Fostering greyhounds is one of the most important things that we do, and we are always in need of more foster homes. We do not have a kennel facility so are only able to have greyhounds available because of our wonderful foster home volunteers.
Foster homes are not responsible for their fosters vetting, of course. Most of the time a dog goes directly to the vet from the track. There they are checked over, vaccinated, spayed/neutered, wormed and receive all needed medical care. Then they are tested for their responses around cats, small animals, and children before being sent to their foster homes. New foster homes are given dogs that have been fostered already and are known to be easy fosters. We try to make fostering as easy and pleasant as possible.
All fosters come with the kennel muzzle they wore at the track. Because of the number of dogs at the track, they are only allowed out of their crates after putting on the muzzle. Most are quite used to wearing it and some get as excited to see it as other dogs are to see a collar or leash. Continued use of the muzzle around your pets keeps everyone safe, prevents damage to your house from chewers and keeps the foster from eating something that might hurt it. The muzzle is like our group's insurance policy that will prevent large vet bills if it is always used.
Keep in mind that your foster has been living in a crate at the track. Most have never been in a house before and can be very nervous being left alone in a house full of strange things. For this reason we encourage you to continue using the familiar crate whenever you can not supervise your foster. We will supply you with a loaner crate for your foster if you need one. Whatever your opinion is about crates it really is kinder to start a greyhound out in one because of their unique upbringing. Crates also keep your pets safe, your house safe and help with potty training. Your foster may try to refuse to go into the crate at first because it is not "his" crate yet but they easily accept this new crate as theirs after they have eaten a meal or two in it.
Introducing fosters to other breeds of dogs or cats, must be done carefully. Most greyhounds have never seen cats or even dogs other than greyhounds. They probably will not know a dog that looks different is actually a dog. To them a furry dog may as well be an alien and may scare them. A small dog could be mistaken for a rabbit or squirrel. It is important to use the greyhound's muzzle when introducing them. Remember sighthounds are triggered by movement so they will be more successful with a small dog or cat that is still and confined to a small area so it can't run. Indoor introductions are much better. Dogs recognize other dogs by sniffing their butts so this is an important part of the meeting and should be encouraged.
Life in a Home
Greyhounds have never been in a home before and seeing their wonder at all the new things is one of the most rewarding things about fostering. They do not know about stairs, sliding glass doors, window panes, mirrors or slippery floors. Greyhounds have been known to hurt themselves by running into sliding glass doors because they don't realize there is a barrier there. Patiently teach them about your home. Greyhounds are fast learners so within a few days most have made themselves comfortable. Remember not to accidently reward a fearful response by petting the greyhound and telling it it is "OK" or that it is a "good dog". That can make the fear worse. Reward the dog when it approaches something calmly or does something new successfully instead.
Greyhounds are usually easy to house train. They are taught at the track not to soil their crates and to go outside the kennel building to relieve themselves. We keep the foster on a leash which is attached to us so we can keep track of where they are at all times until it has established the habit of going outside. Any potential accident can be avoided and becomes a learning experience using this method. We keep them crated anytime we can't closely supervise them during potty training. Most greyhounds learn within a few days to relieve themselves outside and many never have the first accident inside using this method.
A lot of greyhounds have never had the chance to play with toys so introducing them to the joy of playing with toys is a rewarding part of fostering. Soft squeaky stuffed animals are usually a favorite. Most greyhounds aren't interested in chasing balls or fetching sticks. If your foster doesn't seem to know what to do with a toy, try dragging the toy around with a rope. Sighthounds are attracted to movement. Supervise playtime closely if more than one dog is involved. Any dog can get protective of their toys and this should never be allowed.
We recommend feeding your foster in its crate to help it accept it as its den. Nervous fosters that may skip a meal or two at first and seem to be more likely to eat if you put them in a crate and walk away. We recommend feeding good quality kibble with no corn, wheat or soy in it. Look at the ingredients and look for ones that have at least 2 meats listed in the first 5 ingredients. We like Costco's Kirkland brand Chicken and Rice or their Lamb and Rice as a good quality, reasonably priced food at around $26 for a 40lb bag. Since greyhounds eat moist food at the track and sometimes choke on dry food, we add some water to the dry food at first. Never feed your foster and your dog's together! Food and bones are the things that dogs are most likely to fuss about especially with a new dog in the house. We provide our foster homes with food for their fosters!
Keep us updated
One of the most important things you can do is to keep us informed of your foster's behavior weekly and take cute photos. We want to know the cute things it does as well as the "not so cute". We use these updates and photos on our website to attract potential adopters. It also helps us find the best possible family for your foster. We make updating easy by providing each foster family with a page on our forum for their foster.
Keeping a foster
Many foster homes fall in love with their fosters and decide to keep them. We are always happy when a dog finds a new home but we do encourage you to foster a couple of dogs before you keep one if you can. Once you foster a few you will realize that they are ALL sweet and nearly perfect. Foster homes have first dibs on any greyhound they foster. Once you decide your foster is staying we give you an extra month to actually finalize the adopton. Many people choose to "foster to adopt" a dog they are interested in to take advantage of that month to make sure the dog fits in their home.
Length of stay
Most fosters don't stay long in foster care. Cat safe fosters move fastest and are usually adopted within a couple of weeks of their arrival. Non small animal safe fosters take longer and may take a month or more to find the perfect home. Senior dogs or dogs with behavior problems can take up to 3 months or even longer to find a home. Black dogs seem to be intimidating to some people so tend to stay in foster care longer than the other colors. We hope you can commit to foster from arrival to adoption but that isn't always possible. We will move fosters to another foster home if necessary and appreciate foster homes that can only foster for a limited amount of time too.
Greyhound Crossroads pays for each dog's vetting and we supply you with a crate if you need one. We pay for the initial worming, initial flea and tick treatment and our vets give the dog its first heartworm treatment. You should have no other health related expenses for the first month. GC will also pay for emergency treatment - please call our director Kim Owens ahead of time for approval or at least phone us enroute if it is a life and death emergency. If you end up having your foster for more than a month you can ask for subsequent heartworm pills to be sent to you as needed. We can usually retreat your foster for flea and ticks if it is with you for more than a month and you can get it to an adoption rep. You will need to provide your foster with a good quality food - we recommend Costco's Kirkland brand Chicken and Rice or Lamb and Rice that is around $26 for a 40lb bag. We will reimburse you for food if you provide us with your receipts. You may have some transport costs when picking up your foster initially and taking them to meet and greets. The minimal expenses you do have may be written off so please keep a list and give it to your accountant.
For more tips on how to help your foster get settled please see our The First Week page.Fostering is fun and such an integral part of what we do. If you are interested, fill out the application and get it back to us.