I've been fostering for a few years now and I've probably had maybe 100 dogs through my house. (Only 1 or 2 at a time!) some are here and quickly get adopted. Others are harder to find homes for. They have issues. Things happened to them in their short lives that left scars. Invisible scars that can't be seen from the outside.
They might have been neglected. They might have been unsocialized. They might have been beaten. They might have watched other dogs being abused. We may never know. But there's something there. Its in their eyes, in a look of panic they have when approached, in the tension in their bodies. And we have to deal with these issues when they come into the foster home.
I don't want to scare a potential foster to think every dog that might come into your home has a problem. Most don't. Most of the dogs I've had were loving, sweet pups who went on to make great family dogs. If you find a good rescue who knows the ins and outs of fostering they will make sure your foster dog fits your family dynamics so that your fostering experience will be a good one.
When I get a dog into my house that has that deep fear I ignore them. I set up a bed and a crate and show them the water dish. Then I let them sit there, crate door open and ignore them. A dog with fear issues doesn't trust easy. They need time more than anything else. So I watch TV, prepare dinner, do my computer work and avoid eye contact. Eventually they venture out to explore their surroundings. Slowly. We have a fenced in back yard and after a day or so I'll just leave the door open and let them wander in and out. I offer treats and if they don't want to come near me, I just drop them on the floor.
Because these dogs came in contact with some very bad people, they need time to learn to trust again. It's not going to come quickly and sometimes it's not going to be easy. They say time heals all wounds but these dogs need kindness too. They need to know that not all people are bad. Not all people will hurt them.
Corona came from a Hoarder but she pancakes when I reach for her. Pancake is when the dog flattens itself to the floor and cowers in fear. I've had this pup since January and she still pancakes. This shows me that not only was she from a hoarding situation, she was abused, too. Corona weighs 10 lbs, a little Chihuahua.
Sometimes its hard to hold the anger at the people who did this at bay. I have to remind myself that this little soul came into my life to share love and kindness. The anger I feel at those horrible people is useless at this point. It has no place between Corona and I and I have to let it go.
After those first few days of ignoring her, Corona slowly came to trust. She now will take treats from my hand, come over to be petted and runs around the yard chasing squirrels. She is now free from the hoarder and most of the fear that kept her a prisoner in her own mind, but the scars are still there. When company comes over, she barks incessantly. I either have to hold her or crate her. But its improving. It's one of the last things we're working on.
Right now she's beside me on the couch, tapping me with her little paws so I pay attention to her and not my keyboard. She's giving me kisses and letting me know when she has to go out. She's sweet and loving but at 8 years old, adopting her out will be hard.