How does fostering a dog with CLR work?

Dog friendly families can join the CLR volunteer network by identifying one of several available dogs that need a foster home.  When rescued labs arrive at CLR, they are assessed by a specialist for temperament, and then see a veterinarian team to address any health issues, are spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, and brought up-to-date on all vaccines.  The dogs stay in a temporary kennel before joining a foster family or getting adopted.  Foster families play such an essential role in the health and well-being of the labs; that we hope you give it serious consideration!

Go to Foster Application

Why is a foster home good for a dog?

CLR dogs placed in foster homes immediately feel the benefit of being in a loving and stable environment.  Many dogs (though not all) have had a difficult history.  When placed in a home offering safety, love, good nutrition, and exercise, the dog can significantly rebound.  Being in a foster home where the dog can manage their energy, learn to trust again, work on their manners, have fun, and become better socialized helps make the transition to a forever family more successful.

Additionally, learning about the dog helps the CLR team assess what we can do to help the dog adjust, as well as assist us in finding the best match for the dog and potential adopters.

How does a match with a foster dog happen?

CLR staff will help match a dog with the foster family. Additionally, on the CLR home page there is an announcement tab listing the dogs needing a foster home with a link to the dog’s profile.  If the foster family sees a dog that they want to foster, first complete the application and once approved, they will be contacted by our CLR Foster Coordinator. We hold adoption appointments only on Saturdays from 9 A.M. until 2 P.M. at the CLR facility.  Foster appointments are usually made after adoption appointments, around 12 P.M..  If a family finds the right match, you will be able to take the dog home that day.  We do ask that you bring your entire family, or those living in your home, with you to the foster appointment including all children and canines.  We want to make sure we find the right match for your entire family, as everyone will play a huge role in selecting their new foster pup.

What are the major responsibilities?

When you foster, we do require that you:

  • Purchase and feed the required diet we request (unless on a prescribed veterinary diet, which we will provide); generally a grain free dry food
  • E-mail CLR representative and/or foster coordinator for needed veterinary care; if there is an emergency and/or after hours care is needed, 24 hour emergency service is provided for our dogs. CLR will not pay for veterinary care at any other facility unless previously approved;
  • We ask that you work with the dog on basic obedience training and acceptable house manners, A well-mannered dog is more likely to be adopted.
  • We will provide monthly heartworm and flea prevention. Please make arrangements to pick up the meds the 1st Saturday of the month.
  • Brush out and ensure the dog has good grooming
  • E-mail regular updates including written updates, photos, and short videos to update the Pet bio on the CLR website and Petfinder;
  • When the dog has a scheduled Saturday appointment, you will need to bring the dog to meet potential adopters. We will inform you as soon as we know our schedule. We welcome you to share what you have learned about your foster at his/her appointment.

What equipment do I need?

The dog will already have a collar and is micro-chipped. You should plan to have an appropriately sized crate, leash, grain free dry dog food, food and water bowl, and, of course, what every family with a lab needs, a tennis ball!  A foster kit (crate, leash, dog bowl) will be provided to those who don’t already have the necessary equipment.  Some amenities, such as a dog bed, toys, elk antlers or kong is an individual choice rather than a requirement.

How long does the average dog stay in a foster home?

It varies. Sometimes your foster dog may be with you for as little as one week, or for a few months or longer.  Some dogs in foster care need a little more time to rebound than others and will only be available for adoption when ready for a forever family.  Some dogs will be very popular and may have multiple applications that come in from potential adopters right away.

Will I be able to “give up” the dog to a forever family if I foster? Is it emotionally difficult?

For the dog it’s their “happy ending” to find a forever family.  Your role as a foster is to help jumpstart the dog’s recovery and show the dog how great life can be.  You get to have some short-term fun while fulfilling this vital role. If the dog does find their forever family, think of it as if you are sending the dog off to college….sad to see them go, but happy they are going to a great place!  If you completely bond with the dog and want to be the dog’s forever family, see the next question!

What if our family really loves the foster dog and wants to adopt it?

YES!  The foster family can adopt the dog at any time during its foster care; just communicate your decision with the CLR foster coordinator, complete the required paperwork,  and take care of the adoption fee. If the dog has adoption appointments, and you make the decision to be the dog’s forever family, you receive priority. Although we are sad to lose a foster family, we certainly understand how this happens.

Are the dogs easy to take care of? Will they have major behavioral issues?

Every dog is different, and you will be amazed at how resilient and grateful they are for second chances.  Most of the labs you will meet will have wagging tails and few issues; others will need time and care to coax out their exuberance. There are many reasons why dogs find their way to CLR including “owner surrenders”; owners who can’t take care of the dogs anymore, a family moves, and/or many are found in shelters set to be euthanized, or as strays and brought to rescue.  As an ethical organization, CLR will always disclose any known information on the dog’s history.

What if the foster dog doesn’t work out with my family?

If a foster situation isn’t working out, the dog comes back to CLR, no questions asked, no judgements made.  The team will work to match the dog with a more appropriate foster home where both dog and family can thrive.  We always want what’s best for the dog and the foster family.

What if I need help with a specific dog training issue?

The CLR team is here to help.  Please contact the foster coordinator and ask your question.  We have years of experience to help provide direction. For more challenging questions, we seek assistance from a professional trainer to help resolve the problem.

How do I get started?

Please fill out the foster application form and our foster coordinator will be in contact with you.

Go to Foster Application