Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Interview With the Foster Lady

I found this nice question waiting for me yesterday.

Would you please kindly ask your foster lady some questions for me. I've just started to foster a stray pit bull. How did your foster lady introduce your cat friends to you from the beginning? Also, I have two cats and two bull dogs, too, and foster one. How can I keep my house as clean and pretty as your foster lady's? Thank you so much for your help. From a freshmen foster parent.

I thought I would sit down and talk to the foster lady to see what advice she had.
Winnie: So, foster lady, can you explain from a human perspective how you introduced me to the Cats.

Foster Lady: First, we should let your readers know about the great information about fostering available from BAD RAP. Now, do you remember your first day you came home with me, Winnie? If you remember, I walked you in on your leash and you went right into your crate.

W: I remember that, it wasn’t very fun. There were nice blankets and chew toys in there, though.

FL: Maybe it wasn’t fun, but that was the point. You needed to get comfortable and calm in the house, especially since you hadn’t really spent time in a house before. Once you were in your crate, the cats came over to check you out. Remember?

W: Yes, they were so different from dogs, but you sat right by me, and told me I was good when I just looked at them calmly and sniffed them gently. I started to whine a little and you were very serious when you told me that wasn’t OK. I think you even showed me the terrible awful spray bottle!

FL: Exactly, I needed to let you know what was OK and what wasn’t OK right from the start. I stayed close by so I could make sure you didn’t use your hard eyes, your crazy ears or your super excited sniffy nose.

W: Then you let Uba and Lulu come and say hi. That was nice because I had met them already at the rescue barn and so I knew they were my friends. They also helped me understand that cats are generally to be ignored, and always to be respected.

FL: You stayed in your crate at first so that you could get used to the house and all the things in it. When you came out you were always on leash and right by my side. That way, when you finally got to meet the cats outside the crate I was there to make sure they weren’t mean to you and that you didn’t get too excited. As an aside, I should mention that the cats always have a dog free zone available, like a room that is baby gated off from the rest of the house, so they can get out of the way of zoomies and other dog antics.

W: So once I got some more freedom and got to come out of the crate, I was still on tie downs, and I couldn’t just run all over the house. That’s when I really met the cats. I got to sniff them and lick them and they took naps in the room where Uba and I played and chewed on chew toys.

FL: The tie down let me keep an eye on you to make sure you sniffed them politely and that they didn’t get annoyed and bite you or scratch you. As you let me know you could be polite to them, and they let me know that they were comfortable with you, I let you have more and more freedom.

W: That was really nice. I had never seen anything like a cat before I met these guys, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I felt safe because you were always there in case they were mean, and I also liked that I knew exactly what you wanted from me.

FL: You were very nice about the cats, Winnie. You are a very special and extra sweet and good girl, so you were easy to introduce. Another foster dog I had before you, who was a blue girl and was Very Naughty, was more difficult. She stayed on her tie down for months and months trying to learn to be polite. Even when she eventually got to come off her tie down, she would go right back on if she was rude or too excited. In my house I expect everyone to be polite to everyone else. Every bit of freedom for a foster dog is a privilege. If a foster dog can’t be polite and obey the rules of the house, they have to stay crated or on tie down.

W: Wow, I’m glad I’m a good girl! I haven’t been on my tie down in forever, and I only go in my crate when you’re not home.

W: So what about keeping the house clean and pretty? It definitely is much cleaner than my old dirt patch in the woods in Florida, and it much prettier the very awful and scary place I went after that.

FL: I don’t know that its really all that clean, and its more practical than pretty, other than the nice details that the Victorian builders left for us to enjoy. I guess I choose furniture and stuff that’s dog friendly and I try to put things away when they’re not being used. Having hardwood floors helps a lot because they can be wiped clean, especially when certain dogs make art on them, and everyone gets their feet wiped at the back door.Really, though I think its just that I take lots of pictures and I pick the ones that look nicest.

W: You do take a LOT of pictures.

FL: How can I resist taking lots of pictures when you are all so very cute, especially you, Win.

W: Oh thanks! Can I kiss and kiss and kiss you and wiggle now?

FL: Maybe you should send those kisses and wags to the freshman foster parent.

W: That’s right! Thank you FFP for giving another dog a chance at a real life! Kisses upon kisses to you!
Edited to Add:

Winnie: I hear you spoke to some friends who have cats and foster dogs and you wanted to add a few more things to our interview.

Foster Lady: Yes, I did Winnie. Thank you for asking.
First I wanted to point out that our cats are very confident and dog social cats so its much easier for them to get comfortable with new dogs than it is for shyer cats. There is some great advice here about introducing dogs to more normal cats.

Secondly I wanted to make sure your readers can easily find the links I posted above about fostering, so here they are:
Dog-Cat Advice from Diamonds in the Ruff.
Also, your readers can follow BAD RAP on facebook - they might even get to see you on there sometimes.

W: Thank you foster lady for all that information. Can we please go for our walk now?

FL: Let's get your leash on and go!


  1. Very hard-hitting interview, Winnie. You remind me of a young Connie Chung. You could probably interview Uba sometime about his art. You know, like a special interest piece.

  2. Winnie, you definitely have a talent for this!

  3. Winnie, thank you so so so so much for spending time to conduct a long interview with your foster lady. Thank you, for the interview is filled up with details. Please tell your foster lady and if you have a chance, tell all the nice ladies and misters at BADRAP that because of their examples, I have the courage and gradually gained knowledge and experience to help out the most wonderful bull dogs and pitties.
    I am going to follow your example to work with my foster pit bull. Thank you.

  4. Nicely done and good for us all!

  5. Excellent interview, Miss Winnie. You and your foster lady should be proud! I will be bringing home a new dog in the future so that my Sophie will have someone to play with all the time. As I have 3 cats, I will definitely follow your very sound advice. Kudos to you, little girl!

  6. I think the foster lady sounds like a bitch to be quite honest. I mean using crating as punishment? Foster dog or not, crating is not punishment. And this woman is a loon!

  7. This precious interview could not have come at a better time. I am going to Foster an adult Pittyboy and currently have a dog and 2 cats and my main concern was the cats. This is perfect for those that are confused as how to introduce a new furchild. Thank you Ms. Winnie <3

  8. Anonymous at 8:52 - I'm a bitch and my friend Lulu is a bitch too. The foster lady is a human, though, so I don't think its very nice to call her a bitch. I don't know why you think crate time is punishment. I'm not punished when I'm in my crate, I never get in trouble. My crate is my calm and private place where I am safe from the cats picking on me and I can rest and relax. I like going in my crate!

  9. "I think the foster lady sounds like a bitch to be quite honest. I mean using crating as punishment? Foster dog or not, crating is not punishment. And this woman is a loon!"

    It didn't sound to me like she was using it as punishment. It sounded to me like she was using it as a place for Winnie to feel safe in a new situation and have the opportunity to be calm in the midst of a new environment until she got used to it.

  10. wow I wish I had read this a few years ago when I first realized that my girl Cici had cat issues. not sure what I could do now she's 4. do not have a crate and I dont have your seemingly infinite patience :-) I had wanted to get her a cat playmate but she gets crazy nuts whenever she seems cats, obsessive even and has gotten into a few fights with cats. well, thank you.

  11. Crating as punishment? If all dog owners learned to use the crate in a constructive way, the way that Winnie's foster mom does, there would be far fewer "behavior" problems sitting in shelters everywhere.

  12. Wow, put me on the bitch list too, then. I have 2 crates and am a strong believer in crate training and tie-downs. My dogs have learned to open their own crate doors b/c they feel so safe and secure in them. But really, this woman is getting called names? She takes in foster dogs with issues, trains them and gets them social with dogs and cats, saving who knows how many lives? May the world be populated with such "bitches" and "loons"--it would be a much better place. Bravo, Foster Lady!

  13. I was inexperienced when I separately adopted each of my two dogs and didn't know how to introduce them, though I was lucky that they are both very dog and cat social (of course the cat is still in charge and calls the game when it gets too rough).
    I did use crates though, they are a godsend and they serve as both a "sleeping/safe" place and a "please go think about what you did" place. They work great and dogs are sensitive enough to know it's for their own good.
    I will definitely be using the tie-down method if (who am I kidding, of course I mean WHEN) we get another dog.
    Thanks for the never-ending, always-useful information. Great job Winnie and Foster Lady!

  14. I couldn't have said it better myself; these are some of the basic ground rules of my house as well. I read this as my new foster Pit Bull boy is chilling in his new kennel with a chew treat and my cats are perched around the crate keeping an eye on the new resident. Thanks for putting together these pointers in an easy and fun article.

  15. From Bianca the Staffie's Mom:
    i've never understood why people feel the need to comment NEGATIVELY in an nonconstructive manner.

    obviously some people think its 'odd' for a dog to have a blog...
    by then A)why read it & B) why comment ?

    i wish i had the patience to retrain my Border Collie to tolerate cats...
    Winnie - you are AWESOME & so is the Foster Lady and her Family.

  16. Great interview Winnie! We still have AmStaff & cat issues in our house - can you tell me how to train a cat? Our issues are not really the dog. We have a cat that scratches, hisses & runs! Perfect storm for a well-behaved dog!

    Oh & you have a great Foster Lady - but you already know this! We have happy safe crates & one AmStaff has his own room with his own comfy futon! It's all about you feeling safe and comfortable! Thanks for the great interview & WE LOVE YOU WINNIE!

  17. Hmmm. If using crates like this is "punishment," then why do my dogs seek to be punished so often? All but one of my dogs go into their crates from time to time for a good nap or hangout. My delicate old boy does it quite frequently, apparently so that he doesn't have to worry about the big lummoxes bumping him. Excellent interview, Winnie and Foster Lady!

  18. Why is it that the pitbull, husky etc... (or any dog for that matter) has to be trained to accept living with cats. Dogs always get the bad rap about chasing cats. What about the cats? There are just as many cats who pick on dogs. Do we try to do anything about that? Why not crate the cat?

  19. Excellent interviewing skills Winnie!
    Good girl! xoxo

  20. Shame on you, Anonymous Jerk. I am just speechless. Would that there were more "bitches" like the Foster Lady out there! We'd have a lot less homeless pibbles and babies dying in shelters. Good grief.