Foreword by Sarah Brasky, Founder of Foster Dogs Inc
Always wondered, “How can I have it all: kids and foster dogs?” Well, it’s absolutely possible, and can indeed be done safely, successfully, and even with utter enjoyment. With a lot of patience and perspective, this can be an incredible experience for your foster dog - and your family. I have fostered a handful of dogs since giving birth to my child two and a half years ago. Some small, some bigger, some active, some lazy. Considering the fact that I also have two big furry goofs in my home named Ozzie and Shaggy who are basically toddlers themselves, I find any foster I house at this point to be a “win.” My son is accustomed to having seemingly-random doggy visitors in our home, and I am grateful to have shown him so many positive associations with new dogs of all shapes and sizes. Of all the seniors Foster Dogs has pulled from the shelter, about half of them have stayed with us for a bit of time, some just a few hours, some several weeks. For me, it’s a great way to learn more about the dogs before they are up for adoption; for my dogs, it’s a cool house guest to interact with; for my child, it’s a new creature to appreciate and support.
As with my own dogs, I supervise all child-to-dog interactions, and will intervene with interactions with fosters if the situation calls for it. Safety is top priority, and when a child learns compassion for animals at an early age, he or she can become a better person. Here’s a helpful packet on teaching empathy to young children through being kind to animals. Bringing home a foster dog while you have a child or multiple children isn’t always a piece of cake. There’s less sleep at times (yes, less than usual), there’s more “put away your toys or else they will be chewed up” conversations, there’s more “Doggy stole my cracker” dilemmas. But there’s also many beautiful aspects, and once your child says “so long” to one dog, you have the opportunity to welcome a new dog in need. It’s a beautiful cycle, and I hope you’ll give it a try!
When I tell people that we enjoy fostering dogs, the response is usually something like: “Oh that’s such a great thing to do, but I just don’t think I could foster because…” I hear a variety of concerns, such as working long hours, becoming too attached to the dogs, and having young children in the home. All of these are valid and not to be taken lightly, but when it comes to fostering, I love to help people see possibility where they previously only saw a problem.
My husband and I fostered before having a baby, but after our daughter was born, I wasn’t sure if it could work. We live in a small NYC apartment, my husband works long hours, and a child is more than a full-time job for me. I had questions like, “What if we can’t sleep?” “How will I walk a dog with my daughter in-tow?” “Can I trust an unfamiliar dog around a baby?” Most of all, my daughter takes so much time and energy, and I wasn’t sure if I had the physical and emotional capacity.
But… we decided to try it. When Sarah from Foster Dogs first asked us to foster a small terrier who had just been pulled from the ACC, we agreed to a short-term placement. We felt very supported and things went well, so a few months later, we agreed to take another dog… and then another. What I have realized through the process is that by fostering a dog, we are doing something small that makes a difference not only to the dog but also to the people who end up adopting. In addition, by teaching our daughter to show compassion and love animals, I am confident that we are enriching her life and giving her coping skills that will serve her long after she leaves our home. Do you have questions about whether or not you could foster a dog while raising children? Foster Dogs Inc. is here to help!
Here are some practical tips for anyone who is considering fostering:
Be honest with your child about what to expect
When preparing a child to foster, it’s important to be honest about what he or she should expect. From the moment a foster dog comes through our door, we explain to our daughter that this new dog-friend is only staying with us until he finds a family of his own. We talk about how happy we will be when she goes home, and we ask her questions about how she feels about the situation. So far, there have been no tears when a foster dog leaves, only celebration that we helped a friend in need.
Give your child freedom to express emotions
My toddler’s opinions are highly variable without a foster dog at home, and when there’s a new dog invading her space, emotions can run high! One minute our daughter is elated to have a dog in her house, and the next she’s scared because he jumps on her or sad because he grabs her favorite toy. My goal in managing these interactions is always to love and to teach. I try to show love for both my daughter and our visiting dog, and I want to teach my daughter how to acknowledge her emotions and how to interact compassionately with others. Some of my favorite solutions when emotions are running high: we go for family walks, we use baby gates to give everyone their own space, we do calming activities such as reading or coloring, or we give our foster dog some crate time with a peanut butter-filled Kong toy!
Share the love of fostering in your community
Raising kids takes a village, and so does fostering! Our home is very social and we have a constant rotation of friends, children, neighbors, and caregivers come through our door. For me, one of the most rewarding experiences of fostering is watching other children, families, and caregivers learn about the fostering process and grow to love our visiting dogs. For families with young children, talk to your rescue group about their preferences regarding caregivers/visitors, and of course, any interactions with visitors should be highly supervised.
Develop an honest relationship with your rescue group
Every foster dog is unique, and so is every foster family. Be honest with your rescue group about what type of dog you can best accommodate, and if you have questions about what will be expected, don’t hesitate to ask clear questions up-front regarding length of stay, expense, transport, and training. Our fostering experience has always been very positive because we have felt heard and supported by our rescue groups. We have felt comfortable declining fostering dogs who we felt we couldn’t support, and we’ve had a positive experience with each foster dog we brought into our home.
Make sure the whole family is on board and understands responsibilities
Bringing a new dog into your home is fun and incredibly rewarding, but it is also a commitment that requires adjustment and flexibility from everyone in the home. The experience of fostering will be more positive, and therefore more likely to be repeated, if everyone in the home pitches in and helps.
Considering fostering? Talk to the others in your family about how they feel about fostering, and start making a plan for how you can work together to meet the practical needs of a dog in need. Is someone in your family hesitant to begin? Consider going to Foster Dogs Inc’s foster training workshops together, and you can get involved in other ways as you learn!
Be gentle with yourself
Has today been a hard day with your foster dog? We all understand. Are you in a season of life where fostering isn’t feasible? There are other ways to be involved! Did you fall short of your goals today? Tomorrow is a new day. Do you need support from other people who understand? We are here for you! The community at @fosterdogs and your rescue group is here to train, equip, and train people to have a positive fostering experience, so don’t hesitate to reach out when you need advice, support, or practical help. And most of all, be gentle with yourself. Fostering dogs while raising children is no small commitment, but it’s so rewarding.
Read more FAQs on our website, and celebrate National Foster a Pet Month by bringing home a temporary new fur-kid!
Kaiti and Robert with Smokey the Bear, by Real Happy Dogs
Written by Foster Dogs Inc volunteer and foster mom Kaiti Murphy
When my boyfriend and I first welcomed Smokey into our home as a foster, we took one look at him and we were sure he wouldn't be with us long just based on how cute and spunky he is.
After getting to know him and realizing some of his quirks, like his separation anxiety, it made finding him a home a little more difficult. He received compliments on his looks and liveliness from everyone he met, and had meet and greets with a handful of prospective adopters. None of them resulted in a commitment of a forever home. After he spent some time away from us while on a trial adoption, I realized how greatly I missed laughing at his antics, seeing him sprint around with glee at the sight of an empty dog park all to himself, and just his loving companionship in general. We clearly had a bond and I wanted to make a commitment to love and care for him for the rest of his years on earth.
In human years, Smokey is older than my boyfriend and myself combined, but in no way does that affect the amount of love he shows us on a daily basis. I didn't want to miss another opportunity to make him a permanent part of our family.
Foster parents Kaiti and Robert began fostering senior mix Smokey the Bear through Foster Dogs Inc nearly four months ago, straight from NYC ACC.
Through dog training support from Gonzo Dog, medical care from Animal Kind Vet in Brooklyn, custom illustrations by @dailydogdrawings, promotion from Susie’s Senior Dogs / Dogs of Shelters / Boris & Horton / The Dodo, among many others, a Wisdom Panel DNA test, glamorous photo shoots with Pawmiscuous / NeelySnaps / PutaWoofOverMyHead / Real Happy Dogs, and tons of volunteer help with transportation and advice — Smokey landed exactly where he needed to be!
He has a heart murmur and doesn’t like to be alone, which made it tough to find the right home. After our latest unsuccessful meet and greet, Kaiti and Robert decided it was meant to be: Smokey was already home. Thanks to all who shared his story. We are so happy for our fuzzy little grizzly bear!
View Smokey’s original post on our website. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Susie’s Senior Dogs, Smokey will receive heart medication through the remainder of this year.
Meet our senior boy Baloo, he’s the kindest, gentlest big bear in the whole jungle!
Look at that smile!!
Want to know Baloo’s favorite thing? Rolling slowly into your lap like a 10-lb lapdog! He has no idea that he’s a giant - please don’t tell him.
He has mastered the “serious” face, and does a fab job showing you his big grin. Seriously, everyone that meets him falls in love. Baloo was pulled from the local city shelter NYC ACC in early-February. We pulled him after hearing rave reviews from every shelter staff member and volunteer, one of whom called him “everyone’s boyfriend.”
Baloo has been fully vetted, vaccinated and neutered and is healthy! His age is estimated at 7-9. He definitely doesn’t have puppy energy, but likes to take walks. He has been trained to walk nicely on a head halti and walks nicely given his size (80 lbs! We think it’s mostly his giant head!)
As with all dogs, we recommend a meet and greet between all family members, human and canine.
Baloo is both crate trained and house-trained (though a few accidents are normal as any dog settles in). He’s been working on his crate-training, and will need some time in his new home to adjust to the new sounds, when he’s alone.
Baloo has received a 3-week professional training program, courtesy of Foster Dogs Inc. He walks beautifully on a Halti no-pull harness, and is obsessed with cream cheese.
Yogi was pulled from the local city shelter, NYC ACC, a few weeks ago. He was extremely matted with nails too long to walk on, infected ears, and malnourished, with a cough. After a few weeks in foster care, some vetting including a dental to remove his last 2 teeth, and a gorgeous grooming, this little bear-Muppet hybrid is feeling so much better and is ready to find his new home!
Yogi does have a heart murmur, as is common in older dogs, but it shouldn’t affect his life (please don’t ask him to run a marathon, though). He has no teeth left so would probably enjoy soft food! He might have some slight arthritis in his back legs, as is also common, but he loves to walk outside and can go up a few stairs or is totally fine being carried. He might be hard of hearing, but it doesn’t affect him at all other than not being able to hear his name.
Yogi likes other dogs! In fact, sometimes he likes them a little too much and will put his paws up on them if he’s feeling sexy (he might try to hump, but adjusts in time). He can’t help it, he just loves everyone! He would be happy to have a doggie sibling of any size that doesn't mind if he does this a few times as he gets settled in. Because he’s hard of hearing, he might need help hearing if another dog is growling at him, so should be supervised during doggie playtime when meeting new friends. He’s easy with cats, and doesn’t seem to care about them.
Yogi is both crate trained and house-trained (though a few accidents are normal as any dog settles in.). He’s currently in foster care in Brooklyn, NY. He is non-shedding, and will need grooming in the future.
Written by Kristen Auerbach, Director of Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson AZ
At Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Tucson, Arizona, we’ve saved around 91% of the 15,000 pets who’ve entered our shelter in 2018. We take in anywhere between 1,200 and 1,600 cat and dogs each month so moving quickly is the key to saving the maximum number of lives. Through hosting Maddie’s Fund apprenticeships this past year and working with shelters around the country to help them get more pets into foster and adoptive homes faster, we’ve learned that many shelters are holding on to pets longer than they need to or are having trouble finding enough fosters or adopters. We’ve written this article to share with you five strategies you can implement now to move more pets quickly through your system into homes. If you’re struggling with capacity issues, length-of-stay, or are sometimes forced to make the decision to euthanize for space, try these ideas and watch your placements soar!
1. Let the public see pets on stray hold. At PACC, every dog is on public view except those with contagious illnesses, critical medical conditions and those housed in the rabies quarantine area. Visitors can see dogs from the moment they come into the shelter and are put in a kennel, which means we often have 300 or more dogs for the public to see. During stray hold, we go one step further and allow people to ‘pre-adopt’ pets while they’re still on their stray hold. They pay a small deposit, fill out the adoption questionnaire, speak to a counselor and are instructed to return to complete the adoption on the date the pet becomes available and is spayed or neutered. This helps about 25% of our dogs to have a home waiting as soon as they can leave the shelter. If the dog is reclaimed during the stray hold, we simply contact the adopter and offer them a refund or ask them to consider adopting another pet.
2. Make all medium and large dogs available for foster or adoption. Even people with great intentions aren’t always ready to make a lifetime commitment to a big, bouncy dog without first seeing how that dog fits into their home. We offer to let people decide if foster or adoption is the right choice for them and many people choose to foster before adopting. We have the exact same process for adopting and fostering our dogs. Visitors meet the pet they’re interested in, fill out a questionnaire, meet with a placement counselor and in most cases, take the dog home that same day. Once a dog is in foster, our foster volunteers check in weekly to find out if the foster is ready to permanently adopt the dog they’re fostering. If it doesn’t work out, we encourage fosters and adopters to help re-home the pet or bring it back to PACC and let us help them find a better fit for their household.
3. Make taking home a dog easy. Beyond letting people choose whether to foster or adopt, we make it easy for dogs to leave the shelter. We don’t have barriers in place like home visits, background checks or landlord checks and we instead use a conversations-based ‘open adoption’ approach to foster and adoption placements. Our dogs go to play groups where we learn about their personalities in a more real-life setting so we’re able to help adopters and fosters find dogs based on energy level, play style and sociability. We also have a short term foster program so people can dogs for a couple of hours or a couple of days. These foster outings teach us more about the dogs than anything else so we’re able to tell visitors more about how dogs act in a home setting which is much more valuable than knowing how they act in the confinement and stress of the shelter setting.
4. Let people foster sick and injured pets. Pima County covers 9,000 square miles and includes both rural and urban areas that struggle with poverty. Because of this, about 25% of the total number of animals that come to PACC are sick or injured and require veterinary care. Instead of treating these animals in the shelter and housing them while they recover, we begin seeking foster placement as soon as possible. Dogs recovering from distemper, upper respiratory illnesses, parvovirus, broken limbs and other ailments are sent to foster homes as soon as possible where they receive around-the-clock TLC from their foster caregiver. The foster caregivers bring their dogs and puppies back, by appointment, for regular check-ups. This has countless benefits for the dogs and the shelter. It reduces length-of-stay in shelter, helps dogs recover more quickly and lets the fosters learn all about the dogs while they heal so they are quickly adopted as soon as they’re ready. When we have sick dogs in our care, foster is our first solution for housing and care.
5. Treat long-stay dogs as urgent. At PACC, we start every day with two pieces of data: our kennel census which shows the total number of cats and dogs on site broken up by species and sex; and our long-stay census which shows us animal-by-animal data on any pet who has been in our shelter for more than 30 days. Working backwards off the long-stay list, we enact marketing and placement plans for the dogs who have been with us the longest. We ask volunteers to share photos and stories about the dogs that we then use on our main social media platforms. We alert rescue partners and the public that we have ‘hidden gems’ who need special lifesavers to step up. Finally, we review the long-stay dog’s backgrounds to try to understand what barriers are keeping them from being adopted. For instance, a dog in our system may have a note from intake that says, ‘reported to have urinated in the home.’ Later, there may be notes about a urinary tract infection that was treated. Because we share all known information with our adopters, we may need to do a better job explaining that the dog had an untreated infection that could have caused this issue so the initial notes do not act as a barrier to adoption. For long-stay dogs, there are often simple solutions that require an individualized approach. It can be hard to take the time to focus on just, one dog, but we find for long stay dogs, the payoff is almost always a speedy live outcome, which makes it worth the extra effort.
Try these five simple tips to move dogs more quickly through your system into foster and adoptive homes. You’ll find as you do them, the positive effects cumulate as you have fewer dogs in your system so you can focus more time and energy on the more challenging-to-place pets.
Meet our adoptable little senior Smokey the Bear!
10 year old Smokey acts so youthful that people are surprised to hear his age when they first meet him. He’s constantly mistaken for a younger guy! For someone who enjoys the overall calmness of an older dog, but looking for one who still enjoys adventures and errands, Smokey is your match. He’s fine with cats and mellow dogs, and wouldn’t mind being your only-man. Looking to add a little more love to your life? Smokey is your dog!
Smokey enjoys his walks and does a great job of letting you know when he needs to go outside. His favorite things to do are marking posts on his walks and finding his way under blankets for snoozing. His dislikes are being left alone and other dogs getting in his face and/or trying to become buddies.
Smokey is good with men and women alike. He likes staying close to you and is a happy guy.
Smokey is looking for a retirement home where he can sleep on your lap all day or cuddle up next to you. The perfect family for Smokey will have someone who is home most of the day to keep him company and can accompany him on his walks.
Smokey does have a heart murmur, but that does not slow him down in the least. He is housetrained. All potential applicants would need to come to NYC to meet him. Reach out to arrange a meet-and-greet with Smokey the Bear!
We told you there would be exciting things happening in 2019. Foster Dogs is officially opening a branch in Nashville, y'all!
Launching soon, we will run some of our top lifesaving programs in a whole new spot: Nashville, Tennessee. In collaboration with Metro Animal Care & Control (MACC) and Best Friends Animal Society, we will implement our Foster Roster in order to save more lives through foster placements of shelter dogs.
Thanks to an incredibly generous $5,000 grant from Maddie's Fund, Foster Dogs is getting a healthy dose of southern charm.
Stay tuned for more information on getting involved, which will soon be shared on our social channels and website.We don't have any plans to leave NYC, and are eager to help a new city while continuing our awesome work in New York. We will be counting on you to help us spread the word among your Nashville friends and family! Hold your horses…
Photos by Adrian Budnick for Foster Dogs, Inc. @puptographybyadrianbudnick
We've had a fabulous year, and we couldn't be more grateful to all our volunteers, corporate sponsors, rescue partners, donors, Foster Champions, foster parents, and fans! Thank you!
In 2018, Foster Dogs began pulling our first dogs as New Hope Partners directly from the city shelter Animal Care Centers. This year alone, we directly rescued and placed into foster care 15 shelter dogs (12 adopted, 3 Fospice), placed hundreds more into foster/adoptive homes for our rescue partners through social media and direct outreach, sent nearly 100 Foster Roster blasts to our list of over 2,700 applicants, had 55 events (16 Adoption Events, 6 Workshops, 9 Puppy Parties, 2 Rescuer Happy Hours, and many more), welcomed dozens of new volunteers, worked with over 30 rescues in the Tri-State area, including our 20 participating organizations. We're not stopping there, and can't wait for new things to come in 2019.
Thank you for making a huge difference this year, especially for these fifteen dogs who found happiness after leaving the shelter.
Three of these special dogs are/were part of “Chloe’s Fospice Friends,” receiving continued support from Foster Dogs through the end: Albie, Lucy, and Sebastian.
Each of these dogs are seniors, and received necessary surgeries (dental extractions, tumor removals, spay and neuter) at our two veterinary partners City Vet in Upper West Side and at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital in Park Slope Brooklyn.
None of this is possible without our network of support around the country. Animal rescue is a team effort. Thank you for helping us build a foster community!
Thank you for everything. Get excited for big things to come in 2019!
Sarah Brasky and the Foster Dogs Team
Phots above by some of our amazing volunteer photographers, including: Alice Su, @nycpetphotographer, @realhappydogs, @putawoofovermyhead, Leslie Leda
For all those who stopped at our Petcon booth last weekend, we thank you for showing love to our adoptable dogs and cats!
Two full days at Petcon 2018: 44 adoptable animals from 14 local rescue groups, 50 volunteer animal handlers, and 2 of #ChloesFospiceFriends. This was a huge team effort to continue Building a Foster Community. 20 adoptable cats, 24 adoptable dogs. What an incredible weekend!
Thanks to our Petcon rescue partners: Rescue City, Shelter Chic, The Sato Project, Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, Hearts & Bones Animal Rescue, Waggytail Rescue, Louie’s Legacy, BARRK Long Island, Friends with Four Paws, Advcocat Rescue, Brooklyn Animal Action, Animal Haven.
Images of adoptable dogs by NYC Pet Photographer, Gayathri Gopalan @isawthatdog, and Brittni Vega @harlowandsage
Thanks to Petcon & The Dog Agency for including us for the second year in a row and helping us show off adoption and fostering in such a positive way. We can’t wait to see these animals find their forever homes, and to get more people to choose rescue!
Interested in any of the dogs listed as AVAILABLE? Contact us!
This family-friendly sweet Puggle is around 46 lbs (still has a few more lbs to lose), 9 years old, dog-friendly, has been great with kids, not a big barker. He thoroughly enjoys chewing on sticks of all kinds, and goes to town on a good Nylabone. Lionel recently had a large lump removed and is available to go to a forever home soon. Just check out the smile on this handsome potato! Photo by @realhappydogs
Our vivacious young-senior Mimi is around 8 years old and very tiny. She’s a Yorkie, possibly a Maltese-Yorkie: Morkie. She’s in foster care with dogs and cats, and is doing well. Not a fan of dogs trying to take her toys, so it’s helpful if her new canine-housemates are disinterested in toys and/or not reactive to a sassy little pup.
Mimi has all her medical care sponsored by Susie’s Senior Dogs while in foster, including a full two-surgery mastectomy and spay (she had years of neglected lumps covering her belly). Her foster mom has helped her heal and to feel great. Mimi is obsessed with people and a total love nugget.
We were smitten with this handsome 10 year old 16 lbs Bichon Frise when we met him at ACC Brooklyn, and now we can help him feel better with a full dental treatment at the vet and happy foster home. Finn is looking for a home with someone who is either home a lot, or can take him to work. He loves being with people! He’s great with other pets (he’s lived with a small and a large dog, and a rabbit). And he’s just a fun-loving nice guy.
Chewy (ADOPTION PENDING!)
Grumpy Cat / Monkey Chewy left Animal Care Centers recently, and got a major grooming session to get rid of all that matted mess. She is around 11 years old, and is gaining necessary weight in foster care. She’s called many names: ChooChoo, Rooster, Roo, Miso.
Chewy makes Chewbacca sounds when she wakes up in the morning. She’s a hilarious creature. She’s easy-going around other animals and doesn’t seem to mind much of anything. She is a Pekingese, and will likely have a full mane again in just a few months time (regular brushing is a must!).
All four dogs were rescued in October from Animal Care Centers of NYC [ACC], and have been thriving in foster care through Foster Dogs Inc. All are dog-friendly, and have each received complete medical care through our veterinary partner Animal Kind, in Brooklyn. Four senior dogs, five surgeries between them. What a month it’s been! They are all available to homes within a 2-hour drive of NYC. Adoption fee: $250, and they are microchipped, vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and have received medical care.