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Creating a furever home: Adopting & fostering pets

Posted on June 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Image by Susan Goertz
Falcor. Photo credit: Susan Goertz

By Susan Goertz

Have you been thinking of adopting a furry friend now that summer has arrived? Someone to hike by your side in the sunshine or cuddle up by the fire pit on those long summer nights?

House training and puppy fangs didn’t exactly meet my family’s needs as we already had a senior dog, age 13, at home. So, two summers ago, I adopted a 3-year-old Brittany spaniel/border collie mix named Falcor. Adoption was clearly the way to go to find the right mix of wilderness adventurer and cuddly couch potato.

Lucky for me, Spokane has some awesome no kill shelters. Shelters have animals of all ages, sizes, and abilities. All waiting to love you!

Shelters all over the country send their overflow to Spokane County. Remember all those dogs that were flown up from Texas after Hurricane Harvey? All those greyhounds that suddenly became available here when Florida outlawed dog racing? The Spokane County community is just that big hearted!

Every time I adopt (especially a dog), I have the feeling that the animal I bring home was waiting for me, waiting to come into my life. I make a home for them, provide stability and food, and take them adventuring to far flung territories. In return, their patience and loyalty have taught me the true, infinitesimal resilience of love, with a strong dash of hilarity.

Why do I keep finding just one garden clog in the living room every morning? It is Falcor’s preferred chin rest and security item, of course. (Luckily he doesn’t chew, just nuzzles.)

We bought two new dog beds as welcome home presents for Falcor. His eyes lit up and he shredded them both to bits. It was “cloudy with a chance of furballs” in my house that day. We learned old stuffed animals make great toys for him and he doesn’t mind just sleeping on the floor. We also learned taking walks in wetland areas is risky, unless we want native wildlife flushed (thank you, Brittany spaniel traits!).

If you want to learn from my mistakes, the library has all the animal training books and videos you could ever need.

Not sure what breed, or species, will be able to match your household? Try some of our breed encyclopedias like The Complete Dog Breed Book: Choose the Perfect Dog for You by Kim Bryan and The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cats, Cat Breeds, and Cat Care by Alan Edwards. We have books for specific breeds, designer dogs (Designer Dogs: Portraits and Profiles of Popular New Crossbreeds by D. Caroline Coile), fish and reptiles, rats and bunnies, and so much more.

We can help you research just about any species you desire. Trainers and pet experts including Cesar Milan, Zak George, and Jackson Galaxy are waiting to help you select and train the perfect furry (or not) friend for your pack.

Falcor in flowers
Falcor in the flowers.
Photo credit: susan Goertz

Now an amazing hiking buddy, Falcor is helping me explore all over Spokane County. He is learning to swim with a life jacket, drop tennis balls after he catches them instead of eating them, and walk by the chattering marmots.

A lot of our favorite spots are right on the Centennial Trail, such as the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park. We get a lot of use out of our Discover Pass. Did you know you can check out a Discover Pass and much more through the library? With the Check Out Washington Backpack you get a Discover Pass, binoculars, maps to state parks, as well as flora and fauna identification guides for an entire week.

Falcor is also trying to master the fine (and sometimes hopeless) art of befriending our cats. This has definitely been the most challenging aspect of his adoption. We took our older dog to the shelter to help with dog selection, but our cats elected to stay home that day. And they weren’t exactly purring when they saw who we brought back.

Jackson Galaxy (the Cat Daddy himself) came to our rescue. He has tips on everything from curbing a cat’s bad behavior to acclimating new animals. Catify to Satisfy: Simple Solutions for Creating a Cat Friendly Home and Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) are both great reads. I was very surprised to learn that the Cat Daddy has dogs, too! I’m not the only one crazy enough to have a multi-species home.

If you would like to do some more hands-on (let me pet them!) research before selecting a new furry baby to join your pack, then SCRAPS has some amazing volunteer opportunities where you can get up close and personal.

You can foster, socialize, groom and bathe adoptable animals, and so much more! The Foster page on the SCRAPS website has some really wonderful information for first time and potential pet owners. There are articles on everything from dealing with separation anxiety to bottle feeding, unwanted chewing to potty training.

For those of you interested in fostering, you may want to check out How to Foster Dogs: From Homeless to Homeward Bound, a lovely comprehensive look at fostering by Pat Miller.

Dog Meets World from SCRAPS Spokane
“Adopt Me!” from Dog Meets World by SCRAPS Spokane

In February, SCRAPS launched an innovative new program called Dog Meets World where you can take a potential adoptee out of the shelter for a few hours. Take a hike, enjoy a coffee at an outdoor cafe, or just take them home for a few hours of cuddle time. The only requirement is that no other dog or children are present for the excursion, as it is hard to predict how the dogs will react to new individuals and situations. Also, you receive a goodie bag replete with water bowl, leash, harness, treats and food, and emergency contact info. The dog also wears a vest or bandana that says “Adopt Me.” You may have even seen some of these cuties out and about. Anyone interested in signing up for the Dog Meets World program can send an email to scrapsrescue@spokanecounty.org to get a link to the online orientation.

If you like your dose of cuteness best when the fur stays on the page and off your furniture, you’ll find a treasure trove of books on the joys, heart aches, and heart breaks of animal adoption at the library.

Puppy Love: True Stories of Doggie Devotion by Lisa Gerry and Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love by Jane Sobel Klonsky cover the cuteness spectrum from pup to senior.

Rescued: What Second-Chance Dogs Teach Us about Living with Purpose, Loving with Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things by Peter Zheutlin and Finding Home: Shelter Dogs and Their Stories by Traer Scott have some truly touching stories and pictures to match. You may be familiar with Traer Scott’s earlier book Shelter Dogs, but did you know that Scott started out as a volunteer photographing dogs at her local shelter in 2005? Our local shelters can use volunteer photographers, too, if that prospect makes you drool.

Inviting an animal into your home and heart is a life changing and incredibly rewarding decision.

I hope the library can help you find the perfect companion and everything you need to fulfill their needs. Let us help you and keep your pack happy. And if you aren’t quite ready to take that step, hopefully you will be inspired to volunteer. It is truly a heartwarming experience, and everyone loves a cuddle!

Susan Goertz

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