Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Start Fostering

I can primarily speak from my awesome experience with Waggytail Rescue. Prior to contacting them, I had reached out to two other organizations and received no response - not because I wasn't qualified but unfortunately, many of these groups are understaffed and simply don't have the time and resources to reply back to all applicants. This means that many dogs who could be pulled from shelters don't because there are no approved fosters available. If you are interested, I would suggest reaching out to multiple groups. I am of course quite bias and strongly recommend Waggy. We are desperately in need of fosters and we have made it a priority to respond to each and every application that comes in and match a foster with a dog that is well suited for them.

For more info on fostering through Waggytail, you can go straight to our Foster a Waggytail website for more information. You will need to fill out an application and email it back to us. Once everything checks out, we will set you up with a foster advisor and match you up with a dog. Please note that the majority of the dogs on our Petfinder site are already in foster homes, so you will most likely be paired up with a dog directly from a shelter.

Since Waggytail is primarily a Chihuahua and small dog rescue group, there are other organizations that focus on larger dogs, for a full list of organizations that work with the Mayor's Alliance for Animals (the larger organization that oversees foster groups), you can go here for the full list of Alliance Participating Organizations.

I cannot say enough about Waggytail. I feel like all of the fosters and foster advisors are one big family, working together to do the best for these little animals. It is not always an easy job. We often don't have full backgrounds on these animals and some come to us with a whole host of problems (which is how they end up being fostered instead of directly adopted from the shelters) but many of the issues quickly resolve themselves with the consistency and TLC that these dogs can only receive in a home, not in an overcrowded, noisy, scary shelter.

Please, open your heart and your home to these animals, and I promise that you will be rewarded many times over. Sure the dogs reap great rewards, but the joy one gets from helping these dogs just cannot be described in words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Foster Fluffies Now Have an Amazon Wishlist

After yesterday's post, I decided I would put together an Amazon wishlist of things that would be useful for the Foster Fluffies (and their humans) to have on hand. These items will NOT be used for our own personal pets - these are solely for the care of the fosters while they are in our homes. Foster parents are unpaid volunteers, we do this out of the love of our hearts and everything for these little guys come straight out of our pockets and we don't think twice. Be it a puppy with pneumonia who needs a vaporizer or just a scared and finicky eater who is only going to eat wet food that costs three dollars a can, call me nuts, but these are living creatures that need to be taken care of too. 

Now, I know many people have asked how they can help and I always point you straight to the Waggytail Rescue page. Please, please, please continue to donate to Waggy. They need money, now more than ever as they provide medical care and other services to dogs when they need them most, but if you are in the mood to buy a present for a little pup that is staying with us, please check out our Foster Essentials Amazon Wishlist of the things that we need the most at this time. I have also created a permanent link in the sidebar and as needs change, I will be constantly updating. 

Of the items listed here, the Sherpa carrier is probably the most essential at this point. NYC transport requires that dogs be in enclosed carriers and many of ours have fallen to pieces and the doggies deserve to be safe and comfy on the way to their foster homes and vet visits. Plus, Amazon has the best prices on these carriers that I have ever seen!

The puppies and I thank you in advance!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Things You Don't Think About: Part I

When it comes to fostering a dog there are the basic items that you want to have on board before you bring your new temporary family member home. Even seasoned dog owners can sometimes be unprepared because they forget or often don't realize that many of these rescue dogs are not ordinary dogs. Many of them have had little to no positive human interaction and come with their own emotional baggage and often no training - or what I like to call anti-training. They may have had bad behaviors reinforced in their previous lives and before they can become ready for the permanent homes, it is a good idea to start working on issues to make them more attractive to prospective adopters.

For some absolutely great advice you can check out the Waggy Foster Essentials which give some great tips and also provide links to some awesome resources, but here are a few of my own tips, tricks and recommendations. (Some of them borrowed from Waggy, of course, I can't suggest enough how great their foster essentials tips are.)

To make it simple, and because I like lists, I'll lay out the essentials and the not-so-essentials that I find really helpful.

Foster Must-Haves: Part I

  • You will need to provide a collar or harness and a leash for your new foster friend. For smaller pups, I'd strongly recommend a harness because they have tiny little tracheae that don't hold up well to pressure.
  • A high quality food can also make a huge difference and I think that Dog Food Analysis does a good job of laying out some good food choices, but I can write a whole separate post on this and will at some point soon. 
  • Treats. These can be great for getting a timid dog to open up to you and also for working on basic obedience and behavioral training. Believe it or not, dogs can be very treat picky, so having a bit of a selection on hand never hurts. Positive reinforcement goes a long way, but don't over treat your dog or you'll end up with a dog that refuses to eat their food and has a whole world of tummy problems.
  • Poop bags. Be a good neighbor, pick up your dogs poo and help prevent the spread of disease and parasites. No need to buy fancy ones from the pet store - any plastic bag will do and I find that the ones that they deliver newspapers in to be particularly well suited for the job.
  • Paper towels. And more paper towels. And when you think you have enough, buy another roll or two. Many of these dogs have never been housebroken food changes and environment changes lead to tummy upset.
  • Cleaning supplies. Everyone seems to love Nature's Miracle but I'm personally a fan of Simple Solution (I like the smell of it). If you're a bit dense like I am or just a victim of circumstance and have a heavily carpeted house and multiple dogs, I also strongly recommend a Resolve-type carpet foam cleaner. I'm partial to the Target brand one myself.
  • Wee-wee pads. Many of these dogs have never gone to the bathroom outside and it may take them a bit of time to warm up to the idea and not be nervous going outside. Ideally, you are not giving your foster free run of the house, so make sure they have access to a place where they can go potty and reward the heck out of them with they do.
  • This was a Waggy tip that I have found beyond useful. Stock up on the dollar store shower curtain liners and if you have anything that you don't want peed, pooped or puked on, cover it up with a curtain liner. 99 cents is a lot cheaper than having to deep clean or replace a sofa.
  • Bedding and snuggle blankets and towels that you don't mind ever using again. Petco sells some very inexpensive blankets in the cat section that are extremely soft and my dogs go bonkers for.
There are many other things that I have found to be useful in my few short months as a doggy foster parent and please note that I am NOT a certified trainer or animal medical professional. I am just a foster momma, dealing primarily little dogs, and I love sharing what I know with anyone who may be interested.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Success Stories: Margot

Her Royal Majesty Margot came such a long way! From a scared pup who wanted nothing to do with people and spent the majority of her time hiding under the bed, to a beautiful little girl who actively sought out affection from people, Margot was a perfect example of what a little consistency and TLC can do for a frightened shelter dog. Yet, because of some of her quirks, there weren't too many people who were interested in making this shy little senior a part of their family.

Thankfully, Margot found her perfect home with a lovely couple in Manhattan who were already well-versed with rescue dogs, having adopted a senior Pom just two years ago by the name of Cookie. When we first met her new parents we could not have been more excited at what a perfect match they were for Margot and we were so glad when they chose to make her part of their family. Now Margot and Cookie spend their days going on long walks, going to the park and meeting and being adored by their human parents' friends. Finding these dogs their perfect families is what this is all about!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Success Stories: Merlin!

Merlin was our very first foster and while it doesn't seem like that long ago, quite a few other dogs have come through here since then who we have to focus our energies on. That said, I want this blog to chronicle not just the hardships that these dogs endure and make them a "Personals" section for the pups, but I also want to showcase just how wonderful life can be for these dogs when they make it to their forever homes.

After everything Merlin had been through, it only seems fair that he ended up in the most perfect of homes for him. He is now known as Mr. Merlin Merlinsky Pupalupagus and is in a home with two human parents, their three adopted children and two cats. Talk about having hearts of gold!  Merlin always has someone to play and snuggle with. His foster mom, Elise, takes Merlin with him nearly everywhere he goes and since his vet is literally down the block, every once in a while he will go and hang out there too since Dr. G had taken such a shine to the little guy. I was lucky enough to run into the distinguished little man while there with one of our other fosters and he recognized my voice right away and ran across the waiting room and jumped in my lap. If that is not the ultimate reward for saving a dogs life, then I don't know what is.

Here are just a few pictures of the little man in his new home. His new mom is amazing about keeping us up to date and has even extended a very welcome helping hand to Waggytail when needed. If only there were more people like here in the world, it would certainly be a better place!

He has put on some poundage and is about about 16 lbs of love and as you can see, he is spoiled rotten and wants for nothing. Outcomes like this are why I foster.

Showing a new foster pup around town
Hanging out at the beach with his new family - what a life!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spanky Post-Surgery Update

So it has been a couple of weeks since Spanky had his surgery and he is making awesome progress! For the first week or so, he really favored the other three legs and he would hold up the injured leg when walking at a quicker pace. We went for his post-surgery follow-up 10 days after his procedure and the vet said he was doing great. We are doing physical therapy with him at home to make sure that he has a good range of motion in his leg and each day he is using the leg more and more. Pretty soon he will be running and jumping with his foster siblings who cannot wait to play with their buddy.

Right after surgery - we were calling the little guy Franken-Spanky!
On our way home from his follow-up - no more staples!

The particular procedure is known as a Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy (FHO). In small dogs, like Spanky, recovery is great, though it will be important to keep him at an ideal weight so as not to unnecessarily stress the joint. He is finally ready to head to his forever home, so if you are interested in adopting Spanky, please check out his Petfinder profile and submit an application (which you can find on the Waggytail site).

Out for a ride in the car with his foster sister, Lola May