Fostering puppies has to be one of the most rewarding parts of adoption and rescue. And, one of the most time consuming. Just ask Maria over at The Wag Tales! Shortly after I joined Blog Paws, the online community for pet bloggers, I fell in love with the stories and photographs she posts.
What’s not to love about puppies?
Aside from their cuteness factor, they’re a lot of work, especially when you already have three dogs of your own, and you work too. And, oh by the way, you have a husband and a daughter.
From the outside looking in, this looks like a labor of love. And, it truly is. Which I found out when Maria agreed to let me interview her about what it’s like to be a foster family for some of the rescue organizations in her area.
We covered a lot of ground and to make it easier for my readers, I divided the interview into two blog posts. That said, here is the second part of my interview with the Greatest Foster Mom on The Face of the Planet!
Healing Rescue Dogs Interviews Maria of The Wag Tales! Part Two
HRD: How did you set up your house for fostering puppies?
Maria: Well, at first we were “winging it” and just jumped in there. Now that we foster more frequently and foster litters of puppies, we have a whole new set up. We have a huge 5×15 ft puppy pen set up outside for the little ones’ outside play time and we put up x-pens in our house for their indoor time. We also have a doggy door which has been a life saver!
HRD: What’s a typical day like in your house given your puppy lifestyle?
Maria: Oh boy. In a word – busy! But the level of “busy” changes week to week. When the puppies are first born and for the first 4 weeks, life is pretty much a breeze for us. Mama dog does everything for them. She feeds and cleans up after them and they only want to be in the pen with her. They can’t see and they just squirm around toward their mom.
After 4 weeks, the real work begins. That’s when wee wee pads become your best friend! So, a typical day from 4-7 weeks is: waking up, cleaning the puppy pen and feeding everyone. Over the course of the day, the wee wee pads get changed frequently and feedings are three to four times per day.
Once the puppies reach 6 weeks, I let them explore outside – supervised – in small increments of time.
As they grow older, the time outside exploring, running and playing, increases and the potty training begins.
HRD: Do you get the puppies OFF of the wee pads before they leave your care?
Maria: Yes! Actually, we have already started transitioning them!
HRD: The puppies are almost 10 weeks old. What’s the game plan for placing them in their forever homes? (Talk about the screening process for potential adopters; the “vetting” process that decides if a home (and family) is appropriate for each puppy.
Maria: Each rescue group I’ve worked with is a little different. At the current rescue, the puppies get spayed and neutered at 8 weeks old. At that time, they are up for adoption and go to Petco each week where the rescue holds its adoptions. People can view the puppies online at Adopt A Pet or PetFinder or at the rescue organization’s web site where they can put in an application to adopt one.
They then come to the adoption event to meet the puppy. An adoption counselor (me) will
interview them to get a feel for their ability to care for a puppy. If we feel the person and the puppy are a match, then we proceed to a home check where we look to see that the puppy will spend its life as part of the family and not as an outdoor dog.
We also look to see if the yard is secure so that pets cannot escape. We are looking for a safe, happy and healthy environment for the puppies.
HRD: What are you thinking about this part of the fostering program — the emotional attachment to these puppies is pretty strong – you can feel that in all of your blog posts. Are you talking with your daughter and your husband about all of your and their feelings?
Maria: We have fostered over 10 litters and the hardest part of fostering is letting them go. My family always gets attached to the puppies and to some more than others. We talk a lot as a family about our feelings on letting them go and then what makes it easier is knowing that they are going to good homes.
This is one of the reasons I like to personally screen the applicants. That way, I will know if they are a good match for the puppy and if they are a good home.
Our daughter handles letting them go fairly well.
We all shed some tears in the process but we go into it knowing our job is to provide a healthy, loving home and a strong foundation for the puppies. Now, we have failed on a couple of occasions … hence the 3 dogs that live permanently with us!
Final note: Since I first contacted her about my interview series, Maria and her family have fostered 1) a pregnant dog – this is Italia – the subject of my interview 2) a litter of 7 pit bull pups, 3) a failure-to-thrive puppy named Zoe and 4) a litter of German Shepherd puppies.
This is Maria’s daughter with the Tiny But Mighty Zoe!
You can follow Maria and her family’s further adventures in foster care by bookmarking her blog. And, you can check out Maria’s pet photography web site.
Maria and I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview series. We’ve had such a good time that we’re thinking of following up with an audio interview. Stay tuned for that! [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]