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Why Not Adopt a Dog?

We want people to adopt a dog when they’re ready.

If you can offer a great home for a dog for 10-15 years straight, this could be a fantastic idea for you! At Foster Dog Life, we want dogs to find the right home. So just make sure you can pull it off – this is a BIG decision.

Speaking of big decisions, I’d like to share how I started on the path of fostering dogs.

In my mid-twenties, my girlfriend (now fiancé) and I were also tempted to adopt a young dog. One we’d getting to know through walks with the BC SPCA.

 

His name was Diego.

He was squirrelly, playful and charming. Just how we like them.

Taking Diego out for day trip adventures, we’d have the best time together. Running along the beach, hiking in the woods and playing fetch in the gated-off baseball park. Okay, maybe don’t mention that last bit to the City of West Vancouver, but I trust you.

Having a string of random jobs, we knew finding steady work in the same city could be tough. This whole ‘big city’ thing was new to us and one of the reasons we were looking for guaranteed fun in our lives – aka a puppy.

But the more we got to know this fluffy 8 month old puppy, the more the A-word kept coming up. It’s easy and it can sneak up on you like a dog reaching their nose for fresh bread on the counter. Instinct?

Getting to know a shelter dog can put bold ideas in your head.

These are ones you may not have had compared to walking a friend’s dog who already has a home. A few of the crazy thoughts had by our 20-something brains, fresh and sparkly in the big city:

  • I’d do such a good job looking after him
  • I really feel a connection between us I haven’t experienced before
  • he’s special
  • we have the best dates with him
  • our landlord said we could have a dog
  • we could go for hikes EVERY day
  • I can’t picture my life without this dog
  • come on, look at his ears!
  • his tail!
  • can we??

All this excitement came to a full stop when we delivered the news to our landlord. Previously, he had been open to us caring for a dog short-term so we let him know we wanted to adopt a dog.

Nope.

The landlord of our 500 square foot apartment replied with a NO, we could not adopt a dog and still keep our place.

Not letting this no stop us, we launched an immediate search for a place that ALLOWED dogs. With a total stroke of luck, we discovered an ad for a basement suite off Main Street with access to a yard! We met the homeowners – a young and laidback couple, expecting their first baby and it was a match!

We gave our notice and moved to our new dog-friendly home.

This was one of our quickest moves, but not not quick enough for Diego. Because he was such an a handsome little rascal, our dream dog had been adopted just before we settled in. Bummer.

This was hard to news to hear until we realized it was only the beginning of great things to come. Besides, who knew where we’d be 2 years from now, let alone 12 when Diego would be a much older dog.

As luck would have it, living in a pet-friendly home is a BIG step closer to actually having a dog in your life.

And just the beginning of our story fostering dogs.

 

Where Can I Take My Foster Dog Off Leash?

Finding somewhere to take your foster dog off leash can be tricky.

The right answer always depends on the animal rescue you’re teaming up with and their specific rules. A lot of the time, the history of your foster dog can be a bit foggy so most rescues air on the side of caution. Because of this, they can seem like party poopers by saying you can’t take your foster dog off leash outside.

When it comes to letting your dog off leash, most organizations ask you to keep your dog leashed when you’re going for a walk. From personal experience this is a GOOD IDEA, avoiding real things like these:

  • running away for 40 minutes to chase bunnies in the forest at night
  • breaking up dog fights on hiking trails
  • casually strutting across the middle of a busy road
  • climbing rock walls to meet the neighbours
  • belly flopping with a grin into stinky swamps

Needless to say, it’s a lot easier on you and your dog to keep them on leash when you’re out and about.

As you get used to taking your foster dog for walks, you’ll learn what they like and dislike.

Sometimes meeting new dogs on the sidewalk is a good idea and other times it’s easier to make a detour. Either way, it will be much easier to get your dog moving by keeping your dog on a leash.

So what about when you want your dog to run and play?

Do you or a friend have a fully fenced backyard? This can be a great chance to let your foster dog off leash and let them explore the yard. Playing fetch or tug-of-war is always a good time when there’s a bit more space than your living room to run around in.

With a new foster dog off leash in the yard, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on them as you get to know their traits. More importantly their squirrelly side.

If they start digging in the grass try distracting by throwing a toy for them to chase in the other direction. Jumping up to see what’s over the fence? Sounds like time for something else! You never know what dogs are capable of until they’ve surprised you by getting into the refrigerator or baking a loaf of bread while you aren’t looking.

Whenever you have your foster dog off leash in the yard, enjoy the moment and have fun with them.

You’ll both get a lot of good out of a little play time.

What Kind of Dog Toys Do Foster Dogs Like?

The same dog toys any other dog likes!

A big thing people forget about foster dogs is that they’re a dog just like any other.

Came from an animal shelter? Still a dog.

Found on the trail in the rain without a collar? Chilly and could use a blanket, still a dog.

A ressssscue? Many people associate rescue dogs as being fragile, in-need and hard-done-by. But you guessed it, they’re still a dog.

Dogs have an amazing ability to rebound from their past and focus on the present.

And in the present, dogs love a good chomp-able toy to play with, reminding them how good life can be.

If you’re looking to get a quality toy for your foster dog, one of the best I’ve used with our foster dogs is a Kong Extreme. These things are ridiculously well made for getting your chomp on.

The best part? You can fill them with treats and a bit of peanut butter to give to your foster dog when you head out for a coffee. It’s both a treat and something fun to occupy themselves while you go about your day. Use this trick to take gradual departures to get your foster dog used to you leaving and actually coming back.

These dog toys are also great at occupying your dog’s mind.

Plus, with the biggest expenses of ‘owning’ a dog covered by the animal rescues we work with, we’re able to splurge on a couple high quality dog toys. Why replace a poorly designed dog toy every month if you don’t have to? One of our Kongs has lasted through over 8 foster dogs and counting. Now that’s a lot of chomping.

Give one a try and if you’ve got some space to play a little fetch in your home, the random shape leads to some great bounces for your dog to chase.

Just remember to wipe off the peanut butter first.

How Do I Learn How To Foster a Dog?

The key to fostering a dog for the first time is comfortably going out of your comfort zone.

Sure, you can read up on the basics. Maybe kick back and watch a steady stream of YouTube tutorials on the couch. But eventually, you need to gather up your courage to do something brand new.

When we got our first foster dog, it had been after a few solid years of dog walking at our local animal shelters. This helped big time in getting used to all kinds of different dogs:

  • big and happy
  • small and not
  • fluffy as a sheep
  • sleek like a seal
  • friendly waggers
  • scaredy cats
  • olympic athletes
  • couch potatoes

By getting a sense of how different dogs will act in many situations, you can better prepare yourself for looking after one at home.

Next stop on our route to learn how to foster a dog: house sitting.

Best place to start? Ask friends, family and that cute neighbour if they ever need someone to look after their dog when they’re out of town. Try this first with a dog who’s already familiar with you so it’s not a big culture shock for them. Plus, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect from the dog if you know them.

Once you have a few house sitting gigs under your belt, picture looking after that dog at your own place.

As you learn how to foster a dog, think about the world from their eyes. Their height, ingenuity and impressive ability to find chomp-able things to play with. What would you need to tidy up?

Where could the dog mess up and eat something that was left out? Is that the chocolate bar I was looking for under the couch? By seeing your place from their perspective it can be a fun way to tidy up.

Plus, it never hurts to be ready for company – especially if you hit it off with that cute neighbour.