The Petcast Interview

The PetcastI was interviewed for a pet-oriented podcast called The Petcast by two very nice people (Steve & Emily) who wanted their listeners to learn more about fostering dogs. My interview is in Episode #193 titled The Dog Fosterer(!), available for MP3 download.

After the interview I had millions of things I wish I would have said. For one, I wish I would have said how DOABLE it is to foster a dog given the right mind set – it is work and more on the front end and easier as it goes on…opposite to raising a little of puppies who for the first two weeks literally nurse and sleep. They are no work at all – just a load of laundry twice a day and taking care of the mama. It is also important to understand some very basic things about dogs – they are social pack animals and assuming the foster dog had some positive experiences with people in her past

she will want very much to figure out where she fits and what she is supposed to do. So, make it easier on her and let her be for the first three days at least. If she comes to you, pet her gently but avoid the temptation to smother her with love to make up for all the good things she’s missed. It will likely just overwhelm and frighten her. Keep your messages to her clear and make sure all family members are using the same words for the same behaviors. Also, remember dogs live in the present. They don’t think about how bad things were and worry that they will get bad again, they look at what’s in front of them and work with what they’ve got. That doesn’t mean that the foster dog might not come with some baggage, they all do! But that is learned behavior and with clear and consistent messages those behaviors can be removed or changed. And finally, a dog is an animal first (thank you Cesar Millan for this wonderfully simple insight) and as an animal needs to “work” for her food and water and rest. Resist the temptation to cut the dog slack to make up for all the difficult times she’s been through. Exercise her (walking is BEST) before feeding her and use common sense – a dog that comes to you extremely malnourished or sick will NOT benefit from lots of exercise, a simple walk to the back yard and back inside will be sufficient. But for those dogs who come to you in fairly good shape, walk them at least twice a day, for at least 30 minutes each time (an hour is best). That will help them learn to see you as their leader, help them acquaint themselves with their new neighborhood and give them the physical outlet we all need.

The sad and difficult thing about fostering is that you are putting a ton of energy into shaping a dog to be an excellent companion and then, right when they are starting to really get good you have to let them go. But if you are clear that your heart is full up (mine certainly is with four dogs!) and that you are not the world’s only and best dog owner (this took me awhile to really believe I’m embarrassed to say) then it feels best to let them go because you realize you just don’t have enough to give to them. That they deserve so much more. And the more I foster and adopt out the more I see how much love people have to give, how devoted to their dogs they are, and how just basically good people are at heart. It makes me more proud to be human, as strange as that sounds.

So, that’s just one of the things I wish I had thought to say in the interview. But I’ve said it now and that feels good. There was more I was dwelling on at four this morning, but I’ll remember it again later….

February 7, 2009 • Tags: , , , • Posted in: fostering dogs, publicity

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