About My First Foster Experience

Monday, October 9, 2017

About Riley...


I thought I would still have him with me today, but I don't. After learning that the shelter had the space they were waiting on open up (earlier than expected,) I was told I could bring him back for the chance to be adopted. And so I drove him there last Friday evening.

It was hard and I felt really bad about it, but for more than a few reasons, I'm hoping it was the best decision for him.

I talked to him and scratched his ears the entire way, and also packed him a bag with bones, a blanket, some toys, and several bags of treats.

But it still hurt to return a dog to a shelter, even a good one like Felines and Canines. When he got out of my car he didn't whimper or resist, so I told myself that was a good sign. I also told myself timing was in his favor having Saturday right around the corner. The amount of adoptions F&C does on the weekends is insane. And so maybe he already has his home? I can't be certain, but you better believe I am watching their page like a crazy person just waiting for that update.

I knew going into this it was going to be very short term, and truthfully having this be my first foster situation, that's what I felt was best.

Here's a few things I learned from my first experience, maybe it will help you if you're considering giving fostering a try.

1. It's hard.
It's harder than you think it will be- both mentally and physically. But after just day one it gets a lot better. However, don't let me scare you off, I think having a backyard (or even just living on the first floor) would change things immensely.

2. About the not-neutered situation...
I don't think I'll ever take in a dog who is still "in-tact" again. I know that may sound harsh, but having a house full of dog smells already made this especially difficult. The belly wrap helped, but it wasn't just the leg-lifting on every corner of my wall that was hard, around day two there started to be some humping action, as well. And if there's one thing that pisses Harlow off, it's when another dog tries to hump him.

In hindsight, this is totally my fault. I should have known better than to agree to bring another dog into my house who hadn't been neutered while already having a male dog (who gets very mad when he's humped.) But I just didn't know. Now I do.

3. The crate.
Since I work from home, I didn't have to put Riley in there often. But when I did, it didn't go well.

I left him in there for 45 minutes one morning when I went to get dog food and came home to find he had broken off the top, pooped on the floor, peed on the bed, and scratched my blinds beyond repair. And yes, he'd already had his morning potty break, but the poor guy had to go again. We've all been there. I wouldn't want to go in my crate either.

I told myself he was probably scratching at the blinds trying to get out the window to go the bathroom, because he really did have an idea about potty training (regardless of what this story tells.)

The blinds were cheap and needed to be replaced anyway, Riley's pretty much a puppy, so none of that worried me.

However the second crate accident did worry me. This one happened later in the day when I met a friend for a late lunch. I stacked books on the crate so he couldn't knock off the top. When I came home an hour later and anxiously opened the door to where his crate was, I was hit with a blast of hot air. Riley was panting profusely and it was evident he had been working his heart out the entire time I was gone. His paws were red and painful looking, as was his mouth. He had completely chewed the rubber flooring of the crate and had managed to pull up the rug that the crate was on and chewed that as well. When I let him out he collapsed on the kitchen floor and panted for a half hour like he had just run a marathon.

What if I had been gone another hour? Or two?

It was heartbreaking, and also evident that crate wasn't safe for him. So I emailed the shelter asking for any tips, or assistance, anything at all really, to help with the crate situation. And that's when they wrote me back and said that they'd just had several unexpected adoptions and the space they were waiting on was open. I could bring Riley back.

And that's why I originally had taken him in, to keep in my care until the shelter had some open spaces. Taking him back on a Friday evening before a busy weekend of adoptions was a good thing, I told myself... But even so, I just felt really sad about it all. I still do just writing this.

The only way I stop from moping about this is by convincing myself that in the short time I had him, I did my best to show him what a good home is. He tried peanut butter on a spoon, had a chicken breast for dinner, ran freely at the parks, and sprawled out comfortably on a large cozy bed, snoring as loud as could be.


I hope I helped make his life a little easier and better. But most of all, I hope and pray he's already been adopted...

As soon as I see his adoption pic posted, which should be any day now, I'll obviously share here asap.

If you've fostered before and had a crate experience like I mentioned, what did you do? I hope to do this again, but want to be better prepared next time.

20 comments:

  1. I tried one of the all-plastic travel crates, after my shelter puppy destroyed the plastic tray (and carpet under the tray) of the wire crates. I didn't like it at first because it seemed dark with only the slits on the sides for light and not so nice as the open wire. But it turns out the darkness kind of helped him settle down and go to sleep quicker. We also make sure that it's in a corner so he's extra "protected" on 2 sides. It seemed to do the trick, and 7 years later we refer to it as his "turtle shell," as he runs in there whenever he doesn't feel safe- usually when there's a thunder storm, someone knocks on the door, or he's hoarding all of the toys from our other dog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DIVORCE AND MARITAL BREAKTHROUGH

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      DIVORCE AND MARITAL BREAKTHROUGH

      It all started when my husband cheated on me with another woman unknowing to him that the woman is a wizard, the woman castes a spell on my husband which made my husband change his feelings towards me and the kids and broke our 6 years marriage. i was confused and stressed because of the pains of being a single mother, when i called a friend and explained my marital challenges to her, she instructed and directed me to contact a great powerful spell caster called Dr. Ugo Wonders living in Florida. i contacted Dr. Ugo and explained my problems, he assured me his help and it was 100% guaranteed. i provided the materials for the spell and in 48 hours, after Dr Ugo Wonders of generalspelltemple@gmail.com finished casting the spell, my husband was free from the evil woman spell and he came back home to us a day after begging us to forgive him. i was so shocked and short of words and here i am today happily testifying so the world can know how this great man helped me with his real powerful spell.
      To every one with marital problem, divorce issues, lost lover or any relationship related issues, you can contact Dr. Ugo wonders the ultimate spell caster via his email address generalspelltemple@gmail.com or call his mobile number directly on +13863369876

      http://generalspelltempleblog.wordpress.com

      Delete
  2. I've never fostered or owned a dog before, but I hope one day to. Reading your post makes me feel all warm inside. I think if I never get to have a dog in my lifetime, I'd be satisfied with fostering!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. First off, thank you so much for fostering!! It's definatly not easy and can be a giant pain, but is soooo needed for shelters today to have lines and lines of willing fosters to function. I work at a humane society and want you to know that we really appretiate everything that fosters do and deal with!!

    I mostly foster kittens to young to spay/neuter or bottle babies (puppies and kittens!), but even the tiny guys can be a pain! I also have a cat who gets a little jealous of them. I've learned to have seperate toys ready and definatly a space set up for my cat to get away from kitten antics and a place for the kittens to get away from my dogs antics!!

    As for kennel troubles if you have another foster, elk antlers and kongs are your best friends! I adopted a heeler mix dog 4 months ago and my catahoula sleeps in a crate at night and during the day when we are at work due to being extremely destructive when bored. So we had to teach her to like it as well. The more busy she was with treats, the less she realized she was stuck somewhere. And getting a nightly chewy (small rawhide stick wrapped in dried chicken) and with hiding multiples treats in her blankets for during the day, she hangs out there even when I'm home for the day hoping to find more treats now :)

    Thank you for fostering!! I hope you do it again and again. :)

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  4. Some dogs hate metal crates. For some reason, the plastic iglooish ones work better for anxious dogs.

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  5. You may also want to put a blanket over the top of the crate, covering top & sides for the same effect that the plastic crates offer. It makes the crate into a cave and helps them to decompress.

    Also, since you already have a resident dog in your home, be sure to do a proper introduction before bringing a foster into the house since it's his territory and he may not react well to a new dog just strolling in. We had to establish that the foster dog would not dominate our other 2 resident dogs and that us humans were in charge.

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  6. You survived your first fostering attempt! Hurray!!

    Don’t feel bad about not wanting in-tact males, you just have to do what’s right for your situation! We have a laundry list of things that we try and avoid when it comes to fosters, including but not limited to puppies, anyone over 50lbs and anyone who wants to play constantly (our dogs are jerks and hate to play ��). We also live more than 50 miles away from our Humane Society so we try and avoid taking dogs who will require many trips back and forth. But even with those limitations there are still plenty of dogs who we CAN help! So just do what’s best for you!

    We’ve had to take dogs back who didn’t do well at our home for one reason or another and the shelter has always been very understanding and found different foster homes that would be a better fit for them. You just learn (usually the hard way) what types of dogs fit best into your home, that’s all.

    My only recommendations for dogs who don’t like to be crates are putting their crate in your living room where you spend the most time so they can still be near you, feeding them all of their meals in there so they associate it with good things, giving them frozen marrow bones when they get in their crates which will keep them busy for hours (even do this when you are at home so they learn it’s a good place). And if that fails, see if maybe you can gate them into a kitchen or bedroom with more room while they are still contained. This may not work for all dogs (like those who like to pee on everything) but it may work for some who just get nervous in the crate but don’t mind being confined to one room.

    Chin up, you’re doing an amazing thing for these dogs! There’s a lot to learn!

    ReplyDelete
  7. When I first brought home my dog (Yorkie), I tried all sorts of crates. She would bust through the zipper on nylon crates at a whopping 9 pounds. I would try baby gates to keep her contained in the kitchen and she would chew right through the middle of those and escape. I finally purchased a metal crate that she HATED for long periods of time and she was small enough at the beginning, that should would somehow pull herself through the slits at the top. Now she sleeps in it just fine and it's her 'safe' place, but if she is in there during the day, or any longer than 30 minutes really, she'll poop and pee in it and try to fling the poop out the side which just results in a larger mess. Since she likes small spaces, we found that putting her in a smaller travel kennel that allows her to stand but not do much else works best when we'll be gone for 1-2 hours as she just sleeps during that time. The only way out is through the front and it doesn't have the extra space to go potty.

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  8. I actually adopted my dog and he had serious crate and separation anxiety. We didn't know this when we adopted him and we were both at work during the day. We hired a trainer who specialized in dogs with issues. His recommendation for the crate issue was to buy a sturdier crate that dogs cannot damage or break out of (ours was breaking out of all his crates). The theory is dogs know if they can get a crate open or not and after a try or two when the dog realizes they can't get out and the crate won't budge they stop trying. I was skeptical but it actually worked. We had a baby monitor set up to watch him while we were at work and after the second day in the new crate he stopped trying to break it open. We were also feeding him in there, gave him toys in there, we kept it in the living room where we spent most of our time and would tell him to go in there sometimes while we were watching tv but leave the crate door open and eventually he started to actually like his crate. We still have it now 5 years later and we never lock him in there anymore but he likes to go in and out whenever he feel likes it now. If you're going to be fostering again and for a while I suggest a stronger crate but if this was a one time thing the crate is more expensive than typical ones.

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  9. Those broke my heart. What did he go through before that would cause him to react that way to crating. I shudder to think. Im happy you got the experience and that both you and Riley got a chance to be impacted by the other.

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  10. I can barely even read this. I actually had to stop earlier, and come back to it. I can't imagine the impact you had on his life, in just a few short days - and can't image how hard it was, with him AND to drop him off. I think it's amazing what you did, and how strong you have to be to do it. Seriously, I'm close to tearing up and leaving work early to go home and hug mine ...

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  11. It is wonderful you showed him all the love you could. Fostering is not easy. I'm a "foster fail" keeping 2 of the rabbits I was supposed to be fostering even though to this day they can't rven be on same floor of the house my angora hates them so much! I want to foster a dog but am really concerned I would fail there too, you said it best the emotional toll is very hard. But when I retire later on in life I would like to do that for sure. (My in office days are 12-hours, so it just would work now, and I couldn't engage with them like they deserve while I work at home). I can't wait to see Riley's new family! I toldy hustband we should go get him, but we've got a pup coming. All the best! Shari

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  12. People who foster animals or people are amazing, not something I think I would be able to do it

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  13. Plastic crates can be better than wire for dogs with separation anxiety. Make it feel like it's part of the room, not just a cage in the middle of it. If you have wire, we use a piece of plywood we cut to the size of the top and covered it with fabric so we can set things on it (think corner of the living room, decorative stuff). Zip ties are a very cheap and easy way to convince an anxious dog to throw in the towel early on the whole "I can escape thing). Push the crate up against a wall and cover the top and sides with a cozy blanket. Lots of positive reinforcements (treats, feeding meals, hang out with him while he's in it and you're gone). If you only put them in it when you walk out the door that's what they'll associate it with- getting ditched. When you're home, have them go in, take a treat and sit and read a book. With them. In the room. They will cry and whine but you stay calm and they'll pick up on that and become calm. Our 2 dogs are 9 and then we have a small yorkie. They all Kennel and crate when we are home while we are doing things. Shows them that it's ok to not always be directly with us. That it's safe.

    As for the not neutering, that's insane to me that a shelter had a dog they were fostering not neutered. The NHS doesn't let a dog go out on the floor or to a foster home until they are spayed or neutered. We won't take a dog for our business that isn't spayed or neutered for all the above reasons. Har will get better as each dog you foster comes in. It's good for him to be exposed to new situations. Makes him even more well rounded! Good luck! Kudos to you for fostering! You're a good soul!

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    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure the not-being-neutered thing was special situation. He'd just come in from a bad situation in Kentucky and they didn't have time to do it just yet :/
      I take all the blame for this, I really don't think this is the norm for my Chicago shelter.

      Delete
  14. I've thought about Fostering, but I honestly don't know if I could do it. I fall in love with every dog I meet. I feel like if I fostered, I'd just end up with 3000 dogs.

    ReplyDelete
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  16. I've thought of fostering, but am concerned i'd fall in love with every dog. You did a good thing for Riley! I'm curious about the intact-ness. Don't all shelters neuter or spay right away before adoption?

    ReplyDelete
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    To every one with marital problem, divorce issues, lost lover or any relationship related issues, you can contact Dr. Ugo wonders the ultimate spell caster via his email address generalspelltemple@gmail.com or call his mobile number directly on +13863369876

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