When Reese first arrived at HSSV through one of our rescue partners, he was too fearful to be touched or even walk on a leash.
Reese arrived bonded with another dog, Betty, who was also shy but tolerated petting and leashing. Because of this she was adopted more quickly, leaving poor Reese alone and afraid. At the shelter Reese ran circles around the yard, showing signs of stress and looking for a way to escape. Without Betty he was too anxious to do normal dog things like explore or play with toys.
Reese was shivering in the back of his kennel, hidden in a crate when HSSV Behavior and Training Programs Manager Becca first met him.
“I decided to foster Reese because he had been in the shelter for almost two months,” Becca told us. “He wasn’t getting a lot of attention from adopters, was still not walking on a leash, and I knew it would be hard to place into a home without meeting some key milestones. My dogs and I have helped shy little dogs like him before, so I thought we might be able to help him, too.”
Reese really needed a canine friend, and at Becca’s house, he had TWO – Becca’s dogs, Piper and Tilly! “Piper is calm, and likes to peacefully coexist with other dogs,” Becca said. “She’s a grounding force for dogs like Reese, who can be flighty and nervous. And I think Tilly felt bad for Reese. She let him sleep in her bed sooner than I’ve ever seen!”
Piper and Tilly also showed Reese how to walk on a leash. “On his first few leashed outings he would freeze, and then scurry up to the other two when he saw them walking ahead. Over a few sessions his scurrying turned to walking, and then to prancing. I think having Piper and Tilly with him really boosted his confidence and gave him something to anchor to when things got weird or scary. If they seemed okay with something, he figured it might be alright for him too.”
From the comfort of a foster home, Reese slowly started to come out of his shell.
“The biggest change I saw was in the way Reese reacted to me entering the room and interacting with him. At first, he’d hide and stay far away, and I’d let him do his thing. But even within the first week, he started getting really excited when I came home. He may have been picking up on my dogs’ excitement and copying them, but he was all wiggles, jumping around, wagging his tail. He still wasn’t approaching me close enough for pets, but he was definitely glad to see me!”
“Over the next few weeks, Reese started coming over and licking my hand when I came home. It was during these exciting reunions that I was finally able to start touching him. I would pet his chest for a few seconds and then stop to make sure he was okay with being touched. When he pawed at me to keep going – that was a HUGE moment, and I knew he’d find a home soon after.”
After almost two months in foster care with Becca, Reese was ready for adoption.
He would need a patient, understanding home with confident canine companions who could show him the ropes, and he found that with Marlo and her pack, pictured above. “It’s been more than six months and Reese’s true personality is starting to come out,” Marlo writes. “He is truly a silly boy… he is very happy here, and he makes me very happy!”
Foster homes like Becca’s are critical for the overall success of dogs like Reese who have special behavioral needs.
“The quality of life an animal has in a home environment is vastly different compared to life in a kennel – even a really great shelter with many skilled volunteers is a stressful place for a dog to live,” Becca says. “It’s incredible to see them transform just because they feel safe and at home. And it really doesn’t take a lot of skill most of the time – our Behavior Team does a great job supporting foster families who have little to no experience.”
Foster families for dogs like Reese who need just a little time, patience and understanding are always needed at HSSV.
It feels really good to help a dog get to their forever home, and it’s also a lot of fun! Anybody can foster, but those who have experience with dogs are especially encouraged to sign up. If you have dogs at home like Becca, that can be a positive experience for all. “I feel that fostering keeps my own pets on their toes, practicing their social skills and their ‘sharing muscle'” Becca says. “I know with confidence that I can introduce a new pet at any time, because we do it often with fosters.”
If you have experience with dogs and would like to foster for HSSV, please sign up HERE.
If you have no experience with dogs but would still like to foster, please sign up for our next Canine Foster Onboarding HERE.