Tag Archives: humane society

Rewards of Fostering a Puppy

(NOTE: This story was edited from it’s original version. I had speculated on Bindi’s history in Georgia, and luckily was updated by her former fosters and caregivers at Humane Society of the Southeast. I don’t have to speculate now, and get to report on how Bindi is just a crazy, happy-go-lucky puppy!)

Raising a puppy is hard. Sometimes days go really smoothly, others go downhill fast. But all along the way you learn plenty of life lessons, and hopefully a little about yourself.

A great way to test whether you can actually have a puppy is to foster. Puppies usually go fast, so fostering a puppy usually only lasts a week, and you get the full experience of raising a dog without the commitment of keeping it.

The natural response I hear is “Oh no, I could never foster a puppy, I’d never be able to give the dog up.”

Yes, it’s hard to imagine spending time with a puppy and wanting to part ways. But I’d challenge people to spend a week, just a week, with a 9-week old puppy and then make that decision. Like I said before, puppies are hard work, and sometimes raising one into adulthood can be a daunting task. But for one week, you’ve provided a loving home and helped lead the dog to a forever home.

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Bindi is our first foster pup!

Kira, Pickle and I recently welcomed in our first foster puppy, Bindi. She’s not a 9-week old puppy, she’s actually a 6-month old Hound mix that Georgia Peaches Puppy Rescue brought up with a load of other puppies last week. The paperwork said Bind got along well with not only dogs and cats, but with pigs, too! She’s house broken, not territorial over food or toys, and was super friendly. Since I work in socialization, and since Pickle is so well-adjusted to having strange dogs at home, having Bindi was sure to be the easiest foster ever!

Well, let’s back up a second.

Paperwork is great, but it only tells half the story. Despite all those wonderful things, she’s still a puppy. She still likes to jump up on tables and counters, is terrible on leash, and just an hour or so ago snuck a chicken tender out of my lunch (not blaming her, I should no better!)

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How could you not love that face?!

Bindi unfortunately was bounced around a bit while she was in Georgia. Originally adopted out at 11 weeks, Bindi’s family soon realized that they could not sustain having a puppy in their lives. Bindi was returned to her original fosters, and was eventually picked up by Georgia Peaches and flown out to Seattle. Somehow this wonderful, charismatic dog had fallen through the cracks and into my arms! (I had originally posted that Bindi was bounced from an adoption event to multiple shelters, and luckily was corrected by her former caregivers in Georgia.)

I wonder how many surrenders could be avoided if people were able to ‘test-drive’ a puppy before they adopted. Well, that’s what fostering is, giving a home to a puppy until they find their way to someone that can assure them a happy life. Bindi is an example of how even great dogs can just get unlucky, whether through bad timing or just getting dealt a bad hand. It’s no fault of the dog, and the owners often have the best intentions, but if you’re unsure about actually owning a puppy, maybe give fostering a try.

The beautiful part about fostering is that now I have a hand in making sure that Bindi doesn’t have to worry about moving around too much more, and soon we will be able to find her forever home. She is building confidence, and her character is shining through! Bindi is incredibly loving, playful and smart (dang she picks up on things fast!) In the words of someone who knew her from HSS, “Bindi has never met a stranger.” She truly melts hearts!

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I know that saying goodbye to Bindi will be rough. As I write this, she’s resting peacefully after a long day with her head on my foot. I already feel an attachment to her, and as she learns to respond and respect Kira and I, I know it will get tougher and tougher to let her go. That is the risk of fostering, finding a dog that will break your heart when she leaves. But in the end, I know that for a short while I have made a difference in this dog’s life, and that is good enough for me.

Don’t let your fear of falling in love with an animal stop you from fostering. If we had not made the decision to foster Bindi, we would be missing out on all the crazy, wacky things she is doing, and all the love and morning snuggles she loves to give! Fostering is such a rewarding way to spend some time with an animal and see if you can make it as a pet parent, and it can have a huge impact. Whether it’s for a couple days or a couple weeks, even a little time can make all the difference in that pet’s life!

If you are interested in fostering and making a difference in an animal’s life, please contact your local animal shelter or rescue. For more information on Bindi, please visit the Georgia Peaches website.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Congratulations, you’ve finally decided that it is time to get a dog! You’ve committed yourself to putting in the time and effort to raise, care for, properly socialize, and make it the best dog it can be!

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Happy dogs come from lots of hard work!

But one question still remains: What kind of dog do you want to get? The answer to that question can be critical in building a healthy relationship between you and your new pup. Having even a brief knowledge of a dog’s traits and how they match a person’s life would ensure that thousands of dogs are properly homed and not surrendered every year. A busy owner living in a studio apartment probably shouldn’t own a Siberian Husky. Marathon runners looking to bring their dogs on long runs probably shouldn’t own an English Bulldog.

Catch my drift?

Now, there are dozens of Breed Profilers out there that help to distinguish the different characteristics of purebred dogs. But thousands of dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, and these mix breeds are a bit more challenging to pinpoint. My focus here is about picking a handful of general characteristics that are apparent in any dog, and highlighting how they may or may not fit into your life. Then, if you walk into a shelter and see a dog, you’ll have an idea what to expect, even if you’re not sure about the breed. Sound good? Cool, let’s get started:

SIZE

Maybe more obvious when you adopt an adult dog, but something to watch for with puppies as well. A large breed (75lbs+) would be a hard dog to manage if you live in a studio apartment, don’t have a yard, or if you’re elderly, especially if the dog is young. They typically require more exercise and food, costing you both extra time and money.

Consider that toy and terrier breeds tend to be smaller in stature, but still need to be exercised and kept entertained. Some small breeds can still make great running and trail partners, and can easily be carried if they are hurt or if you’re in a hurry.

Managing a large dog in limited space can be done, but it requires a lot more effort on your part. Matching a dog’s size to your lifestyle can be important on building a healthy bond.

HAIR

Long hair? Short hair? It all comes down to how much work you want to put in. Long hair means lots of brushing (to remove excess hair and tangles) and lots of trips to the groomer. Shorter hair means less brushing, easier clean ups, and dogs that can cool easier in warm weather. Trust me, I used to be a grooming assistant, and musing your way through matted Collie hair is not a good way to spend a Thursday afternoon if you’re not prepared for it!

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Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have special oils in their fur to help repel water and dirt, making them perfect for afternoons at the beach!

NOSE

Bet you didn’t think about your dog’s nose as a crucial trait. If you are an active person looking to have an active dog, then pay attention. Smushed nosed dogs (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc) have a more difficult time getting air into their systems through their shorter noses. These dogs are brachycephalic breeds (short nosed), and hot, humid weather can make life difficult when put under stress, and even become a health risk. This means that it only takes a little bit of strenuous activity to wear them out. Now this could be a good thing, I mean bulldogs that I’ve worked with only require one good walk a day and turn into couch potatoes. I wouldn’t recommend doing any marathon training with a French Bulldog, however.

A longer nose allows for working class dogs to have higher endurance, and make it easier for them to breathe in hot and humid conditions. Athletic breeds are typically equipped with a longer muzzle to allow airflow to their systems. But don’t be fooled, even Boxers have a long history of being service dogs.

BREED BACKGROUND

Regardless of whether you end up with a purebred or a mixed breed, dogs will always display certain characteristics that reflect the instincts bred into them. Shelters can typically give you an idea on the breeds when you are adopting a rescue, and it is your responsibility to know what to expect. For example, Hound breeds are trackers, bred to follow the scent of a trail. They will be looking for lots of mental stimulation and will not be happy to be let inside (and they’ll let you hear about it). You’ll need to set up simulated games (like hiding treats for them to find) to keep their minds and bodies active.

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Cattle dog breeds, like this mix, were bred to herd cattle over long distances of rough terrain. Doesn’t sound like a dog that wants to be cooped up inside all day!

If you have any idea of the breed of the dog you are adopting, do your due diligence to research what they are all about.

Breed traits are a great way to sift through the countless adoption options you have. Remember that age and temperament also play factor. I wish this went without saying, but puppies are a ton of work. They require more frequent potty breaks and a lot more time and focused energy. I’ve heard trainers and owners say that “puppies are cute as a survival tactic.” Honestly, if people saw puppies as ugly, they probably wouldn’t take on such a monumental task.

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Vizslas, bred as bird dogs, are typically very active. Luckily they like to kick back and relax sometimes!

Adult dogs are typically easier to gauge, and they have a history to help support if they are a good fit for your home. Rescuing an adult dog can be a risk, as they could be from an abusive home and need some serious training and attention to get back on track. Work with a shelter worker, or with a trainer to test the temperament of a dog at any age. Look for confident, curious and welcoming dogs, unless you are willing to work with dogs that are not as open to attention. Do justice by the dog, you don’t want them to be surrendered again.

Of course, dogs don’t always fit a perfect mold, but if you keep these things in mind, you should have a very happy relationship with your new dog!

If you are looking for a new pet, please consider adopting through a local shelter or rescue!