First Foster Love: Traci Theis and Family
Traci is co-founder of 911 Foster Pets, and her First Foster Love, Smokey, is a large part of the reason why she helped start this company. Smokey stole the heart of her and her family, so he wound up being a ‘foster fail’ – but in our minds, a foster fail isn’t a fail but a major win. Smokey had a loving forever home all because Traci and her family decided to try out fostering!
Here’s Traci’s (and Smokey’s!) First Foster Love story:
Q.Why did you decide to foster a pet?
A: Our first foster love was Smokey, an 8-week old puppy who was slated to be euthanized due to overcrowding. He had a very treatable and common skin condition, but the shelter didn’t have the space to hold him while he was being treated. (and he couldn’t be adopted until he was healthy so they were out of options).
Q:What were your concerns prior to fostering? How were those concerns dealt with?
A: Because he was a puppy we weren’t concerned about how he would get along with our adult dogs, but we had to be sure our adult dogs would be gentle with him. (As it turned out, our Female Shepherd mix absolutely fell in love with him.
Q: what were the biggest challenges you faced when your foster pet came home?
A: We didn’t experience any major challenges. Just typical puppy issues like chewing and housetraining but thankfully the shelter provided us with a crate so that helped tremendously.
Q: Were most of the fostering expenses paid for?
A: All of the expenses were paid for, except, of course, the extra toys and treats we spoiled him with!
Q:What was communicating with a shelter/rescue like?
A: We had a great experience working with the shelter and we continued to foster for them.
Q:Describe the first time that you saw your foster pet.
A: He was this tiny puppy sitting in a huge kennel in the loud shelter. His skin was red and swollen and he couldn’t stop scratching himself. When we approached the kennel he came up to us and was licking our hand while he was still scratching his belly with his back paw. (He remained a multi-tasker the rest of his life! LOL)
Q:What was (is) your first foster pet’s demeanor like? Breed? Backstory?
A: He was very smart, sweet, happy and comical! Tons of personality! He was an extremely adorable Jack Russell Terrier/Greyhound mix. Imagine a Jack Russell on stilts! He was dropped off at the shelter by someone who said they did not have time for him.
Q:What is your number one piece of advice for new foster families?
A: Give your foster pet time to adjust. Losing their home and the family they loved (even if it was a neglectful home) can be very devastating to them. Going to a shelter is very traumatic for them. Coming to your home with new people and pets as well as new rules and routines is very confusing and scary. Have patience and give them time to acclimate. Use a crate or baby gate them in a room to give them a chance to get comfortable before they are forced to interact with everyone. (especially if you have other pets or children) It can be so overwhelming for them.
I know it says ONE piece of advice but I can’t neglect to mention this. Remember your role. It can be very difficult to not fall in love (and you probably will) but we can’t keep them all. Keep in mind that your role is to save this pet’s life until he finds a loving family to have all to himself. Feel good about the fact that YOU SAVED HIS LIFE. I also find it extremely helpful to do a write up about the pet’s quirks, likes, dislikes, habits, etc that I pass on to the adopting family. This helps makes the adjustment to his new home less stressful for him. (And it makes me feel better because I feel like I have truly done all that I can for him.)
Q:Was your pet adopted? How was that transition?
A: Um, we couldn’t bear to part with him. (In our defense he was our first foster. Ha ha!) We are so glad that we made him a part of our family. He was actually used in filming a training video for adopters of rescue dogs that taught millions of pet parents how to housetrain their new family member. Since a lot of dogs are turned into shelters for housetraining issues (and often euthanized as result) in our eyes he was a hero to many other dogs. It broke our hearts when he passed but he had 7 incredible years with us and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Q:Would you foster another pet through 911 Foster Pets?
A: We have fostered many pets since our first foster love. We’ve adopted a few of them and we have helped others transition into their new forever families. It can be very hard to let go but there’s a common saying amongst foster heroes that we would rather cry because our foster pet is going to a new loving home than cry knowing that a pet died alone and scared in a shelter because no one stepped up to foster him.
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