A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.
You can save the life of a senior or special needs dog by simply opening your home to one. In many instances, without a foster home, many loving dogs are put to sleep in shelters simply due to a lack of cage space or a pre-determined time limit. For many of them, a brief stay in your home is often the difference between life and death.
We want your foster experience to be a good one! Here are some frequently asked questions to help you decide if fostering is right for you and your family.
Albert's Dog Lounge Foster FAQ'S
Q.) Who covers expenses?
A.) The rescue will cover all veterinary expenses.
Q.) Who provides food for the dog? Treats? Toys? Bedding? Crates?
A.) The vast majority of the time, the rescue can provide all these things when needed. Often fosters like to help out the rescue by providing food and treats. Many fosters have their own crate, bedding, and toys.
Q.) Do I need a fenced-in yard to foster?
A.) NO! Many of our fosters do not have fenced-in yards. We ask that you keep your foster dog on a leash or tie out whenever they are outside and not in a fenced-in area. After all, even old, slow dogs can be surprisingly fast if spooked by a noise. Please do not leave them outside unattended.
Q.) Can I still foster if I work full time?
A.) Yes! Most of our fosters have full-time jobs. We ask that you keep your foster pup in mind if you expect a long day and arrange a potty break. Some older dogs may not be able to hold it as long as a younger one. A good idea is to baby gate them in the kitchen or bathroom with a potty pad, soft bed, and water just in case the pup can’t make it a full day. We will try to find a dog that can for those that work full time. Seniors are great foster dogs for busy and working families! They often need a lot less exercise and training. Give them a toodle around the yard or a short walk after work for pottying, and then spend the rest of the evening snuggling!
Q.) What if my foster dog gets sick?
A.) Please contact us right away if your foster dog gets sick. Some things (like diarrhea or a doggie cold) can happen due to stress and can be common the first day or so in a new environment. Most dogs are very itchy for a few weeks after arriving from the South. All of the allergens, pollens, air pollution, plants, etc., are very different from where they came from, and it takes their bodies some time to adjust. If it is more concerning, we have vets that work with us in many areas and can find one near you. The rescue covers all veterinary expenses.
Q.) What if I have a cat?
A.) We are very careful placing foster dogs in homes with cats. We test the dogs on kitties before placing them to ensure they won’t be a danger. Many of our dogs get along well with cats. Some try to play with them, which can scare the kitty. Some are inappropriate for living with kitties and will not be placed with them.
Q.) Can I still foster if I live in X city?
A.) Yes! However, we have a five-hour adoption radius from our headquarters (Whitewater, WI). We do require fosters to pick up their dogs from our location in Whitewater, so please try to make sure that the drive is realistic for you.
Q.) Do adopters come to my home to meet the dog?
A.) Most of the time, yes. We require adopters to travel to meet the dog, not the fosters. We feel that if they truly love the dog and want to adopt, they will make an effort, and we don’t want to inconvenience our fosters more than necessary. Plus, the dog is often much more comfortable meeting new people and shows better when they are in a familiar environment. However, if you are uncomfortable having strangers in your home, we can usually arrange a meet-up at a neutral location like a Petco.
Q.) What responsibilities are expected of me as a foster?
A.) First and foremost is providing a safe and loving indoor home for a pup in need. This means providing soft bedding, a clean living space, brushing and bathing as needed, taking to a professional groomer (paid for by the rescue) if needed, feeding and administering needed medications, and keeping track of medications and preventatives administered. Secondly is commitment. It’s important to understand that it is very hard on dogs to be bounced around. They don’t understand what’s happening, and being moved from foster to foster can cause them to develop behavior issues such as separation anxiety. When you take on a foster dog, we ask that you take that responsibility seriously and do not ask for the dog to be moved unless it is an emergency. Thirdly, but also extremely importantly, is providing exposure for your foster dog. This means providing updated quality photos and videos, an updated and honest bio for potential adopters to read, and bringing your foster dog to events. Without these things, it is very hard for a dog to be adopted, especially a senior or special needs dog! If you need help getting these things, we have a lot of wonderful volunteers (even some professional photographers) that can help.
Q.) What if I have a problem with my foster dog?
A.) That depends on the problem, but know that we are incredibly supportive of our fosters! We have a Facebook group where you can ask for advice, get a sitter for your foster if you are going on vacation, and a trainer to help you work through any behavioral issues you might have. We ask that you give the dog at least a week before judging any bad behavior. Much of this is caused by the stress of transport and entering yet another new environment. Often, most of these behaviors go away independently when the dog has had time to decompress. If the issue creates a dangerous situation, we can work on trying to find a new foster. Just remember that we are not a shelter. We do not have a place for your foster to go immediately. If it truly isn’t going to work, please give us time to find another foster. This may mean crating and rotating for a few days. We know it is hard, and will do everything we can, but that is where the commitment comes in!
***Please note that pain-based training methods such as prong collars, choke collars, shock collars, hitting, jabbing, yanking on leashes, scruffing, forcing the dog onto its back, etc., are NOT allowed to be used on our foster dogs! These training methods can often cause the issue to escalate and are considered cruel and unacceptable. Our force-free trainer will help you find a better way to manage the issue.
Q.) Do I have a say in who adopts my foster?
A.) Yes – to an extent. All potential adopters must fill out an application and go through our process to be approved including friends and family of fosters. This includes a home inspection and background check, vet call, landlord call, etc. We go by a “best fit” model, not first come, first served. Our goal is to help the dog find the BEST forever home. If the home is not a fit, they will not be approved for that dog. The dogs come first! However, if we send you a potential adopter to talk to that has been approved and you get a bad vibe, that’s important too. If you have a friend that wants to adopt, make sure they get their app in! We do not want to have dogs waiting to find their homes. Please keep us informed every step of the way.
Q.) What if I want to keep my foster dog?
A.) Falling in love definitely happens! We call this “foster failing,” though it’s usually a win for both the foster and the dog. Fosters get first dibs on adopting their dog. However, we require that you tell us your intent to adopt as soon as you know you are keeping the pup. We do not want to approve someone and tell them they get to meet the dog and then dash their hopes. We want to avoid broken hearts as much as possible. Fosters who adopt their dog are required to pay the full adoption fee. We usually spend 2-3 times as much on getting the dog healthy and adoptable, and without that fee, we couldn’t afford to save more dogs.
Q.) I have another dog. Can I still foster?
A.) Of course! Most of our fosters have other dogs, and often the dogs enjoy having a foster buddy around. We ask that you do slow introductions, especially if your foster dog is shy or stressed so that neither dog gets overwhelmed or off to a bad start with the other.
Q.) When do I get a foster?
A.) We do transports around once a month, but we also take in dogs from local shelters, and owner surrenders weekly. We notify fosters ahead of time of the dogs coming up to Wisconsin so they can read the bios and pick one they would like to foster. When they arrive in Wisconsin, the foster will be required to drive to Whitewater, where the dogs arrive, and pick the dog up.
Q.) What is a backup foster? What is a respite foster?
A.) A backup foster will step up for a transported dog if their meet-and-greet falls through. Often our dogs have families coming to adopt them when they arrive in Wisconsin. However, if the connection isn’t made and they choose not to adopt, we need someone willing to take that pup home until we can find them one. A backup foster is rarely needed, but we like to be prepared. A respite foster watches a foster dog while the main foster is on vacation. It’s a great way to dip your toe in without fully committing to fostering.
Q.) Will my foster be housebroken? Good with dogs? Crate trained?
A.) Each dog is different. Many dogs come housebroken, provided they have regular access to outside. Some dogs may mark in a new home for the first few days. Some dogs may have old dog bladders and just not be able to hold it as long. Some might have an upset tummy from the stress of transport, entering a new environment, or a diet change. We ask that you are patient with your foster dog if they have accidents for the first few days. We usually know their housebreaking status ahead of time. Most of our dogs are good with other dogs and are tested for that before they come to Wisconsin. We will not pull a dog that is obviously not dog friendly – they are difficult to find fosters for and adopt out. Some dogs are crate trained, and some do better loose.
Q.) Will my foster dog be healthy?
A.) Any dogs being transported from out of state or transferred from a local partner/shelter are checked by a vet for signs of contagious illness before they come, and no dog will be transported if they show signs of a contagious illness. However, these dogs are senior and special needs, and with that may come some chronic conditions. Dogs may be deaf, blind, have heart murmurs, liver issues, arthritis, etc. Some veterinary care and medications may be required, but most dogs are healthy and do just fine. You will be informed of everything (to the best of our knowledge) before taking the foster into your home.
Q.) How do I tell prospective adopters about behavior issues?
A.) First and foremost, be honest. It is important that adopters are prepared for any issues. We do NOT want things to come as a surprise. Trying to blow off significant issues or hide them will only make things harder on the adopter and the dog. It may potentially cause the dog to be returned to rescue, which is really hard on them, and it builds distrust in potential adopters, which hurts our mission. Try to phrase the behaviors so the adopter will understand where they are coming from and then provide a solution. For example: “He has some issues sharing his food and toys with other dogs. He was a stray and had to fight for every scrap of food to survive, so some of that fear of starvation was left over. It is best to feed him separately and pick up any bones or coveted toys until he gets to know that there is enough for everyone and he will never have to fight for food again.” Our trainer would be happy to help you determine the issue, phrase it properly, and then give advice on how to solve it. There are also training guides posted in our foster group and our adopters group that you can send them to.
Q.) Do I have to foster continuously?
A.) No. Foster only when you are ready to take a pup into your home. We have some fosters that foster one or two dogs all the time, others that foster once or twice a year, and others that only respite foster for people going on vacation. Every dog you foster saves two lives: the life of the dog in your care and the spot in the shelter that opened up for another dog. We encourage people to foster as often as they can, but it’s important that you understand your limits and stick to them. We want our fosters to enjoy the experience!
Q.) How do I deal with saying goodbye?
A.) That is different for everyone. It is never easy, and many fosters shed some tears. Some fosters like to make a care package for the pup to take with them into their new lives. Many like to give them a towel or bedding that smells like the foster home to help with the transition. We have a lot of supportive people in our foster group that would be happy to talk and shed tears with you. It’s a great idea to ask the adopter to keep in touch and send updates through email, Facebook, or phone. Have them join the adopters' group too! Once you see that first update of how much they are loved in their wonderful new home, it makes all of the heartbreak worthwhile!