Foster puppy love

To the time-pressed student at Queen’s, the idea of fostering animals can seem a daunting and burdensome task. But it can also be extremely rewarding. That is, once you master some basic guidelines.

The foster program at the Kingston Humane Society places animals in the care of suitable temporary homes before adoption. Some animals may have behavioral problems or difficulty adjusting and therefore require a temporary home for socialization, which proves to be highly beneficial to the adoption process.

My housemates and I took part in the program this summer. Upon our anxious arrival at the humane society, we were introduced to two adorable pug/border collie sisters — both shaking excessively. Gazing into their large, dark eyes while stroking their soft, floppy ears, I barely noticed as one heaved her breakfast onto my shoe.

Evidently I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous, which brings us to the first tip.

Don’t get too attached.
Spending a month with puppies without developing an emotional attachment is extremely challenging as they slowly begin to perceive you as their protectors, food source and provider of affection.

You must remember that their stay is only temporary. Letting go of the puppies becomes a very challenging ordeal, but you should also recognize your pivotal role to their growth and development.

Practice tough love.
Potty training and “no biting” were our toughest rules to implement. The first time Peanut had an accident in the house, my scolding changed from the tone of a stern parent to a cooing baby voice within seconds of seeing her tragic expression.

As a new “parent” you must remain strong when exercising authority, as much as you dread that puppy pout. The dogs gradually learned to avoid a scolding just as much as we feared having to offer one and the result was advantageous for everyone.

Be a good parent.
As siblings, Peanut and Bala experienced the usual problems sisters confront: jealousy, fighting and sharing.

They often fought over our attention. Thankfully, the fighting was playful, but it did need to be broken up once when neighbors peered out of their windows at 6:30 in the morning. Both pups would also eat out of the same food bowl, trying to assert that it was theirs and theirs alone.

The best way to handle these little squabbles was to be a fair and loving mama. We made sure that their play fights were fair and just, that they each got a turn with the old sock and that they knew our love for them was equally immense.

Follow these three simple rules and I can promise you no regrets, a little less sleep and a bad case of puppy love.

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