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Friday, December 16, 2011

A Lot of People Have Asked Me: What Does a Foster Parent Do?

What is the job of a foster parent?  Most foster dogs, even foster children, are abused or neglected and suffered some type of emotional and/or physical trauma.  So, the first job is to commit, that no matter what their behavior issues are, that you will love them through to the other side--regardless as to the length of that road.  Second is to provide for their physical well-being:  Provide clean food and water in clean bowls and make sure they are clean and provide a safe place for them to den and to have a secure yard for them to get fresh air and to "use the facilities" at a moments notice.  Every one of them needs physical and mental stimulation so walking them on a secure leash, with their ID tags on at all times, is a requirement.  Walking a dog, to them, is like reading the morning paper !  It is how they not only get their exercise, but their mental stimulation as well and they find out what's happening in their neighborhood.

Then  there is their need for the emotional and physical comfort.  They need time to just chillax, with their foster pet parent, and be petted and spoke to kindly.  My favorite thing to say is "good dog" because my last dogs would always wag their tails when I would say that !  I also tell them I love them and I think the more we talk to them, the more it helps them to understand us !

They also need training.  Depending on the pet, they may vary on their skill level.  Positive reinforcement is a much better tool than negative...that's true for bipeds too !  Giving them firm, but gentle commands, like "Down", "No", "Sit", "Heel" are ideal, and the less words in each command, the better !  Sit, stay, heel, come, down, fetch, give, etc., are each great.  I'm not a trainer but I did read this many years ago and it made sense to me.

My foster dogs, via the Beagle Freedom Project, are still learning their names !  Further, they are learning what "No" and "Down" means because when they follow a command, I always tell them "Good dog" and/or I give them a treat.  It's the same with children, it is consistency that counts and even with kids, it can take many reminders before they finally get it right repeatedly.

The most important thing is component is time and that is a commitment.  But being a foster is very rewarding and helping anyone and seeing them grow, well the rewards can't be measured, they are that immense, in my experience.

As a foster mom of these two beagles, via the Beagle Freedom Project, I am certain that as much as I have helped them, they have benefited me that much more...as I said, the rewards are so great, they simply can't be measured.

Further, most, if not all rescue groups, pay for the medical care.  They also sometimes pay for food and financial needs of the pet as well, so if you are considering fostering and if you don't have much money, don't let that stop you from inquiring !  It's the actual loving home and the time that is what you are too provide.

Most rescue groups, to my knowledge, barely break after via the adoption fee,  after they paid for the medical care and food. In the case of the Beagle Freedom Project, it's even more astounding because they paid, to my understanding, tens of thousands of dollars to get the 40 dogs from Spain to L.A. and all the beagles needed neuters, dentals and vaccinated, so it was very costly, in the tens of thousands of dollars to the group.   So donations are very much needed to help with the costs and to keep the project going!  The adoption fee is only $300.00 so this is clearly not for profit!!  But instead, these dogs are the faces of vivisection !

The beagles have been abused--because they were physically tortured via vivisection (medical tests on live animals), emotionally neglected--because they were denied any love and affection,  physically neglected--because they were denied basic medical care like dentals, neuters or even a bath every so often, and mentally neglected and abused, because they were denied any stimulation like toys, fresh air, sunshine, grass, etc., and in my view, they were like hit.  Both my fosters cower in fright when I go to pet them and they will run and hide when they see a human being they don't recognize.

We can't know exactly what went on in that laboratory or any laboratory because the public is never allowed to see what is inside.  It's a secretive industry, devoid of windows.  Even a reporter, from Arizona, who did a report and met with the vivisector, in an article titled, "Screwing the Pooch" was not allowed in to the lab because of "germs".
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2001-01-04/news/screwing-the-pooch/

And sadly, unless someone is going in undercover, and when they do, they find illegal animal abuse going on, like this example:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/us/07brfs-LABSTAFFACCU_BRF.html we the public never gets to know where are tax dollars are going or how are 'dollars we spend' via our purchases.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to fostering.  It's amazing to see these dogs, whom were nothing more than laboratory test tools, transition to lovable, confident and happy dogs.  It just takes some time and lot of love but they are so worth it. 

My two fosters' are the most amazing, lovable, kind, gentle and lovable dogs ever.  And they couldn't get any cuter ! 

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