At this point in my life, I have owned or fostered many different breeds of dogs. Some breeds I prefer more than others just based on personality characteristics alone. Some I enjoy fostering but would never want to own. A lot of people ask me how I can foster and not get attached. The truth of it is, sometimes I do get attached but the majority of the time I set my own mind up that this dog is not mine and I do not treat them the same as my own. Mean, right? To make this as simple as possible, I do this for a specific reason. My personal dogs are poorly behaved and I do not want a foster picking up bad habits that make them unadoptable. I own most of my dogs because they are poorly behaved and otherwise would be walking with Jesus. That is not mean to say. It is a reality. So, I keep my foster dogs out of my personal life. They get to experience all the same things but in different ways. I cuddle with everyone, do things around the house with everyone, spend quality loving time with everyone. But, at the end of the day I need these dogs to get adopted or I have failed them. I fail at a lot of things but I don’t fail at the dogs.
“But, most people won’t care if their adopted dog has quirks.” This is where you are wrong my friend. I am an adoption coordinator and screen LOTS of applications. There have been probably 4 applications EVER that have been actually ok with a dog having real issues, even minor ones. The majority of the applications I get are unrealistic and will undoubtedly set the dog up for failure. Most of the applications I get have pets and children. This is tricky. When that dog leaves your home to go to its new adopter, can you say that this dog will behave the way that it is needed? Can you ensure that this dog will get along with 6 children that like to ride the dog like a pony, get along with the 3 current dogs; one of which likes to fight, 4 horses, a sugar glider, and elderly grandparent living in the home that uses a walker and has an oxygen tank. Oh, and they don’t have a fenced yard and want to be able to just throw the dog outside and expect it to be there after they get home from work and they live on a busy highway. This is an example of what I see all day long.
With that said, things like this aren’t ideal and I don’t know of a dog that would do ok in that situation. But, we need to keep our foster dogs as close to “perfect” as possible. This means I don’t let them misbehave. If my personal dogs jump on the counter it annoys me, but they will never change. We’ve done extensive work on behavior and it doesn’t much matter so I look past it. With my fosters, I put so much effort into making sure they have house manners, know at least the very basic commands, and are the very best version of themselves that they can be. That seems simple I hope. That’s all I try to do as a human. Be the best version of myself even though I have quirks.
With that said, I have fosters with quirks that will not change. That is ok. I know what kind of home would be best for them and that’s what they will get. I will never put a dog into a home that is not a good fit and just “hope for the best.” For example, I currently have one foster that has two quirks that are just part of his personality. They are not major but not for everyone. His first bad habit is he sits on chairs. Some people don’t think that is a big deal (neither do I). For some adopters, it is an absolute deal breaker. I do find it comical to see him sitting like a man in a chair in my backyard like he has something funny to say. We have worked on correcting it, but honestly it is who he is so I will find him a home that isn’t miffed by that. His second naughty behavior is that he is a talker. He does not bark at random things. He barks at you. If he wants something from me, he tells me. He’s not angry about it but he definitely chats with you. If I am in the shower and he can see me, sometimes he will bark at me for attention. It’s like he is trying to tell me a secret. I find it to be a cute quirk but I have also had him for almost 3 years. He is otherwise an angel. Such a good boy.
When I foster, I do typically have them for a long time. It is not ideal but adopters have so many specific needs that I have to wait for the best application for each dog. Sadly, a lot of adopters do go off of looks so this particular dog has been passed up numerous times. He is a bit gangly and in that awkward teenage phase. Even as a puppy, he was such a good boy.
Many times if a dog doesn’t get adopted as a very young puppy, they have to wait till they are about 3 years old. The majority of adopters either want puppies or a young adult who is perfectly behaved. So, with him we are in that waiting phase till he hits that age when people will want him again. Luckily, I call him a working dog. He is a dog that I can get around other dogs that may need some confidence or just companionship. I definitely make these dogs earn their keep and he does. He helps me understand the personality and needs of so many other dogs so we can help place them. He absolutely loves it.
People often have the misconception that if they buy from a breeder, they can get the perfect dog. I absolutely disagree with that. In fact, it is quite the opposite from where I stand. I have been on both sides of this and do own one dog from a breeder that I got 15 years ago. You have no idea what you are going to get. We have gotten so many dogs from the breeders themselves because things “didn’t turn out right.”
I hear a lot that someone wants a specific breed that is uncommon that shelters do not have. That is a lie. There are unwanted pets of every breed. Undoubtedly, there are specific rescue groups for the exact breed you are looking for. We get so many breeds that are “uncommon” yet we get them a few times a year and they aren’t even the breed we focus on. I own a Presa Canario and an Olde English Bulldogge. Those are two breeds that are supposedly uncommon in rescues or shelters. These are not the only ones we have seen.
I do not believe in breeding dogs. Even if it is responsible breeding, I still personally cannot get onboard. I do like that responsible breeders handle the health of the dogs mostly in a respectable manner but, there are still thousands of perfectly good dogs in shelters. I have fostered the product of breeding many times. I typically get the mothers after they are no longer good. They cant produce the goods anymore and make money so they get turned over to us. Sounds a bit barbaric, right?
Not only does it make them less physically attractive, it is hard on their body. If a dog is not spayed or neutered they are far more likely to get cancer. This is an actual fact, look it up. I have had many hospice dogs that were used for breeding that died of mammary tumors that then spread. I’ve also seen dogs die of testicular cancer. Not to mention the severe infections these poor breeding dogs deal with. Infected boobies and tootoo’s. To watch a dog urinate and pour pus out of their lady parts is disheartening.
My first hospice, Majestic, was a breeding dog. She was so unattractive so that made me sad in general. But, from the day she arrived till the day she died, she had severe medical complications secondary to breeding. She constantly had mammary infections, uterine infections, dead puppies left inside that she didn’t end up delivering, and later she died of cancer.
In this country, each year 1.5 million pets are euthanized a year. Growing up in California, I was well informed on the proper treatment and care of pets. I firmly believe that areas of the country do need help with education and financial assistance in general to help keep up with their pets medical needs. I learned that almost immediately when I moved out of state. Most of it is a lack of knowledge.
I encourage two things. First and foremost, please spay and neuter every pet regardless of if it will be in contact with other pets. Save a life and don’t let cancer come into the picture. Second, if you are looking for a new pet, please explore your local rescue groups. If they deny your application, it may be for a very good reason. At the end of the day, everyone involved should be safe and happy. Some of the pets in shelters are because the pet was not a good fit for the household. Sometimes it is better to wait till your situation allows you to be ready for a pet. There are other ways of showing support such as volunteering your time to hang out with these guys at the shelter and help them get ready for their homes. I will link a few good resources below to help people find their next companion.
Personalize your pet with these great tanks!!! They also offer canvas prints and phone cases for all of us crazy dog people. They are currently offering free shipping in the U.S. which is always a deciding factor for this girl!!