Tater stiffened her short, stout body, stood her ground and barked. She is 9, can’t see well and is a tad hard of hearing, but Lulu already was barking, so Tater joined right in.
Susan Goodnow of Pendleton, her voice rising just enough over the dogs, told them both to settle down. Not that it did much. Lulu, a Catahoula, is Goodnow’s pet. Tater is one of the two dogs Goodnow is fostering for the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter. The Chihuahua-mix looks like a big baked potato when she lays down, Goodnow said, so Tater it was. Pepper, a bearded collie, is the other foster dog and stayed in a back bedroom out of sight. Both came from difficult lives.
“You know, they are just waiting for the perfect home,” Goodnow said.
Goodnow, retired, said she dog sat for friends and neighbors and about a decade ago that led to fostering dogs. She estimated she has fostered around 100 dogs.
“I’ve always had dogs,” Goodnow said. “At one point I didn’t have dogs for two months. It made me crazy.”
Like PAWS, Hermiston’s Fuzz Ball Animal Rescue also relies on multiple local and regional fosters. Robin Barker, volunteer with Fuzz Ball, fosters dogs herself.
“Without fosters, we cannot continue to run the rescue,” she said.
Fuzz Ball has 16 animals in six foster homes, Barker said, and the nonprofit can use more help. But people are reluctant to foster pets during the holidays. She said people new to fostering have to commit to keeping a pet as long as necessary, and they need a home appropriate for the pet. Dogs that run need fenced yards, for example, and someone willing to take kittens cannot let them stay outdoors.
Goodnow has fostered dogs for as little as a day and as long as a year. Tater came into the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter in late summer after living in a home with unsanitary and even dangerous conditions, but she was in heat. That’s not a good situation for an animal shelter, so Goodnow took her in, and she has been adjusting.
“She’s looking for a nice home with an old lady,” Goodnow said. “She gets up on the bed at night and under the covers and keeps my feet warm.”
Rolling with unpredictable behavior is key to fostering pets, she said, but so is careful observation. Fosters have to learn how one pet interacts with another pet, with adults, with children, how a dog tells it’s scared or wants out.
“By having a dog in your home, you can discover its behaviors,” Goodnow said. “You can get a better idea of how to describe a dog to the potential family.”
Goodnow also said folks have to understand the role of fosters.
“You get in your mindset you’re helping the dogs find good, permanent homes,” she said. “The dogs you’re fostering do not belong to you.”
Fuzz Ball and the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter have foster pet applications online at http://www.fuzzballrescue.com/ and http://pendletonpaws.org/. You also can email Fuzz Ball at email@example.com, and PAWS is available at 541-278-0181. The two nonprofits also are on Facebook.