We’ve already covered the most difficult part of fostering: Letting go of a foster pet. However, I’m currently dealing with the other end of the foster cycle: Waiting for that call saying, “We’ve got a dog that needs foster placement. Can you take him?” The anticipation is fun; the constantly keeping the house prepared for a new addition whose name, age, and gender I don’t know is less so. Here are a few suggestions for fellow foster parents playing the waiting game.
Getting Ready and Staying Ready
If the rescue for which you foster is anything like the one I’m now working with, you could have several days’ advance warning to pick up a healthy owner surrender, or you could have a couple hours’ warning to pick up a neglected puppy mill dog with possible health and behavioral problems. Rescues can’t predict in advance what types of dogs they’ll get in, and foster homes flexible enough to take differing types of dogs are in high demand. For that reason, I recommend prepping for a new foster dog’s arrival as if it’ll show up any minute.
- Have an extra crate set up with a crate pad, water dish, and a clean Kong. Remember, Kongs are dishwasher safe, so be sure to wash them regularly and between each foster dog.
- If you, like me, are a raw feeder, or have a dog on a diet that won’t likely work for the foster dog, have a small bag of a good premium kibble on hand. I like Blue Buffalo’s adult chicken formula. It’s a good-quality kibble, easy on the stomach, and has enough carbohydrates not to shock the digestive system of a dog who’s eaten Purina Puppy Chow all its life. You can transition the new dog onto grain-free kibble later, if you like, but take things one step at a time.
- Keep an extra leash and collar on hand; if you foster a variety of breeds, keep a few different sizes around.
- Stock up on toys and chew treats, particularly durable items like Nylabones and healthy, edible chews like bully sticks.
- Have a pet first aid kit on hand. You should do this for your own pets already, but when fostering it’s extra important.
- If you know which vet you’ll be using to get your new foster up to date on vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and heartworm medication, warn them in advance that you’ll be bringing a new foster in soon, and ask how quickly you’ll be able to get an appointment.
- On a related note, have your own pets up to date on at least the most important vaccinations. Rabies and bordatella are on my list of musts. Limited vax or no vax is a legitimate choice with some intelligent proponents, but recognize that if you choose to foster, your healthy dog may well be exposed to illness.