To promote our push for fosters, we have been sharing some stories from our fosters throughout the years. They all have unique and wonderful experiences – some short-term, some long-term and, yes, some permanent.
Over the past year, Kevin and Elisa Schwutke have been a “dogsend” to the group. They are currently fostering Chad, but prior to Chad, they fulfilled the ultimate foster mission three times: To foster a dog from rescue to adoption. Mr. Wiggles was one of those.
There’s a reason the Schwutkes have been so successful at this. They are very dog savvy and have been trained themselves to help train dogs. They know a lot about bringing a new dog into a new home with another dog and are going to share some of these techniques. Hopefully, this will help educate new dog parents or even people curious about fostering and what it takes to be successful at it.
Mr. Wiggles: Lessons from a Foster Family
by Elisa Schwutke
Mr. Wiggles was our second foster experience after we managed to get our first foster dog adopted in only three weeks. Our own female dog felt so alone after he was gone that we decided quickly to get another foster dog. Our dog, Isis, dated a few dogs at the rescue and chose a young and handsome male Jack Russell/Beagle mix named Mr. Wiggles. He was about the same age as she and almost the same energy level. They got along great. Mr. Wiggles was a young gun and had to learn a few things from us.
His former owner died, and he was locked in his backyard for a while before his hero came, rescued him and brought him to the Georgia Jack Russell Rescue. He knew how to sit for a treat or attention and was obviously loved by his former owner. He was the cutest mix between the two breeds he combined. Very loving and loyal but with the need to have a job and purpose in his life. Inside the house he was very calm, he went to bed early and slept preferably in front of the fire place. Outside he was wild – hunting and guarding. So he needed some guidance on how to behave.
Leash training was no problem as long nothing to hunt came by. We tried a few options what the best collar would be. A back pack was perfect to give him a job and worked him out at the same time. Also the gentle leader for normal walks did a great job; he had no chance to focus on his prey anymore. We exercised him a lot, roller skating, playing ball, agility, obedience. He just wanted to please and was eager to learn. It’s very important, especially for young dogs of a hunting or herding breed that they have a purpose in life, a job to do. They won’t be fulfilled without it and will get a job on their own like excessive digging or distroying furniture, for example. If you like a calm and easy dog, you will have to take look at older dogs or another breed.
We also took Mr. Wiggles on vacations with us, he had a great time at the beach in Florida and our visitors loved him. He was friendly to all people we met but not to all dogs. He was with us for a little over three months and we all learned a lot from it. We could tell possible adopters a lot about his character and what they can do with him and what they shouldn’t. With his disagreement with younger male dogs he was not the right dog to go to the dog park for example but made a great hiking partner. Potty training can be a problem with some dogs, especially after a long time at the shelter or rescue organization and many males try to mark in your house, even the potty trained ones. We always put washable belly bands on male dogs for the first days at a new house, normally they learn quickly. We also have a crate in which the foster dog sleeps at night and where he can stay when we leave the dogs alone. We don’t need any unattended trouble.
Also a few boundaries should be set when a new dog is coming to the house: not allowed on the furniture or in selected rooms for example. We also take care that no jealousy is going on between the dogs. The first dog in the household should never feel threatened or aggrieved. If one gets a treat the other one will also get a treat (after sitting calmly of course). The same with toys, they should have the possibility to have their own toy even if they will probably try to get the same one. Be responsible and take care that no fight over food or toys will happen. Fostering a dog is a great thing to do: if you help them recover from medical treatment, mental problems or just learning some manners. The dog and his new owner will be grateful forever. And maybe you will find your own new dog this way.
Mr. Wiggles is now living happily in South Carolina, enjoying his bed, his fire place and the TLC he gets from his furever family!
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.