Becoming a Foster
By Jo Sandeman-Allen
Fostering puppies and dogs is one way that people can help us in a big and important way. Many people spend a month or several months in Antigua in the winter but always leave the island in the summer. For this reason, many dog lovers feel they cannot keep dogs while they are here. However, if you love dogs, you might find that fostering a puppy or an older dog for a few weeks during your stay is a real pleasure.
Some residents might already own a dog or several dogs and be worried about fostering another because they know that they cannot keep it forever. Dogs and Cats of Antigua is now regularly sending pups and adult dogs who cannot find homes in Antigua abroad. It is simply a matter of holding the dog for a few weeks until it is ready to travel
Dogs and Cats of Antigua are regularly rescuing dogs and puppies of all ages. They will be taken to the vet and checked over as well as being given wormers and treatments for fleas and ticks. We then need somewhere for the dog or pup to live while we make sure that there are no underlying health problems and also while we get one or preferably two vaccinations for the dog. This usually takes between three and four weeks.
After this time, we will either have found a home for the dog in Antigua, which is always our preference, or we will have found a passenger to transport the dog to Canada or the USA. It is most important to stress that foster parents will never be left with the dog for long periods. There would be regular discussions about the health of the dog and the planning for his or her future. If you have a deadline of a date when you are leaving the island we would always make sure that we have collected the dog well in advance of that time.
I have personally fostered 8 puppies since December 2016 and now have another grown dog as well as another puppy in my care. I can honestly say that it has been nothing but a pleasure to look after the puppies and to watch them grow in confidence as the days pass. As the person who brings the food they very quickly learn that you are the best person in the world and will follow you around the garden and house. None of the pups I have fostered have ever given us any problems at all other than a little barking or whining during the first night. That is to be expected but it has never gone on for long or for more than one night.
What you need...
If you are fostering a small puppy you really need very little. A comfy towel for a bed will usually do and it often helps to keep a pup on a verandah or in an enclosed space outside. This will make cleaning up a lot easier for you. We might be able to lend you a crate for a safe place for the pup to sleep. Access to the dirt or grass for house training would be very useful too.
If you are fostering an older dog, you will need an enclosed or fenced yard. You could get around this if you can walk the dog every day to the beach or to an open area for some exercise. You will know if your property could work out. You might even want to build a simple pen in your garden so that you know your dog is safe at night and when you are going out. We would prefer you to socialize your dog in the house with you as much as possible though. We need the dogs to get used to different people coming and going and the feeling of being part of a family.
Parting with your puppies is something that you learn to deal with. It is a total mixture of happiness that your babies have grown to the point where they are ready to make their next step in the world and sadness that you are to lose them. There are always tears and they always take a piece of my heart with them but I would never regret a moment of it. I am very proud of the lovely dogs that they have become and know that they would not have had the chance of such a great life if I hadn’t made the effort for them.
All of our partners who take the dogs keep in touch with us and send numerous photos and updates. You will be able to keep in touch with their new owners and be able to feel a part of the dog’s progress if you so wish. The dogs who travel to Canada and the States always find wonderful homes and as soon as you see the pictures of them with their new families any sadness is gone.
If you think you could help by fostering a puppy, a litter of puppies or an adult dog or even two, please get in touch with me. My contact details are below.
Home tel. 561 8021
Cell 785 3181