In November, we took in a senior Shiba Inu as a foster. I wanted to share my experience in fostering because it was something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m sure I’m not alone in the desire to help other dogs.
If you’re not that interested in dogs and fostering rescues, I’ll give you the TL; DR: We fostered an 11 year old Shiba Inu named Annie. It was stressful the first night, but overall a really great experience. I’m happy I was able to volunteer my time and house for her for a couple of days, but she’s now off to live with her sisfur at a new foster home that is much more suited for her lifestyle.
The Foster + Rescue Experience
The Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue has been assisting with a delicate Shiba Inu rescue situation in Yelm, WA for the past several months. The owner was an 88 year old breeder who had more dogs in her home and property than she could care for. She passed away in November, so the remaining 5 Shibas that she had in her home needed to find new homes immediately.
I quickly signed up to help bathe, groom, and to take a female home to foster. Rigby, our 1 year old Shiba, has matured quite a bit in the last several months and I thought it’d be a good opportunity to see how he would do with a doggie buddy. We were hoping to be able to take the 5 or 7 year old female. We thought an older adult might help Rigby with some of his young dog antics. (Shibas live between 12-15 years, so those ages are not necessarily middle age!)
As volunteering and rescuing goes, things never seem to work out like you think or expect. When the dogs arrived, we were told that they were much older than expected.
There was an 12 year old female named Annie, a 12 year old female named Abby, a 12 year old male named Jasper, and a 16 year old female named Kioko. The “baby” of the group was 8 year old Sumo. All dogs were sweet, but terrified. This was a big change from their previous home in Yelm!
We got to work, bathing each of the dogs, then hopped them over to the grooming table for blow drying, brushing, and nail trimming. Annie was the one I was most involved with.
I held onto her while Sumo and Abby were groomed on our table also. All were super sweet, but nervous in the loud environment.
Once we were done grooming and bathing, it was time to decide who was taking which dog. I won’t lie, I wanted to run! With Rigby being so young in comparison, I knew he wouldn’t get along well with these old gals! (We’ve experienced this before with other senior dogs. Rigby’s rough play style just doesn’t jive with senior doggies.)
The need was real though – people volunteering weren’t taking the dogs, some were backing out because of their ages, and these dogs needed a safe place to sleep!
So, off Annie and I went, back home. She was fine in the car. Nervous and shaking, but pretty quiet. When I arrived home, Dave took her inside in the car crate, and we put her in our master bedroom. We opened the door and let her explore at her own pace. Our bedroom has a bathroom with a full length mirror, and she seemed really excited about that and looking at herself. It was basically adorable.
Because of Annie’s fear level and Rigby’s boisterousness, we kept them in separate parts of the house. Rigby got the living room, and Annie stayed in the master bedroom. Annie really liked having someone around, so I spent most of my time that weekend hanging out in the bedroom with her.
The first night was the worst though. She woke up around 1-2am barking and whining in the crate. That set off Rigby, so then he was barking and whining too. By about 2:30, I couldn’t take it and took the our floor pillows into the bedroom, let her out of the crate, and laid on the floor with her while she paced around the room for the next 2+ hours. By 4:30am, she had settled down and was laying on the floor. By 5am, she was asleep and so was I. I woke up at about 8am, and she was still sleeping.
I panicked and called the rescue organizer because she continued to pace and whine most of the morning. Pam, the rescue organizer, reassured me that the first night is normally the worst. Luckily, Pam was hard at work finding Abby and Annie a more permanent foster home. I knew Annie needed more help than we could give her, and the situation with our young dog just wasn’t ideal. She really needed someone who could stay home most of the day with her, and someone with a lot of patience to work through her nervousness and fearfulness.
Sunday was much better, and Sunday night was even easier. She got comfortable enough to jump up on the bed with me, and ended up sleeping with me that night. Dave took care of Rigby, and slept out on the couch in the living room with him.
We also got some great news – a foster home had been located that was willing to take both Annie and Abby! Kioko was off to NW Shibas for Life Rescue in Oregon to live out the rest of her life.
Monday we had to go back to work, so we get Annie up in our kitchen with a baby gate, crate, a potty pad (just in case!), and a bed to sleep on. My mom came over a few hours later to hang out with her. She took her outside and ended up going on quite a walk with her. I was happy to hear that my mom and her got along so well so quickly, and that she did just fine during the day.
After work, Annie and I got her things packed up and ready for drop off. We met Pam, the organizer, and Abby, her sisfur in Renton, and off Abby and Annie went to Kent to their new foster home. I’m glad to hear they settled right in and are super happy to be together. If you or anyone you know may be interested in adopting sweet senior Shibas, contact Pam at SPDR.
Have you ever fostered a dog or volunteered with a shelter? What was your experience like?