I started fostering dogs about a year ago, right before my own 14 year old Maltese, Oscar, died. I thought that bringing in a younger dog in need would help him be more active, and it did.
My Maltese Oscar’s last couple of months ( he was nearly 15 years old when he passed) were filled with playing and fighting and kissing with first Oliver and then Eddie.
We found a forever home for Oscar’s foster playmates and eventually Oscar passed away, but one legacy he left me was my love of fostering and rehabilitating dogs in need. It’s now a year and seven foster dogs later and I’ve learned a couple of things I must pass on to people:
1. Fostering is good for the soul.
Knowing that you are saving a life does a body good. People ask me how I can give up a dog that I have grown to love and I tell them its really easy knowing that I stepped in and gave an unwanted dog the chance for a great life… and trust me, these dogs are all spoiled rotten.
Oliver is now fat and happy in San Diego; Nicky is living in a beach front condo and travels with him mom wherever she goes; Maggie is living like a princess in Palm Springs with two other pups and they run the house. Eddie is a Palisades pup with a full wardrobe and goes on play dates with his girlfriend to the park. And Jeffrey has his own bed right next to his new mom. These are all dogs that would have been put down if it wasn’t for fostering.
2. Work with a legitimate rescue group.
I work with the Furry Angel Foundation https://www.facebook.com/FurryAngelFoundation. They do all the hard work, (pulling from the shelter, vetting, finding good homes, raising funds, scheduling events etc…) and I just get to reap the benefits of taking care of scared or sick or abused pup and making him whole again.
3. Know this… All dogs coming out of the shelter have health issues.
Don’t kid yourself. There are viruses and parasites that go un-noticed by the shelter staff because they are either overworked or can’t do anything about it. In fact, every dog that I have helped comes to me with giardia. Giardia is an infection in the small intestine caused by a parasite. While not dangerous, its main symptom is diarrhea which is treated with medicine and a healthy diet.
Speaking of which… with a change of diet comes a change in well, bathroom habits. For the last 15 years, I cooked my dogs chicken, veggies and rice. There was nothing on the market that I would comfortably feed my dogs, but that recently changed.
A high-end doggie daycare store gave me a sample of a new organic dog food from The Honest Kitchen.
It's made in the USA and only uses natural products from around the world, except China! That means Sweet Potatoes from Peru, Apples from Chili, Cabbage from Poland, Parsley from Egypt, Haddock from Iceland… sounds like an Anthony Bourdain menu! And… get this, NO corn, NO wheat, NO soy, NO rice!! Can I get an Amen?? They also only use 100% free range, antibiotic free and sustainably raised chicken from Petaluma Poultry in California, the meats are hormone free and the fish is wild caught. This is exactly what I have been feeding my dogs for the last 15 years but they are doing all the work for me. And, get this, it’s dehydrated, all you have to do is add hot water and mix, either on its own or with kibble.
Now, the reason I am shouting about The Honest Kitchen http://www.thehonestkitchen.com/ from the rooftops: As a foster “mom”, I hate having to deal with change of diet issues that I already mentioned… and with their food there weren’t any big bathroom messes that I had to clean!
And, the dogs loved it! Let me repeat that… the dogs loved it! You would think foster dogs don’t have a discerning palate but you would be wrong. They are scared and don’t trust anything the first few days… they are on survival mode.
So, when they smell then taste the Honest Kitchen foods their own noses and tongues tell them it’s safe to eat. They have eight different flavors (Force, Keen, Verve, Thrive, Embark, Preference, Zeal and Love – basically Turkey, Chicken, Beef, Fish with vegetables) to chose from. And because they are dehydrated, they are easy to store or travel with and last a long time.
My latest foster, Gracie, especially loves Thrive.
The Honest Kitchen also has supplements, cat food and pet treats. Another plus, The Honest Kitchen gives back by donating a portion of their profits to:
- Doctors without Borders
- Healing Heart Sanctuary
- Olympic Animal Sanctuary
And was voted one of America’s best companies to work for in Outside Magazine.
Guest reporter Karen V. Stevens is a segment television producer, USC booster and media/pr consultant living in Los Angeles, California. You can follow her on Twitter