Is Fostering for me?
Words of wisdom by one of SGS's longest serving fosterer
As a fosterer who has helped over 30 dogs into their new homes (I only kept 6 of them) it has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. At the moment I have had to step back as 2 of my dogs are not so well, and I miss it, miss the not being able to step in and help in an emergency, I miss bringing on a raw dog and the fun and drama it entails, meeting the new owners and seeing a happy excited family go off with my” baby”.
HOWEVER fostering is not just about getting a dog to safety, it is about bringing the dog on and guiding him/her along the stepping stones to a new life, and this involves a few do's and don'ts. When you sign a fostering agreement you are agreeing to these rules, and they have been introduced to protect the dogs we rescue, and many dogs are put into our care by trainers/owners who trust us and our ethics.
Muzzling -while we assess the dog they must be muzzled in a new or strange situation. Greyhounds are very quick when they react, and should they have an issue such as fear aggression, the muzzle can prevent serious damage. I always muzzled my own dogs and any new dogs coming into the house during introductions. Dogs were kept muzzled until I was happy they were relaxed with each others company. They were also muzzled if I left until I knew the dog well enough not to. When out on walks foster dogs were always muzzled, no matter how well behaved they were, as I cannot control other peoples loose dogs, and any situation that might arise from their behaviour.
Not allowing your foster dog off lead is just plain common sense. Even when you think it is safe, is it really? What about the unexpected event e.g. a loud noise that frightens them? When greys run off in fright, they move fast and blindly, they could not only run into something and badly injure or kill themselves, they can get lost. A strange frightened dog is not easy to find. If they are also unmuzzled they could go for another dog, who is liable for the vets bills? You are if you have broken the rules.
Training is done with kindness and treats, no domination techniques here thank you. If you have done your research you will know that teaching through fear is proven to be unreliable, and a lot of dogs have experienced enough of that already. Patience, consistency and love, it may take time but they will respond.
It is better to leave the dog with his given name, the new family might want to change it and it can be confusing to get two or three name changes, I can tell you it took me months and months to get used to my married name!
Do not expect a dog to be grateful and well behaved, just because you have taken them in, it doesn't work that way. They might well pee on your new carpet, steal the roast, get up the sofa and not want to get off, empty the bins and carry of the remote control, your shoes etc., go mental when they see a small dog, cat or rabbit, give you some sleepless nights. They are not being naughty or bad, they have never been shown how to live in a home situation. It is not a job for egoists, but an intrinsic way of life.
The SGS team are always on hand to help and advise, and as long as you are prepared to listen most problems are surmountable.
Following the rules and advice is about keeping the dog safe, and that is what it is about. Ask any “serial fosterer” they will tell you just how good it is.
Fostering can be challenging, an emotional rollercoaster at times, but ultimately it is very rewarding when you start to see a dog settle and it's personality shine through.