So we have taken the next step and have decided to foster. Yes, five dogs, two of us, one house. But I do have some, what I feel are, good reasons to support our decision. Since February, we had five dogs with us because my parents were in the process of moving. It was evident that her dog, Georgie, had very minimal rules, and routines. And okay, I know people and dogs don’t need as much routine as our home, but routine is proven to be very good for dogs and humans too! Georgie was a good dog despite this, and after going through our boot camp, personally, I think she is an even better dog. J When Georgie moved out, we babysat a friend’s dog for a week and once she left, we almost felt a void in our house. There was a vacant cage with soft blankets and beds but no dog. We missed having the fifth dog around. This is when I started looking at fostering opportunities as well as the pros and cons.
When I thought about it, we have the time, space, and energy to care for dogs. Our four have a great life, and if we can help others, why not? I know I could go to shelters and walk dogs, but doing that makes me lose time with my dogs and I don’t like that. I’ve walked at shelters before and it is so rewarding but given the amount of exercise and time devoted to my dogs each day, it would literally mean taking time away from them. So, if I could just throw at least one extra dog into my pack, I would not be sacrificing their time. Sure, the foster dog will steal some of the attention, but they probably would like that ;).
My boys are very particular in who they like. I have one requirement. A dog must be similar in size to them. They hate big dogs. Riley just can’t handle the movements of big dogs. I also prefer terriers. But, that’s just me. At this point, I’m not too sure about temperament issues. My boys have been friends with even some aggressive dogs. I wouldn’t want an aggressive dog added to my pack by any means but they don’t really have an issue with that yet.
Here’s the thing—my boys are sensitive to other dogs, especially when they encounter a dog when they are out at the park or somewhere with me. My hope is that having foster dogs would help desensitize my dogs when encountering strange dogs. I know it won’t make them “dog friendly” by any means when on leash but perhaps it will help because they are used to different dogs coming and going around them.
So, we have our first foster dog. Her name is Mercy. She is a 1 year old Min-Pin Chihuahua mix. She is from KY and was from stray pregnant with 5 puppies. It’s sad that at 1, she has already had a liter, but at the same time, that is basically what saved her. She got into a rescue because she was pregnant.
I was extremely nervous when picking her up at the vet. I brought our car seat harness for her because regardless of what dog is in my car, they will always be secured. They brought her out. Told me she had an ear infection, fleas (that were treated) and she was in heat. Remember I have four BOY dogs. I know what “in heat” is, but I kind of figured they meant that she was in heat because she just had puppies. Note—they did NOT mention that perhaps I pick up a diaper or two for her -_-. They gave me her medicine, her tags, papers on when to come back with her, food, and of course her. With leash in hand we were off. I was kind of like “is this real life? They just hand me a puppy?”. And Mercy, don’t get into cars with strangers!! So I put her harness on and off we go. She was sweet right from the get go. But in true min-pin form she managed to get her leg up and tangled in the harness. Reminds me of Peter… (our minpinpoo).One handed, I fix the harness and she falls asleep until we get home.
Riley typically meets any dog last from our group. He is the most high strung of them all so if he sees the others being okay, he calms down some. Andy was outside with what I thought was all the dogs so I bring Mercy in and figure why not let her sniff around. Well, that was short and sweet as Riley comes bolting out of the room. Holding my breath (usually Andy takes care of meet and greets because I send fear energy) Riley sniffs and she submits, and they both go on their way. The other boys, of course, get let in and charge and she did great. Not one growl. Her tail just kept wagging. Hm, this is easier than I thought. Mercy seemed pretty potty trained. She does like to go too close to the picket fence for my comfort, and her biggest fault is being in heat. And who’s fault is that really? As I mentioned, I didn’t really know much about that, but I soon learned because of my bed sheets, and of course, white overalls. Needless to say, she now wears a diaper well.
My boys have been great leaders for her. I find it really interesting to see what they bring out in her, and what she brings out in them. Benny is actually being less bratty and more assertive and corrective when she is being annoying. He isn’t being at all aggressive with her and it’s pretty darn cute. Riley has had some issues with trying to hump her and I’m not sure if it’s dominance or her being in heat. All my dogs are fixed so I didn’t think it would be an issue. It’s been easily corrected and when he gets too obsessive I just take him for a walk.
Mercy has learned to sit, eat on schedule, potty on schedule, walk on a leash without pulling(she did NOT learn this from my dogs but I think learned it from being a part of a pack), and bed time. She is also a great picture poser. She couldn’t care less about loud noises. She sleeps through them(see her sleeping at the parade!). She loves to be in bed with you and anything soft and comfy. She has chewed on a bone once or twice but isn’t too interested. The cutest thing is she likes to chase fireflies. She will even bark at them. She hasn’t barked much, but she will bark more in the dark. Her whine and bark do sound like she may have had some vocal cord trauma.
She is learning to be crate trained and that’s a bit of a rollercoaster. If another dog is in the cage next to her she quiets down in about five minutes or so. I know this because of the nanny cams J. If I leave just her in the cage when I take the jacks for their walk, she screams and screams. I think this will just take time. I’ve tried giving her a Kong but she’s really only been in a cage since last Sunday—and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we were off work! It also seems to mirror Peter’s actions. When I get home they are all crazy excited. I let them out and they go potty, Peter goes back in his room, and Benny gets left behind, and I take the jacks on a walk. When I started this process, Peter used to freak out because he didn’t like going back in when he was locked up all day already. After a few weeks he got used to this schedule and now he comes in and runs in there on his own. Schedule and routine seem to be a min pin’s friend. I’m hoping that Mercy get’s used to it and realizes the cage isn’t a negative place but a safe place. We also started putting her in the cage while we eat dinner. Benny ALWAYS goes in a puppy bed at dinner and he typically chooses the cage anymore so Mercy does seem to stop whining quicker because Ben is right next to her enduring the same “torture”. She falls asleep whining and tries to fight it. It’s actually cute.
Our first foster is a good one. She is well behaved, cute as can be and loving. I always joke with my one friend who owns I think 7 dogs that she got all the good ones…..Four pits and three shepherds….. She tells me they were all rejects and that’s how she got them but her dogs are well behaved, well mannered, and she can walk all of them at the same time without aggression. Some of them were fosters that just didn’t get adopted so she adopted them. As far as fostering goes, I’m back and forth with it. I’m glad to help and I want to help. I do worry about my boy’s feelings but I also know I may be projecting on them. I may not be that person that fosters every dog that comes along to ensure that adequate attention and care is given to my own, but I feel honored to be able to save lives.
It’s amazing to see how humble and kind Mercy is even though our society has failed her. When I signed up to foster I knew my boys could teach Mercy things. I knew she could probably teach my boys things. But I didn’t know she was going to teach me things. Animals forgive, and don’t hold grudges. They build trust and are genuinely happy to live. With all this negativity in the world and in our country, we could learn a thing or two from animals. I haven’t even had Mercy a week but I know I’ve helped give her the life she deserves by just opening our empty cage, and home to her and allowed her to fulfill that 5th dog void. The pleasure is really ours.