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Frequently Asked Questions about Fostering
Q: What is involved in fostering?
A: A dog is in rescue because something unfortunate has happened in his life being lost, perhaps having been neglected or abused, dumped, roaming the streets, being picked up by animal control. Fostering takes tolerance and patience to help these fellows recover from the trauma. Nurturing and sometimes nursing these dogs back to health is both a rewarding and heartwrenching experience, but well worth the effort because they are so grateful. Cockers are such gregarious, people oriented dogs what living in a home-style environment is preferable. Consequently we encourage foster families to treat the foster dog as much like their own pet as possible. Foster families must have the financial ability to provide food for the foster dog and be able to transport the rescue to the vet and to adoptions around the Houston area.
Q: I have other pets. Can I still foster?
A: Probably. Most foster families have more than one pet when they begin fostering. If a situation arises where the rescue and your pet are not getting along, the rescue can be traded out for another that will fit into your family better.
Q: I have children under the age of ten. Can I foster?
A: This will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally CSR discourages placing Cocker Spaniels in homes with children under 7 but will consider doing so under certain circumstances.
Q: There is no one at home during the day. Am I eligible to foster?
A: CSR prefers that the dogs be left no longer than 8 hours at a stretch but recognizes this may not always be possible.
Q: Do I need a fenced yard to foster?
A: CSR prefers a fenced yard. However, if you are willing to walk the dog on a leash several times a day, you will be considered.
Q: I'm concerned about exposing my other pets to a dog who has come straight from animal control or a shelter.
A: Fosters, particularly first time fosters, are given a rescue that has been in rescue for some time. In that way, the vaccinations have had time to kick in and we have had a chance to access the rescue. On intake of a new rescue, one of our volunteers picks the rescue up from animal control/shelter and takes it straight to a veterinarian for a health check, which includes shots (rabies, parvo, corona, distemper and bordatella), fecal, heartworm test and spay/neuter (if needed) before being sent to a foster home. CSR does not knowingly send dogs with contagious diseases (kennel cough, mange, etc) to a foster home unless the foster agrees to accept the dog. Since heartworms are not passed from dog to dog, if a rescue tests heartworm positive it may be sent to a foster home until it is healthy enough to undergo treatment.
CSR insists that your pets be vaccinated against rabies and distemper/parvo/conrona and bordatella (to prevent kennel cough, a bronchitis-type illness treated with antibiotics, that runs rampant in animal control shelters). Your dog(s) are also to be on heartworm preventative.
Q: How can I help my pets adjust to the foster dog?
A: We tell fosters as well as new adoptive families to introduce the rescue and the established family pet on neutral ground. But introduction of the rescue obviously depends on your pet's personality.
Q: And if a fight breaks out?
A: Generally the dogs will get along, but fights will erupt particularly if you have a strong alpha dog. Most of the time they are minor scuffles and spontaneously stop. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BREAK IT UP WITH A HAND OR FOOT, spray them with water or use a broom. CSR does not assume any responsibility for dog bites to humans or injuries to other pets. If the mix isnít right between your pet(s) and a rescue, CSR will trade out the rescue for one that does get along with your pet(s). Please know that at no time are you stuck with any rescue. If it isnít working out we want to know so that we can correct the problem.
Q: Are the dogs housebroken?
A: A housebroken rescue is a treasure to be cherished. CSR tells adoptive families and foster families that we do not guarantee housebreaking but usually by the time a rescue is placed, it is crate trained and that means it is well on its way to being housebroken. They generally crate train quickly and housebreaking follows although it can often be a trying (and sometimes long) period.
Q: What about grooming the dog?
A: The dogs come to CSR in varying condition. Many arrive matted and filthy. The dogs are often vetted in the Conroe area and temporarily kept by a volunteer with grooming skills who cleans up the dog. If a dog arrives at a foster home in need of grooming, the foster parent works out an arrangement with someone else in the organization who can groom the dog. CSR does not pay for professional grooming. Never bathe a dog with heavy mats - it will only intensify the odor and delay grooming as the mats may take several days to dry. At a minimum the foster should be brushed and the ears cleaned at least once a week.
Q: What about collars, leashes and tags?
A: CSR provides each rescue with a new collar. The rabies tag should come from the vet with the dog. CSR also issues a numbered tag for each rescue that includes the CSR hotline number. Both tags are to be placed on the dogís collar. CSR sometimes has a few leashes but most fosters have spare leashes to use with the dogs. Adoptive parents are expected to provide their own leash when they pick up the dog.
Q: How long can I expect to keep a foster dog?
A: It varies. Generally rescues fall into two categories, short and long termers. Healthy young desirable Cockers are with CSR just a few days while other rescues may be with us for months because of health issues which have to be taken care of before being adopted. Many rescues come into CSR emaciated, anemic, heartworm positive and it isnít possible to do anything other than give the rescue its shots and health check. Our first concern with a rescue like this is to build him/her up so that he/she can be spayed or neutered and put through heartworm treatment. It usually takes several months to get such a rescue to the point that it can be adopted. We also have special needs rescues which may be with us for a very long time, usually due to vision or hearing impairments or advanced age. They may require surgery with a long rehab period and then there is the long wait to find the right family for these special CockerKids.
Q: How often are adoptions held?
A: Generally once or twice a month at varying locations around the Houston area, usually at pet stores. Foster parents do not have to make every adoption especially if their rescue is not ready to go. If they have a rescue ready to go and canít go to the adoption, they can make arrangements to get their rescue to someone who is going to the adoption. CSR is setting up adoptions so that fosters can attend one near them and not have to go clear across Houston. The website gives CSR great exposure and introduces rescues to prospective parents, so we also welcome the opportunity to show the dog (to serious prospects) at times other than the adoptions. You may be asked to show your foster from your home or to meet the prospect in a neutral location such as a pet store.
Adoptions are a tail wagging event. Anywhere from six to fifteen rescues will be present and three or more CSR workers. Some of the prospectiv parents are pre-approved (have completed the adoption form and been checked out) and come to meet specific rescues. Others walk-in on the adoption, fall in love with a dog and begin the adoption process. CSR volunteers who have extensive experience adopting out dogs conduct the applicant review process and approve/disapprove adoptions with input from anyone who interacts with the prospective adopters. The adoption is not final for 30 days. During that time CSR retains the right to re-claim the rescue if, upon further investigation, it appears the adoptive home is not a suitable home for the rescue. Conversely, adopters can return the dog at any time five days or five years later.
Q: What kinds of behavior problems might I expect?
A: Probably the most common problem is separation anxiety (i.e. crying or barking when left alone). It is not unusual for this to occur at night if the rescue is crated in another part of the house. After all, Cockers are pack animals and want to be with everyone else. They want to be with you. This usually resolves over time. Marking (with urine) is a behavior frequently exhibited by males in a new environment. Chewing can also be a problem. Peeing and pooping in the house may occur either because the dog is not housebroken, because of the new environment or because you donít understand heís asking to go out! Food aggression (fighting with other dogs over food) can be avoided by separating the dogs at feeding time. Some dogs are very possessive of chew toys, rawhide chews, etc. CSR volunteers can provide ideas on how to handle many of these behavior problems.
Q: What if the foster dog just doesn't work out?
A: From time to time, the rescue and foster family just aren't a good match so we move rescues around. Because these dogs are rescues, we often don't know about their likes and dislikes. For example, one foster family had to confine their bird to the bathroom because the foster dog terrorized the bird. Needless to say, other arrangements were made for that dog and he worked out quite well elsewhere.
Q: What if the dog develops a problem and I think he needs to see a veterinarian?
A: The names and phone numbers of several long-time CSR members will be provided. These people will help determine how to handle the situation. CSR has vets who work with our rescue at reduced rates. CSR will make any necessary vet appointments with one of our approved vets. As a foster, you are not asked to pay any vet bills as long as the vetting is cleared through CSR and our approved vets are used.
Q: What do I do with the foster dog if I go out of town?
A: There are several ways to handle this. If a family member or friend is caring for your pets, would they be willing to care for the foster too? Alternately, contact the foster coordinator to make arrangements to temporarily place the dog elsewhere.
Q: Why do you advise crating dogs?
A: Mostly because these rescues are not housebroken and may not have good house manners. Most fosters crate their rescue when they are not at home and/or at night. This depends on your preferences and the rescue. Many dogs are crated from puppyhood and find great comfort in being in a den-like atmosphere. The advantage of crating is that the dog cannot cause mischief around your home. Naturally, the dogs should not be crated 24 hours a day - they need exercise and need to interact with their humans. We also advise crating for transport purposes and we use the airline type plastic crate to transport our rescues. Most Cockers will fit in a medium size crate for transport.
Q: What is a crate?
A: Wire kennels or plastic crates are used to contain pets. The cost ranges from between $60 and $120 and can be purchased at most pet stores. Some rescues prefer the openness of a wire kennel; others like the den-like atmosphere of a plastic crate. The kennel or crate should be very large so that the rescue has plenty of room. The wire kennel collapses for storage and takes up less space than the plastic crate. Dogs usually crate train (learn not to pee or poop in the crate) fairly quickly. Tip: Remove the dog's collar when crated to avoid the potential of the tags and/or collars tangling in the wire grates, potentially strangling the dog. CSR usually has extra kennels/crates for new fosters to use temporarily until they decide if fostering is something that they want to do. If a family decides to be available to foster on a permanent basis, CSR asks that you get your own kennel/crate so that our extras would be available for a new foster. There is a pet resale shop in Houston where used equipment can be purchased at substantial savings.
Q: Iím afraid Iíll fall in love with my foster dog and the separation will be painful.
A: Parting with a rescue that you have been fostering is a bittersweet moment. You hold the thought that the rescue is going to a wonderful forever home where they will be #1 as your own canine family members are. It is sad to lose a rescue who has become a member of your family. It is also rewarding when an adoptive parent writes CSR a note about how thrilled they are with their new baby and how happy everyone is. And remember: Placing a rescue in a forever home means that another CockerKid can be rescued and saved.
We must admit, just about everyone who fosters ends up eventually adopting one of their foster CockerKids. So donít be surprised if one comes along that you just canít give up. But please, donít adopt so many that you have no foster space! CSR needs you!
Q: How do I become a foster Home?
A: It's relatively easy: Fill out the application Foster Application
CSR may require a home visit CSR may call your veterinarian to verify that your pets' shots are up-to-date The foster must agree to: Keep the rescue indoors most of the time. A fenced yard for play time and potty breaks is also requested. If a fenced yard is not available, you must walk the rescue on a leash and not allow the rescue to run your neighborhood. Provide adequate food and water (provided by the foster family) Administer medications as needed (provided by CSR) Bathe and groom your rescue before adoptions Brush the rescue weekly Clean the ears weekly Transport the rescue for vet appointments, adoptions and meeting with prospective parents Fenced yards encouraged Fosterers may want to acquire the following equipment A wire kennel or plastic crate Leash
Q: How do CSR members communicate and know what is going on in the organization?
A: A primary means of communication is e-mail but we do use the telephone. We have grown quite a bit in the last few years and are in the process of setting up scheduled meetings. These meetings are part social and part business.