Okay, here’s a few things you need to know before you embark, no pun intended, on Dog Rescue and Fostering. First, there are very few, really very few, people out there making a dime on it. There are a whole lot of people fronting a whole lot of cash saving these animals. As a foster, you’re getting a dog that may, or may not, have some training. As a foster, you’ll be getting a dog that may, or may not, have any manners. You might be getting a dog with some real and very serious issues. That dog may or may not be up to date (UTD) on its vaccinations. Remember that warning. It’ll show up later in this story.
The puppy Wrex was my first foster. He had a great home but the resident cat hated him. Wrex was smallish at the time and the cat beat up on him so they took him to the shelter. Before this goes any further, let me tell you something about shelter; they are run by good people who have a terrible job. There is X amount of space. There is Y amount of animals. When X is lesser than Y, which is normal, dogs and cats die every single day. Hence the need for us fosters. Wrex was a great dog and I wanted to keep him but a really great couple showed up at an adoption event and that was that.
Burke was a puppy who was fronted by an organization called “Save A Lab”. They take dogs from high kill shelters and send them, in this case, to Rhode Island, to find a home there. Burke was with me for about two weeks. He had Kennel Cough and it spread to my resident three dogs. It sounded like a TB ward here. That’s something else you have to keep in mind; no one is telling you your foster dog is healthy. In point of fact, it would be surprising if the animal was.
Here’s what happens: A dog gets abandoned and lives on the streets until someone calls the Animal Control and they go out and catch the dog. They put it in a steel cage on a truck and it arrives at the shelter which is crowded with dogs equally as scared. It may or may not have a kennel to itself. The people there try to watch for signs of aggression from the new arrivals and if they show any they’re PTS. That’s Put To Sleep. Killed.
Burke was a sweet dog who wound up with a family with two kids, seven and elven years old. He will be with them until the kids are in college. I had a chance to see the Christmas card with him in it with the kids. On occasion you’re going to hit a home run, a towering shot to deep center field that clears the fence by one hundred feet deep and another twenty-five high. To see photos of Burke with those kids was that at bat for me.
So someone sends me a photo in FB and there’s a brindle female pit at the shelter. I read the message and damn, she’s going to be PTS at the end of the day. It’s four-thirty. I send a message telling them I will foster her and I pick her up. Day Two of this Tyger Linn’s arrival here my oldest dog, age 14, who is recently deceased, attacks Tyger Linn and she hammers him. I have to drag her off of him and in the process Tyger Linn bites me hard enough to draw blood. She isn’t UTD.
Two things: One if I say anything about this to anyone I have to get rabies shots. Two, a pit with aggressive tendencies, even when provoked, isn’t going to be one of those dogs that can be adopted out without a lot of work. Tyger Linn became my first “foster failure”. Deep down inside, I suspect the people who run the organization knew I was keeping her for a few reasons but I didn’t tell them she bit me.
Tyger Linn has grown up a lot since December. The terrified and reactive street dog that was a stray for what must have been for most of her life, now sleeps on the bed and plays with other dogs without fighting.
You don’t have to be a foster to save lives. You can donate money, work at a shelter, work an adoption event and help out there, or you can work at other events. I love fostering. I hate losing my dogs. Each and every dog I have ever fostered I have loved. We lose more than we can possibly save. But we save every dog we are able to save. One by one, until there are none, we fosters take them in and love them until our hearts get broken again.
Spay. Neuter. Adopt.
PS More later on my latest foster, Tanya the Destroyer.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.