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Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

Fostering 101: Fail

By March 25, 2011

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Burro the Greyhound by Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVMLast week, as part of the Adopt the Internet day, I wrote about my experiences with pet adoption and fostering.

Why I Foster

I never truly understood the value of fostering until we fostered our first Greyhound last year. It was a great learning experience, both for our family and for Hammer.

Hammer learned how to live with cats (cats who sometimes teased him), go up and down stairs with ease, mind his table manners and go for walks. He gained all of those skills and self confidence too - learning how to "meet and greet" people at the adoption events and on walks.

After years of saying "no way could I do that," I learned that I could foster. The eventual adoption was bittersweet, but seeing what a perfect fit the adoptive family was with Hammer made it all worth it.

It was a rewarding and fun experience.

Ready to Foster Again

We thought we should foster again. Especially now, with more tracks closing and more Greyhounds awaiting their forever homes. Because they are adults at the time of adoption who have, in most cases, never lived in a home environment, fostering is is very useful. It ultimately makes them more adoptable; the skills and confidence they learn, and what the people learn about them -- to better match them with adopters.

Fostering gives the dog a little time and guidance to get polished up around the edges, ready to fit right in to their new home.

The Best Time to Foster?

I kept thinking "later" -- we will foster after this event or that holiday or... it is easy to put things off, isn't it? Our adoption group had a new arrival of Greyhounds, and I checked out the photos. I won't say it was love at first sight, because it wasn't. I saw a very terrified Greyhound, wondering just what was going on. We made a very quick decision to foster - to help this poor girl out. Checking first to see if she was evaluated for a life with cats, or other dogs, or kids didn't happen. I hoped she was.

Then Burro arrived. She was every bit as scared as her photo depicted, but she also really caught my eye - a gorgeous brindle with cute ears and sweet disposition. This was going to be hard.

First things first. Argos. We adopted Argos in December 2010. At eighty pounds, he is very big and very fast. Safety is the first concern with a dog who could potentially keep up with him.We put the "Greyhound muzzles" on them at first meetings to make sure everything would be pleasant. Like other dogs, Greyhounds can sometimes roughhouse, but with skin as thin as theirs, we don't need any altercations and injuries. The first meeting went well. Argos seemed to barely notice the new foster dog.

Burro was afraid of everything; the scary kitchen floor, the cats, the window blinds, Argos if he ran too fast, and even us, if we moved too fast. Lots of encouragement and dog treats helped ease the situation. That, and the normal easy-going happiness of Sophie and Argos brought Burro out of her shell.

Three weeks later, she is zooming around the yard, gobbling up dog cookies, and play bowing with everyone else. She still has to stop and 'concentrate' before walking on the scary kitchen floor, but making great progress there too, especially if a cookie awaits on the other side.

And So... We Failed

Two dogs is a comfortable number for our busy family. How will three be? Part of me said "two is good," don't succumb to what those in adoption work call "Foster Failure." We did OK with this thought for a while.

But seeing how Burro really, really tries hard to fit in, to follow the lead of her much more confident canine companions, and nuzzle up to the kids, no holds barred. Then to think of her starting over with a new family? I know they will be nice, and I know Burro will eventually have that self confidence. I see peeks of it now and then when she is wanting to entice the other dogs to play or starts trotting out on walk.

So we "failed" -- we gained a sweet wonderful new member of the family. Today is her Gotcha Day!

Failing is pretty cool sometimes.

March 30 update: We changed Burro's name to "Purl" - pronounced "Pearl," but spelled like the knitting stitch. (long story)

Readers Respond: Adoption and Rescue - tips for a successful pet adoption

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Photo: Burro the Greyhound by Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM

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March 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm
(1) Deb Mendez says:

Congrats on the wonderful fail! Burro hit the lottery!

March 25, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(2) julie g says:

When you first started sharing Burro pictures w/ captions I thought to myself “Another foster failure…”. Yeah for Burro!

March 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm
(3) Tonya says:

I just knew this was going to happen! This story brought (good)tears to my eyes! Huge congrats!

March 30, 2011 at 11:30 am
(4) james orth says:

We also failed fostering with a GREYHOUND! A female named Rookie who had been returned to Greyhounds Only Inc. (the rescue group where we adopted our male Greyhound Dr. Jake) Retired racing greyhounds make wonderful pets they love people and usually get along with other breed dogs, and some of them even like cats. We currently have 2 retired racers Dr. Jake who is 61/2 and Ellie Mae Bones 3. Sadly we lost Rookie to bone cancer a little over a year ago. Finally our 2 greyhounds donate blood to a canine blood bank in Chicago. Please consider a retired racer if your are looking for a GREY-T dog.

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