About a month ago my boyfriend and I started volunteering every Monday morning at the animal shelter in Marbella. This week, just as we were about to leave to go home we were told that there was a woman fostering a puppy that had to fly back to England urgently and needed someone to look after her. The woman was standing in the entrance with the most gorgeous tiny puppy sitting at her feet.
The puppy’s name is Margo and she is 10 weeks old. She was found all alone when she was about 3 weeks old and has been in a foster home since then. The woman who had been looking after her literally had to leave to go to the airport right away and was desperately hoping someone would be able to take her. How could we say no?!
A bit reluctant at first, we didn’t know how the other dogs would react to her, especially Baby, she can be a bit jealous and growly sometimes, but we had to at least try!
BRINGING MARGO HOME
When we got home we put Indi, Lady and Baby in the kitchen with a baby-gate in the doorway to the living room. We put Margo down on the floor in the living room and let the dogs see her. One of us stayed with the puppy and one of us with the dogs so they wouldn’t get too jealous and we kept switching. They were all growling at her at first and very keen to get to her. When the dogs were calm and quiet I rewarded them and when they growled I ignored them. After a short while Indi had lost interest and didn’t seem bothered by her at all anymore. Lady was still interested but had stopped growling and was just watching her excitedly. Baby, however, was still acting a bit aggressive and growling at her. So we let them stay seperated a little while longer.
Once everyone had calmed down we let Indi into the living room with the puppy, she was sitting squeezed between the TV unit and the wall. Indi went over to her, gave her a sniff and then just lay down next to her while I fed her some puppy kibble by hand. Indi was being so good I gave him some of the puppy food to reward his outstanding behaviour. After a few minutes he just went over to the other side of the room and fell asleep.
Next, we let Lady come into the room with the puppy and as soon as she went up to her to smell her I saw Ladys eyes widen in delight and her tail was wagging like crazy. I could totally see that the smell of the puppy reminded her of her own puppies from two years ago. It looked like she was trying to feed Margo with her non-existant milk, it was the sweetest thing ever! So, that was two down, one to go.
I wanted Baby to be able to get closer to her without her feeling like she’s been banished to the kitchen as I thought it could be the baby-gate that was causing the issue and that they would be fine if we just gave Baby a chance. But my boyfriend didn’t think we should risk it… Our neighbour had offered to lend us one of her crates so we thought we could try putting Margo in there and the other dogs can be free in the house as usual and puppy can feel safe in the meantime.
Baby seemed to be better like this, she would stand over the crate growling at first, but we just ignored her and let her get on with it. Margo didn’t seem distressed at all and was just staring up at Baby with a playful look in her eyes. Eventually Baby began to calm down and was just laying in front of the crate watching Margo intently with the occasional low grumble.
I checked with my friend and dog trainer from @nayatribe to get some extra tips on how to handle the situation and she confirmed that this is the best way to do it. We both knew Baby might be a little bit difficult!
By sunset we decided that they were ready to meet outside in the garden. We were also waiting for it to cool down before we could take them outside as the dogs hate being in the sun in the summer, it is just too hot here in the South of Spain!
We kept Baby on the lead at first and let the others run around and have a little play. Margo’s confidence had grown so much already by this point and obviously felt safe around Indi and Lady now. Baby was still watching Margo’s every move but growling way less now. After about 15 minutes of this Margo ran straight up to Baby and licked her mouth and Baby didn’t react at all, it was actually such a sweet moment.
After that we released Baby and watched as her and Margo immediately started playing and running around together happily. It was such a relief that they all got on well, this makes everything a lot easier! This morning Baby and Margo have been playing non-stop and Baby is always so gentle. I am so happy!
Have you ever fostered a young puppy? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know in the comments below x