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Foster Diary #15 – Foster to Adoption

Jeri Wagner, Dog Behavioral Therapist & Master Trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training chronicles her dog foster experience in the hopes of inspiring and helping others on their dog foster journey. Read along to follow Jamie’s progress!

It happened – over Fourth of July weekend, Jamie went to a foster-to-adopt home! It was certainly a process to get here, but all the hard work we put in has paid off for this sweet, loveable dog.

We had a little more work to do leading up to this important milestone. I wanted to change Jamie’s association with the Adoption Center – previously, every trip there resulted in her ending up in a new (and scary) place. So, in preparation for the big day, we spent two weeks practicing the roughly 25-minute drive from my house to To Love a Canine Rescue’s Adoption Center in Malvern, PA, then walked around the outside of the facility. By bringing her there and back a few times, she would learn it was a good place to be.

On the big day, we arrived a few minutes before Jamie’s appointment time so I could walk her around like our practice trips. Jamie greeted Tracy, TLC’s Executive Director and original foster, then went outside with me. Her new family was also there a little early, so we had them enter the building and wait for us to return.

We entered the Adoption Center and Jamie’s ears perked up immediately at the sounds of Layla, a four-year-old, 50-pound mixed breed, and Margaux and Eddie, her owners. We entered the room and Jamie and Layla immediately began to play – a great start! Without any prompting from me, Jamie went right up to Margaux and placed her head on her lap. She resumed play with Layla after a few moments, then noticed Eddie. She walked over to him on her own and placed her head in his lap too! It was an amazing and gratifying moment that never would have happened just three months ago.

Tracy and I left the room after about 15 minutes so everyone could be together without us watching. Jamie did well, although she became a little bit more nervous (which should get better as she grows more familiar with her new family members). Margaux, Eddie, Layla, and Jamie then took a walk around the Adoption Center for few minutes. When they returned, I did a short walking lesson to show how well Jamie does using her WaggWalker harness.

After about an hour, Jamie was in their car and headed to Delaware for a trial run! I gave Eddie and Margaux lots of information about Jamie, including the best ways to help her transition into their home. Jamie also comes to them with Bark Busters’ Lifetime Training Support, which will help address any behavioral issues that arise.

It’s always rewarding to see a foster dog begin life with a new family, but there are never guarantees. Considering how hard Jamie has worked to overcome her fears and to trust people, I believe she can adjust well to life in her new home, but additional support will be key. I will be staying in touch with Margaux and Eddie throughout the transition to offer tips, advice, and make home visits as needed – fingers crossed I’ll have more good news to report in a month. Stay tuned!

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