Need to Rehome Your Dog? Here’s How. (Not Judging).

This boy could have been re-homed from the comfort of his own home rather than spending stressful weeks at a shelter, but the owner didn’t know how. Photo by Cheryl Smith Dispenza.

 

Ideally our pets are a life long commitment, but I believe there’s no shame in rehoming a pet if life throws more at you than you can handle.

People get evicted, lose jobs, develop allergies, get called for active duty, go into nursing homes and even die unexpectedly (and sometimes their grieving kids are in no position to keep those pets). The sad thing is, most people have no idea how to find a new home for their pet. This is one of many reasons why so many companion animals end up in overcrowded municipal shelters.

Several times each year people call and ask me how to re-home their dog. I used to tell them to post cute pictures and a great ad on Craigslist, screen prospective adopters carefully, meet in a public place, spay or neuter the dog first and be sure to charge a rehoming fee (because free dogs can meet gory ends as bait dogs in dog fighting rings). But not everyone knows how to write a good pet bio, is comfortable collecting a rehoming fee, or is comfortable posting on Craigslist.

Last week I attended the Humane Society of the United StatesAnimal Care Expo in New Orleans and learned about an amazing online service from Adopt-a-pet.com and the Petco Foundation. This service allows individual pet owners to re-home their pets in a safe and relatively easy way (it’s the same service to which only animal shelters and rescues previously had access). Not only that, the service collects a rehoming fee and donates it to the rehomer’s local animal shelter.

Companion Animal Alliance, the municipal shelter where I volunteer in Baton Rouge, took in 56 dogs in three weeks recently, so the need for this is enormous. Here’s the link: https://rehome.adoptapet.com/how-it-works. I hope you’ll share it on social media.

People in animal rescue have been known to get compassion fatigue, burned out by the sheer number of crappy, heartless people out there dumping pets for what seems like no good reason at shelters and by the side of the road. Sure, there are crappy, heartless people. But I have also fostered a rat terrier brought to the shelter because his family, sobbing as they let him go, had lost their home and was on their way to a shelter themselves. I fostered a shepherd mix whose owner got a job working on an offshore oil rig and would have to be gone for days at a time with nobody home . And I fostered a Pomeranian whose owner died. Her husband couldn’t care for the dog, so he dropped him off at the shelter where the dog had a total meltdown. Freaked out in his kennel and and snapping at virtually everyone, the foster coordinator was going to have to euthanize him but first called and asked if I would take him home to see if he would be different outside of the shelter. Fortunately, the dog took a shine to me in her office. A few hours into his stay at our house, he took a shine to everyone. Wouldn’t it have been great if the husband hadn’t had to put him through the stress of being at a shelter at all? Maybe if he’d known about this, he would have made a better choice.  Here’s the link again: https://rehome.adoptapet.com/how-it-works

Thanks for loving all the critters out there, like I do.

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Fostering Without Even Fostering

Sometimes you don’t even have to bring a foster dog home from the shelter to find it a home.  I love when that happens! A few days ago my friend Jodi was at the shelter helping out and posted a picture of her daughter and this adorable pup that had been there a few weeks.

 

Bailey

I couldn’t believe he had been there for weeks. Usually, dogs that look like this are snatched up in a day. But it turns out this poor boy was limping and might need to have a leg amputated.

I thought about taking him home to foster after his surgery, but with upcoming travels, wasn’t sure I could commit to his recovery from an amputation. Still, I wanted to help, and was thinking about how when a woman named Heather sends me this message on Facebook:

I know you foster for CAA and they have dog listed on the lost pets page as in foster care. I visited the shelter last week and met him but was told he was pre-adopted. I left my information for them to call in the event he wasn’t picked up but didn’t hear anything and assumed he was picked up. I should have called! Can you help me find out if he really is in foster care and still available? I would love to adopt him if he is! Thank you for any assistance you can provide!

She attached a picture of a really cute little poodle. I told her I’d look into it and quickly found out the dog had, in fact, been adopted so I wrote her back with the news. I also sent her a picture of the pup above adding that he was currently available. Something wrong with back leg and may need it amputated. He’s only 9 months old and I’ve heard he is sweet as sugar. Needs a foster or adopter…

I figured she was probably pretty focused on the one that got away and wouldn’t be interested in a dog facing a possible amputation. But she wrote back that she would love to meet him. She had just lost her dog, Beau, an older fluffy guy, three weeks earlier and said the house was too quiet. (Beau had been a rescue who came to her with a total of five teeth and had spent his last 18 months in congestive heart failure). Heather said she knew Beau would want her to give another dog a great home.

I reached out to Jodi to find out the scoop on the leg. The shelter, it turns out, was sending the dog to an outside vet for a consultation to see if the leg could be saved. (Shout out to my friend Paula who created the shelter’s Sick and Injured Animals Fund, which often makes things like this possible through donations.) Jodi wanted to foster the dog but asked me if I could take him for a few days while she was out of town. YES! I said. And even better, I think I have an adopter for him. 

I connected Jodi and Heather via Facebook group message and Jodi asked Heather if she thought she was ready for a dog who needed to heal. You can heal together, she said, but I totally understand not wanting to commit to an injured animal. Just let me know what I can do for you. 

Heather’s response: I’m ready! I can’t wait to meet him! 

Have I mentioned that one of my favorite things about helping shelter animals find homes is people like this? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

Heather added that after Beau, she wasn’t phased by much. I’ll do whatever is needed to make sure he’s happy and knows he’s loved.

And so this happened today:

 

heather

And the best news of all, is that the pup, who Heather has named Bailey, is going to get to keep his leg after all. She picks him up from his surgery tomorrow and will bring him home to recuperate in a soft bed among toys and frozen Kongs stuffed with peanut butter and kibbles to keep him busy while he’s on kennel rest.

That is one lucky little scruffy dog.

 

If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Bailey has spent the past few weeks, please visit their donation page: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx. And thanks!

 

 

 

 

Monsieur BaRU

Much time and several wonderful foster dogs have passed through our house since my last entry. Here’s the boy who came to our house next:

Monsieur BaRU

Rex6

 

When I met this fella at the shelter, his name was Rex. I was there to see the vet with my foster Teddy and while Teddy waited his turn, I cruised the aisles of kennels. If I set my sights on the next dog, I figured, Teddy would find his perfect home sooner. (I’d had him close to four months at the time – and it worked! Or I like to pretend it did.)

The first thing I saw as I walked those dimly lit aisles was an incredible, half blue eye. I walked to the kennel door, and Mssr. BaRu tip-toed up to me and gave my fingers a little lick through the chain link. So gentle. So tender. I picked up the kennel card and read that he had been a stray caught in a trap placed by Animal Control. Just then, a staff member turned the corner and told me Mssr. BaRu had a really sweet personality but was heart worm “smear positive” and didn’t have long there. (Translation: He would be euthanized if not adopted soon).

Let me take a moment to tell you that the staff at Companion Animal Alliance is among the most compassionate of all the people I know. In fact, the person charged with making the euthanasia decisions has 10 dogs of her own and told me when she makes the dreaded weekly list she vomits. Literally.

It’s for this reason that I cannot stand it when people demonize those who work at so-called kill shelters. (Read this fabulous blog on the topic by my friend Abby Knight who works at the shelter.)

The people putting these animals in the line of fire are not those who have to “pull the trigger” so to speak, but rather those who breed dogs for pets, those who choose to buy a pet from a breeder rather than adopt from a shelter, and those who do not spay and neuter those pets, who can unintentionally get out and multiply.

If you fall into any of the above categories, I don’t mean to be a jerk by telling you that. I’m telling you in the hope that you’ll just make a different choice next time, now that you know. I have a dear old friend and a dear new friend who just adopted their first dogs from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder after reading about my experiences here. I would love to hear from them – and anyone else who has recently done the same – in the comments.

But back to Mssr. BaRu, whom I was not able to take home while Teddy was still our foster. Fast forward a few weeks, Teddy had been shipped to his new Mama in Boston, and I was at the shelter choosing my next foster. I headed to the aisle of long timers to make my choice. I had put Mssr. BaRu out of my mind, as I often do when there’s a dog there I like who doesn’t have much time and I can’t take him. But there he was!

Rex at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House in Baton Rouge

Rex at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House in Baton Rouge

 

I brought Mssr. BaRu home and he was as calm and wonderful as he was beautiful. When I posted his first picture on Facebook, I said, “Look: I found a Border Collie who’s not nuts!”

This is an inside joke for dog people who know that the Border Collie is a working breed. Highly intelligent, focused and intense, if there’s no work to do, a Border Collie will often make his own work. (My friend Laurie was fostering a Border Collie when her iphone went missing. She had turned the house upside down looking for it when she heard a muffled ringing sound and found the phone in her foster dog’s kennel, tucked beneath the dog bed. There wasn’t a scratch on it. The dog had just had a ball stealing, hiding, and now lying atop the phone).

Not long after, I got a private message from Nancy, a Facebook friend I had never met in real life, but who is also a writer and a friend of my cousin’s. Nancy had lost her Belgian Shepherd to cancer a year earlier, was heartbroken, and yet she was really missing having a dog. She was thinking she and her husband Frank might be ready to love again. Could I tell her more about this blue-eyed boy?

Suffice to say, that Mssr. BaRu was the perfect dog for Nancy and her husband. And while his heartworm status concerned her, she later told me that being unable to save her beloved Belgian was so rough that in a weird way adopting a dog with a disease that was curable felt like it would help her heal.

I am truly at a loss for words over the Nancys I have met in this world since I began fostering shelter dogs.

Nancy, who lives in Pittsburgh, wanted to speak with her husband and think about it for a few days. Meanwhile, I asked my Facebook friends if they would be willing to donate to the shelter’s sick and injured animals fund so I could get Mssr. Baru stated on doxycycline, which helps to weaken existing heart worms. I was so grateful to the people who did that, and leftover funds were used to help other dogs at the shelter. And then a very generous Facebook friend who is a friend of my parents’ messaged me saying she would like to pay for the costly immiticide injections that are part of the fast kill heart worm treatment for Rex. I could not believe what was coming together.

A few weeks later, Nancy bought a plane ticket and flew to Baton Rouge to adopt a dog named Rex who Frank would rename Mssr. BaRu (BaRu short for Baton Rouge). I picked up Nancy at the airport with Mssr. BaRu in the car. He sniffed her then wagged, she smiled then patted him. Their first meeting was gentle and sweet, just like both of them. A perfect match, I thought. Then we went to the shelter so Nancy could fill out the paper work and pay the adoption fee. Then we got a glamour shot of Nancy and her new boy:

 

Nancy and Rex 3

 

Nancy spent the night at our house and the next day she picked up her rental car and she and Mssr. BaRu headed home.

Rex&Nancy2 Rex&Nancy

From a heart worm riddled Louisiana stray caught in a trap by Animal Control, to a cherished pet living heart worm free in Pittsburgh in just a few months.

 

Rex at home in Pittsburgh surveying the wildlife out the window of his mom's study.

Rex at home in Pittsburgh surveying the wildlife out the window of his mom’s study.

 

How do you like that?

 

Rex in Pittsburgh looking beautiful and possibly up to something mischievous.

Rex enjoys a bone in Pittsburgh where he lives the good life.

Only Connect

“Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer.”

E.M. Forester

 

If you were my student when I was teaching Freshman Comp many years ago, I might have asked you to journal on this. Now I’ll just hurl my interpretation of it at you and then get to a great little rescue story that just happened.

Why are we here? Human love. (And dog love. Cat love. Love, love, love!)

What should we connect? The prose and the passion. (Work and passion! Living and passion! Whatever: Just live in your freaking passion.)

Why shouldn’t we live in fragments? Because our work, our passion and our love may miss the opportunity to be exalted.

So how should we work? Together.

Thanks for indulging me.

Very often, people who work in animal rescue do so because they love animals, but they’re really not crazy about people and sometimes they’re bad at working together. Having good people skills, however, means you will inevitably be able to place more animals in loving homes. First, the public doesn’t want to  deal with cranky animal rescuers who make them feel bad about themselves. Second, when people who work with shelter animals get along well with each other, they are able to network animals into many more wonderful, loving homes than they might otherwise.

Meet my friend, Jodi (she’s the one on the right, I’m on the left):

JodiGolden

Jodi and I are both Crazy Dog Ladies, Yankees in Louisiana and moms with three kids. We do not share hair type. We do not share politics. We have sparred on Facebook in the past about Big Issues. But we also crack each other up and we have a deep appreciation for each other’s good heart.  Jodi and I have each other’s backs —  not  including the time she almost cut off my finger at the shelter while showing me how to groom a matted Shih Tzu while we sparred about the upcoming Presidential election. We both actually think this is really funny, so we share a twisted sense of humor too.

So when Teddy arrived in Boston a couple of weeks ago and his adopter’s sister fell in love with him and said, “I want a dog like Teddy too!” All I had to do was look at Jodi’s Facebook page to see that she was fostering this guy, Rasta, who  had come into the shelter a dreadlocky mess with a terrible cold. The shelter vets fixed him up with meds, the assistant shelter director, Paula Shaw, did a beautiful job on him with the clippers, and he came out like this:

Rasta2

 

I asked Jodi what his temperament was like and she said calm, sweet and snuggly.

Sounded like Teddy.

Looked enough like Teddy too. Am I right?

Rasta3TeddyEnRouge

I messaged Teddy’s mom, Claire, and shared his info with her. She shared it with her sister. We were honest that Rasta is not yet house trained, but that being recently neutered would help. As would a magical contraption called a “belly band.” Like Claire, her sister is amazing and this was a non-issue for her.

She adopted Rasta by phone. She booked him a trip on the Rescue Road Trips bus. Jodi is going out of town this week and needed  help, so Rasta is here at my house for the next 48 hours, and then he’s on his way to New England to be a Yankee who loves Louisiana. Like me. Like Jodi. Screw the fragments. Only connect.

 

If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Teddy and Rasta once lived, please click here: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx 

And thank you! 

Teddy: Home at Last

This is the story of a sad little five-year-old Cockapoo named Teddy.  Last October, Teddy found himself at an open-intake Baton Rouge shelter called Companion Animal Alliance and yesterday, he got the happy ending he so richly deserved.

TeddyEnRouge

 

These are the things that happened to Teddy:

1. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/teddy/

2. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-ii

3. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-iii/

4. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/teddy-iv/

‎5. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/teddy-v/

Yes, this is a lot of reading, but seriously, it’s a good story, so don’t ruin it by reading the ending before you have all the juicy details.

Go get a cup of coffee and we’ll wait for you to get caught up.

 

 

 

 

Ready?

(Don’t cheat!)

Also, if you read these other entries about Teddy already, you might want to refresh your memory. Just a (pushy) suggestion.

Okay, so from where I left off, at “Teddy V,” I was very sad that the lovely older couple didn’t adopt Teddy after his hip surgery, though I did understand. And we were committed to finding him a home and not foster failing.

In the weeks that followed, a slew of people with children wanted to adopt Teddy and that was frustrating. Teddy loves kids, but he wasn’t going off to a home with them. (You read the other blogs, right?).

I took him to adoption event after adoption event, including this one at the Mystic Krewe of Mutts Mardi Gras parade where he had a great time, got a lot of attention and I gave my contact information to more than one interested prospective adopter. But none ever called.

ReneeTeddy

 

Teddy also spent several days a week at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House, an amazing place open to the public in Baton Rouge, where foster dogs can go for “Doggy Day Care” while they are available for adoption. The Dog Adoption House not only looks like a decorator showroom, dogs there get excellent glamour shots taken by generous volunteer photographers like Holly “Bird” Harris and Cheryl Smith Dispenza, who runs a program called Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS) that helps keep dogs out of the shelter in the first place. Cheryl took these of Teddy in November:

Teddy4 Teddy3

Teddy loved it at the Dog Adoption House. It’s cozy, immaculately clean, and the dogs there are given a lot of love from staff and volunteers who let into play yards hourly and give them treats like Kong toys stuffed with frozen peanut butter in their kennels. The Dog Adoption House adopts out dogs at a rate of 1-2 per day, seven days a week. Several of our fosters have been adopted there, but Teddy was passed up again and again. I just didn’t understand it. Maybe it was my sign on his kennel saying he was sensitive and delicate after hip surgery and he needed to be in a home without kids. Who knows.

And then at the end of January, a month after Teddy’s surgery, I got an adoption application from a woman named Claire who lives in Boston.

I have sent fosters to New York, Maine and  Chicago, so I have nothing against shipping dogs thousands of miles away for a great home. But a month out from  surgery, Teddy was still occasionally limping around. On very cold nights, he seemed really uncomfortable and would sometimes cry out while getting in and out of his dog bed. And he was taking arthritis medicine that he might possibly need to take for the rest of his life.

 

Teddy_SundayMorning

 

On paper, however, this Claire person looked pretty wonderful. And she didn’t have kids. Also, she had gone to college at Tulane and was extra excited when she saw that Teddy was a Louisiana dog. Claire loved Louisiana.

I sent her an email expressing my concern for Teddy’s health in a cold climate, because Boston has been slammed with freezing temps and blizzards all winter. I told her about the arthritis meds and about my concern that if she adopted Teddy and wasn’t happy with him, I couldn’t easily get him back, like I could if he were adopted locally. My biggest fear for Teddy was that he might end up at another shelter.

Claire wrote back, saying the arthritis meds weren’t a problem and assuring me that if she adopted Teddy he would never end up in a shelter. Worst case scenario, she said, she would make sure to get him back to me. We agreed I would ask Dr. Salmon what kind of impact the cold might have on Teddy’s pain, and I said I would call Claire the next day to speak with her further.

I never did.

And I didn’t call her the next day either. Very unlike me, but at that time, I just could not envision it. Plus, a really lovely friend and neighbor was letting me rehab Teddy’s hip in her indoor pool and hot tub and he needed more of that. Doing this at a dog rehab facility would be very expensive. Here is the pool where Teddy and I worked out together:

 

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama.

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance a couple of years ago. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama. You really do meet the best people doing stuff like this…

 

I apologized and emailed Claire again, saying Teddy needed  more free pool rehab time. I also told her about the snapping. He hadn’t done it in a month, but I was concerned if he did it to Claire, she might freak out. I signed off saying if she were still interested, I would touch base with her in a month if he hadn’t been adopted locally. I never expected to hear from her again.

But she was still interested. Oh, did I mention Claire works with children who have special needs? Did I mention when I told her about the snapping-but-not-biting, she said, she worked with kids all day who lashed out at times and she felt confident she could handle it?

Thirty days ticked by and the kind of home I wanted for Teddy still wasn’t coming along in Baton Rouge. In that month, he grew stronger, healthier and happier.

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

He didn’t cry getting in and out of his bed on cold nights. He no longer needed arthritis meds. He let me massage his hips and gently tug his tail in a game that I instituted which at first he found puzzling and later found hilarious. And after three months of watching my dogs play with each other and never joining in, Teddy started awkwardly trying to roughhouse with our 85 pound Mastiff mix, Crespo. This was previously unimaginable in his formerly delicate state. Crespo obliged, allowing Teddy to pummel him, like he does with our 30 pound Beagle mix, Luna.

By the end of February, Teddy was feeling like a million bucks, and although I was sure Claire probably had adopted another dog, I gave her a call.

She had not adopted another dog. She was waiting for good news about Teddy.

WHAT?

Seriously, one of the best things about fostering dogs for me is getting to meet amazing people like Claire. You think they don’t exist, and yet they keep showing up, again and again, making fostering dogs so addictive.

I asked Claire for two references and called them — they were Perfect and More Perfect.

I made a Skype date with Claire and met her via video-conference — she was lovelier than I had even imagined.

My friend Deborah, who lives in Boston and had adopted my friend, Laurie Lynn Drummond’s CAA foster Sally the previous month, did a home visit at Claire’s house for me.

Deborah’s verdict: Claire is as great in person as she was on the phone, by email and Skype. Claire clearly understood what she was getting herself into. She was planning to take Teddy to obedience school, not for him, she said, but for her. What Deborah liked best about Claire was how she “lit up” when she spoke about Teddy. If a person could fall in love with a dog over the internet, Deborah said, Claire had done that with Teddy.

It was a done deal. I approved Claire for adoption, she booked Teddy a ride north on the Rescue Road Trips truck and paid for it.

Teddy was Beantown Bound.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass, Amherst. Ed couldn't wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass. Ed couldn’t wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

 

For moral support, my friend Laurie Lynn drove me to the Love’s truck stop in Port Allen, Louisiana, where Teddy was being picked up at 9 am on a Thursday. I kissed him goodbye in the backseat of her car.

 

Teddy20140319_3

Was I a little nervous that Teddy would be scared or naughty and snappy with his handlers on the bus? A little. Was I worried he wouldn’t want to leave me and get into a tractor-trailer lined with 60 cages of dogs and think he was in a strange moving animal shelter? A little.

But it seems Teddy’s experiences at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House made him see kennels filled with other dogs as happy places. Teddy also loves riding in the car, so when he saw the truck, he started wagging his tail like he was about to go on the best ride of his life. He hopped on board in two elegant leaps and let the driver/owner, Greg, lift him without objection, for a picture.

Teddy20140319_1

This is Greg Mahle, who owns and operates Rescue Road Trips. He’s an gentle, kindred spirit who loves dogs as much as we do. Every two weeks Greg drives from his home in Ohio down through the deep south to pick up and deliver homeless dogs  to New England.

Teddy20140319_2

Over the next 48 hours, Teddy let perfect strangers in Alabama and Pennsylvania walk him. And he got to see his first snow. (Unimpressed with that white stuff…Lemme back into the truck!)

TeddySnow

Forty-eight hours later, Claire and her sister drove to get him in Putnam, Connecticut.

TeddyArrived1

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t miss Teddy this morning as I sit on the sofa typing this. He would be pressing his feathery little body into my side trying to get closer than close and encroaching on my keyboard. And if Crespo got too close, he would be turning around and giving him the stink-eye.

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

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

But the fact is, although Teddy liked Crespo and Luna well enough, he is more of a People Dog than a Dog Dog. And in all the time he was here, he never gave up his hope that he could one day have me, or any woman, all to himself. I am a foster dog mom though, and no dog is ever going to have me all to himself. After everything Teddy had been through, he deserved a woman all his own.

It took a few months to find her and more than a thousand miles of traveling, but Claire, it turns out, was Teddy’s woman all along.

Happily. Ever. After.

Happily. Ever. After.

If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Teddy was housed when I met him, please click here: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx

If you would like to help dogs at Friends of the Animals in Baton Rouge, a rescue organization that holds offsite adoption events and has the amazing Dog Adoption House where Teddy spent many happy day time hours over the course of many months, please click here: http://friendsoftheanimalsbr.org/donate.html

Both of these organizations have my heart. Thank you!

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.