.5 years of experience now with Jubel.

I began short term fostering before I started going out to the shelter on weekends to walk dogs and started that mostly to get to meet the dogs in person I was considering for long term fosters. In the end I really enjoy going out on weekends when I can to walk the dogs and try and do so once every 3-4 weeks (shelter is about a 45 minute drive from me).

All of the foster dogs are kept separated from Jubel when no one is there to supervise. Depending on the foster dog they were simply in another room, gated off in the kitchen, or crated.

As for advice make sure you ask a lot of questions to the shelter/rescue on how fostering works with them.
What expenses do they cover? What are you expected to pay for?
What is the protocol for the dog seeing a vet? In an emergency situation what is the protocol?
How do they promote their foster dogs for adoption? What events/how many events are you responsible for bringing the dog to?
Do they assist with training?

I'm sure Shell will be along (if she hasn't already beat me to it in responding) with more helpful information.

The one thing I regret about my foster situation is that they really don't seem to do a lot to promote adoptions for their adult fosters. The few times they've had in puppies, they don't pull puppies and only end up with puppies when they pull a surprise pregnant female, they end up in foster and are promoted pretty well on the website. I'm fostering with the intention of getting the dog adopted on top of out of the shelter and finding it a bit harder than I expected to get support on promoting him from the shelter. I found out after the fact that a lot of the foster dogs (that aren't puppies) simply stay in foster for a long time and are often simply just adopted by their fosters or moved to a new foster. Still really like the rescue group and will continue to support them as best I can just wish I knew that before I picked the dog I did to foster. I knew from the start it was very unlikely I'd become a 'failed foster' with him but it's probably going to take a lot of effort on my part to get him adopted.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for such detailed replies. You've given me a great deal to think about. When we first started looking for a dog, my husband had talked about getting two dogs; I had to convince him that getting two at once wasn't a good idea. Now that Katie is starting to settle in, I've been thinking about a second dog again (although I'd still wait until Katie is a bit older).

My interest in fostering was prompted by a facebook post by Katie's breeder (she coordinates the rescue efforts for the breed club and her own regional rescue) about needing foster homes. I think she's too far away for me to help her, but there are many local shelters and rescues. I've been interested in a greyhound as a second dog, so a local greyhound group is a good place to start. I do think that while I wait for Katie to mature it would be beneficial for me to volunteer with a shelter.

Dagwall - I like the idea of starting by doing short-term fostering.

Thanks again!
 
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