Unrealistic expectations, unexpected litters, health issues, financial hardships, lifestyle changes – these are just some of the reasons GSDs are given up and some end up in shelters. But once a GSD is in a state of homelessnes, our concern is how to get it to a safe place and into a loving home. That safe place is a foster home.
Fostering a GSD is more than providing a home. It’s providing love, training, discipline, socialization, exercise and endless learning. Rescue GSDs can be challenging; they will usually be confused, misunderstood and very needy.
All Foster Homes experience the joys of caring for an animal in need, and also the difficulty of giving up the dog to other people. We are not going to lie to you, it can be challenging to give up an animal, especially when a dog must remain in a foster home for a long time period.
But most people who regularly foster dogs would agree that this loss is minimal compared to the happiness they experience when their Foster Dog is placed in a loving and stable home.
Please Consider Fostering! You will save the life of a GSD.
Download and complete the Foster Home application below and return it to us by any of the following methods...we will call you ASAP!
German Shepherd Resource & Rescue Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 210
Nahant, MA 01908
Attn. Foster Coordinator
Q ~ What is a Foster Home?
A ~ A Foster Home is a temporary home in which our GSDs can live like they are supposed to live - as our companions living among a pack and under a leader, caretaker and companion (your family) - until they are adopted. Although shelters strive to make their environments a safe and comfortable haven, and we plan to have a facility in the future, it cannot replace a family.
A Foster Home provides the same care that a responsible and loving owner would provide. A foster family provides safety, playtime, socialization, nutritious food, plenty of exercise, training and companionship. Foster Homes play a large role in making the GSD more adoptable while in their home and helps determine what type of home would be the best environment for the GSD.
Q ~ Why do You Need Foster Homes?
A ~ We are a virtual rescue using the Foster Home system to rescue the GSDs in need. We currently do not have a brick and mortar facility. It is in our plans to have one in the future, but Foster Homes will always be pivotal to our entire rescue operation. Even when we do have a facility, and it will have an enrichment program for the rescue GSDs, we will still need Foster Homes to provide those dogs that need the home experience that no facility can provide. We need you and the GSDs need you, right now. The number of dogs we can take in depends on the number of Foster Homes we have available.
GSR&RC also relies on Foster Homes to build a history for the dog and share that information with their Foster Volunteer and the Adoption Volunteers. The information you share with us will also help us write a descriptive profile to advertise your Foster Dog and ultimately find his/her forever home.
Our Foster Homes also help educate hundreds of people about responsible dog ownership and common breed misconceptions. Our Foster Homes become part of the solution while having a great time along the way.
Q ~ How does GSR&RC get its Foster Dogs?
A ~ Shelters and ACOs contact us when they have a GSD in their care. If we don’t have a Foster Home available, that’s when things get tough and we start scrambling. GSR&RC is constantly recruiting Foster Homes so that we have them available before there is an acute need.
We also look for GSDs. When we have Foster Homes, we contact our Shelters and ACOs to see if they have a GSD in need in their care. If they don’t have one, then we do a careful search in the New England Area. Typically, most of these dogs are hours away from being destroyed. We look for dogs that match up with our open Foster Homes. We look for GSDS that are affectionate, trainable and eager to please, well socialized and dog tolerant.
Q ~ How do you decide which dogs to admit?
A ~ It’s not easy! It depends on the experience level of the open Foster Homes, the temperament of the dogs in need and the urgency of the situation. We look for dogs that will fit best with the available Foster Home we have. For example, if the Foster Home is very experienced, we could take in a challenging GSD with a lot of potential. An experienced Foster Home will often be able to head off future problems that an inexperienced person may not know how to handle.
We have volunteers experienced in evaluating dogs. We perform a temperament evaluation that tests the dog with food, other dogs, toys, etc. to make sure that they do not show any aggressive traits. Dogs that illustrate aggressive behaviors during the behavior evaluation are not admitted and referred to training. Dogs with bite histories are also not admitted. We strive to rescue good candidates regardless of age.
Q ~ How much time and effort is needed to foster a GSD?
A ~ It depends on the Foster Dog, the number of restrictions on finding an adopter (for example, a GSD that must be the only dog in the home, a GSD with a treatable health condition, etc.) and the adoption applicants available.
Puppies are more work than adults and involve more intensive care, time and energy...although adult dogs generally stay in foster care longer than puppies. We generally keep our Foster Dogs for enough time to figure them out. This can be as little as a month or longer. Most of our dogs take an average of 3-4 months to place, but some can take longer to find their perfect match.
We look for Foster Homes that are patient, stable and realistic about what they're getting into. We ask that our Foster Homes make a commitment to be the caretaker for the dog until he/she gets adopted since foster homes are limited, back-up foster homes are rare and the less we move the GSD around the better it is for the GSD.
Q ~ I'm afraid of getting in over my head with a GSD I can't handle. Do I have to worry about this?
A ~ We won’t let you. If we don’t think you are ready to foster one of our GSDs, we will not place a dog with you. We will be very honest about your capabilities. We may suggest that you volunteer with us and one of our experienced dog volunteers to gain experience prior to fostering for us.
We are very careful to match Foster Homes with GSDs that the skill level of the Foster Home. If you’ve never owned a dog like a GSD, we invite you to volunteer with us to get to know them and get some experience.
If you've never fostered before, we'll probably give you a very low drive "beginner's dog." We'll work together to decide what kind of personality would be right for your situation, and then will support you so you feel comfortable with your foster's progress. We want you to have a fun experience with this project. By fostering, you'll be increasing your own dog skills under the guidance of your Foster Volunteer and a large group of people who know and love the breed who have the satisfaction of making a real difference.
Q ~ Can I foster if I have pets already?
A ~Yes but only if your dogs are well socialized. Some of our Foster Homes even have cats. Your dog will most likely play a big part in helping the Foster Dog acclimate to life as a house pet. But no matter how well your Foster Dog gets along with your pets, we'll require that you keep them separated initially and always when you aren't there to supervise. This is for the safety and well-being of both dogs.
Q ~ I don't have much experience managing multiple dogs. How will I know when they're playing too rough or when they might be getting aggressive with each other?
A ~ If we feel you can handle multiple dogs, your Foster Volunteer will discuss multiple dog management with you prior to getting the Foster Dog. Your Foster Volunteer will help you understand what signs to watch for so that you can keep play from getting too rough, and when and how to give the dogs time-outs to help keep everybody calm and well behaved. You'll learn how to break up a fight, and even more important, you'll learn how to prevent fights from ever starting. Your Foster Volunteer will help you introduce your Foster Dog to your resident dog(s).
Q ~ Would I have to review adoption applications and do home checks, etc ?
A ~ Nope. You just focus on enjoying your Foster Dog. Your Foster Volunteer will work with the Adoption Volunteer and handle all the adoption details. Your Foster Volunteer will schedule Adoption Applicant visits with you and we do want your impressions of them as a potential home. After all, you will ultimately know the dog better, and your input will always be considered valuable and welcome.
Q ~ How will I ever let go once I get attached?
A ~ We are not going to lie to you, it’s tough. If you get really attached to your Foster Dog and if it turns out that your home is a perfect match, you do have the option of adopting him or her. You will go through the adoption process just like everyone else who wants to adopt one of our rescues.
Most Foster Homes are happy to see their Foster Dogs finally go 'home' though. There's no greater joy than knowing you saved a life, and seeing that deserving German Shepherd Dog finally get his or her very own person.
Q ~ What will be expected of me as a Foster Home?
A ~ Most rescued dogs have had zero training before they land in the shelters, so the Foster Home helps provide their Foster Dog with good house manners so they can be adopted. This is a lot of hard work that includes exercising, crate training, house training, socializing and teaching basic obedience skills.
You'll never be alone with this work however, and will have a team of people (including your Foster Volunteer) supporting you and working closely to help you along the way. Communication is frequent, by email or phone so no question goes unanswered.
By making the Foster Dog a part of your family, you'll help the GSD transition seamlessly into his forever home once we find that home.
Q ~ Do I have to have experience with German Shepherd Dogs?
A ~ We prefer that foster homes (as with adoptive homes) have German Shepherd Dog Experience. But, if you have experience with a similar large breed, we will consider you. You may be able to teach us a thing or two!
If you have no experience and want to either foster or adopt, we invite you to volunteer with us first. When you have learned enough to be comfortable, we'll match you with an appropriate starter German Shepherd Dog and will offer support and information as you learn the ins and outs of the breed.
Q ~ Is it possible to work full time outside the house and still foster?
A ~ Many of our adopters work full time, so the 9-5 routine helps prepare the dog for such a lifestyle. If you do work full time however, it is important that the Foster Dog not be left in a crate for too long a time and that you make sure you have enough time and energy to give the dog the attention and exercise it needs when you are home.
Q ~ Who pays for the dog's care?
A ~ GSR&RC takes care of everything. We provide a Foster Home Kit (crate, bed, collar, tag, leashes, toys, etc.), veterinary expenses and food. We will even transport the Foster Dog to and from vet visits if you can't. Foster families provide safety, comfort, training, companionship, and a happy household. And, of course, plenty of love...which is priceless!
If you would like to contribute to your Foster Dog’s care, we would be more than grateful! The expenses you cover will save our money to be used for another GSD in need.
Q ~ What if I need to leave town for business or vacation?
A ~ Our Foster Recruiting Program also includes looking for temporary Foster Homes. If you must leave, either a temporary Foster Home or an open Foster Home (very rare!) will care for your Foster Dog while you are away. We ask that you give us as much notice as possible, at least two weeks, so that we may arrange the care. Your Foster Dog may surprise you with a new trick or two that s/he learned while away on his/her vacation!
Q ~ Will the Foster Dog be housebroken?
A ~Some will, and some won’t. If the GSD was a stray, more than likely the dog does not have a history beyond their stay at the shelter. We must rely on the information given to us by staff and the information we gather during the evaluation.
Some shelters are unable to take the dogs out for regular walks. This may confuse the dog and make him think it is okay to go to the bathroom inside. Even if the dog is housebroken, accidents should be expected while you get him used to your schedule.
This is one of the many reasons that we require Foster Homes to crate train their foster dogs. Foster homes must use crate training (unless a waiver is granted) starting the first day their foster dog arrives. Crate training information will be included in your foster packet.
Q ~ Can you guarantee the behavior of the dog in the Foster Home?
A ~ It is impossible to guarantee the behavior of any dog. Temperament evaluations have greatly improved, and we only used the most experienced dog evaluators to select the GSDs. However, it is not and never will be a perfect system.
One reason for this is because the GSDs personality may change once he is comfortable in a home environment, sometimes as early as two weeks into the foster period. With confidence comes behaviors we may not have seen during the evaluation when the GSD is stressed.
The shelter dogs that are found as strays do not have histories beyond their stay at the shelter. We must rely on the information given to us by the shelter staff and the information we gather during the evaluation.
Q ~ What happens if my Foster Dog shows signs of aggression?
A ~ It is very important that you immediately report any aggression issues to your Foster Volunteer. The safety of your family, including other pets, is very important to us!
Some 'aggressive' behaviors can be modified through positive training. Through your description, we will determine if the dog can be worked with. Our training volunteers are all experienced foster parents and dog owners, some of which are certified trainers or in the animal welfare field.
However, if you or we determine that you cannot handle the behavior, we will take the GSD back. Keep in mind that we are a volunteer-based rescue, AND it may take us some time to find a new foster home. Please consider this when you are deciding to become a Foster Home.
Additionally, we cannot make a good adoption match if we are not well-informed about the dog's behaviors. Foster parents know their Foster Dogs best so communication with your Foster Volunteer is very important to a successful and permanent adoption.
GSR&RC will always be there for support and guidance if something like this happens. We take pride in providing lots of valuable support to our volunteers, Foster Homes and adopters.
Q ~ What if my Foster Dog gets ill, injured or lost?
A ~ If your Foster Dog gets ill, injured or lost, it is imperative that you inform your Foster Volunteer as soon as possible. You will receive the cell phone numbers for your Foster Volunteer. Use this in case of an emergency at any time. You will also get back up telephone numbers should you not be able to reach your Foster Volunteer. You should always attempt to contact your Foster Volunteer before trying to reach the rest of the directors as s/he knows you and your foster dog best.
Medical care must be pre-approved except in a life-threatening emergency. The sooner we are notified about a lost dog, the sooner we can contact the appropriate agencies and get help.
Some members of the Foster Team are more experienced with common shelter illnesses and can determine when the dog needs to see a vet.
Q ~ Do I get to choose my Foster Dog?
A ~ Most foster parents will accept any Foster Dog that needs rescue as long as they are a match for their household. Making the right foster match is as important to us as making the right adoption match. We want Foster Homes to have a wonderful and rewarding foster experience!
With that said, the more restrictions you have on the type of Foster Dog you will accept, the longer you may have to wait for a match. We ask for your patience. Although there are many dogs in need of rescue, not all are matches for every household.
We will always be able to fill a German Shepherd Dog friendly Foster Home no matter where you live in New England!
Q ~ Where and how do you post Foster Dogs ready for adoption.
A ~ All dogs are advertised on our website (www.germanshepherdcenter.org), on Petfinder (www.petfinder.com) and on our Facebook page. We also advertise adoptable dogs through events.
GSR&RC relies on Foster Homes to describe the personality of the dog to create a story to help advertise dogs. We love to use digital videos when we advertise too. Petfinder.com and YouTube are great ways for people to see your foster dogs in action. We believe it decreases the length of stay of dogs in foster homes so that we can admit more dogs.
Q ~ How do I get started?
A ~ Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know you are interested in fostering for us and we will send you a Foster Home application to complete and return to us. Once reviewed and accepted, we will arrange a home visit to help us get to know you and your lifestyle. If you're ready for a German Shepherd Dog, we'll begin a shelter search for a good candidate that matches your household. We might have one in mind already, or we may take some time to find for the perfect one.
Are you still interested? FABULOUS! Send us an email with your contact information. We will be in touch soon! Hear that phone ringing? That’s us!
We are all volunteers with families, jobs and GSDs. We do this in our spare time. We ask for your patience.
We could use some help! Consider Volunteering with us! We'd love to work with you!
P..O. Box 210 Nahant, MA 01908