FOSTERING A SIBERIAN HUSKY
Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster family for ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. Foster families represent ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. in general, and a rescued Siberian Husky in particular, to the public. ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. relies heavily on a foster family’s assistance and judgment from the moment a dog is placed in their home. If you decide to help, it will be a commitment that provides many rewards. There’s a lot to know, and we learn more with each dog we rescue. In fact, we encourage you to share your experiences and insights with us, so that we can pass them along to future volunteers. The following information should give you a good idea of what is involved in fostering for rescue.
ADOPTION...AN OVERVIEW. People interested in adopting a rescue Siberian Husky from ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. are asked to complete an application and have a home visit from a volunteer. Once the application is approved by the ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. Adoption Committee, and assuming there is a Siberian Husky in rescue that might be a good match, the applicant is referred directly to the family fostering that particular dog. Arrangements are made between the foster family and the applicant to meet the dog, usually at the foster family’s home. It is important that all members of the applicant’s family are available to meet and interact with the Siberian Husky. If all are in agreement that the home for the Siberian is suitable, the adoption is finalized. If the family has all the necessary equipment already in place, such as bowls, leash, and crate, the dog can go home immediately, which is generally the case. Occasionally an adoptive family will need a day or two to complete preparations. Upon adoption, the new owner signs an adoption contract, and ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. accepts an adoption donation. The ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. representative also gives the adopters copies of all vaccination and medical records.
FOSTERING...THE BASICS. Should you decide to become a foster family, you’ll take a rescued Siberian Husky into your home and care for him or her as you would your own pet, providing food, shelter, companionship, basic training and exercise, arranging for any required veterinary care, and supplying generous amounts of patience and love. The fostering period can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, perhaps even months. Some Siberians may not get along well with other dogs, cats, or children, and take longer to place. Your evaluation of the Siberian’s character, temperament, and training level is invaluable; the more we know about a dog’s habits and behavior (positive and negative), the easier it is to match him or her to the perfect owner.
BEFORE FOSTERING BEGINS. A ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. representative will visit your home to help evaluate your situation and determine what type of Siberian would fit into your lifestyle most easily. We also ask that you complete one of our Foster Applications. If you have other pets, it is very important they be current on all vaccinations before you begin fostering. This includes vaccinations against rabies, parvovirus, and kennel cough (bordetella). Your dog(s) should also be on preventative heartworm medicine. If you have dogs that have not been spayed or neutered, please be sure we know this.
The first priority for a Siberian Husky coming in to rescue is to see that all vaccinations are current; a heartworm test is done, and the dog is placed on preventive heartworm medicine. The next step is to arrange for the Siberian to be spayed or neutered. ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. has established favorable pricing with area veterinary clinics, and you might be asked to help with transport for these visits. If you are not able to transport a dog, other volunteers will be called upon to help.
THE SIBERIAN’S BACKGROUND. A rescued Siberian Husky may have come from a shelter, been a stray, or had a very secure home. Surprisingly, the dog coming from a previous home may show the most stress, as he or she has been accustomed to a particular environment and routine, and may suffer a loss of security when thrust into a new situation. A stray dog, or one coming from a shelter, often adapts to new situations more readily.
EASING THE STRESS. Almost every Siberian Husky has been through some ordeal before being rescued. The dog may have been in a shelter, housed under less-than-ideal conditions in the original home, been tied outside, neglected, abused mentally or physically, reprimanded too much or not at all, or have been homeless and subject to many stray dog experiences. Whatever the history, the Siberian may be unsettled both physically and emotionally upon arriving at your home. Quite often, dogs will mirror their environment; it helps to initially limit distractions around the house such as television, loud noises or music, and children’s activity levels. Rescued Siberians need large amounts of reassurance, attention, and affection every step of the way. Patience is a key attribute of our best foster families.
Signs of temporary stress include shedding, panting, pacing, general restlessness, increased water consumption, and a more frequent need to urinate. Sometimes the excitement of a new home and surroundings can cause the rescued Siberian to forget it was previously housebroken. Monitor water intake and give frequent opportunities for potty breaks for the first several days. Until you are sure the dog is housebroken, leave a short leash attached to the collar for quick exits, and confine the dog in a crate or to one or two rooms initially, so you can more easily monitor any accidents.
SAFETY AND SEPARATION. One of your most important tasks is to provide a safe environment for the rescued Siberian Husky. This means always walking the dog on a leash when outdoors, or closely monitoring in a fenced area to be sure he or she won’t try to jump over. Remember, you are dealing with a dog that is bred to run; Siberian Huskies are capable of traveling many miles. A Siberian who came to us as a stray may very well have come from a home that was desirable in every way but not escape-proof. Once a Siberian learns that he can scale a fence, or dig underneath, he or she will do it again and again, not necessarily to run AWAY, but just for the love of running.
Proceed slowly when exposing the Siberian Husky to its new environment. If there are other animals in your home, introduce them slowly and individually to the Siberian. The entire first day may be one of separation. This enables the foster dog and your current dog(s) to become aware of each other’s scent without having to directly “confront an intruder.” The second day may be one of introduction, usually requiring the use of a leash for both/all dogs while they meet each other nose to nose for the first time.
Siberian Huskies have a high prey drive, which often extends to cats. An “inside” cat is less likely to be the target of the Siberian’s aggression, as long as he or she has previous positive experience with one. In the rescue evaluation, ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. makes every attempt to determine this behavior. Outside, nearly all Siberians will chase cats, even if it is the same cat with whom they have been co-existing indoors.
Carefully monitor children’s or other pets’ interaction with the Siberian and watch for signs they may be suffering from over-stimulation. Be prepared to initiate “time outs” and separate the Siberian quickly if play becomes too rough. Do not leave the rescued Siberian Husky alone with children or other animals until you have thoroughly evaluated the dog’s temperament. When leaving the house, always separate the Siberian from your other animals until you have gained complete confidence in their relationship.
ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. encourages the short-term use of crating for rescue dogs; it helps dogs adapt to their new environment more quickly, can help in monitoring the level of housebreaking, protect furniture from younger or more “chewy” dogs, and also give the Siberian a small ‘place of his own’ where he knows he is safe. A crate-trained Siberian is a definite asset in the placement process.
For health reasons, some Siberian Huskies may need to be separated from other animals for several days when they first come into rescue. This can also mean you must carefully monitor and immediately remove feces from your yard, to avoid contamination or spreading disease (such as worms) to your own pets.
TRAINING. As a foster family, you help “socialize” the Siberian and make him or her more adoptable. This can include helping the Siberian learn to trust people again, as many dogs may have been abandoned or abused. You may also teach or reinforce basics like housebreaking, commands such as Sit, Come, or Stay. Some Siberians may have been through an obedience course, and some may come with absolutely no clue about what is expected. ADOPT A HUSKY, INC., places these Siberian Huskies to be indoor dogs, but some of them have lived outside all of their lives. Some, coming from the worst possible environment -- a puppy mill -- may have been subjected to living in an unclean kennel with multiple other dogs. You must acclimate the dog to indoor living and teach appropriate “house manners.” Never use physical punishment; if you’re having trouble correcting a behavioral problem, contact ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. to discuss alternatives. Avoid shouting, which can also cause great emotional stress to the rescue Siberian. Keep in mind that some adult rescue dogs need more care and attention than a puppy.
HEALTH CARE. You are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the health of the Siberian in your care. This includes feeding a quality dry food such as NutroMax, Iams, or Eukanuba, sometimes bringing a “skinny” Siberian back up to proper weight, providing monthly heartworm medication (the cost of which is reimbursed by ADOPT A HUSKY, INC.), and watching for any sign of illness or other condition that would require veterinary care (such as vomiting, worms in the stool, coughing, ear infections, diarrhea, etc.).
EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENTS. ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. reimburses all medical expenses; however, veterinary care should first be discussed with a ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. representative except in the instance of an emergency situation. This is our biggest expense, and we have established favorable pricing with several reputable clinics. As a general rule, we do not reimburse other expenses such as mileage, phone calls, dog food, toys, etc.
RECORD-KEEPING. You will need to keep accurate records of veterinary care. The original medical records will be given to the new adoptive family; copies will be kept by ADOPT A HUSKY, INC.
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED. Some things you will need on hand include a long leash, dog grooming brush and comb, chew and play toys appropriate for large dogs, quality dog food, water and food dishes, and a method of confining and/or separating the dog (either crating, closing doors, or putting up gates to certain rooms). ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. also provides a collar and ID tag which must stay on the dog at all times. As mentioned before, crate training is encouraged; if you do not possess an ‘extra’ crate, ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. can provide a loaner.
IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT. Support or advice from other experienced foster families is always available. If a Siberian Husky cannot adapt to a particular situation, ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. will place the dog in a new foster home.
Without the aid of our foster network, rescue would not be possible. The hundreds of ADOPT A HUSKY, INC. -placed Siberian Huskies now living in their forever homes -- and those yet to come -- thank you for considering becoming one of our dedicated volunteers.
If you would like to embark on this exciting and rewarding experience click HERE to apply to become a foster home for our Siberians in need.