Fostering Service Dogs: Service-Based Learning for Animal Lovers!
We’ve touted the benefits of engaging in service-based learning by fostering pets from a local shelter – families get to enjoy the benefits of having pets at home through a short-term commitment, and can engage in meaningful learning about the value of their service while caring for animals in need. Now, there’s another way to engage in service-based learning with animals: fostering service-dogs-in-training! Requiring a longer commitment than fostering shelter animals, helping to raise a future service dog not only helps the dog, but will help a human in need as well! Service dogs, once trained, offer a canine lifetime’s worth of help and support to humans with a wide variety of unique needs – and local foster families are in high demand!
Families fostering future service dogs get to enjoy the benefits of living with a young dog, while helping a local organization to offer much-needed support to members of communities both locally and far away! Foster families generally care for dogs for 6-8 months, but sometimes keep pups for a slightly longer period of time, and after successfully fostering a pup, families are encouraged to foster another!
While foster families for future service dogs are not expected to carry out the dogs’ special training, certain structures must be present so as to support the dogs in mastering the skills necessary to successfully become service dogs – but they aren’t too difficult to carry out! In addition to providing regular canine care (including lots of love!), families have to agree not to share human foods with their dogs, and to use “sit” and “wait” commands at certain times. Foster families are encouraged to help dogs learn to socialize by bringing them to public places and allowing them to get used to being around humans as much as possible. In fact, dogs who are being trained as service dogs get the same access privileges as working service dogs in most New England states – making it easy to give foster dogs lots of opportunities to experience the human world.
Families interested in fostering a future service dog can attend an upcoming information session at Diggity Dogs’ training center, located at 679 Mohawk Trail (Route 2) in Shelburne, MA. Informational meetings for potential foster families are held on Thursday evenings at 5:30pm, and are open to any and all interested families! Families can also complete an online application, which will be reviewed by Diggity Dogs in order to determine suitability and canine placement.