This profile is part two 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 Jeremy and Jess at Milk & Honey, a quiet little coffee shop just off of South Street near the apartment they share with roommate Steph. Together, the three of them make up an adorable “non-traditional” WDC foster family.
Jeremy graduated from college last year, left the dorms behind, and moved in with Jess (his girlfriend) and Steph, a friend of theirs from college. All three of the roommates love dogs and had discussed potentially adopting one. With Jess and Steph both working full time at Penn and Jeremy as a high school geometry teacher, they were concerned about leaving a dog home alone during the day. They decided instead to apply to become a WDC foster family.
At one point, both Jeremy and Steph had filled out an application and given that they listed the same address, there was a bit of confusion. It was initially assumed that Jeremy and Steph were a couple, as Jess’s information was not included on any of the paperwork. So when Jess arrived at the Center with Jeremy, she was immediately assumed to be Steph. After a few laughs, it was quickly cleared up and now the three of them share the foster responsibilities, each taking turns dropping off and picking up their foster puppy. They started out as a back-up foster family, but after a few months agreed to become Logan’s full time foster family.
Although Logan has since graduated from the WDC, his legacy lives on. Jeremy, Jess and Steph still have a shared “Logan Calendar” which they now use to coordinate the care of Rookie, their current foster dog. When I asked Jeremy and Jess if they were sad about saying goodbye to Logan, Jess said, “People think it’s heartbreaking, but he’s not dead!” Jeremy seconded that saying, “We were definitely attached to Logan. We were sad, but we know he is off to do bigger and better things. He went to a nice family and he’s working.”
We talked a bit about the different dog-fostering options that they had considered prior to fostering for the WDC. Jeremy raised concerns about the lack of support in some other fostering programs. Although I myself have never fostered a dog for a program such as the WDC, I can certainly imagine how difficult it could be without the appropriate assistance. Particularly, if the dog is high energy or special needs and one is not experienced with dogs (neither Jeremy nor Jess grew up with dogs). However, Jeremy said “Definitely one of the pros of the Working Dog Center is how great the people that work there are. They are always willing to talk to you and help you.”
It seems to me that they are quite happy with how everything has turned out. I also chatted for quite a while with Jeremy and Jess about the best aspects of their “non-traditional” foster arrangement. Jess emphasized that they all three have an equal investment in taking care of the foster puppies. She said “[the best part is] how everybody shares the responsibility. It works for our situation.”
I asked them if they had any advice for new or future foster families. Jeremy said he has learned a lot about being the person in charge. “Have boundaries, make sure to set rules,” he suggests. Jess says, “They are high energy dogs. That’s something that is challenging I think, is to spend enough time tiring them out. I’m a big chuck-it fan.”
If you are interested in fostering for the Working Dog Center, please contact us at email@example.com.