Our foster dogs need exposure to catch the eye of a potential forever home, and we appreciate all the shares and courtesy posts provided by our lovely community members. But when well-meaning pet stores and organizations reach out offering to host adoption events, we have to think carefully about the pros and cons of including our foster dogs. In most cases, they are better off at home.
It's a bummer, but our job is to put the dog’s welfare first. And dropping them into a busy event is probably not in their best interest, despite the exposure opportunities. We’ll explain.
Every dog in our program comes from a shelter. Sometimes we know their history, and sometimes we don’t, but we can be pretty sure the experience isn’t stress-free. The dog has lost everything familiar to him and ended up in a foreign environment with strange noises, food, people, and routine.
If they are lucky, they end up with HugABull. But they don’t know that yet! Strangers drive them to a new house with more strangers. A new set of routines, noises, smells, and rules. (That’s assuming the dog is healthy – many dogs who come into our care have some kind of health issue that adds to the adjustment). It may well be the most stressful and uncertain experience of their lives.
The reason we do a 30-day foster hold is because we feel that is the minimum amount of time a dog needs to decompress from this transition and show its true personality. For some dogs, it might take months. During that time, we owe it to the dog to introduce them to new experiences in a controlled and careful manner. Read our resource page about the Two Week Shutdown” for a bit more background about what this means.
What if you have a bouncy, happy foster dog who has greeted every new experience with a wag and a wiggle? What if you think she would LOVE to be fussed over in a pet store?
Well….maybe she would. But remember that dogs show stress differently than we do. A dog can appear happy but may still be processing a lot from a foster transition. Dog behaviour is also complicated. Some dogs love all people, but not children or people wearing hoodies. They may love all dogs, but not intact male ones. Wouldn't we rather learn about their quirks in a controlled setting during their foster period? Not when they start snarling at another dog during a pet store event? That doesn't exactly make for a breed ambassador high point.
On the scale of stimulation, a pet store event is about as high as you can imagine. Our foster dogs have adjusted to so much already, and then we are taking them into a closed, bright place with animal smells! People! Other dogs! Toys! Food! All in a busy setting where the handler could easily be distracted and unable to manage every interaction.
So, for those who offer to host an event like this for us – thank you!! We would be happy to come with our volunteers and flyers and photos of our adoptable dogs. We will also bring “ambassadogs” like Remi and Delilah (above), or Pirate (right). We know these dogs well and they come with their humans to ensure they are comfortable, enjoying themselves, and have their needs attended to. While you can’t take one of these dogs home, you can get a smooch and a good sense of how fantastic a second-hand dog can be.