Anyone who volunteers as a foster parent knows the hardest part is letting their foster go. We live with, feed, care for, train, rehabilitate, and love our foster dogs as if they were our own, and we just want them to live an amazing life – free from any of the shelter fear and pain they once knew. We get to know our dogs really, really well so we can place them with the best-fit family and create a positive adoption experience. We never want them to end up in the shelter again.
This is why families go to rescues: to find an appropriately matched dog. The dog we pull from the shelter is not the same dog you will have in 30 days, or 60 days, or even 90 days. The post-shelter decompression time is crucial for dogs and we typically do not see the dogs’ full personality unfold until they are fully decompressed. The rescue serves as a halfway house for the dogs to do exactly that – decompress. The rescues get to know their dogs’ true colors as we ask ourselves questions like: Does this dog get along with other dogs? Does this dog have separation anxiety? Does this dog do well with kids? Does this dog have prey drive? This helps us match the dog with the right family. The last thing we want is for the newly adopted dog to not work out with his/her new family – it’s sad not only for the dog, but also for the adoptive family.
When we adopt a dog to a family, we always spend time at the new family’s home reviewing the dog’s routine and how to best acclimate the dog to his/her new environment. We give tools and offer guidelines, like going over crate training, taking walks around the neighborhood, and introducing the new dog to the neighbor dogs, and we always send the dog with a properly fitted walking device and review thresholds. The first couple of weeks after a dog is placed in a new environment is critical as the dog is in unfamiliar territory and, if spooked, their first instinct will often be to “run.”
We give you these tools and guidelines because we know our dogs. That’s our job as foster parents. If adopters choose to not follow our suggestions, then there may be devastating consequences.
Please, please, please listen to the rescues. If they give you a no-slip martingale collar to use on walks, then use it. If they tell you a dog may try to sneak out the front door when it opens, keep the dog crated when there is a lot of activity in and out of your home. If they advise you to only let the dog in the backyard when supervised, then do not leave home for an hour and keep the dog in the yard.
We cannot control what happens to our fosters once they’re adopted. But we arm our adopters with the necessary tools and knowledge in order to create a safe and loving environment because we want each of our dogs to have a happily ever after ending. Accidents happen, this is true, but they can often be prevented by using the rescue’s advice and know-how.