Four months ago I started this great new job working on what I’ve come to concisely describe to friends and family as “Dog Content”.
As someone who’s well known for having been a “Crazy Cat Lady” my whole life, suddenly being thrust into the dog world took a little adjustment. Of course, I’m talking about Talent Hounds and the job and community I’ve now come to love.
Susan Nation of Talent Hounds is a huge promoter of Rescues and helping dogs in need. She started fostering the Talent Hounds mascot, mischievous but very affectionate and cute Kilo the Pug, just over 2 years ago from Homeward Bound Rescue. She ended up adopting him. He is quite the inspiration!
Why I decided to foster a dog
One of my 3 roommates mentioned that they were thinking about getting a puppy a few weeks ago. We talked about the commitment and adjustments a puppy takes from everyone in the household. I suggested that it might be better to make sure everyone was ready by fostering a dog in need. Even fostering requires a lot of time and energy but it’s a great way to get some puppy love in your life when you might not be able to commit to 10+ years with an animal.
See these helpful questions to ask if you are considering fostering or adopting a dog:
My Foster Dog Xavi
Xavi (pronounced ‘havi’ as in the Spanish Xavier) is my foster dog and the most recent love of my life. I started fostering this rambunctious, sweet and hilarious little guy 3 weeks ago. Xavi is about a year old, some sort of terrier mix and likely was born on the streets in Mexico. I got Xavi the day after he arrived in Canada. He came with a clean bill of health, a short description of how he was brought to the shelter after having been almost hit by a car, and not much else. I was actually looking for a large older dog, who was quiet and trained. He was smaller than he looked in his pictures, young, and full of unbridled energy and a lust for life.
In the short time that I’ve had Xavi we’ve worked our way up from him peeing all over the house in confusion, to having no accidents for the last week and a half. Sometimes, if I ask very nicely Xavi will ‘sit’ for me, and if he suspects I have a treat, he’s starting to return to me when called.
Xavi loves long walks to the park, rolling in the sand and making friends with everyone – humans, dogs and even cats (much to my cat Bean’s chagrin)!
Xavi is from Coveted Canines Rescue. A Toronto-based rescue that focuses on dogs that are at high risk of being euthanized or vulnerable to abuse, Coveted Canines is entirely volunteer run and relies on foster homes to provide a loving place for these dogs to land.
How I got into fostering.
I’ve been an advocate for fostering ever since I first heard about it in University 5 years ago. At the time, I was living with 3 close friends. One of whom was an avid dog lover and had done a lot of research before getting the rest of us on board to foster.
After fostering a snuffly old Pug named Puggy for a few months and a majestic 190lb Great Dane we called Ben for another month, we decided that fostering dogs was a bit much for 4 university students with super busy schedules to take on… and so we made the switch to cats!
I spent the next 4 years in 4 different apartments working with Moustache Adoptions de Chats in Montreal to foster dozens of cats and kittens. I spent a year on the board of the rescue as Director of Adoptions and solidified my love for pet fostering and pet rescue in general.
When one of my current roommates told me he was thinking about the puppy, I immediately foresaw all the potential challenges he and the rest of us would face bringing a dog into our home, even if he was the primary caregiver. Knowing that the dog my roommate wanted wasn’t even born yet and that he had time to make that decision for himself, I suggested we try fostering over the summer to see how a dog would fit into our roommate dynamic. And it’s a good thing we did.
Fostering isn’t all fun and games
When you live with 3 other people, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page at the same time. Though all 4 of us were on board for the dog, the plan going into it was that I and my other dog-eager roommate would share the responsibility. The other two weren’t really interested in day to day duties. This only became a problem when my partner went away for 2 weeks 2 days after Xavi arrived.
Suddenly I was alone with a dog who was a lot more work than I anticipated.
Dogs are living creatures that depend on you. They don’t call it ‘rescue’ without reason and some foster dogs may come into rescue with an unknown history (like Xavi). They may have behavioral and/or health issues that need to be addressed. A big part of why fostering is so important is to be able to bridge that gap. Fosters are able to evaluate a newly rescued dog and help provide potential adopters with an accurate description of what sort of home and care a dogs needs and how the dog behaves.
It pays to persevere
Having been on the other side of the situation when working as the Director of Adoptions for Moustache, I wasn’t going to back out of my commitment to this animal and leave the rescue in a lurch simply because it was more work than I wanted to take on.
Xavi’s eyes had captured my heart and luckily his personality is quite infectious so sticking by him was an easy decision to make. With the support of Susan and Talent Hounds, I could be a little flexible with my schedule. I soon had a battalion of friends and family waiting in line to help give the little guy walks and attention when I couldn’t.
Why the fostering is well worth it
Despite being tired, overwhelmed and a bit out of my element, I feel like I’ve managed to find balance in my life with Xavi. It helps that my fostering partner is now back from his trip and that I work for a site that has articles and videos to respond to most of the issues I’ve come across. (For example, Xavi’s next big hurdle is perfecting his recall and this article gives a great baseline for someone who’s never trained a dog before.)
What really makes all the difference though, is the love that Xavi gives back in return.
Just last night a friend of mine caught me telling Xavi how much I love him and gave me a stern “Be careful Sydney, you shouldn’t get too attached!” worrying that I wouldn’t be able to let him go when it came time for his adoption. I smiled at my friend and told him, “I’m not worried” because I’m not.
Fostering for me isn’t a question of getting attached. I do get attached and I think it’s important to. Xavi should feel as much love from me as he will eventually from his forever family because fostering is about more than just providing a place for these animals to sleep. It’s about giving them a foundation and a smooth transition into the permanent life that they deserve.
Xavi now has a few interested adopters and I know the day I’ll have to say goodbye to him is coming soon. Of course, it will be bittersweet. But Xavi being adopted means that I’ll have room in my life to foster another dog and help them to have a second chance too and I’m deeply looking forward to that.
What do you think about fostering?