So today we are going to have a little chat about fostering puppies. I just started doing it this summer, and man has it been a whirlwind!
I started fostering puppies because I really shouldn’t get a third full-time dog, since it’s only me! It’s hard enough when I have one hand for each dog, I can’t imagine road trips with three. I also really love puppies, but I don’t always have enough time to take care of them. And puppies are expensive – we will touch on this in a post soon – and I’m on a single income. I’m also a big believer in giving of your time and talents to help a cause. It fills my cup after a long week of slugging away toward selfish goals to stop for a few hours or a few days and focus completely on something else.
Fostering is an important step for a lot of rescue organizations. Some have full time volunteer staff and facilities where dogs can be exercized regularly, and properly taken care of, but many local rescues don’t have the space or funds to handle animal overpopulation issues. That’s where the foster pet parents need to step in.
Usually a puppy foster parent already has dogs, or has had them in the past so they know how to handle a puppy. Many (EVERY) times the puppies are scared, tired, hungry, and even sick when they get picked up. They’ve been taken away from their mom, their siblings, and their home, and probably have had to spend many hours in a kennel in a car to get to the rescue that is there to help them. Whether a foster has the puppy for a single night or several weeks, the end goal is the same: make the puppy feel safe around people, get the puppy healthy, and learn enough about the puppy that your information can help to find the perfect forever home. It’s a ton of responsibility to a creature that is entirely reliant upon your help to survive and find a family.
Fostering puppies is HARD. It takes a mental and physical toll, but the rewards are sooooo worth it! But really, puppies are not easy to take care of.
They are LOUD – I don’t sleep more than a few hours at a time with young puppies. They bark when they are hungry, when they want to play, when they need to potty, when they are lonely, or just because they feel like barking. Do I ever just want to yell back at a barking puppy? Yes. Do I actually blame a puppy that’s barking at 3:30am while it’s raining outside and they need to potty? No. You get up, you take care of the puppy, settle them back down, and grab another quick hour of sleep before it starts again. Remind anyone of newborn babies?
Puppies are MESSY. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve seen a puppy pee 4 different times in a 20 minute period. They have no idea where it is appropriate to poop. And did I mention that the poop can be… interesting. We will just leave that there. They love to roll on each other, in mud, in piddle puddles that you haven’t spotted yet, and in worse. And they almost all HATE bath time. You will feel like the worst tyrant on the planet if a puppy needs a bath twice in one day. They will cry, look at you with those sweet eyes, and give you all the kisses you could want when you finally take them out of the evil evil bathtub… then proptly pee on the towel you are using to dry them off.
Puppies are NEEDY. They can’t be left alone outside for long periods (or at all if you don’t have a puppy proof yard). They need food – and occasionally supervision while eating. You also can’t leave them alone inside for long. Not only will they tear apart things that they shouldn’t (cords, socks, books, etc.), but remember that I mentioned that they don’t have appropriate ideas about bathroom functions. And a kennel is ok, but only for a short period until they start to bark. Or the kennel needs cleaned. Or the puppy. Or both.
Puppies are WORTH IT. 100%, without a doubt, no reservations, worth every ounce of effort. When a puppy who used to hide in the back of the kennel and refuse to come out until you leave the room snuggles in to take a nap on your lap – it was worth every second of coaxing with treats. When a puppy who hasn’t had a solid poop in a week finally does and you celebrate with extra playtime – its worth all the cleanup time you put in. When a puppy who was sad and shy is playing with a family at an adoption event – it’s worth all the time you could have spent on yourself that you spent petting and taking softly until the pup felt safe. When their new family takes them home and you cry EVERY SINGLE TIME – it’s still worth it.
If I didn’t scare you away and you’re thinking that you may want to start fostering puppies too, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself.
- Do I have the time to do this?
- Do I have the patience to do this?
- Do I have a safe space where the puppies can be inside and outside?
- How will my other family members/ pets react to puppies?
The first three you can probably answer pretty easily. The last might be a little harder, but also VERY important. I live alone with my two dogs, so the first 3 were cake. I work from home part of the week and can take puppies into the office. I’ve raised both my other dogs from puppyhood, so I know I’ve got the patience and the safe spaces. My family likes dogs so when they visit I’ll have extra help. The biggest consideration was how my dogs would react. I already knew Harper loves puppies, but what about Pippa? She gets along with all of the other dogs she’s met, but will she know to be gentle? I didn’t have many worries, but just to be safe I picked a little bit larger and older puppies for my first fosters, and watched how Pippa handled them very closely. Once I saw her slowing down to play chase with them, and laying down so they could tackle her, and letting them nibble on her tail and ears, I knew she would be fine. Now she’s the main playmate for playtime. Harper handles inside snuggle time. I cannot stress how important it is to make certain that everyone in the house will be ok with the puppies.
Still interested? Heres a list of basic supplies (and links to where you can get good, reasonably priced brands) that you will need to successfully foster puppies. This list is by no means exclusive, but in my experience it will handle most of what comes up. *Many rescues provide the food they want the puppies on*
Let me know if you also foster and have suggestions on things to add! I also use laundry baskets to corral puppy supplies (and even small puppies).
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