Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fostering is a priceless gift

"There is a deep sleep that only comes on the first night out of the shelter. As he settles in, he gives a great big sigh. Like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. Then he sleeps deeper than he ever has. Knowoing he's safe. You get a lump in your throat as your realize how close he came. Now he's safe. Forever. Because you fostered."  ~Two dog farms
Paula Smith and her 3 rescues.

I cannot express how important fostering is to pets. Fostering allows pets to feel like they are loved and allows them to get used to what it is like to live in a loving home. Proper fostering allows the pet to get some basic training. Basic training will help to ensure that a pet stays in a home once it is adopted and lessens the chances of returning to the shelter.
This month Odin and I would like to introduce our guest writer and good friend Paula Smith from Dog Blessed LLC. Paula specializes in reactive dogs. She also has helped, trained and fostered so many dogs that are thankful for her expertise.
Take it away Paula!

When your foster dog leaves to join her new family, it is a bitter sweet moment.  In my case it always involves a few tears, but every day I look back on it with a warm heart and smile on my face.  I know I helped her find that special family to give her the life she deserves and I got a chance to have another special dog in my life, even if only for a few weeks. Most importantly, I helped save a life.
According to the ASPCA website, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year.  Of those, 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized for a variety of reasons. Shelters play an important role by providing temporary shelter, safety, food, and water to animals in need.  However, shelters have limited space and resources. Additionally, some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment.
Foster homes are a vital part of saving lives of dogs, cats and other animals.  These special homes are lower stress environments that allow the dog to feel safe; learn that humans are kind and loving; and, how they should behave to live their life with humans to the fullest.  Foster homes also free up space in the shelter for another animal so shelters do not meet capacity or have to turn needy animals away. Most shelters have a foster program and there are many rescue groups that operate as only foster homes, without a main facility.  Some of these groups are breed specific.
While the primary goal of the foster family is to save lives and provide safety for their foster, they can also teach her basic rules about living in a human world. These simple lessons impact the dog’s quality of life forever. Many dogs are abandoned because of behavioral issues that can be resolved with basic training. Other basic training such as sit and keeping four feet on the floor can also help a dog make a better first impression to potential adopters.
Best of all, anyone can foster.  If you love animals, you can open up your home to them while they are waiting for their new family to find them.  Most shelters provide training and everything you need, so fostering costs very little.
To learn more about fostering, I suggest contacting a shelter or rescue group you are familiar with or one in the back of this magazine to learn about their foster programs.  Ask questions to learn about their program.  How do you select your foster dog? What happens if the foster dog does not get along with your dog?  What if you have to leave town and can’t take the dog? Do you get to help select the dog’s new family? What expenses (if any) are you responsible for?  What if you think the dog needs special vet attention or training?  Can you adopt the dog if you decide to you want her forever? Are there any cases where the dog might not be adoptable? If so, how are those handled?
This past fall, I fostered two puppies from a litter of eight abandoned at a kill shelter at just six weeks old. I had the opportunity to socialize them and teach them many lessons during a very critical time in their lives that will impact them and their families forever.  Best of all, one of those puppies ended up finding his permanent home with our family. I hope you find your next family member through fostering or at a local shelter.
Paula Smith , Dog Blessed LLC

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