Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Freedom Foster Drive: Interviews with Fosters

Today we're sharing an interview with OBG foster, Gillian Lacey. We hope these interviews will help you consider becoming a foster.  It is such a rewarding experience!! If you have any questions, click here to reach our foster coordinators.  If you would like to apply to be a foster, click here for the application. 

How long have you been fostering for OBG? 
I have been fostering now for 5 or 6 years. I started fostering after adopting my second dog from OBG and seeing the heartbreaking emails from OBG intake about being unable to take in more dogs over summer when people dump their dogs so that they can go on vacation without paying kennel charges. I couldn’t stand it that people are that heartless, so I talked my husband into helping one dog and it ballooned from there.

Did you find it difficult to start fostering?
For my first foster dog, I was given an easy and housetrained dog to ease into it! What a pleasure that foster was to have in our home. We had so much fun with him and after a couple of months he went to a wonderful “furever” home. After the first foster dog, how could I resist more appeals for help!

We understand that you live in Pennsylvania. How do you foster when you live out of the area?
That does make attending shows a little more challenging, so we eventually started taking dogs that needed a quiet home to recover. We now take dogs like Angel, who was a 13 ½ year old special needs dog with severe heart disease and deaf. To be honest, we thought that she might be fostered by us for the rest of her life, but she surprised us by getting adopted by a wonderful couple after only 7 months with us. We also find ourselves often fostering dogs who are recovering from heartworm treatments that need a quiet zone and caretaker for a few months so that they can recover or other dogs who cannot attend adoption shows for one reason or another.

Angel sounds like a very special dog. Are there any other dogs that you would like to tell us about?
A truly life enhancing experience has been fostering “Hamilton.” Hamilton came to us with one of the worst cases of heartworm you could have in a dog and there was a strong chance he would not survive. His coat was dull, his eyes were sad and he seemed to have given up on life. But boy what a handsome dog he was. We took him to the vet and began his treatment. We were warned that he may not survive his heartworm treatment ( if only people knew what danger they are putting dogs in by not giving a simple inexpensive tablet to their dogs each month) so we had to really keep him quiet. He had a tough time for those months. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t come out and play with my dogs or walk with them. But he had a lot of love and good food to help him recover his strength. Much to our confusion, he never put on any weight. We soon found out why when he ended up in the emergency room being treated for hemaraghic gastroenteritis…….a horrible condition where dogs can die from loss of blood. Again OBG agreed to pay for expensive live saving care and we saved his life again. Three times he ended up with emergency care and each time he was saved! He is now blooming, his eyes shine, his coat is wonderful, he has put on weight and he will walk for hours. He also adores playing with balls and fetching and tearing up his toys. The best news of all is that he went to his forever home on 4th July! That was truly his own independence day! I cannot tell you how rewarding this experience has been. His health issues have scared us a few times, but the knowledge that this boy has a full life ahead of ball chasing, dog chasing, squirrel chasing, and chowing down, is such a reward.

How do you stand to give up a dog you have fostered?
Fostering is fantastic and so rewarding. Yes, there is some heartache at the end when they get adopted and will no longer be in your home. You feel like you are deserting them. But you get to take part in selecting the family that is adopting your dog. I have had emails and photos of “my dogs” for years after adoption with their progress. It’s so wonderful to see that the dog whose life you helped to save is now happy and loved in his or her forever home. I know that the dogs that I have fostered are happy once they transition to the new families. Dogs adapt easily as long as food, love and a warm bed and play are available. I also know that anyone who gets approved to adopt is going to give the best home possible to their dog. Adopting from a rescue like ours is harder than buying from a breeder. Potential adopters have to apply, have a home check and so on, so you know that these people CARE and your foster is safe.

Do you have any foster tips that you can share?
My tips are to make sure you give take your new foster dog outside a lot at first so that they get used to going potty outside and not in your home and use lots of praise and maybe a training treat, when he/she does potty outside. When dogs go into a new environment, they will have accidents sometimes. Forgive it, clean it up, and move on. They learn quickly to go outside.

If you have a cat, just put your new foster on a short leash and attach to you when cats are around, and then grab it and correct if your dog starts to chase. Of course it helps if your cat is dog savvy and doesn’t run away. All my foster dogs have learned to co-exist with my cats in the first week of fostering.

Updating the bio is also useful. As you learn about the character and funny things that your foster does, it can help with the appeal of your dog to put that in writing! People love to read bios with cute stories. Any new photos of your foster dog will help as well. Fostering also requires commitment and work. You have to walk your dog, feed it, encourage it, and try to find it a good home. You should respond honestly to inquiries but try not to undersell the dog. We always are honest because you want the adopters to be aware of any potential issues so that the match is a strong one.

Be ready to give lots and lots of love to your foster dog. They are often scared, runaways, or unwanted dogs and our job is to make them family friendly so they can be adopted!

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