Fostering a rescue dog is about much more than just taking a dog into your home. It’s about teaching a rescue dog how to live in a home. Some dogs’ situations are more challenging than others, especially the ones who have spent most of or their entire lives living outdoors–in the backyard or in breeding kennels.

And then there are other dogs who just leap into your arms and are ready to adjust to and learn everything.

Jessie is the latter.

Jessica in Foster
“Read another story to me, Lily.”

Although she can be a little shy and submissive, she has no problem literally crawling into the arms of those whom she trusts and showering them with kisses. She likes all humans, children and adults, and gets along well with other dogs. As such, she was the perfect candidate for the Knight family in their first attempt at fostering. It didn’t hurt, of course, that her new foster brother Boe approved of her, too. 😉

Here is a beautiful story by her foster mother, Abby, for our foster series of stories. Abby shares how Jessie is doing in her new home and, of course, how important the role of being a foster is to rescue and, most importantly, rescued dogs. (Try not to cry; we did.)

Jessie: A First-Time Foster Experience

By Abby Knight

I admit it, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I responded to my friend’s request to be a foster with a “sure, no problem.” I have a dog. And I confess, I bought him from a breeder not long after my marriage broke up.  I assuaged my guilt over going to a breeder by counting the number of abandoned kittens I have rescued and who have snuggled their way in to my home and heart (at our peak we had 5 cats.)

Boe’s sister and litter mate, Hilde, belongs to my parents.  Although raised in separate households, they “grew up” together with frequent weekend visits between us.  While my parents were in the middle of downsizing/moving, we “fostered” Hilde for four months. In fact, she went “home” a few weeks ago, and Boe seemed a little down. He hated his crate and howled when left alone.   I swear I heard a few sad little whimpers and sighs in his sleep.

Then out of the blue, Kasey texts me and asks me to consider fostering.  “How hard can it be?”  I thought.  “We have had two dogs before.”

The deciding factor was Boe.  He gets along with his sister, but like most male mini dachshunds, he suffers from a Napoleon complex.  He had to get along with our foster.  So on Saturday July 12th we, myself, Boe and my two teenagers, Bailey and Lillian,  drove up to the rescue to see if we could help.

Two dogs had been identified as possible good matches for us.  Immediately, we ruled out the male.  But Boe seemed unbothered by a small, sweet female named Jessie.  We took them for a walk together, let them sniff each other.  But it was almost like they didn’t notice each other.

Since then, we have gotten to know and fall in love with Jessie.  It is not that hard to do.  She is a sweet little girl.  When her profile says she likes to kiss, they are not kidding.  She is a snuggler.  (My daughter also claims Jessie is a bed hog, as she sleeps right in the middle of Lillian’s bed at night.  Personally, I am not sure how a 10 lb. dog can hog a bed but… )

We talked the other night night and my daughter could not believe we have only had her for a couple of weeks.  She has settled into our routine as well as our hearts.  In the evenings, we take both dogs for a walk. Boe barks at every perceived threat, while Jessie and her long legs glide silently ahead.  She knows when we get the leashes and harnesses it’s time to go, and both dogs are on me, too excited to be still while I put their harnesses on.

The first time we gave Jessie a toy, she had no idea what to do with it.   She looked at it, then us, and walked past it.  Now she and Boe play chase with a tennis ball in the backyard.  She gives him serious competition as they race across the yard to be the first to retrieve it.  No matter how many tennis balls I throw at once, they both always want the same one.  Jessie loves to chase and be chased.  She gets into her playful “ready set go” stance to let us know.

She also has gotten the hang of car rides. My big thing when we got Boe was I didn’t want him to associate the car with the vet. So from the beginning, he rode with me to pick up the kids, or go through the car wash. In the past two weeks, Jessie has been to PetSmart twice (once for her very first SPA day.)  She also has been to the airport once, and to the high school pretty much every day last week for band camp pick up. Again, she is a natural. The first couple of times I strapped her into Boe’s car seat,  but she seems to naturally keep to the back seat (and out of the driver’s lap.)  Like Boe, she now gets excited when I ask them if they want to go for a ride.

Unlike Boe, however, I still carry her out to the car. If he is going on a ride, he won’t run far and, if he does run, I know that all I have to do is open a car door and he will be back and up into the car in a flash. If Jessie runs, there is no catching her.  (I think she is named after Jessie Owens. She is fast!) My gut tells me she won’t run, but it’s a risk I am unwilling to take just yet.

I know this doesn’t sound very hard, and in many ways, because we already have a dog and a routine, it’s not. But what we often forget is, this is all new to Jessie.  She went from who knows, to a shelter, to the rescue, to us.  While she is a sweetheart, she is learning to find her sea legs.  She is learning how to function in a household.  But, she is gaining confidence in what she does.

Sometimes, a surge of over confidence hits and Boe is her target. There can only be one alpha in the house.  The first time it happened, I freaked out.  I was used to the playful fighting of Boe and his sister; not the fight for dominance.  But we have learned to recognize her triggers.   We have set boundaries. While they can share the old love seat with no problem, we have to be careful when they are on the couch as this is the alpha seat (evidently this is our own little “Game of Thrones.”)  She is not allowed in my room.  This is Boe’s space.

She also does not like loud noises.  While she rarely barks, nearby sirens set her off the other night then sent her cowering to me. Fortunately, we have been spared a close loud Atlanta summer thunderstorm as I am not sure how she will handle that.

“Why don’t you just adopt her?”  My friends and family all ask.  “It’s obvious you love her.”

Oh, yes, we do. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly and easily love can come. But we have a specific role in her life, which is to prepare her for her forever home. We are “household” training her. We are teaching her that there are rules, rituals and routines. We are teaching her that there are warm beds to sleep in, and walks to go on, rides to take and balls to chase. We are teaching her that her kisses and love won’t go unreturned.

Want to Foster?

Have questions about your commitment as a foster? You can find out everything you need to know on our Foster A Dog page. We do need to mention that, although we appreciate the offer from other states to foster, all potential fosters should live in the Atlanta area to make vet runs and/or to bring the dogs to adoption events or to meet prospective parents.

Want to adopt Jessie?

Think you are a good candidate to be Jessie’s pet parent? Please visit her profile and download our adoption application (available in the right column). Fax or email it back to us and we will follow up with your vet and references, then give you a call to discuss further questions and/or schedule a time to meet her.