Tag Archives: Fostering

What’s in a name?

We have about a gazillion nicknames for the Cooper-monster,  but at the end of the day – the name suits him perfectly. Cooper couldn’t really have been anything other than “Cooper.”

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This gorgeous fellow is one of the newest members of the Agape family, and he’s having a bit of an identity crisis.  He’s one of the Operation Unbridled Spirit dogs, and is currently camping out with our friends Jen & Jason (that’s right, Olive’s former pad).  At the emergency shelter he known as Jelly Roll.

Chewie

Then one day he started singing a lovely song, which sounded remarkably like a certain character from a beloved sci-fi movie classic.

I happen to believe he resembles a different character from that particular movie.

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jabba

Another name on the table is Frank.

Chewie

So, just for fun, blog readers – let your voices be heard: Which name best suits the big guy: Jelly Roll, Chewie, Jabba, or Frank?  Cast your votes in the Comments, and please defend your answers!

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If you’re interested in adding Jelly Roll/Chewie/Jabba/Frank to your family, please fill out an application with Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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Guest Post: The Benefits of Fostering a Dog

Laruen Colman serves as the digital marketer for the dog boarding and dog sitting community at Rover.com and is a true dog lover at heart. Lauren spends her days at the office with her dogs Squish and Brando by her side. All photo credits in this post belong to Ms. Colman.

Fostering a homeless dog is a true labor of love. The experience can be difficult at times, but most foster families love what they do. Although many people would love to help dogs in need, some are fearful of the work or of becoming too attached to the animals. If you’ve been thinking about fostering but are hesitant to make a commitment, here are some of the benefits for both the dogs and the families involved.

Benefits for the Dog

For a homeless dog, being released from a shelter may mean the difference between life and death. Animal shelters are often filled to capacity and can’t keep dogs for very long. Volunteers from various animal rescue groups try to help as many dogs as they can, but they must have enough foster homes for the dogs. By fostering, you not only save one dog’s life, but two. By taking them into your home and out of the shelter, you help make room for another dog and give them a chance at adoption or foster care.

Foster homes are also used to rehabilitate dogs. Dogs that go into foster homes for the first time learn how to be a part of a family. They’re introduced to manners, rules, exercise and love that the foster parents work to teach and enforce. Once the dog has been trained, he is more likely to be adopted and remain with his adopted family. If you’re worried about being able to train a dog, the sponsoring rescue group usually provides help.

If a dog is in need of medical care, foster families provide a safe place for the dog to recuperate after treatment. Sick and injured dogs are more likely to recover in a loving home. Some foster families also care for pregnant dogs and help with the puppies after birth. Because all veterinary services are provided by the rescue group, you won’t have to worry about the cost. 

Dogs are much happier in a home environment. Even if they are placed in a no-kill shelter, dogs are likely to be kept in kennels. Without freedom to run, consistent interaction with humans, love, and play, the dogs may grow depressed and may also gain weight. It is very hard to judge a dog in the shelter environment because of these implications, which can lead to lower adoption rates. By providing a temporary home environment, you are keeping the dog happy and healthy and allowing them to blossom into the character they really are.

Benefits for the Family

Although dogs definitely benefit from being fostered, there are also rewards for the foster families. If you already own a dog and aren’t sure if you’re ready for another one of your own, fostering is a great way to “test drive” the scenario and prepare you for the responsibilities of a multi-dog household down the road.

If fostering with no hard expiration date turns you off, consider short-term foster care. By doing this, you’re still able to test the situation and see how you, the dog and your family handle the living conditions. Regardless of time, by taking the dog in, you prepare them for adoption and help prevent overcrowding in the shelter.

If you have children, fostering an animal is a great way to teach responsibility. Taking in a homeless dog can show your kids the importance of caring for animals, and it can also help them to understand the impact of spaying and neutering our pets. In the U.S. as a whole, there are 6-8 million homeless animals entering shelters every year. Half of these animals are lucky enough to find homes while the other half is euthanized. These are healthy, sweet animals that could have made someone a great companion.

Fostering a dog is also a great way to give back to the community. You are not only saving a dog’s life, but you are also helping to prepare him for a new home. Although you may be worried about letting the dog go, you can rest assured that that you are providing an invaluable service. You will also be making more room for future dogs to come into your home.

Although fostering a homeless dog isn’t easy, it definitely has its rewards. By fostering, you provide the dog with a temporary home, medical care and training. In return, you’ll have the satisfaction of caring for an animal in need. Any fears or hurt you may feel by becoming “too attached” to your new addition will be replaced by the joy you feel when you see the new family with their dog. Remember, there is always another dog that needs your help after this one goes home.

Rover.com provides an alternative to kennels as a dog boarding option for pet owners. Whether it’s your own home or your neighbor’s home, you don’t have to drive hours to find a cageless kennel or worry about your dog being holed up in a lonely cage while you’re away. Sitters can sign up for the service on their own and range from professionals who will come to you home, large families with other dogs, or doting elderly folks who will love your pup like their grandchildren. For more dog tips, you can follow Rover.com on Twitter @roverdotcom or on their blog, Dog Boarding News.  

~

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Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure a year in the life of fostering?

In tongue licks? In vet trips? In good-byes and happy endings?

In lake swims? In bath times? In laughter and tears…

Pop a cork, today is our one-year blogiversary!  We can hardly believe it’s been a whole year since we started this journey, but at the same time we can’t believe it’s been a year already…it seems like just yesterday I was typing “how to start a blog” into the Google-machine (yes, I really did that).

I started this blog primarily as a way to chronicle our misadventures as we navigated this world that was new to us, this world of animal rescue and dog fostering.  It seemed so foreign, and like such a huge undertaking.  We were wicked intimidated, but somehow the idea of writing it all down made it less scary. 

The other main reason I wanted to blog about our foster dogs was to help potential adopters get to know them. I remembered that when we were searching for Oscar, I scanned through hundreds of online dog profiles.  While I skipped right over the ones that had bad photos little-to-no information beyond age, sex & breed, and I found myself drawn to the ones who had detailed profiles that told a story about the dogs’ personalities, good quality photos and sometimes even videos.  So I wanted to write a blog that would make our dogs irresistable to me as a potential adopter, if I came across a link on a dog’s online profile.

Instead of summarizing the last year (which would probably take me another year to do), and after yesterday’s post that apparently left some of you in tears (sorry about that), let’s have some fun!  

I want to start with one of my favorite things to do when checking our blog stats – search term results.  WordPress keeps track of what people type into the Google-machine to get to our blog.  I’m pretty sure that even if our blog comes up in the search results, they have to actually click on the link and visit the blog for the search term to count.  So, even if these folks were looking for something completely different than a blog about foster dogs, perhaps they got a little chuckle out of a funny dog story before they continued on their way. Here are some of my favorite search terms that have led people to our blog over the past year:

himym dog pie (Not sure where the “dog pie” part comes in, but I’m pretty sure “himym” is from this post. Love that show! )

dogs running all over the world (Oh, if only the world was full of responsible dog owners, this wouldn’t happen!)

river of pee (Um, gross…but yep, I can see how that might have happened.)

why are dogs better than people (How much time have you got?)

i took all the dogs  (If you’re a Hyperbole and a Half fan, then this image is already in your head…)

can you take a dog who isn’t well behaved to the dog park (I hope that after reading this post, they learned that the answer to that question is NO!!!)

anal infection swag (I don’t know what they were searching for, but I hope this post helped answer their questions)

the importance of support from your friends (ain’t it the truth)

fostering through agape (Maybe one of you out there is considering joining the Agape family? Just maybe?)

dipping dogs for tricks in a hole (Huh??)

happy birthday donkey (Double huh???)

And my favorite search term result of all time….

why is fostering dogs important (We must be doing something right!)

OK, so now I have to know…have any of you stumbled on our blog “by accident,” and if so, what were you originally searching for?  Feel free to fess up down in the comments, and thanks for sticking around!

In looking through our search results, I deduced that the Google-machine must take comments into account as well as the text in our posts.  On that note, I thought it was interesting (thought not really at all surprising) that our top commenters all also happen to have blogs of their own (check them out over in our Blogroll).  Unfortunately WordPress only keeps track of comment statistics for the last six months instead of the whole year, but you get the idea…

Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation by leaving comments.  I’ve learned a lot from your advice, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know some of you (and your fur-babies) quite well by reading what you have to say.  Also, you guys have absolutely cracked me up!   

And now for some “fun by numbers”!

Number of dogs fostered: six

Number of foster dogs we’ve wanted to keep furever: six

Number of happy endings (so far): five (Barney, Tucker, Kaylee, Roxie, & Molly Tamale)

Number of adoption/returns: one

Quickest adoption: two weeks

Longest tenant: eight months (…and counting)

Number of trips to the vet with a foster dog: six (never a dull moment at Foster House!)

Number of posts: 188

Total number of blog views: 33,199 (wow!)

Highest number of views on one post: 302 (The Return of the Tamale)

Least viewed post: Our second post ever, Officially Applied, and our first holiday post, Thankful, were tied at 27, followed by Tucker Sees a Ghost at 33 (Wait, seriously, only 33 of you saw Tucker Sees a Ghost?  Go check it out right now, that dog was hilarious!)

Most views in one day: 341 (A New Record – fitting, huh?)

Blog subscribers: 61

HBAMF Facebook followers: 390 (can we make it to 400 by Monday??)

Number of chewed-up pieces of furniture: three

Large-scale rescue efforts in our area: two (Operation Sweethearts and Operation Freedom)

Number of foster dog escapes: three (Tucker’s Big Adventure…never really mentioned the other two, have I?)

Number of successful recoveries: three (whew!)

Surprise fosters: one

Number of collars: nine

Training classes: three (Dogs & Kat, we are eternally grateful!)

Times I’ve doubted myself: more than I care to admit.

Times I’ve regretted becoming a foster mom: zero.

Would I do it all again?  In a heartbeat. 

Thanks for sticking with us during the first year of our foster adventure! 
Whaddaya say, shall we go another year?
Let’s do this…

~

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When the time comes…

Dear Cooper,

Today marks eight months that you’ve lived with us at Foster House. Eight months, kid! If your goal was to crush the record of every other dog that’s passed through our doors, well you certainly have succeeded, sir!  Far and away. You’ve even gotten lapped – twice!

Cooper’s first night at Foster House

There’s no doubt that you have been “my” dog from the start. Of course you love your Foster Dad, but you clung to me from the moment we left the shelter on your little temporary leash and generic nylon collar.  Well we’ve certainly improved your wardrobe since then,  haven’t we?  (Exhibit A, B, and C

When you were on your very first outing with us, I clipped you to the run in the backyard with Oscar and turned and walked to get something out of the car…you strained against your tie-out and barked in distress after me, terrified that I was leaving you. Of course, I returned, and you’ve been a momma’s boy ever since. 

 

You let us know right away that your stint with us would not be uneventful.  You’ve challenged us more than we ever thought a foster dog could.  We found ourselves completely out of our depth with you – between the potty training, the destruction, the separation anxiety, and of course your fear around other dogs, more than once we thought we had bitten off more than we could chew.   But no matter how hard it got, we never once thought of giving up on you.  You needed us to be strong and constant for you.  So we gritted our teeth and equipped ourselves with tools to help you.

Cooper graduates from Basic Obedience Class!

It is impossible not to love you.  That tail of yours never stops wagging, and that adorable brindle tushy it’s attached to has wriggled it’s way right into our hearts. You’ve slept in our bed with us since the second night.  Not just in our bed, but a lot of the time right up there on our pillows with us.  You’ve punched me in the face in the middle of the night, and have woken me up way too early on mornings after I’ve worked late.  You are the only one who could have possibly gotten away with that.  With your goofball antics and your infectious smile, I just can’t stay mad at you!

Coop, you’ve got your momma whipped!

As much as I love you, I know that the time will come when I have to tell you goodbye.  I’m not going to lie, it is getting harder and harder to think about.  Honestly, there are tears in my eyes as I’m typing this out, and you haven’t even been adopted yet!  Just the thought of you leaving us makes me so, so sad.  I think it’s because we’ve invested so much emotionally into you.  I’ve celebrated your victories with you, and I’ve cried behind closed doors when I thought we were failing you.  You have wormed your way so deep into my heart that I don’t know how I’m ever going to be able to let you go.

But, that’s what a Foster Mom does.  She falls in love a million times and sends a piece of her heart with each dog who leaves her in his rearview mirror.  When the time comes, I’ll hug you tight (and probably pick you up, because you let me do it – I love that about you), smooch your face and try with everything I have to hold it together until you’re out of my sight. Because when the time comes, it will be a happy day, because it will mean that I’ve done my job.  I’ll have made you into the dog who your Furever family can call “mine.”

I am both looking forward to and dreading that day.  But, until then…you will be “My Cooper.”

With love, always…
Foster Momma

…and in my heart, you’ll always be “My Cooper.”

If you think you’re the right family for Cooper, please fill out an adoption application with Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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Our First Foster – One Year Later

The first dog we fostered through Agape Animal Rescue was Tucker.  But before Tucker, there was Barney.

Last year, Foster Dad and I were starting to kick around the idea of fostering dogs.  Oscar had been with us for a year by that time, and we were head over heels for this dog.  We always knew we were “dog people,” but turns out – we were full on “crazy dog people.” We talked about Oscar constantly. We plastered our Facebook pages with his picture.  We celebrated his birthday.  We always knew we’d want to be a two-dog house eventually, and we figured if having one dog was this awesome, than having two would be twice as awesome, right??

Photo by Barney’s Furever Family

We weren’t in a hurry though.  We knew that when the time came that we would rescue again,  because for us the most important thing about adding another furry member to our family was helping a dog in need.  With that in mind, we started talking about fostering.  Casually, nothing serious.

Photo by Barney’s Furever Family

Barney wandered into our lives a year ago this week.  Now, we see stray dogs in our area of town all the time. All. The. Time. But when I saw Barney running down the side of the road that early morning, there was something about him that I couldn’t ignore.  I just had to pull over and see what was up.  I had no idea if he’d be interested in me at all, or if he’d bolt.  I hadn’t planned on chasing a dog through South Nashville streets all morning, so I told myself if he didn’t come to me easily, I’d assume he was on his way home.

After I pulled a stop and got out of the car, I turned to face him, crouched down and said cheerfully, “Hey buddy!”  He stopped dead in his tracks, and only considered me for a moment before bolting straight towards me and climbing into my lap, tail wagging a mile a minute.  Well, it was settled.  He was coming with me.

Photo by Barney’s Furever Family

I called Foster Dad on the way home to tell him what I had gotten us into, and he was totally on board.  “Well, you couldn’t just leave him there! Bring him home!”  We did our due diligence….checked for a microchip (nope), looked on Craigslist, Petfinder, etc for lost dogs matching his description (nothing), and papered the entire area with FOUND DOG fliers to see if we would get any hits (not one).  However, when we posted him on the local Facebook page and asked our neighbors if anyone recognized him, we piqued the interest of Ted & Amanda. 

The recognized him, alright.  They recognized him as they newest member of their family.  They had been thinking about getting another dog as a playmate for their yellow lab, Bella.  When they saw Barney’s picture, it was insta-love.   One week after Barney entered our lives, he was off to live with his new family.

Photo by Barney’s Furever Family

Barney may not have been an “official” foster dog.  He wasn’t affiliated with a rescue organization, he wasn’t pulled out of a shelter, neutered, or vetted.  None the less – he was our foster dog.  Our first one.  We found him, sheltered him from the elements, and gave him food and water.  We bathed him and trimmed the matted hair from under his ears and belly.  We invited him into our home and loved him. And when the time came, we said goodbye. We’re counting him, and we’re adding him to the “Success Stories” column.  He really should have been there from the beginning. 

Happy Adoptiversary, Barney! 
And just like we say to all our foster dogs…we love you forever, and we’ll never forget you!

~

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Fostering 101: The Importance of Support

Since Molly Tamale has moved on to start the rest of her life with her wonderful new Furevers, we are “in between” foster dogs at the moment.  No better time for another installment of our Fostering 101 series!  Today’s post: The Importance of Support.  Enjoy – and as always, feel free to chime in down in comments! ~Laura

I cannot even begin to express the importance of a strong support system if you decide you’d like to join the wonderful world of dog fostering.  It’s an amazing experience, but anyone who tells you it isn’t tough is kidding you.  Tough, yes – but so, so much easier if you have a strong network of people who you can lean on in various capacities.

Support from your Family

This should be a no brainer, but I’ll kick of with this one anyway – Before you decide to bring home a foster dog, it’s important essential that everyone in your household is on board.  Having a dog is a lot of work, and if you already have furry member of the family (or several), adding another one – even a temporary one – is going to add to that work load.  Feeding time, play time, walks, medications, picking up toys and other, well “stuff” – as a foster parent, you’ll be responsible for all of these things.  Make sure everyone in the house realizes this, and is willing to help pitch in. 

Support from your Rescue

I’m going to brag on Agape Animal Rescue here for a quick moment:  They. Are. Awesome

You know all of those beautiful professional photos I am lucky enough to be able post on this blog?  Agape is responsible for making those arrangements with amazing photographers like Harmony Designs Photography and Amiee Stubbs Photography

     

You remember how Oscar and one of our previous fosters got into a little spat?  Well, we had no idea how to handle it, and Agape sent one of their resident dog training gurus right over to the house to help us mediate the situation.  Oh, and remember how our first foster dog got adopted because his Furevers saw him at an adoption fair?  We never would have been there in the first place if Agape wasn’t invited to participate in the event. 

I could go on and on about the benefits of being associated with a reputable rescue organization if you decide you want to start fostering – support from your rescue organization is right up there with support from your family. Your rescue should be there for you in any way that you need – do they respond quickly if you call or e-mail?  If you need supplies, are they able to get them to you efficiently?  If you have an emergency, are they equipped to handle it?  Also – do they value you as a foster parent?  Do they take your needs and preferences into account, or do they try to “guilt” you into bringing a dog into your home that oh-my-gosh-is-going-to-get-put-to-sleep-if-we-can’t-find-a-foster-for-him-right-now? 

That being said, every person is different, and every rescue is different.  You will have your own set of “requirements” that you will need from your rescue organization in order for you to feel comfortable, and the most important thing is that your rescue is able to support you in the way that you need them to.  (Check out What is Fostering, Anyway? for a list of sample questions to ask a rescue organization if you decide you want to start fostering.)

Support from your Friends

So you took the leap, and you’re fostering your first dog – woo-hoo!  You’re excited.  Your foster dog did something hilarious.  You feel proud of yourself – and heck, you should be.  You want to share!  There are lots of people that are going to be interested in what you’re doing, and getting your foster dogs exposure is the best way to get them adopted quickly.  However, remember that not everyone you know might be interested in dog rescue – and that’s OK!  If your friends don’t care a lick about dog rescue, you don’t want to over-burden them with your fostering escapades and risk turning them off to the experience all together.  Answer questions when asked, thank people for their interest in what you’re doing, and for the love of dog: don’t preach(Thank you Aleks from Love and a Six Foot Leash for this awesome post on the subject!)

A great place to find additional support is from the online community.  I really had no idea what that meant before I started this blog, but the connections I’ve made in cyber-space have been unbelievable.  I’ve found an amazing network of people in the foster and rescue community to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm solutions to problems with, and also just to tell my funny stories to.   Not to mention, there is always someone who can relate to the tears when you have to say good-bye(Thank you Kate from Twenty-Six to Life for your take on the relief that comes with sending a dog off to their furever home.) 

You don’t have to start your own blog to become part of the online rescue community. The blogosphere has no shortage of blogs for you to read with great information (check out my blog roll for some of my favorites, and don’t forget to peruse the comments, lot of useful stuff down there too!), and many rescue groups have Facebook pages or Twitter feeds as well.  Some folks have even transitioned virtual friendships to actual real-life ones – check out the walking groups that Two Pitties in the City and Our Waldo Bungie have started!

With a good support system in place, you’ll find that dog fostering is not nearly as overwhelming as it might seem.  With the support and contacts I’ve made through the experience, personally I’ve found it to be a total blast!

Check out our other posts in our Fostering 101 series – What is Fostering, Anyway? and The Adoption Process.  Coming soon – Why It’s Hard and Why It’s Great

~

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Sweet Sorrow

Molly Tamale may not ever realize how close she came to becoming our first Foster Failure.  The attraction was instantaneous – we brought her home on a Thursday night, and by the end of the weekend Oscar, Foster Dad and I were all head over heels (paws?) in love with her.  

She’s just so dang cute, with those stubby little legs, floppy bat ears and goofy smile.  Beyond that, Oscar seemed to be completely smitten with her from the beginning.  Since Oscar’s approval will ultimately be the #1 factor in determining if/when we ever do add a dog to our family on a Furever basis,  it was impossibly painful to imagine the day she might leave us. Molly settled right into our hearts so quickly and seemed so comfortable with us, that we thought the feeling must be mutual.

But then one day, way too soon, we got The Call from our rescue: a family was interested in Molly Tamale and wanted to meet her.  Even though I knew my response should have been, “Wow, that’s awesome!” I’m not going to lie – my initial gut reaction was, “What?!?  Nooooo! I’m not ready!”  I think my actual reply landed somewhere in between, something like, “Holy crap, is that some kind of record?”  She had only been with us for 5 days at that point, I thought there was no way she’d be leaving us so soon!

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that during the Meet & Greet, I was secretly hoping it wouldn’t work out. 

But then, something happened at The Tamale’s home visit.  Maybe it was the way Caitlin’s eyes lit up when she saw Molly Tamale again.  Maybe it was the way Molly crawled right into Dale’s lap as he sat on the floor, and showing him a happy tail and “love me” eyes like even Foster Dad or I had never seen from her before.  Maybe it was the way Molly and Ziggy bonded instantly, and seemed truly Meant to Be.

But I think more than any of those things, it was the way I could feel a teeny tiny piece of my heart breaking off, ready to give to Molly Tamale to take with her and keep forever. 

I realized then and there that Molly Tamale was never Ours to begin with.  We were just a layover while she waited for her connection, so she could finally complete her journey.  After six stops along the way, Molly is finally at lucky number seven: Home.

So as I sit here typing, I’m not ashamed to admit I have to wipe away an occasional tear – I mean crap, this one was tough to say good-bye to.  But I’m trying to remind myself that this is why we do this.  Though I will always miss Molly, and I will love her forever, the tears I’m shedding now hold nothing in comparison to the pure joy I feel when I remember that she will never, ever be scared, lonely, cold, hurt, afraid, or rejected again. 

And the best part?  There’s another dog out there right now, who needs our help.  And we are going to help her.

 

It’s too late to add Molly Tamale to your family, but visit
Agape Animal Rescue’s “adoptable dogs” page
to see who else is looking for their People! 
And stay tuned to meet our next adoptable house guest.

~

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