This profile is part one of a five part series exploring the ins and outs of fostering for the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and is written by guest blogger Devin Christopher.
I met up with Caroline New at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center on a Friday evening. Caroline was there to pick up McBaine, whom she has been fostering since he was 9 months old. Her boyfriend Mike was nice enough to join us. McBaine is a two year old Springer Spaniel (donated by Breezy Hollow Spaniels and sponsored by Saint Germain Catering) and perhaps one of the most well-known dogs at the Center. As part of the Working Dog Center’s Ovarian Cancer Detection program, McBaine has been featured in countless media outlets, including the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, CBS News, and NBC News. Mike said that “[McBaine] is good with the camera, he likes the attention.”
Caroline is a runner, and before fostering with the WDC, she was a volunteer with the PAWS Monster Milers program. She told me that McBaine is a great running partner. In the past two years, he has trained with Caroline for both a half and a full marathon! Both Caroline and Mike grew up with dogs, and Caroline has wanted a dog of her own for many years. “I was interested in having a dog, but my concern was what to do with the dog during the day because I work full time. And also the expense of a dog.” she says. “So as much as I love dogs, I knew that it was probably too much of a financial commitment for me to make.” A friend of Caroline’s, who works at Penn, suggested that fostering for the WDC would be the perfect solution. And so after an interview, a home visit, and a short trial run, Caroline became McBaine’s foster mom.
When I asked Caroline what the hardest part of fostering McBaine is, she said, “understanding that a working dog is not a pet dog, they are bred differently, their needs are different.” She said that for the first six months, she never saw McBaine sleep. “I put him to bed in the crate and the moment when I approached he would be ready to go.” Later that weekend, when I played back the recording of this interview, I laughed because McBaine’s incessant panting and the gentle bouncing of the tennis ball, nearly drowned out this portion of our conversation. “Believe it or not, his energy level has decreased dramatically. This is calm,” said Mike. Caroline keeps McBaine busy with daily runs and on the weekends, games of ‘two ball fetch’ and hiking with Mike and his 8 year old caramel-colored Pitbull named Fiona. Caroline said, “I’ve learned a whole lot about the trails in the area. We love camping with him and hiking with him, it’s really allowed us to discover more outdoor places in the area.”
Before we finished up our conversation, I asked Caroline and Mike about the best parts of fostering for the WDC. Caroline said, “First, I love the companionship and he’s a great dog. I couldn’t ask for a more. Second, is the impact of knowing the work that he’s doing is potentially groundbreaking…we have had the chance to watch him work, and that’s really incredible to see him in action.”
McBaine is lucky to find foster parents that are young, bright, happy, and energetic, just like him.
You can learn more about being a foster by visiting the WDC’s website.
If you are interested in fostering for the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, please contact Lauren McTiernan at email@example.com.