Hedgesville Hounds is seeking foster homes for the wonderful, deserving dogs and puppies in our care. Below are some of the frequently asked questions about fostering. Please take a moment to read and consider this wonderful and rewarding contribution to an animal's life, as well as the blessing your involvement will bring to your foster dog's adoptive family. And, of course, the joy and the challenge of giving hope, love, and security to an animal - to giving that animal a voice - is a benefit to you that will provide you with new insight, laughter, stories galore, and the opportunity to be part of a group of committed individuals with an uncommon commitment to all creatures.
1. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL YOUR OTHER FOSTERS? DID YOU BURN THEM OUT? Actually, the Hedgesville Hounds volunteer group has been a stable and close-knit group for years, and continues to be. Most of our volunteers have been with us since the inception of our group in 2003. Which means that many of our volunteers who formerly fostered have gone on to face new challenges with aging human family members, or new, young ones. In a few cases, we have had foster-attrition due to something we lovingly refer to as "failed fostering", meaning that our foster care providers went on to adopt the dogs they were fostering.
Although these volunteers are no longer able to foster, they are actively supporting our mission by conducting home visits, providing post- adoptive support and counsel, doing transports, and helping dogs get to veterinary appointments. And because they have all been former fosters, they are even more sensitive and supportive to new fosters.
2. HOW DO I KNOW THE DOG I WILL BE FOSTERING WILL WORK OUT IN MY HOME? Well, the most honest answer to this question is you don't know 100%. However, we can guarantee you that our directors and our entire team are incredibly responsive to one another, and able to act immediately if a dog needs to be removed from your home. We also do our best to guide and direct dogs to the appropriate foster home that is going to set both the dog and the foster care provider up for success.
3. CAN I FOSTER IF I ALREADY HAVE A DOG, OR TWO DOGS? Absolutely. For example - if your existing male dog is more comfortable around female dogs - we will work with you in this capacity.
4. WHAT IF I HAVE CHILDREN? Hedgesville Hounds is a family-friendly organization, and we are extremely grateful for the fosters we have who have made the volunteerism they perform as fosters a "family affair". Everyone benefits when we can advertise with complete certainty that a dog we have on our website is child-friendly. And we will be careful in selecting dogs for your home who are either very young, or have come to us with an established and verifiable background of being child-friendly.
5. WHAT ARE MY DUTIES AS A FOSTER? AND DOES IT COST ANYTHING? As a foster, your primary responsibility is to provide love, safety, and observation and guidance to your dog - or, as we say in our group, you provide love and groceries. Your reports on your foster dog are the basis we use to write our factual narrative descriptions, and place your dog in a home that will be right for your foster dog. ALL VETERINARY CARE IS PAID BY HEDGESVILLE HOUNDS, INCLUDING PREVENTIVE CARE SUCH AS HEARTWORM PREVENTIVE AND FLEA AND TICK PREVENTIVE. IN CASES WHERE SPECIAL DIETARY OR OTHER NEEDS EXIST, HEDGESVILLE HOUNDS WILL ALSO COVER THOSE EXPENSES. THE MAIN COST INCURRED BY A FOSTER IS FOR FOOD, BUT THERE MAY BE OTHER INCIDENTALS SUCH AS TOYS. AS A REMINDER - ANY MONEY YOU DO SPEND, INCLUDING MILEAGE TO AND FROM VETERINARY APPOINTMENTS, IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
6. DO I USE MY OWN VET? HOW DOES THAT WORK? Hedgesville Hounds is grateful to have developed relationships with trusted veterinary practitioners throughout our demographic, which includes Maryland, Virginia, and the panhandle of West Virginia. Our primary vets are Gaithersburg Animal Hospital and Hillside Veterinary Hospital (in Charles Town, WV). We are continuing to add to that list to help our fosters who live in other areas that we serve. We have also developed relationships with specialists whom we work with when required. The entire cost of vetting our dogs is handled by our organization.
7. WHAT IF I WORK, AND CAN'T TAKE MY FOSTER DOG INTO THE VET? Many of our vets have evening hours, and weekend hours. And our group will also work together to take your foster dog to an appointment if you cannot work an appointment into your schedule.
8. HOW DO I KNOW THAT THE DOG I AM FOSTERING IS GOING TO BE HEALTHY? Our organization has developed a complete medical protocol based on veterinary advice, which means that your foster dog will be tested for heartworm/lyme/erlichia and aniplasmosis, will be fully examined and treated for any presenting problems, such as mange or injury, and will be fully vaccinated, wormed and neutered. On some occasions, a dog will come into our care suffering from long-standing neglect or injury, and will require special nursing care. Again - we work with our fosters to ask of them only what they feel they can successfully provide.
9. HOW LONG IS A FOSTER PERIOD? The length of fostering can very from two weeks to several months. Pets in foster homes are always adopted into a permanent home and the foster family will usually foster the pet until it is adopted. The length of time varies according to things like breed, size, special needs, and age. For example, puppies are often adopted quicker than adult dogs. If a foster family runs into personal situations where they cannot foster the pet until her or she is adopted, Hedgesville Hounds will find another foster home to relive that family. We also have volunteers who like to do short term fostering which helps cover things like vacations.
10. WHAT IF I FALL IN LOVE WITH MY FOSTER DOG? This is the question that we are asked most often, and this concern is probably the primary reason that people choose not to foster - fear of the pain of giving up their foster dog. The best answer we can provide is this - until you have fostered a dog, and seen the nearly miraculous development of a dog who was once frightened, thin and beaten-down into a hopeful, expectant and trusting being who rewards you every moment with his or her happiness and faith - and THEN witnessed the wonder of an equally hopeful, expectant, and somewhat fearful human being arrive at your home, eager to meet this dog - and watched how dog and human begin to bond - until you have experienced this phenomenon of match-making, it is hard to describe its magic, and the great satisfaction it can provide.
We CAN promise you these things:
A. Hedgesville Hounds strives to depict each dog factually and honestly - and indeed, we are only able to do so because our foster care providers provide us with so much information. We work hard to write our dogs up with care, in a manner that we hope will only attract the individual YOU would want for your foster dog..
B. Our adoption policy is based on a team process which involves great due diligence. No dog goes to a home which has not been personally home visited by one of our volunteers PRIOR to the applicant ever meeting your dog - in addition we do vet checks, and conduct what we call introductory phone calls. In the case of first-time adopters, we require references as well. Our adoption application is extremely comprehensive, AND FOSTER CARE PROVIDERS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE ADOPTIVE DECISION PROCESS. We place our dogs with great care, follow-up, AND.....
C. Our adoption contract provides a safety net which means that if, for any any reason, a placement did NOT work out, despite everyone's best faith effort, the dog comes right back to us immediately.
We cannot promise you years of updates, photos, and holiday cards, but we can guarantee you that they are likely.
SO, HOW DO I BECOME A FOSTER CARE PROVIDER? You begin by filling out this on-line application, which is the same application we use for potential adopters.
Simply indicate that you are interested in fostering. We will then process your application in the same manner we process our adoptive applications, and we will endeavor to answer any and all of your questions along the way.
In conclusion, please know that fostering an animal is a special calling - is not always easy - is usually a bit disruptive for the first couple of days - and it asks courage, humor, and generosity of spirit. We are certain that these qualities exist in abundance because we have had the privilege of witnessing them over and over - both in the extraordinary expressions of love evidenced by our fosters, and in the extraordinary expressions of love and trust evidenced by our dogs.
The love you shared with your foster dog goes on to multiply when that dog is adopted. The courage you demonstrated in letting your foster dog go also made room for another wonderful dog in great need - so in rescue-math, it is not a loss, but a multiplication as well.
Please consider fostering. We would love to welcome you to our team!