Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Friday, December 15, 2006

To Foster or Not to Foster? That is the Question

Okay, gang. I need your two (or five or ten) cents here:

Mr. J. and I have been talking about adding a second dog to our family. However, as you know, Minnie the Biting Wonderdog is quite a special case. On one hand, her foster mother (this is over 3 years ago) told us that Minnie won the "plays well with others" award (meaning other dogs, not humans.) This is the same woman who told us that she couldn't believe that Minnie would snap at or bite anyone (and Minnie snapped at 8 people in 7 days). Yet, when I pressed Delusional Foster Mom, she admitted there were a "few" circumstances under which Minnie might snap. Like, during the day. Or at night. Or when there were people around.

Minnie, Mr. J. and I have made GREAT (but very, very painfully slow) strides in the past three and a half years, but we're afraid adding another dog to the mix might be like dethroning a beloved only child who has been the only child for at least 5 years (wait . . . now who does THAT sound like? Oh, yeah. Me.).

So, we've found a dog on who is in a "death row" situation and needs to be taken out of the pound before he meets his untimely end via the doggy gas chamber. Since we're not sure how things will go, we didn't want to make a permanent commitment just yet, but thought it might be nice to foster this fella until he either finds his permanent home or we all decide his permanent home is with us.

Here's where I want your advice: Have any of you ever fostered a dog? What is it like? Is there any way to know what to expect? Or can you only expect that you don't know what the hell to expect? Do you get too attached and then have your heart ripped out when they finally get adopted? How do your other dogs (if you have any) handle the situation? Is this something you would recommend doing?

I patiently await your wise counsel.



Blogger Kat said...

I have not fostered dogs but I have worked with many that have been fostered or up for adoption. There is no way to know what to expect and I could imagine that it will feel like you are getting your heart ripped out if you do get attached and the dog ends up getting adopted. However, if you start to get attached many agencies allow the foster family to adopt the dog so it could be a win, win situation. All dogs handle the addition of another dog differently. If Minnie is an alpha she will put the other dog in its place. However, if that dog happens to be an alpha too then you might have a problem. Seeing as though this particular dog is a male you may not have a problem at all, it will just be a matter of them getting used to each other. Minnie may hate you for a few days but you may also see some dramatic changes in her behavior. My female changed dramatically when she was added to our family but that is a comment for another time seeing as though this comment is already long enough. The point of all this is that I say go for it, give him a chance. If things don't seem like they are going to work out then you know you are just fostering him until he finds a permanent home. Good luck and keep us updated.

December 15, 2006 1:22 PM  
Blogger StyleyGeek said...

I haven't fostered anything, but if you haven't been following it you might want to read through Wolfangel's recent archives. She's been fostering a cat and its kittens and had some problems with her own cat becoming jealous and unhappy. Not that I'm saying you shouldn't do it, but you might want to read about Wolfa's experience anyway.

Most of the posts are in the category "please adopt", found here.

December 15, 2006 8:18 PM  
Blogger sbj1505 said...

Hi TL - devoted reader delurking here to comment on dog fostering. My first foster dog (Lucy) is now a permanent member of the family. She is kind of a lunatic, but also a very special girl, and having her around makes my other two dogs happy.

My second foster (Maggie) was with us for 4 or 5 months before going to her permanent home. I loved Mags, but she wasn't a good fit with my other dogs (she was dog-aggressive and it stressed my pups out, I had to do a lot of management of it!) so it was not very hard to see her go. Also, it was the absolute best feeling in the world to see how happy she was with her new home, and how excited they were to have her! So my sadness was really outweighed by joy!

The "organization" through which I fostered was really just a friend. She works for a biotech that does pre-clinical trials and she adopts out their research dogs when they're done with studies. As such, it was a very informal arrangement. I think I would be more inclined to foster for a more established, professional group. My friend didn't have a website or an adoption application, or anything in terms of structure, and I think that some visibility and legitimacy would have helped move dogs through more quickly...

That said, I think it is a great idea to foster a dog as a way of "trying him out". Definitely plan on doing some obedience classes right away, or a prep class for the Canine Good Citizen Test - it would make him much more adoptable if you decide he doesn't work!

Good luck, and keep us posted as to what you decide to do!

December 16, 2006 12:06 AM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

We have cats, but last year we did get a new kitty and dethroned our only cat of 10 years. I started out by quarantining the new kitty in a separate room so they could get used to each other's scent. Then I had them meet each other gradually and with much hovering and supervision. Our old cat was always kind of crabby and this new kitty kind of breathed some life into him.
In Minnie's case, I would proceed very cautiously. Is this other dog a male? I think it might go better if it is. Adding another female might trigger some Alpha-dog agression.

December 16, 2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger Dr. Lisa said...

Both times when I picked up my dogs from their foster carers, the carers cried when I left. I think it's tough to nurture something and then give it up.

Both of these foster parents asked if I could keep them updated, so i give them regular emails of pictures and descriptions of what we are up to. I was happy to do it. I think it makes it less hard to give them up if you know you contributed to getting them into a healthy and happy forever spot.

Whenever I have adopted a second dog, it takes time to adjust; mine have figured out the pack order now and it's quite peaceful. But Max was real real pissed when Tyler showed up, and it took a couple months to get things going smoothly. Max still bullies Tyler--he outweighs him by 7 pounds, and so I think that is just going to happen a little.

December 16, 2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger mex said...

TAKE THE DOG.. AND update us here

It'll be a Merrier C'mas for all


December 18, 2006 8:49 AM  

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