Category Archives: Fostering

Fostering Part III ~ by Pat Lang

Talk about getting thrown in at the deep end!  Sarah Starbird, one of Dogwood’s wonderful fosters, had decided in early 2018 that she strongly believed in the mission of fostering and that Dogwood was the place. But she didn’t expect that her first two (and so far only) fosters would be Logan, a sweet puppy from Lake County, who had been hit by a car and badly injured, and puppy Bruno, who would turn out to have Parvovirus.

Logan was first and was relatively easy, needing to be kept quiet while he was healing. His first week with her, during which he needed to be kept quarantined from her three other dogs, Logan was kept in the spare bedroom with his crate. Sarah slept in there with him at night and once quarantine was over, Logan was moved into the main bedroom with the other dogs, all older and very friendly towards him. Once Logan was fully healed, the perfect family showed up to adopt him.

Bruno was a much more complicated story, and a potential heart-breaker. He came in as a puppy, delivered very late at night and with a possible case of giardia. Things quickly turned south and by Friday afternoon Bruno was very lethargic, suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. After touching base regularly with Hannah Houston, the decision was made to take Bruno to Dr. Capurro – by then he was a very sick puppy.  He couldn’t keep food down and was declining rapidly. Sarah undertook a regular regimen of sub-q fluids but despite her best efforts, her husband came home from work and noticed how dramatically Bruno had gone downhill in just one day. With a temperature of 107, he needed to be admitted to PetCare emergency fast!  During his five days there, Bruno starting eating a bit, a huge victory since he had gone almost ten days without eating. By that time, Sarah knew she was not ready to ever let him go – a foster fail!

This was a hard decision for her since she had made a commitment to foster, but she also knew that she couldn’t ever let Bruno go. He brought her so much joy. Sarah admits that this is her addiction; she bonds to animals in need. She is thrilled to have connected to Dogwood and to have found a way to contribute around her passion.

With a full house now, Sarah has moved on to reviewing adoption applications for Dogwood, and is amazed by the fact that the perfect people just keep turning up at the right time for Dogwood’s adoptables!

Fostering Part II ~ by Pat Lang

That sure is one funny looking kitten!  Probably Toni Welch-Hiner’s first reaction when she met Owen the lamb, her new foster.  A new experience for this long-term foster family, but one that Toni’s daughter was eager for; she had always wanted some sheep and this seemed like a relatively “easy” way to get their fix. But Owen was a steep learning curve, although help from neighbors who had sheep made things a bit easier.  Owen arrived at 1week old and only 6 pounds.

For his first two weeks in foster, Owen didn’t want to eat (they often had to pry his mouth open to get him to nurse) and there was lots of experimentation with different types of bottles.  They finally landed on human baby bottles (well, Owen did come to think of himself as a baby!) The spare room/garage was turned into Owen’s playpen, covered in puppy pads and outfitted with a large dog crate and a Snuggle Safe for warmth. Puppy pads aside, Toni became a champion mopper!  In addition to figuring out what kind of formula Owen needed, they had to figure out how to hang his bottles so that it was easy for him to nurse, and bring in hay and a salt lick (realized they needed this after he started eating dirt). For exercise Owen got the use of the dog run. Sheep-owning neighbors were a big help as was Dr. Dotti of Cotati Large Animal Hospital.

Owen turned out to be a very personable little critter, stubborn and persistent but very people-oriented so it was important to find a family who would love and keep Owen as a pet.  He’s happily ensconced in his new home, thanks for Toni’s commitment to fostering.  Another life saved!
And did you know that Toni was also Tiny Peggy’s foster mom and now permanent mom after a foster-fail?!

Fostering Part I: Tiny Peggy & Kitten Fostering ~ by Pat Lang

Have you got what it takes? What it takes to be a foster? Are you a cheerleader, wet nurse, substitute momma, poop cleaner and medicine dispenser, disciplinarian, playmate, and whatever else it takes? Are you willing to fall in love (over and over again) and then willingly have your heart broken (at least for a little bit) when your “furballs” leave for their new homes?

That’s what fostering is all about – taking in those in need, regardless of their condition, and giving them whatever it takes to get them to the point where their “forever” homes can adopt them.

How best to show you/tell you what it’s like than to report from the front lines, from Toni Welch Hiner’s foster “farm”. Toni is a kitten specialist, although she generally doesn’t take on bottle babies. She recognized that her home setup, with a separate room/garage, worked best for kittens, and the room soon became the kitten barn. Toni did kitten fostering nearly non-stop for 4 years.

But she’s had challenges of her own: she rescued Tiny Peggy and her litter, picking them up at a parking lot in Tracy where everything was closed. What was supposed to be a Momma and five kittens, turned out to be Momma and six kittens, all of whom had been stuffed in a shoulder bag for at least a couple of hours before she even got them. Intake is a flurry of activity: every kitten is weighed, poop samples taken, flea treatment administered and then they are set up in their own large dog crate, with soft bedding, puppy pads, litter pans and food and water.

Once they are settled, there is a real schedule, with weights being taken and tracked on a spreadsheet several times a week. This data gives you a real sense of who’s thriving and who isn’t….and Tiny Peggy wasn’t. It becomes a constant process of constantly adjusting feeding (Peggy’s litter had been started on cow’s milk and that needed to be replaced with KMR kitten formula, and then gradually adding in Wellness kibble and canned food when they are ready (and when you’re ready for a real mess at feeding time!). Transitional kittens tend to get more food on themselves than they do in themselves…now kittens, we EAT the food, not WALK in it!. These foster parents know all the cleaning tricks from the right kind of towels (yellow microfiber from Costco) to how to get 6 kittens clean and dry after a feeding and before they all fall asleep. The age of the kittens drives the feeding schedules, with the very young ones receiving food every 3 hours and older ones on slightly longer intervals. (Makes you appreciate that Momma’s work is never done!)
And then there was the ringworm! Peggy’s litter came down with it and it began to seem like this litter was never going to leave. Every 5 days, they needed to be dipped in a smelly lime-sulfur dip, requiring gloves and goggles. The stuff stains, it smells, and the kittens are just a mess. They also needed oral medications. And once the ringworm was gone, all the chairs had to be hauled out of the room, disinfected with Rescue Cleaner and left to dry in the sun.
But all that work with Tiny Peggy formed a bond that couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be broken…Tiny Peggy became a foster fail….and her new life can be followed on her Facebook page, Tiny Peggy. The rest of Tiny Peggy’s litter all found wonderful homes, selected personally by Toni, from the approved adoption applications

The work may at times seem endless, and your heart can be broken when not everything goes as planned…but what better reward than knowing you’ve saved lives, found these sweet little creatures loving homes, and had weeks and weeks of kitten joy and laughter along the way!

Stay with us for Part II, where we learn how fostering kittens led to fostering Owen the lamb!

-Dogwood Volunteer Pat Lang