Friday, 25 May 2012

Small House full of Big Hearts & Foster Dogs

Top to Bottom - Diesel (adopted by mom),
Abacus (foster fail)
& Waverley (current foster) 
By Kyrstin Stephenson

We first came across Manitoba Mutts one day when we were contemplating adding another dog to our family. We saw the most adorable little American Eskimo, one of our dream breeds. We thought this is it, she will be perfect for our family. One little problem, we had some friends and family staying with us, and we were about to go on a trip a few days after that. Not the ideal situation to bring a new dog into. So we decided ok, if the dog was still there when we got back she had to be ours!
As we were away I was checking the Facebook page religiously to see if she was still there. Every day I checked I got more and more excited, I thought this must be fate, she is waiting for us. Well the day we got back from a long 18 hour drive I went on the site once more, she had been adopted that day… I couldn’t believe it, I was quite upset about it, even though I had never met her I thought for sure it was meant to be.
So we followed the page a little while longer and I saw a post about needing fosters for some of the dogs. I jumped on the chance and sent an email right away, even before checking with my boyfriend. When he came home I told him we are going to have another dog in the house pretty soon. He looked at me puzzled as I turned my laptop screen towards him showing him the email I had sent about fostering, to my surprise he shrugged his shoulders and said “ok, when will they be coming?”

Now, in my initial emails, I said to MMDR I have a small house, one dog and two cats, we would love to foster but would need to have a small-medium sized dog to fit in our house. Within a week or so I received a phone call telling me about our first foster Luna, a Border collie husky cross, full of energy and just needing a place to crash until she is adopted. I thought she would be perfect; we have a terrier with tons of energy so I thought they could certainly tire each other out. And that they did, they spent so much time just chasing each other around our small yard or in a field close to our house. Luna was beautiful and well behaved. I was hooked!

We continued fostering one dog at a time, small-medium size, and our terrified cats started to relax as the dogs kept coming through. Then at a fair one day I was asked if I could foster a pregnant mom, who was expected to have a litter of about 3-4 puppies. A little nervous, I said yes. I have never done a litter before, I have never looked after a birthing mom or newborn animals, I had no idea what to expect. MMDR provided us with all that we needed; a whelping box, food and tons of experience to call on.
We had Milo for about a week before she gave birth to SEVEN puppies!  I was so nervous that something bad was going to happen, one of the puppies was going to get stuck, or she would reject them, I was certain Murphy’s law was going to set in at some point. Well, nothing like that happened, or at least I didn’t know if it did, we woke up to little squeaks coming from the whelping box. She had all the puppies overnight all clean, dry and feeding, all by herself! What an amazing thing to wake up to.

Milo stayed with us until all of her puppies were weaned, and the puppies stayed until they were about 8 weeks. So the house that I said needed a small dog, now had our two cats, our dog, Milo and her seven puppies, that is a grand total of 11 animals!

This is the part of our journey that is kindly referred to as Foster Failing; that is when the fosters fall for the dog, can’t let them go and end up adopting them. We fell in love with Milo, she had a great temperament and was the perfect size for us, unfortunately she was already spoken for. So shortly before she gave birth we decided we were going to adopt one of her puppies. Although, I maintain it wasn’t a foster fail since we made this decision before they were even born. We adopted a little girl, Abacus, who now looks almost identical to her mother.

After all the pups went to their new homes we welcomed in our next foster. From then on the puppies just kept coming. I have five dogs in my house right now, two of our own and three fosters. The best part? They all fit!

I have learned a lot throughout my fostering experience; some lessons about dogs, dog behaviour, and dog health. The best lesson I have taken away from this is that the dogs don’t ask for much. They come in from all backgrounds, born into care or found starving under a bench they are always looking for the same thing, someone to care about them and give them a place to crash until they find their “furever home”.
You don’t need a big house, a big yard, or years of experience working with animals in order to foster. You really just need to open up your home and heart to care for them. From my personal experience they take up a lot less space than you think they need.
Fostering has changed our lives; give it a chance to change yours. Just remember size doesn’t matter.

Have some extra room in your heart and home? Why not consider Fostering? Contact for more information!

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