This aspect of volunteering always seems to be a bit intimidating to people, though it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. First, you must evaluate your family situation to determine if you can foster. If you have very young children, a demanding job, other pets with medical or behavioral issues, older parents in the home who require a lot of care, or if everyone in the family is not “on board” with being a foster family, fostering may not be right for you. Maybe you can’t foster, but we’d love it if you’d consider sharing some of your other talents. If your family situation seems right, please keep reading about being a foster family!
Every foster dog is at a disadvantage initially because they have either been turned in for some medical or behavioral issue or have just “lost” their family due to unforeseen circumstances. In all of these cases, the dog may be scared or anxious because of the change in the family. Whether the dog is an Owner Turn In (OTI), or comes from a shelter, you should have some space you can block off just for the foster dog until you see how they interact with your other dogs/pets. You may also need to quarantine the dog if they come from a shelter. Our policy and procedure manual provides more information about what is entailed in quarantining a dog and how to protect your family and pets.
Your job as a foster parent is to work with the dog to accomplish several things. First, correct any behavioral issues (i.e., housebreak the dog, work on being grabby with food, or help socialize them). Some dogs also need you to support them through medical issues, which could include surgical care for an injury, neutering/spaying and would require post-operative care and follow-up. All dogs need their foster parent to observe them to help determine what their ideal family would be. Working on basic manners/training helps the foster dog feel as confident and secure as possible. Many of these dogs need a consistent home with consistent rules and quickly become very good dogs. There is always someone to talk with you about questions or concerns or to brainstorm if you’ve run into a stumbling block somewhere along the way.
HRI is quite careful about the foster home placements it makes. That means that we will not knowingly place a foster dog with you that would not be appropriate for your family. We want both you and the dog to succeed in the fostering relationship. HRI respects each family’s need for discretion. Even if you have committed to being a foster parent for a dog in need, if the time or situation is not right when you’re called, you can say “No.”
While it is sad to see your foster dog go to its “forever family,” it is incredibly rewarding to know your foster dog found the right family because of your time and effort. Little is more rewarding than hearing from a family about how much they cherish their newest family member.
Give fostering a try! It is incredibly rewarding and changes lives, one Havanese at a time!