Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Favorite Foster Dog; Rudy's Story

In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter and being one half of a therapy dog team, I also foster dogs in my home.  Fostering saves lives. There isn’t enough room or staff in crowded shelters to house and care for all the homeless pets that are brought in every day.  The influx of homeless dogs never ends.  There aren’t enough people to adopt them.  There isn’t enough room in shelters and rescue organizations to continually take them all in.  Foster parents can step in and take some of these dogs into their own homes to provide care and shelter.  


Why Do Dogs need to be fostered ?   


🐶 A  dog may have a highly contagious illness like kennel cough and need to be isolated from the shelter population.  Most shelters have a number of isolation kennels, but when they’re full the dog must be isolated in some other way such as placed with a rescue organization, or placed in a foster home.

🐶 Some dogs just need a bit of training to make them more appealing to a potential adopter.  They may need to learn not to jump all over everyone, or they may never have walked on a leash and need to learn how to walk nicely with a leash with their human beside them.  Some have never been socialized at all and are fearful of people.  They just need some TLC and exposure to people so they'll see that people aren't scary.


🐶 Shelter life is stressful; it’s loud, scary, and confining.   A dog may “shut down” or become what is sometimes called “kennel crazy”.  This is usually a dog that has been at the shelter for a longer period of time, continually passed over by potential adopters.  When a dog shuts down, they no longer interact well with people and sometimes won't eat.  Kennel crazy dogs constantly bark, jump around like mad trying to get out, and may even become hostile.  Dogs like this have been in the shelter too long and desperately need a break!  



Could You Be A Pet Foster Parent?


🐶 Wondering whether or not you could be a foster parent to a shelter or rescue pet?  The first thing many people say is "I work so I don't think I could foster a pet".   But you don’t need to be a stay at home foster parent in order to be an effective foster.  Even people who work full time or are in school full time can foster.  

🐶 Even if you have children or other pets in the home you can still foster.  In fact it can be helpful to have kids and other pets in the home.  That can help with training and socialization of a foster pet.  

🐶 If you think it will be expensive to foster a dog or cat, don't worry!  Most shelters provide the food and basic supplies you will need to care for your foster pet.  If the dog is ill they’ll provide the necessary medication as well.


Rudy Was One Of My First Fosters, and My First Love 



One of my first fosters was Rudy, a chestnut colored Chihuahua mix.  The shelter named him Rudy (as in Rudolph the red nosed reindeer) because he came in around Christmas time.  He was thin and frail, his ribs clearly visible.  He quickly developed a terrible case of kennel cough, probably due to a low immune system.  

Rudy was barely able to sleep, his non-stop coughing wracked his small body keeping him awake day and night.  The shelter didn’t have an available isolation kennel for him or a rescue organization that could take him right away.  He needed a foster home, STAT! 
Rudy napping by the pool the day I brought him home to foster.  Rudy suffered horribly with a serious case of Kennel Cough. He was so thin and frail.  As you can see, his ribs are visible in this photo.
I was nervous about bringing him home to foster.  I worried that my own dog, Icy, might catch his kennel cough, but I took him anyway and kept him separated from Icy the first week. 

I moved him into our quiet, comfy guest room, placing him in a spacious crate with a soft fleece blanket.  He hadn’t been eating at the shelter, probably because it hurt his throat to eat the dry food they gave him due to the kennel cough.  As soon as I gave him wet food, he wolfed it right down!  He quickly began to gain weight and after about 7 days the cough subsided.  He also had fleas and some ticks, which I treated immediately.  This alleviated his constant scratching, making him more comfortable.  

Throughout his ordeal, although he was suffering through kennel cough and discomfort he remained sweet and lovable.  As he recovered, his vibrant personality emerged.  He was extremely loving, playful and smart.  He got along great with Icy and the two played well together.  I fell madly in love with Rudy and we developed a strong bond. 

I sometimes sleep in a pair of big puffy socks, which I leave by the bed like slippers.  One day one of the socks disappeared.  A couple of weeks later I was gathering up Rudy's fleece blanket to wash, and stuffed deep inside the blanket was my sock!  Rudy must have snatched it and hid it in his bed, probably so he could have my scent close to him as he slept in his crate at night.   




I’ll be honest, I kept Rudy far longer than I needed to, I just couldn’t let him go!  Eventually however, I had to. 


Fortunately, the father of one of our wonderful Eagle Scout volunteers wanted very much to adopt him.  I couldn’t ask for a better Dad or a better family for Rudy.  I know he went to a great home with a family who loves him as much as I do. 

The day Rudy was adopted, his new Dad pulled away from the curb with Rudy standing up in the front seat, his nose pressed against the window.  He was looking back at me with those beautiful brown eyes, not understanding why he was leaving me.  I cried all the way home, all night long, and for weeks afterwards, but I knew it was the right thing to do for Rudy.   Rudy was my most special foster dog.  I will love him forever, my darling boy will always be in my heart.  Darn. Now I need a tissue, the tears are starting again. 

If you think you'd like to foster a dog, contact your local animal shelter and ask about becoming a volunteer dog or cat foster parent!

If you enjoyed this post, you'll probably like these too:
How you can Help Homeless Pets Over the Holidays
Could you Foster A Dog For One Day?
Could you Foster A Dog To Save His Life?

Have you ever fostered a dog or other pet?  Tell us about it in the comments!  We'd love to hear from you.


No comments:

Post a Comment