Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adventures in Fostering: Meet Beckham

It was an exciting evening in our household- we brought home our newest foster dog, Beckham!  Hank and I have been considering a new foster for a few weeks, and came across this sweet, scared dog just shaking away in his kennel when we went back to visit the shelter on Sunday. After walking him around a bit (he's a dream on the leash) and spending a little time with him, we felt that his calm temperament would be a good fit in our house.

Unfortunately, he came in as a stray and had not yet been neutered, so we <sadly> left him at the shelter overnight so that his surgery could be taken care of on Monday, and then be picked up after work. All we knew about him was that he was 3, male, and picked up as a stray. But later in the day, his age was updated to 7, and then 8 (after a more thorough medical evaluation). We had a mild panic attack, because we try to foster dogs who might need a little bit of work, but are still highly adoptable. The age thing caused us to think about it for a bit, but we decided he was just too sweet and deserved so much better than his current situation. We weren't going to discriminate for that!

When I picked him up yesterday, I also learned (and had already assumed given his current condition) that he is heartworm positive. Most people freak out only because they don't know a whole lot about it. But it's treatable, and not the end of the world by any means. It just means that someone hasn't been taking good care of Beckham, and he needs some meds to get that cleared up. Even given his age, I have no doubt that once he's scrubbed clean and given a little extra TLC, he will make someone a very lucky pet friend. Check out this cute video of him leaving the shelter:

Beckham is a toy Spaniel/Collie mix. Those breeds are known for having fun and loyal personalities. With his age, he is past the puppy antics, but still has good energy. We're limiting his activity because of his surgery, but I wouldn't put it past him being able to go for a little jog next week. He's so easy on the leash, and pretty calm in the house- he would make a great pet for just about anyone!

So how do we make fostering work for our household? If you know anything about us, you know we already have 4 permanent animals- 2 small dogs and 2 cats. We are careful in choosing a foster- a friendly temperament is usually the number one thing we look for as our primary concern is making sure that everyone is safe and happy. Here are the first few important steps for a smooth entry into a new home:

1. Setting up the dogs/animals for a successful meet and greet. Give everyone time to sniff and get acclimated, and introduce the dogs separately before allowing everyone to be together. The more positive associations you can make, the better. For our dogs, that means good smelly treats, and lots of them!

Everyone is sniffing (and thankfully getting along).

2. Keep a close eye when you allow the dog into the home. For us, this was a first introduction to cats (we had no idea what Beckham's previous experiences have been) and again I wanted to make sure everyone was safe. But we also had to keep an eye on potty behaviors. He did all his business outside, but he did mark once or twice while exploring the house. This will be one of the first things we work on with him.

3. Give the dog a safe place to be. They should not have full run of the house (at least for awhile) and need to learn that it's ok to chill out in their own space. We borrowed a large wire crate from some friends, and set it up in our living room. We made it comfy, and put a nice chewing bone in there. While we ate dinner, this is were Beckham was so that we could have a relaxing meal, and still have him close to us. He also spent the night in the crate (which we moved to our bedroom), and after a little bit of whining, he fell fast asleep for the entire night.

We're excited to have this little guy with us, and I'll keep posting the things we do to get him as adoptable as can be.


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