The Daily Daisy: A day in the life of a foster
Daisy is a 9 ½ year old chihuahua-dachshund mix, fondly referred to as a Chiweenie. Her personality depends on how you meet her, since she is wary of strangers, but as her foster mom, I’m one of her favorite people right now. I am a grad student who volunteers with the Amal Animal Rescue Foundation. I thought I’d try fostering, since Daisy needed some behavioral training and a weight loss program, and she preferred a home without other dogs. I grew up with dogs, but never had a dog I was solely responsible for. Like many potential fosters, I thought that keeping a dog would be a lot of work, a lot of mess, and a lot of time. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Daisy’s care is very minimal, and free since Amal provides all the food and supplies you need. Her antics, however, make any little effort I put in entirely worth it. Let me take you through a day in the life of a foster parent.
I wake up somewhere between 6am-8am, get dressed, brush my teeth, and then let Daisy out of her crate where she sleeps. Daisy’s breakfast takes 10 seconds to prepare. I use a ½ cup scoop to transfer her kibble from the bag to her bowl. It takes another 15 seconds to refill her water bowl from the sink. Voila, she has been fed for the day. By the time I’ve made my breakfast, Daisy has devoured hers.
As I eat my breakfast and sip my tea, Daisy likes to lie under my chair in case I drop anything. She is routinely disappointed in this regard. Then we go for our morning walk. As soon as I put my shoes on, Daisy is racing between me and the door, back and forth. She used to run from the leash, but now she loves walks. I keep an old shoulder bag stocked with her leash, a roll of poop bags, and a bag of treats, so all I have to do is grab the dog bag and my keys.
This is where Daisy’s workout routine comes in. I live on the 3rd floor and we take the stairs every day, twice a day. It took her a few days to figure out the stairs since each step is half her height, but now she bounds up and down the stairs at twice my speed. Within two weeks she has slimmed down and her waddle became a brisk walk. We have a regular route and Daisy has her usual pit stops for marking her territory. After peeing a dozen times and pooping once, she is set for the day really. I will take her out again in the late afternoon or evening, but I can leave her for the length of a work day without problems. We race back up the stairs, sometimes extending our walk down a hallway or two before returning to the apartment. Daisy gets some water and I start my day of work, appointments, phone calls, and whatever I’m doing that day. Our morning routine takes a relaxing hour and a half, but it could be as fast as 1 minute to get her breakfast, 3 minutes for her to eat it and 15 minutes for a walk.
If I go out of the apartment, Daisy sleeps in her crate. If I work from home, Daisy sleeps under my chair or desk. She also has a blanket in a corner of my room which is her corner and she can sleep or watch me from there. That is the best thing about having an older small dog, one or two walks is plenty of exercise for them and they sleep a lot of the day.
I do boring adult things from 9:30am to 5:00pm. Daisy sleeps, follows my roommates around the apartment, explores under my bed, and sleeps some more. She has toys, but she shows almost no interest in them. She will chase her ball, but not fetch it. The kong stuffed with a treat is too much work, so it just lives by her crate so she can guard it. She is a people dog.
We go for our afternoon walk when I’m done working for the day, most of the time. I make dinner for myself and watch TV. Daisy follows me everywhere and I pet her every so often.
After dinner we always have cuddle time, either on the floor of my room or on the living room couch. The couch is Daisy’s one piece of furniture that she is allowed on. Despite dachshunds’ reputation for being stubborn and difficult to train, she respects my “no dogs on the bed” rule. I sit on the couch, Daisy takes a running jump onto the couch and snuggles up either next to me or on my lap. She will nap with me too if I take a nap that day. If I’ve had a difficult day or my anxiety is acting up, she will lay on my chest until I calm down. She is an extremely intuitive dog, and she loves being with her people.
On some days my roommate will join us for a late-night play session. Daisy will run between us begging for belly rubs or chasing the ball we toss back and forth. My mom demands at least one picture of the “daily Daisy”. These dog pictures are usually generated during cuddle time or play time, and I may start sharing them here too as the blog develops.
Daisy falls asleep around 9:30pm-10:30pm. When I’m ready to go to bed I carry her over to her crate where her fluffy bed awaits. She curls up against me and asks for one more pet or belly rub, and I oblige. She will go into her crate on her own and I tell her good night. It’s my way of saying I am leaving for the night, but I will be back. She’s usually half asleep anyway, and she is quiet all night until we start the daily routine again.
The takeaways are that it’s easy to foster a dog, and highly rewarding. Fostering allows dogs like Daisy to get the individualized attention they deserve and sometimes need to address behavioral or health issues. The Amal Animal Rescue Foundation needs more fosters, but fosters don’t need to dramatically alter their lives to accommodate a dog. You can work full time and leave the dog at home. They don’t need 24/7 surveillance and stimulation like children do. Just a little more time in the morning and evening. You are already providing a much higher quality of life than the best shelter can provide. So consider fostering for Amal today, and stay tuned for the next installment of our fostering adventure.