I Wish I Could Foster, But My Dog Would Be Jealous

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

Anyone see a camouflaged photo-bomber waiting his turn for snuggles?

When you foster dogs and bring them to adoption events, there are a few things you hear constantly from those who stop by to visit. One is, “If I could take them all, I would.” (Yes, so would we. But we don’t want to get arrested, so instead we do this.)

Another is, “I wish I could foster, but my dog would be jealous.”

Let’s address the latter, because sometimes it’s a legitimate concern. But oftentimes, it’s not. I mean, no dog ever died from being jealous provided he has a strong pack leader in the house.

I’ll start by saying that my dogs were absolutely jealous of foster dogs at first too. Three years ago when we brought home our first Companion Animal Alliance foster, Rosie, we kept her in the backyard and never even let her sniff our two female dogs unless it was through a glass door. Rosie was definitely a dominant dog — I could tell by her growling at my girls through that glass door — and both of my dogs would have fought back if she started something. Fortunately, Rosie was quiet and very easy going in our backyard and there was shelter out there for her and the weather wasn’t cold. When my husband took Stella and Luna out for a walk, I brought Rosie inside and carried her up the steep steps to my office where she spent a few hours a day with me while I worked. When my husband took our dogs outside again later, I brought Rosie back outside to our fenced yard. In two short weeks, Rosie was adopted by this lovely woman:

Rosie, our first foster for Companion Animal Alliance, with the beautiful woman who adopted her two weeks after we pulled her from the euthanasia list at the shelter.

Rosie, our first foster for Companion Animal Alliance, with the beautiful woman who adopted her two weeks after we pulled her from the euthanasia list at the shelter.

It wasn’t the ideal foster dog situation, but it all worked out. And Rosie has been living a great life for more than three years now.

As I trotted another 30 or so foster dogs through the house, I realized I needed to hone in on some criteria for who we would foster. This way they wouldn’t all have to stay in the backyard and could be integrated into our home, which makes it possible for me to tell a potential adopter whether a dog is house trained. And that’s a big deal for many adopters.

Unless you have a dangerous, dog-aggressive dog, chances are your dog will do just fine with foster dogs in the house. You just need to establish your criteria for which types of dogs you might foster most easily. Our criteria includes the following:

  • A submissive dog
  • A dog who will be mostly quiet if left outside
  • A dog who can’t or won’t climb our fence
  • A dog who is calm and happy in a crate
  • A dog who is ideally more than two years old and won’t run laps around our house and tempt our dogs to join in that fun.
  • Absolutely no puppies. A lot of people LOVE fostering puppies. We, however, are too cranky and we value our sleep too much.

We will take dogs who are injured or sick, depending on the illness or injury. We will take shy dogs, because our confident dogs often bring a shy dog out of her shell, and shy dogs are usually really low maintenance. We will take pit bulls, because our dogs have never met a pit bull they didn’t like, nor have I. (I won’t take a male Rottweiler because for some reason Crespo wants to pick a fight with every big male Rottie he meets).  We will take 100 pound dogs. We will take dogs that we personally think are ugly (and I’ll never, ever tell which) because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus, a dog who unveils a beautiful personality very quickly becomes a movie star in our eyes.

We introduce the dogs through a variety of methods. Sometimes I put them in the backyard kennel and bring our dogs down to investigate:

Crespo, Luna, Stella and Kahlua (an overnight foster).

Crespo, Luna, Stella and Kahlua (an overnight foster)

Sometimes I’ll come home from the shelter with a new foster and have my husband meet me out on the street with our dogs leashed. We immediately go for a walk around the block together because dogs hunt in packs and going on a walk together is a dog bonding experience. If there is growling, we correct with a yank on the collar and pick up the pace. After about a half a block, we let them sniff, nose to butt, which seems to be less of an affront than nose-to-nose.

Crespo and Big Bear.

Crespo and Bear, a 100 lb. Lab. I was reluctant to take Bear home to foster because Crespo can be reactive to very large male dogs. But my friends at the shelter assured me that Bear was very, very chill. And he was. 

Usually it all works out just fine. Once Bear was back at our house, however, he began to shove my other dogs out of the way to get loved on first. But when Crespo reacted by going after him and pinning Bear to the ground, Bear was so easy-going about it I was able to pull Crespo off, correct him and put him in time out. (He has never bitten any dog, but he will make a big show of his machisimo at times). In fact, it improved my dog’s behavior overall, and I have Bear to thank for that! They got along swimmingly after I made it clear who was the boss: Me.

Crespo and Big Bear

Crespo and Bear

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Crespo and Bear

Crespo (again with the camouflage) and Kahlua, wet, stinky and on the way home from the dog park in my car.

Crespo (again with the camouflage) and Kahlua, wet, stinky and on the way home from the dog park in my car.

Sometimes, Luna’s not the most gracious hostess.

Luna telling Big Bear who was boss. Luna weighs 30 lbs. Big Bear weighed 100 lbs at the time. Fortunately, he agreed with Luna about who was boss and he didn't bother her.

Luna telling Big Bear who was boss. Luna weighs 30 lbs. Big Bear weighed 100 lbs at the time. Fortunately, he agreed with Luna about who was boss. With one tap on the butt and a look in the eye, I set Luna straight on who the real boss is though. 

Yogi giving Luna a little kiss. They got into it over a very delicious bone that she tried to take away from him once. I had put him outside with it and Ed unknowingly let her out to pee. Bam! Fortunately, Ed was there to save her life when she tried to rip it from his jaws. To be on the safe side, don't leave your fosters and your dogs alone unsupervised. And especially not with yummy treats.

Yogi giving Luna a little kiss. Once time, they got into it over a very delicious bone that she tried to take away from him. (I had put him outside with it and Ed unknowingly let her out to pee. Fortunately, Ed was right there to break it up when she tried to yank the bone away from him and he went back at her). To be on the safe side, don’t leave your fosters and your dogs alone unsupervised, especially not at feeding or treat time. We make every dog in the house sit, stay, and wait their turn before they get a treat. And we feed them in closed crates so we don’t have to supervise, which makes them associate that space with food and like it better than they might otherwise.

Luna, Crespo and Yogi

Luna, Crespo and Yogi

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Luna and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Luna and Bebop

Luna and Bebop

Crespo and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Crespo and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Crespo, Mattie and Noodle

Crespo, Mattie and Noodle

We do try to take breaks between foster dogs, and to give our own dogs a lot of individual love and attention too.

Yes, we've had a lot of fosters around lately, Luna. Sure, you can try to slip me the tongue (but I've got these lips locked).

Yes, we’ve had a lot of fosters around lately, Luna. Sure, you can try to slip me the tongue (but I’ve got these lips locked).

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Hold still, gorgeous boy. I need a selfie with you.

I could hug you all day long too, Crespo.

I could hug you all day long too, Crespo.

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

Ultimately, working foster dogs into our pack has made them less jealous not more. It has also improved their training, socialization skills and it reminds them of their roots every time I have to refresh their memories and say that they were once foster dogs too.

DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL DOG TRAINING CONSULTATION OR MEDICAL ADVICE ABOUT THE PETS YOU BRING INTO YOUR HOME.

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Teddy (girly sweater)

Adopt this dog or I'm going to continue to dress him like a girl. Against his will. In strange, hand knit sweaters I made myself from remnants. Without a pattern.

Adopt this dog or I’m going to continue to dress him like a girl. Against his will. In strange, hand knit sweaters I made myself from remnants. Without a pattern.

The Top 10 Dogs of 2014 (AKA: Our Fosters Last Year)

One of the things I like most about fostering is that it allows those of us who really like dogs to try out various breeds, sizes, ages and fur types we never thought we would want for our own. Sometimes I take dogs just because I’m not attracted to them; that way I think the temptation to keep them will be less. Other times, I take dogs because I’m so attracted to them it tears me up to leave the shelter without them (See Izzy, below. She looked so much like my beloved dog, Tick who passed away in 2001 I almost couldn’t stand it.)

Here are the dogs from Companion Animal Alliance who lived at our house for a spell last year.

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me  in November 2013 because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him to take him for a walk. He was adopted one more time and returned to me again after a day (another guy problem). And ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it on his overnight trail with the adopter which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn't work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached all while he really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house. And they left him alone. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yogi

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me six months later because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him. He was adopted one more time in 2013 and returned to me again (another guy problem). He was ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it from the yard of the prospective adopter on his overnight trial with her which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn’t work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached. He really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house though, and they respected that and didn’t engage him, so it all worked out fine while he was here. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yaya

Yaya

Poor Yaya didn’t work out at my house. We fostered her through her spay recovery, but my dog Luna didn’t like her and I was afraid one of them was going to get hurt, so I had to return her to the shelter. That’s always the tough part about fostering for me: If a dog doesn’t work out with my pack, they have to go back. It may sound cold hearted, but with a shelter that houses 300 animals, I can easily find a dog there that does get along with my pack and I can’t endanger my animals or the foster (Luna did bite a foster once and it cost me $100 at the vet to fix that). Fortunately for Yaya, a volunteer named Susanna met her at an adoption event and was very smitten with her. Susanna went back to the shelter after Yaya had been there for several weeks and brought her home as her foster. Yaya is still available for adoption. Susanna is her hero.

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Jacy

Jacy and her litter mates were born under a house, had very little contact with humans and by the time they were brought into the shelter most of them were terrified of people. Translation: Unadoptable. Two of her siblings were euthanized and she was slated to be next. My friend, Jacinta, who works at the shelter begged and pleaded for someone to get her out of there, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t hopeful, because she was just so shut down and wack-a-doodle when I met her. But after a couple of days at my house she totally came out of her shell and became the normal, spunky puppy she was always meant to be. It was kind of a miracle. I brought her to the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House where she was adopted by a lovely young woman after I’d had her for only about a week.

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Louis (now Lazlo)

I put in my orders for dogs with my friend, Jacinta who works at the shelter. This time I said, “Kooky (that’s my nick name for her), get me something that’s practically in a coma.” I really don’t have a lot of patience, energy, time, etc. at the moment (or ever). But I do want to help. I just can’t have a dog that’s going to wring me out (or my husband, Ed). That was Louis. You see how he looks in this picture? That’s how he looked at the shelter most of the time. And he was incredibly sweet and well behaved when he managed to wake up. I brought him to a dinner party with me the first night I brought him home because he was so impressive. The hostess, my incredibly big hearted friend, Author Laurie Lynn Drummond, said she would foster him so I could pull another dog from the shelter. I had him a day, Laurie had him a week, and my yoga teacher, Janene, adopted him and he lives happily ever after with her and her husband, Mike and their two other dogs (and so many cats I’m not allowed to tell you the number).

Chip

Chip

“Hey Jacinta, get me another Louis,” I said. That would be Chip. Both Louis and Chip had languished at the shelter for months. Why? No clue. Both were fantastic. Chip stayed with us a few months. Everybody loved him, but nobody adopted him. Finally, a really nice couple from outside New Orleans saw him on the Friends of the Animals Facebook page and came up to their dog adoption house with their dog to meet him. Their dog was his girl twin. They adopted him and he lives happily ever after. At Christmas, they sent out the cutest picture of the two dogs snuggling like an old husband and wife.

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Godiva was also on the long timer list at Companion Animal Alliance. They call it the Lonely Hearts Club. Isn’t that the saddest thing? I was at an adoption event with another dog and she was there on a day trip with a volunteer. She had a squeaky toy in her mouth that she was enjoying very much and I watched another dog reach over and take it away from her. She gave it up so willingly, I knew she would fit in just fine in my house (with our holy terror, Luna). That day, I pulled her from the shelter to foster and later Friends of the Animals took her on as a rescue. Godiva too was with us for several weeks.  Again, no clue why it took so long. Is she not the most gorgeous thing? Google “Dutch Shepherd.” That’s what I think she might be. She too was adopted at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. She lives with a lovely family that includes an old dachshund, an old cat, at teenager and a pre-teen who just worship her — as she deserves.

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Noodle (L) and Mattie

Noodle and Mattie were short term transport fosters. They were being transferred to a shelter in Virginia Beach and needed a place to stay in the interim to make room for more animals at our shelter. It was only going to be three days, so although I’m pretty adamant about fostering only one dog at a time, I thought it would be fine. They were perfect angels. Mattie would peel her lips back and give me a full blown smile whenever she was excited to see me. She and Noodle liked to perch on my husband’s chair or curl up in his lap while he read on his I-pad. They were adorable. Both were adopted quickly at the Virginia Beach shelter.

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Teddy

You’ve heard enough about my darling Teddy already, haven’t you? Well, for this week anyway.

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Izzy

Like I said, we don’t usually foster more than one dog at a time, but while we had Teddy, I could not resist taking home Izzy too. She looked just like our dog, Tick, who passed away in 2001. She has a hilarious personality and is a hard core snuggler who also likes to burrow. We’d wonder where she was and then find her under a pile unfolded clean laundry. A police officer and security guard at the produce stand where I shop adopted her at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. Have I mentioned how much I love Companion Animal Alliance’s partner organization, Friends of the Animals? I foster for them as well. (Godiva and Yogi were both Friends of the Animals’ rescues). Izzy now lives in a home with four humans and three other dogs. Her dad reports that she fits right in.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015. Raising my water bowl to you and your dog(s)! If you’d like to make a donation to either of these fantastic rescue organizations, both of which could really use the help, please click here their names here: Companion Animal Alliance and Friends of the Animals. I love them equally, and both help so much on the local level.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your rescue dogs. Did you adopt or foster in 2014? I’d love to hear their names and stories, please!