It’s a wonderful thing.
That day when your foster dog finally relaxes. They realize their place in this new pack. They adjust to being in your home. They begin to learn your rules and routines. This is when I feel the first sign of success, as the foster mom. This means I have shown the dog enough love, patience, and caring so far, for them to see me as one of the good guys. This means that my dogs have shown the foster dog how to trust, how to play, and who’s boss (Lucy is and always will be the reigning princess!).
Take Tooley, my current foster, for example. She came to the rescue from a shelter. She came to the shelter from the woods. Who knows how long she was out there, why she was left there, or where she came from before that. Tooley is a typical hound dog, nose to the ground when outside, and howling when she sees a squirrel! Being a bit of a nervous, timid dog, she tends to pace…a LOT. She also LOVES to play too…a LOT. I swear, the only time she lays down is when she is in her kennel. She runs around in the yard, and inside, she just paces back and forth, checking things out!
But finally, after two or three weeks of being here, I saw her lay down on the deck next to Lucy, to enjoy the warmth of the sun on her skin! And, she’s doing this more and more, with each passing day! Also, the other night, she was happy to lay in one of the dog beds and chew on a ball! She has also gotten really good at following the rules…no counter surfing, share the toys, no digging outside, etc. Tooley has also learned to trust me, and she looks to me for help when she is nervous or shy. Whenever meeting a new person, she now gets as close to me as she can, and looks up at my eyes to see if I am giving her the “ok” that this is a good person. All of this after just a couple of weeks. Dogs are seriously the most amazing, forgiving, loving creatures!
Settling in. It is the topic I “preach” most about when doing adoptions or working at the shelter. It is so important to allow a dog time to get used to a new setting. When you move to a new house, city, or even start a new job, are you comfortable the minute you walk in? Probably not. Usually it takes us a couple of weeks to unpack, find the best places to eat or shop, make a new friend. So, if we allow ourselves time to adjust, we should allow time for our pets too. Our furry friends can’t verbalize what they are feeling. They can’t tell us if they are nervous, or scared, or confused. We as their parents, foster or permanent, should be taking this into consideration. Especially if you are adopting! Even if the dog is coming from a foster home, your house and routine and rules will be completely new to them. No person or pet is perfect! And you should never have your expectations set that high, thinking you are going to get a perfect pet. My dogs are by no means perfect…but they ARE perfect for me and my family and my life. I love them, and am committed to them. Therefore, I can look past their slight imperfections, like shredding napkins, food stealing, barking at leaves…the list could go on, really!
So, if you are considering adopting OR fostering, remember that you will need to allow time for settling in. Please consider this before returning a dog to a shelter or rescue. Even if the dog is peeing in your house, or barking too much, or chewing things up…these ARE all things that they can be trained not to do. If you are agreeing to adopt, then you should be expecting these types of behaviors. Then, if they DON’T happen, you can be pleasantly surprised! But if they do happen, you will be prepared, and committed to helping the dog become accustomed to your lifestyle. Give them some time, patience, and caring…and you will, in turn, get a faithful, loving four-legged friend, for the rest of their days!
*Tooley is adoptable through Last Hope Rescue. If you, or someone you know is interested in making her a part of your family, please email us at LastHopeRescueFL@gmail.com!