It’s been a little busy around our place! On Friday night we received our third foster dog. It’s been quite a ride, let me tell you!
This little sweetheart is the face we agreed to foster. We had been told she was an 18 month old dog. And while that’s technically on the younger side for our family, we decided to go with it. Now, most fosters coming in from Louisiana (as all our fosters have) who are over a year old are heartworm positive. So, I was both delighted and confused when her tests came back heartworm negative. We were pleased that foster #3 would not have to go through the painful and difficult heartworm treatment while in our care.
When she arrived, I noticed she acted an awful lot like a puppy. On Saturday morning, the rest of my family was out of the house while I wrangled dogs on my own. The first day with a new foster is always a challenge. Our resident dogs are getting used to the new face and learning how to interact with her, and the new foster is learning boundaries from our resident dogs. It’s often a a bit of a fraught time, there’s generally some growling and teeth, but it’s also an interesting process to me. But handling it on my own was a challenge.
I also noticed that despite how many times I was taking her outside, she was struggling to communicate when she needed to go out. There was pee. In the house. Which I HATE. (But it’s also part of fostering!) Thankfully all of that was on our vinyl tile which makes clean up easy.
So, by the time I took her to the foster meet and greet so that folks could come look at some of our available dogs, I was a little at my wits end. To top it off, right before I left I got a message from our rescue owner saying that she was seeing two different birthdates on her paperwork, one putting her at 18 months and one putting her at 7 months. I, not being well versed in these sorts of things, told the rescue owner that I’d put her closer to the 7 months mark as she’s totally a puppy in every way. And this would explain why she tested negative for heartworm, she wasn’t actually very old.
While at the meet and greet, I decided on a game plan. She hadn’t relaxed all morning, just in a constant state of running, playing, and peeing. So, I decided that while our family does not foster puppies, if I had inadvertently fostered a puppy, I was going to treat her like a puppy. I pulled out an extra kennel and put it in the living room. And I put her on a schedule. Outside to pee, praise and treats, play time with our dogs, into the kennel for a rest. Repeat as necessary. And it worked!
Once all was said and done, and after the rescue owner viewed her sister, we decided she’s more likely a year old. She’s got all her adult teeth. She acts like a puppy because she was picked up as a stray and put in a shelter so she just hasn’t had the opportunity to learn things that puppies learn. She’s learning all those things in our house. She is clumsy and goofy and funny. She’s confident and playful and very active. She falls right on her face a lot. She falls off couches and beds. She sometimes can’t figure out how to get up on a couch or bed. She definitely cannot do a flight of stairs. It’s just….good chaos a lot of the time with her in the house!
But, I am proud to say, after 4 days in our home, she’s improved dramatically. She manages to go outside to do her business. She has learned that she doesn’t have to expend all her energy indefinitely, she will get regular play time and she can burn her energy then. She’s learning that clean fresh water will always be available so it’s not necessary to drink two buckets of it when she can find it, nor does she have to lick the grass in the morning. She’s learning boundaries with other dogs (even if she doesn’t always listen to them.) But best of all? She’s learning to rest outside the kennel.
And honestly? That’s the sweetest part of all of this.
This was a foster we were highly unprepared for. Foster #1 was sweet and mellow. Foster #2 was busy but pretty well trained. Each foster will teach us new ways of caring for them, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. But, we certainly have been unprepared for the multitude of lessons this foster has taught us. We will be going to the dog park every day until she finds her family I think. But, our dogs like her quite well, and they enjoy having fosters in the home. And she’s cute and sweet and full of funny antics. So we’ll keep on loving and training her until her forever home can be found!