Ex-racing greyhounds have most like never been inside a home before. Your job as a foster parent is to take them into your home, treat them with love, and train them to be a well-behaved house pet. They might come into your lives for a few weeks, or a few months, but watching their personalities bloom is a rich reward. Knowing that they'll be successful in their new forever home because of your efforts makes it easier to let them go when it's time.
GALT will supply a black Martingale collar, black 4' leash, GALT ID tag, muzzle, belly band (for male dogs), monthly heartworm preventative, and monthly flea/tick preventative. A GALT crate will be available to borrow if you need one. If you need help with the food for your foster, that can also be arranged.
You will need to provide soft dog bedding, food and clean water, a crate, treats, toys, elevated bowls, and most importantly lots of love and affection.
The adoption coordinators work hard to match potential adopters with an available greyhound. As a foster parent, you are an integral part of that process in several ways. First, by getting your foster out to meet & greet events so people can be introduced to him. Second, by keeping the foster and adoption coordinator informed about your foster's personality and habits so a good match can be made. Third, by filling out the Foster Profile Form, which is heavily used as a resource by the adoption coordinators.
That's a wonderful decision to make! If you decide you'd like to make a foster dog a permanent member of your family, contact a foster or adoption coordinator so we can take him off the list of available greyhounds. "Failing fostering" is a greyt way to add to your family - it's not a failure at all!
If your foster needs emergency medical attention for a life-threatening situation, seek medical attention for him at the nearest emergency clinic immediately and contact us when you can. Otherwise, contact a medical coordinator so they can give you medical advice or set up a vet appointment if necessary. GALT uses a certain set of vets for care because they are kind enough to donate or discount their services for us - helping keep our costs down lets us help more greyhounds.
Dog parks can be a dangerous environment. It is GALT policy that a foster dog should not be taken to a dog park. We cannot afford to be liable if a foster dog is involved in an incident. Dog parks are also fertile grounds for picking up intestinal parasites, fleas, or ticks. A romp in the back yard or a daily walk is enough exercise for a greyhound, believe it or not! They are retired and do not need serious running to stay happy and healthy.
Some greyhounds need a little extra recuperation time. Some of them come from the track with a broken leg or other injuries. Others have tick-borne diseases or heartworm. These dogs need some TLC and time to get well. They might be on restricted activity, need frequent vet visits, or special medications. Injured reserve dogs do not attend meet & greet events. They are not considered available for adoption until they have recovered.
Providing lots of fresh, clean water and a high-quality dry food (kibble) is an important part of caring for your foster dog. Good foods will have a meat or meat product as at least two of the first four ingredients. The ingredients should not include corn, wheat, or by-products. Adding a little water to the kibble just before you serve it helps it go down easier. You could also mix in a little canned food in to provide moisture or a little extra incentive for picky eaters. Adding a spoonful of yogurt can help with gas sometimes, and a spoonful of pumpkin can be a good remedy if your foster is suffering from loose stools. Some good brands: Wellness, Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild, Kirkland (from Costco), or Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul.
Greyhounds have a slender build and a fast metabolism. You should be able to see the last 2 or 3 ribs and feel the points of the hip bones. Being overweight causes health issues. A typical greyhound should eat 3 to 4 cups of food a day, depending on their size and activity level. Your foster might need to gain or lose weight when you first get them - be observant and raise/lower their food amount as necessary. Remember treats count too when it comes to calories.
A crate gives a foster dog a place to call their own. For some it is a haven - a place they can go to feel comfortable and safe. Retired racers are used to a kennel environment. A crate is also a useful way to separate dogs when necessary. We recommend using a crate when your foster dog will be home alone. Crate training for your foster keeps all your pets safe when you're out of the house, and keeps him out of trouble until he learns to be a polite house guest. Your foster does not need to sleep in the crate at night - sleeping in your bedroom on a dog bed will help him bond and also make it easy for you to tell if he's restless at night.
Greyhounds are used to wearing muzzles during turn-outs and races. A muzzle is a useful tool for keeping your foster and other greyhounds out of trouble when they're zooming around the yard, or learning how to behave in the house. They can still drink water while they're wearing a muzzle. Putting a muzzle on your foster greyhound is not a cruel act - it's preventing trouble and setting him up for success. If you have more than one dog in the house, please remember that if one is muzzled, all should be muzzled.
Think of a belly band as a little diaper for male dogs. Some male dogs will want to mark in the house, and a belly band will help prevent damage to your furniture and belongings until they have learned that your house is their home and they should only mark outside the house.
Your foster dog will need to learn new skills since a new foster has likely never been in a house before. They will need to master house-training, learn not to counter-surf, understand what they can and can't chew on, and obey the no-furniture rule. They also need to be able to walk calmly on leash, and know how to behave when left home alone.
If you're going to be away from home, please notify a foster coordinator. Three to four weeks notice is appreciated if possible. We will need to arrange for your foster to stay at another foster home during your absence. Please do not leave your foster with a dog-sitter, friend, or neighbor without getting prior approval from a coordinator. We need to know where your foster is in case they need to meet a potential adopter.
GALT owns your foster dog, and has given him a name. This is the name used to identify him on the website, in our files, at the vet, and when talking to potential adopters. Your foster needs to learn to respond to the name he has been given. Feel free to add a few nicknames, but make sure he knows his GALT name and use that name when communicating with the coordinators or potential adopters. Anything else causes confusion.
GALT advocates positive reinforcement based training. You should never physically discipline your foster dog. A firm "NO", eye contact, and/or a squirt-bottle of water should be enough to deter these sensitive dogs. If you need advice on a specific problem, let us know so we can provide it or put you in contact with a behavior specialist.
There are a host of good books out there. We especially recommend Adopting the Racing Greyhound by Cynthia Brannigan and Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood. Non-greyhound specific books: Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs by Karen Pryor, Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff, and Family Friendly Dog Training by Patricia McConnell.
Fostering is a labor of love, and it can be very difficult to say goodbye. But it helps to tell yourself "This is not my dog. I'm only keeping it for a while for someone else." When we feel the excitement from a new adopter, and know our foster greyhound is going to a loving home, that makes it bearable to see them move one. Plus, then you get to help another greyhound find their home! Adopting helps one dog, fostering helps many.