Tips for fostering a dog

A series of dog blogs from the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company. Informative, candid; with a touch of dog-lovin' humour. - Chapter 5

Author: Gayle Walker – Founder of Underwater Dogs Haircare Company.
A massive love for Ralph (the family dog-hooman) and a passion for professional haircare saw the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company evolve from dream to viable concept. In affiliation with Seth Casteel, world renown Photographer and New York Times Best Selling Author of ‘Underwater Dogs,’ Gayle’s aim is to educate dog owners about good skin & hair health in dogs, along with a splash of underwater fun. Find out more about the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company here.

In Chapter Four I talked about our return to the city. We had spent five years in rural NSW on an amazing parcel of land – an expansive play-ground for our animals and the many hobbies we had cultivated.

The decision to return was multi-faceted, Ralphie and Gemima adapting to their domain, down-sized somewhat but none-the-less, just as exciting!

Ralphie 2006, complete with harness and lead!

Apart from holidays and the odd long-weekend visiting the farm, life back in Sydney moved on.

Gone were the long days of independence, acreage to roam, diver ducks to chase and cattle to round. Instead, a strange-new-phenomena called ‘doggie park’ and an abundance of furry compatriots to sniff; lamp posts on every corner to investigate; and the opportunity to lay at our feet, recipients of treats and pats at puppy-friendly cafes -daily!

Life was good. Obviously, it wasn’t where we lived…

All they desired, was the ‘familiarity of us.’

I had never owned a dog as a child. We’d been a canine free family.

I do remember guinea pigs (several) when one of two females turned out to be male… and an enormous orange tabbie cat my brother had named ‘Tiger.’

We lived on a busy main road which sadly cut Tiger’s adventurous life short, and my father (a true softy), decided that wouldn’t be happening again.

The last family animal I recall was way more contained. A very loud and riotous budgerigar named ‘Cheeky,’ and I guess you had to be ten yrs old back in the 70’s to understand that one…

Cheeks was well protected from the plethora of pantechnic’s that passed by our semi-rural property, and he quickly learnt to talk, mimicking anyone who cared to share a profanity, living up to his name – much to my mother’s chagrin.

Gemima & Ralphie – City Dogz 2006

So as an adult, learner-dog-owner, just when I thought I had this ‘owning a dog’ thing down, a whole other world opened up, and quite literally shook me to pieces.

More on the dreaded Tick later.

So, if you’re considering bringing home a dog but are still not certain you are ready for the responsibility, why not consider fostering instead? 

Kind of like babysitting, you get the perks of having a dog around, but also the ability to give the pup back if you feel it’s not quite right for you or, simply change your mind.

This unique opportunity is often overlooked, which is unfortunate given the numerous benefits this situation provides.

Would you consider Fostering?

“It came to me, that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are”  Unknown Author.

Chapter Five – Tips for Fostering a Dog

So what is Fostering?

Rescue organisations often depend on foster homes, meaning that every dog in the rescue’s care lives in a home with a temporary family, as opposed to a kennel in a shelter.

When possible, shelters also utilise foster families for sick or injured dogs, or animals that are not doing well in the chaotic shelter environment.

What does Fostering Entail for your Family? 

A dog foster is responsible for providing the daily care for an animal, feeding, providing a nice warm bed and of course, a lot of love.

All of the dog’s veterinary, transportation, and miscellaneous costs are usually covered by the rescue or shelter, including de-sexing, vaccines and any medications required.

In addition, the organisation will be responsible for marketing the dog in order to find a forever home as soon as possible.

If fostering a sick or injured dog, the amount of time you care for the animal is predetermined.

For other pets, such as those from a rescue, the amount of time the dog is in foster care can be as short as 1 – 2 weeks to as long as 1 – 2 years.

Let’s Sniff out some of the Benefits of Fostering.

1. Save a Life

Above all, when you foster a dog you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are directly saving a life.

While many people avoid fostering saying, “I would bond too strongly with the dog,” the fact of the matter is -that lack of foster families often leads to an increase in euthanasia.

Remi – Rescued February 2019, Rural Australia

“My heart races each and every time I read a rescue story. Some of the circumstances can be quite horrific – dog lovers, and their communities feeling the pain and anguish to the core.

I have recently been following Remi’s story – an 18month old Kelpie puppy rescued in a remote rural area of Australia.

Her injuries had been horrific and for the first few days it had been touch and go if she would even survive.

Knowing she was in the best of care and finally recovering from her vicious wounds, then fostered by a beautiful family in Brisbane, Queensland – I was overcome with relief.

I had cried for this wee pup on several occasions – a softy like my father.”

If you are considering fostering, imagine what this might mean in the interim for a rescued or abandoned animal. 

2. No Long-Term Commitment

If you are unsure whether a dog is right for you, fostering is the perfect solution.

You will enjoy all the perks of dog ownership while learning whether your lifestyle is compatible with having a pet (aka whether life just simply gets in the way).

If the situation simply isn’t working out, that’s OK – you can let the rescue group know and alternative arrangements will be made.

3. Flexibility

Fostering is perfect for the would-be dog owner who has an unpredictable or difficult schedule.

For instance, if you travel for work but are home for extended periods of time, you can schedule fostering for when you aren’t moving around the country.

This gives you the best of both worlds: having a dog in the house while not feeling guilty when you are gone.

4. Test Different Breeds

Another reason fostering is great for someone who is on the fence about first time dog ownership is that it gives you an opportunity to test different types of dogs.

If you have other small pets, such as cats, fostering will also help you learn which dogs are most compatible.

5. Budget Friendly

If the reason you are balking on dog ownership is because you are not sure it’s in your budget, fostering is also the perfect solution.

As previously mentioned, shelters and rescues cover most, if not all of the costs the animal incurs, therefore leaving you solely responsible for play time, puppy cuddles, and poop-scooping.

Ask the question of your local Rescue Shelter.

6. Try Before you Buy

Some rescues and shelters allow foster-to-adopt situations.

If there is a certain dog you are considering but are unsure about specific aspects of ownership, this arrangement can make the transition easier.

It is also far more responsible than purchasing or adopting a dog without being certain it will work out.

If choosing to foster, make sure you are upfront with the rescue or shelter about your intention and be certain they allow foster-to-adopt scenarios.

So how do you become a Foster Parent?

The first step will be to visit your local rescue organisation, or follow some of the online charities that can help you with your choice.

If you already know what you want, some organisations may point you to breed-specific shelters.

When you’ve found the dog that you want, request an application for fostering. Make certain you read this document carefully and if you are unsure about anything, ask.

Questions like:

  • What are you ultimately responsible for?
  • Will you be required to have a yard that is fenced in?
  • How much time will need to be devoted to your chosen animal?

The rescue organisation will more than likely require references, both personal and veterinary, and will no doubt want one or more interviews and a visit to your home.

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own”  Elizabeth Parker.


[Excerpt from Australian Nonprofit Organisation Pound Paws– February 2019]

As Mentioned in Chapter Three – ‘Tips for Buying a Dog’ – Pound Paws, an Australian based Charity has been designed to help re-home abandoned pets across Australia. An online search engine which fast tracks the overall adoption process allowing users to search by age, by breed, size or lifestyle match.

Founder, Brittany Bloomer has recently addressed the overwhelming need for Foster Carers, offering the opportunity for those interested in helping with interim care for rescue animals, through the Pound Paws organisation.

“Every week, we see a list of pets that are due to get euthanised. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

But there is a solution!

We are building our foster care network across Australia so we can physically go into shelters and place pets into a temporary home.

This could be your home!

If you think you can provide a loving home & some TLC to a homeless dog or cat, please email Pound Paws here now.” Brittany Bloomer

No matter whether you shop, adopt, or foster; dog ownership is special. 

The decision is personal, and one that comes after long and thoughtful consideration. Once you have made up your mind, the next step is to start preparations for your new lifestyle.

Bring it on!

The Jerry Files

Pup Update – Twelve Weeks

“At twelve weeks Jerry’s personality is blooming – and yes, we can see quite a character emerging. I know he looks cute, and I am an adoring pawrent… but OMG, he is a riot!  Puppy school was definitely a good idea (for me mostly). His never-ending energy and intrigue in everything that moves (or doesn’t), is exhausting. Had totally forgotten how much work a puppy was, but wouldn’t go back for quids!” Ash Sukhwani a.k.a. Mother of Jerry

So you’ve made up your mind and there’s going to be a new dog on the block!

You may be completely new to the puppy experience, or just need a refresher course. Get your Pre-Puppy Checklist next – the final chapter in Book one of our series ‘A Life with Dogs’

Up next – Chapter Six: Your pre-puppy checklist

To receive each new chapter directly to your inbox, you can subscribe to A Life With Dogs’ blog HERE.

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