Common Misconceptions About Fostering

When I took in my first foster Vinnie for Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue someone said to me, “Oh that’s great that you took him in so he doesn’t have to stay at a shelter.” I didn’t have the heart to tell this person that actually Vinnie couldn’t stay at the shelter, that the shelter was days away from putting him down. Overweight and old, Vinnie had sat at the shelter for weeks with no interest. Luckily, many shelters network the dogs they take in and this shelter connected with Pom-savior extraordinaire, Kim Ray at COPR, who agreed to take him in. But Kim couldn’t do that without a network of fosters.

Vinnie, my first foster
Vinnie, my first foster

The sad truth is that many shelters don’t have the capacity, or money, to keep dogs for weeks and weeks. There are too many dogs they take in on a daily basis, that space just doesn’t allow it. And if a dog shows any slight sign of aggression, is deemed too shy, damaged or old, the shelter may have to make a tough call. It’s a sad reality, especially since most of these dogs wouldn’t be the way they are in the shelter if they just got a chance to decompress in a home environment. It makes me so sad to think the price they have to pay for circumstances a human has put them in.

So yes, it is true that fostering saves lives. Unfortunately, there are never enough fosters out there to save them all. Part of this is just numbers, but part of it is also that there are still so many misconceptions about what fostering really involves. Here are a few common misconceptions I hear and why they aren’t really true:

It’ll be too expensive

Fosters are not expected to cover all of the expenses of dogs they foster. Vet visits, medication, and often food, are all covered by most rescue groups. Money should never be a deterrent to fostering. As long as you have love to give and a home to provide the dog, you can be a foster.

I’ll have no choice in the type of dog to foster

I love dogs, but I am also not very experienced in dog behavior or training. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to foster because it would only be the high maintenance dogs with behavioral problems that would need homes and I’d be in over my head. After talking with some other fosters, I realized that all help is appreciated and you could let the rescue group know what type of dog would best fit in your life and find the right fit for you. Since I knew I liked Pomeranians, I looked for a Pom rescue group to foster for. Start where you are comfortable and see how you like it. Ultimately rescue groups want the experience to be successful, so you should feel comfortable letting them know if you’d rather have a small dog or a low energy or older dog. You should never feel pressured to take in a dog that isn’t a good fit for you.

Beautiful Brady, my second foster.

It will be on me to find the dog a home

With most groups you can be involved as much or as little as you want in finding the dog a home. The rescue group will network the dog and find the right home, you just need to be in touch with them to tell them about the dog and give recommendations on what the best home for him or her will be. Some groups have events they may want you to take the dog to, but it’s usually not required. One thing you should be willing to do is to take lots of pictures!! Whatever rescue group you foster for will appreciate having pictures to share on their website and social media to network the dog.

I’ll want to keep the dog

To be honest, this one is usually true, but it’s not as impossible as it seems. Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye. Yes, you do get attached. But when you see the dog go off to a happy home, the sadness is fleeting. I think it would be a rare case to find a foster who regrets sending their foster dog off to a new home, no matter how much they loved him or her. It all really depends on your mindset. For as many fosters I’ve known that have “foster succeeded” and adopted their foster dog (I don’t use the term foster fail anymore, because really isn’t it a success when you love the dog so much you want to adopt him or her?) I also know plenty who haven’t. These people generally go in with the mind frame that this is temporary and they want to keep fostering, so they can’t adopt every dog they fall in love with. And one thing that can make it easier is knowing that you can play a role in finding him or her a home and then keep in touch with the family after the dog is adopted. I recently got the chance to watch Brady, one of my fosters, when his parents went out of town.



Brady with his new family. Look at those happy faces! How could you regret giving up a dog when the result is a family this happy?




And yes, I did foster succeed with Roscoe. Sometimes it happens. I don’t regret it for one minute, but it did make me have to step back from fostering. It’s important to know what you can handle and if the right dog comes along, you shouldn’t feel as though you failed. You gave that dog a home, and that’s always a good thing.


My foster success, Roscoe. Photo courtesy of Boots and Bee Photography.


Disclaimer: I am only speaking from my experience as a foster for COPR and from conversations I’ve had with other fosters. Different rescue groups may have different requirements or practices. It’s important to discuss with them what you can provide and what your concerns are to ensure it will be a good fit for you.

Check out my foster page to see two dogs currently in need of a foster home:

Mark Your Calendars: Dog Swim Events

Please see the 2018 list here:

The end of summer is a sad time, but there’s one good thing that comes from it — dog swim events! Every year at the end of pool season, several area pools open up their pools to dogs for them to enjoy some swimming time.

So, get those bathing suits ready and mark your calendars for these upcoming dog swim events:

Aug. 20

The Brook Park Recreation Center will open up its pool to dogs on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 11-2. The event is free and there will also be an opportunity to take pictures with your dog from 11-1. Find out more info on their Facebook page:

Aug. 27

Westlake will host its annual dog swim at Peterson Pool on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. A $2 donation to the Westlake Animal Shelter is encouraged.

Aug. 28

Dog Paddle and Pet-a-Palooza will be held next Sunday, Aug. 28 at Hinckley Ledge Pool at the Hinckley Reservation. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. you can bring your dog to swim at the pool and visit the mini dog fair with vendors and exhibitors. Find out more here:


Sept. 6

Lakewood Dog Park will host its annual Dog Swim at the Foster Pool at Lakewood Park. Bring your dog to swim from 5- 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for 1 dog, $7 for each additional dog. Proceeds will go to help support the Lakewood Dog Park. More details to be announced on their Facebook page:

Sept. 10

Berea Animal Rescue Friends will host its K9 Splash on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Wallace Lake. Cost is a $5 donation per dog, or $10 for “packs” of two or more. The first 25 humans to register will receive a free event t-shirt. More details here:


Also on Sept. 10, Love-A-Stray will host its 11th annual dog swim from noon to five at the Avon Lake Municipal Pool. The $8 admission fee will benefit Love-A-Stray. There will also be raffles, dog related games and vendors. Find out more here:

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you are planning to go to one of these events, please bring poop bags. I was so confused last year how no one seemed to care when their dog did their business in the pool. Some of us have to be in the pool with our dogs, so please clean up after your pup! 

The Dog Fashion Show Event of the Year

It’s the biggest dog fashion show event of the year! On Saturday from 11-3, the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter will host Pawject Runway at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the event, dogs will strut their stuff on the runway for a chance to be featured in a calendar.

Dogs will be dressed in all the latest fashions, from evening wear to bikinis. Yes, you heard that correctly. There is also is a dog bikini runway show and it’s just as entertaining as it sounds.




You can still register your dog to be in the show at The fee for entry is $25 includes one dog/one handler.

The dogs will have their photos professionally taken at the event and the photos will be posted on the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter’s website for people to vote on. The top thirteen dogs will be in their 2017 calendar and will get tickets to the calendar release party at Quaker Steak & Lube in November.

If the bikini show hasn’t convinced you to go, there will also be over thirty vendors ranging from local artisans, craftsman and area rescues, a DJ, River Dog Food Truck. The event is free to spectators and dog friendly!

Find out more here:


Repeat Offenders on the 100 Worst Puppy Mills in The U.S. list – What Can We Do?

Another year, another 100 Worst Puppy Mills In The U.S. list. I wish I didn’t have to share this list again, but until everyone out there knows what goes on in the puppy mill industry, we unfortunately will have to keep hearing these stories.

I’ve written about puppy mills here and here and here. As you can see, this is an issue I feel strongly about. I think anyone who loves dogs should feel strongly about this too. We have a responsibility to protect these animals, and so far we are not doing a great job.

I think that it’s important to keep sharing the stories of these puppy mill dogs and exposing the horrible breeders. One such story is a dog named Coal that Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue, recently took in. Coal is a 2 lb Pomeranian, only 14 weeks old. Coal is a lucky one, surrendered to COPR by one of the mills on this list (it’s located in Missouri, but the rescue group didn’t want to name them for fear they wouldn’t release other dogs to them in the future). Like many dogs from puppy mills, Coal is not healthy. He has a defective heart, a valve leading out of the heart should have collapsed and closed upon him taking his first breath, but luckily it didn’t. He recently went through heart surgery and is doing well now. (COPR is collecting donations to cover the cost of his surgery:



Stories like Coal’s are not uncommon at puppy mills. Many puppies die at birth or are sold to stores even though they have serious health conditions. As you will see from the offenses on this list, the health and safety of these animals is of little concern to these breeders.

Despite some regulations on the industry, there are still many bad breeders out there, especially in the Amish community, that are only in it to make money. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for good breeders. These are not them. Good breeders do not sell puppies to stores or online sites. And as long as stores sell dogs for profit, we will keep seeing horrible offenders like these.

Marvin Burkholder, Berlin Kennel, Millersburg, OH. (Repeat Offender)
Continued repeat violations; excessive feces.

Susan Fitzgerald, Canton, OH.
Admitted to neutering puppies without a vet and without anesthesia per news reports; unlicensed dealer sells online at and

Abe Miller, Quail Creek Kennel, LLC, Charm, OH.
Bought more than 100 puppies from unlicensed breeders; supplies puppies to Petland stores.

James A. Miller, Millersburg, OH.
“Extremely lethargic, weak” spaniel found; dogs repeatedly found without solid flooring or adequate space in violation of state requirements.

Credit: The Humane Society of the United States - Puppy Mills Campaign
Credit: The Humane Society of the United States – Puppy Mills Campaign

Merle Miller, Holmesville, OH.
Unsanitary conditions; severely matted dogs found repeatedly; many needed vet care.

John J. Nisley, Loudonville, OH.
Dogs found lethargic and in pain during state inspection had not been treated by a vet.

Atlee Shetler, Millersburg, OH.
Dogs had red, inflamed lesions.

Andy Yoder, Yoder Backroad Kennel, Millersburg, OH. (Repeat Offender)
Puppy found with severe head wound had not been treated by a vet; continued to fail to give access to USDA inspectors even after $7,714 penalty.

Owen R. Yoder, Millersburg, OH.
Failed to get veterinary care for 33 dogs with advanced dental disease, more than 6 months after being directed to have them treated.

You can read more about puppy mills here:

How can you help?

Adopt don’t shop! And spread the word. As I’ve said time and again, a lot of people still don’t know or don’t believe it’s that bad.

Also, please sign this petition to urge the USDA to improve the standard of care for dogs at commercial breeding facilities.

And if you want to adopt sweet little puppy mill rescue Coal, he will soon be neutered and up for adoption. Keep an eye on the COPR Facebook site for news about him:

Dogs Who Workout

Did you know Cleveland has a dog-friendly bootcamp? I’ve mentioned it before, but I still think it’s a relatively hidden gem for Cleveland dog owners. Thank Dog NEO bootcamp is such a fun way to get some exercise for yourself without leaving your dog at home. And the workouts are done in a park, so it’s a great way to spend in an evening outdoors doing something good for yourself and your dog!

Hunter, Roscoe and I just went back to bootcamp last night. We’ve been doing it for three summers now and we love it! Since we don’t get to it as regularly as I’d like (due to its distance from me and it being too hot lately for Hunter to exercise outdoors) it’ll take a bit of time to get Hunter back in the swing of things. He was a little uncooperative last night. The great thing about the bootcamp though, is that it’s all about doing things at your own pace. I bring Roscoe too and he handles it well. Since there is no interaction between the dogs in the bootcamp it can also be good for fearful dogs as well. The owner of the camp, Heidi, really lets you handle your dog the best way you see fit, so there’s no pressure to push your dog to do things he or she may not be comfortable with.

I’ve seen all sorts of dogs do it over the years – unfocused ones like Hunter, well-trained ones and hyper, somewhat aggressive dogs. Since the bootcamp does not allow dog socialization and instead encourages you to focus on keeping your dog under control, it is good for all types of dogs. Heidi meets with everyone who signs up before the first class to assess the dogs and go over what will be expected of your dog in the class.

Roscoe getting his workout on

We only do the bootcamp during the summer months, but it’s held all year long. During the summer, the camp is held on Wednesdays at Chagrin River Park in Willoughby, Thursdays at South Chagrin Reservation and Saturday and Sunday mornings at Beachwood Park. Although it’s a far drive for me, it’s totally worth it because it gives me a chance to check out some parks we don’t regularly go to. Since going to this bootcamp, South Chagrin has become one of my favorite parks in Cleveland. You can find more information on pricing and locations here:

Since I started going to the camp I have been hoping for a west side location and one finally opened this month! Unfortunately it’s a little too far west for me, in Lorain County. Classes will be held in Elryia at Black River Reservation on Thursdays at 6 and Grace Sprenger Memorial Park in Amherst on Saturdays at 9 am. Check out Thank Dog Fit for more information here:

To make it even easier for you to try out, there is a Groupon right now for the east side bootcamp. You can get five classes for $41 or 10 classes for $62. A great deal!

Read more about my experience with the camp here:

5 Dog-Friendly Activities this Summer

Cleveland is a great place for dog lovers in the summer. Not only do we have a number of dog-friendly restaurants where we can grab a drink with our pup, but we have a lake to enjoy and numerous dog-friendly events!

Whether your dog likes water activities, or just chilling outside, there is something for every dog to enjoy this summer.

Dog Canoeing/Paddling

If your dog loves the water, you have to take him or her boating or paddleboarding this summer! A few local parks are offering specials this summer to take your dog boating. On July 23rd or 24th, you can get 25% off canoe rentals if you bring your dog canoeing or camping at Canal Fulton Canoe Livery. Check out!events/c1yzj for more information.

Also, Fairport Harbor is hosting a Doggie Paddle event on Aug. 9, where you can bring your dog along while you kayak or boat. Find out more here:

Hunter paddleboarding at Hinckley Reservation last summer.


See a Movie

On July 17, the Aut-O-Rama drive in in North Ridgeville is hosting a take your pet to the movies night for a viewing of, appropriately, “The Secret Life of Pets.” A $5 pet admission fee will benefit Multiple Breed Rescue.

Run a 5K

If you have a dog that loves to run, you have to check out the annual Dog Wash and Dirty Dog 5K, which raises funds for the Waypoint Youth Ministries in Avon. Find out more info here: All race participants get a free dog wash at the end!

Go to Yappy Hour

During the summer, several Cleveland-area bars and restaurants open up their patios to dogs for Yappy Hour events that raise funds for local rescues. I posted about the wineries that host Yappy Hours, but other good ones to check out are at Jukebox and Tremont Taphouse. On designated Saturdays, Jukebox hosts “Puppies on the Patio,” converting their dog-friendly patio to a dog park for dogs to run around off-leash. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to local rescue groups. The next one is this Saturday, July 9:

Hunter sampling the brews at Jukebox (just smell sampling, of course).
Hunter sampling the brews at Jukebox (just smell sampling, of course).



Also every second Tuesday of the month, Tremont Taphouse opens up its patio to dogs to support a local rescue group. The next one will be held July 12.

Dog-Friendly Festivals

Paws 4 A Cause, Pawject Runway and Summer Scoop are three dog-friendly events you don’t want to miss this summer! Paws 4 A Cause will be held on July 30th at the Polo Fields in the South Chagrin Reservation. The event includes dog contests, games and demonstrations, as well as adoptable dogs.

Pawject Runway is the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter’s annual fundraiser and features a dog runway show. This year it will be held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Aug. 6.

Summer Scoop is the Sanctuary for Senior Dog’s annual event and will be held at the Oak Grove Pavilion at Brecksville Reservation on Aug. 14.

And, don’t forget to check out the cool Cleveland sign – there’s one at Edgewater Park and at Voinvich Park downtown – for a great photo opp with your dog!








Dogs Who Brunch

Who doesn’t love brunch? And, even better, who doesn’t love brunch with their dog? One of the best summer activities you can do with your dog is a dog-friendly brunch. Sipping on mimosas while petting your dog? Yes please!

Luckily CLE has tons of options, even a few places that cater to dogs specifically during brunch. Here are a few to check out this summer with your dog:

Every Sunday at Press Wine Bar in Tremont bring your dog to enjoy their dog friendly patio and their delicious brunch menu. To celebrate opening up their patio to dogs this year, every Sunday during brunch from 10 am to 3 pm they will be running a contest with Tito’s Vodka where if you  order a Bloody Mary you’ll be entered to win this doghouse:


(Cute pom not included)

And get the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, so good! Press Wine Bar is now dog friendly all the time as well.

Luxe in Gordon Square also hosts a dog friendly brunch with special food options for your dog. They also choose a Bow Wow Brunch Dog of the Week, who they share on their Facebook page:



Wine Bar Rocky River also hosts a dog-friendly brunch on Sundays. This is the only time that dogs are allowed on their beautiful patio, so it’s definitely one you should add to your list!

A view of the gorgeous patio
A view of the gorgeous patio

Don’t feel left out Eastsiders, Nighttown in Cleveland Heights has a special dog-friendly patio and serves brunch from 10 am to 3 pm on Sundays.



For more great brunch options, check out my list of dog-friendly patios. Some of my other favorites for a dog-friendly brunch are Lucky’s and Town Hall.

The Ones Who Seem to Have Given Up

I came across this photo recently on Instagram from a rescue group I follow and it really struck a cord with me.

photoMy dog Roscoe is one of these dogs. Sadly, had I not been lucky enough to foster him, I probably would’ve never considered adopting a dog like him. When I first took Roscoe in, he was extremely shy, fearful of being touched and cowered in the corner for the first few days. It took a long time for him to build up enough trust to let me pet him or put a leash on him. He still has issues to this day and will never be the type of dog that runs to greet me at the door (well, he does, but he also runs away as soon as I get too close) but I’ve learned that none of that really matters. Seeing the capacity a dog has to love, even after being through a traumatic event, is a remarkable thing that bonds you together like no other experience. Roscoe is such a special soul, I can’t imagine not having him in my life.

What would I do without this face in my life everyday?


As I learned with Roscoe, you don’t really know what a dog is like until they receive the love they deserve. Most dogs in shelters, or when they first get into foster homes, are shut down and stressed out. How they are acting is just a reflection of their environment, not who they truly are. Of course, you should know what you can handle in your own life before taking on a challenging dog, but if you have the time and love in your heart to take on a dog that needs a little extra patience, it will be worth it. For me, I think it helped that I had one dog already that was very much the opposite of Roscoe, so when Roscoe would run away from me or show his teeth when I tried to pet him, I could walk away and give attention to my other dog.

Roscoe, the first day. So scared.
Roscoe, the first day. So scared.


Happy Roscoe at the beach in Charleston!
Happy Roscoe at the beach in Charleston!

This is also why fostering is so crucial. Like I said, most dogs do not put forth their best selves when they are stuck in a shelter environment. Getting a dog out of that environment and into a home where they can receive love is key to unlocking their true personality. I was so glad to see that the Cleveland Kennel began a fostering program earlier this year. If you’ve ever considered fostering, my advice to you is to do it! You learn so much and play such an important role in saving the lives of so many dogs. And, maybe, you’ll be lucky enough to meet a dog like Roscoe and fall in love.

If you want to read more about my adoption story with Roscoe, check out Lucky Puppy Magazine: Roscoe was the Lucky Puppy of the Week!

Do you have a story about a “challenging” dog you adopted? I want to hear it! I’d love to start sharing local adoption stories, so drop me an email ( or comment below.




#Dogs4Cavs Part 2

It’s been a pretty stressful NBA finals so far, but I know two dogs who are very excited about the Cavs being in Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight!cavs fans

Dogs all around Cleveland are pretty excited about this year’s finals and dressing up to show their support for the Cavs winning their first NBA championship. I received several photos of dogs dressed up for the game, including a few adoptable dogs looking for a home for Game 6.

homer kyrie princess schoeder


And these Cavs fans watching the game from the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter but hoping for a home for the rest of the series.



Meet Martha! She loves people and dogs and might be the perfect fit for your family. Meet Martha Kai in Kennel #6.


Meet Sosa! He is a 3 1/2 year old Pit Bull/American Bulldog mix male. This striking guy with the ice blue eyes will give you plenty of reasons to smile! He loves rolling around in the grass and likes nice long walks. He will need some training with accepting restraint so we feel that a home without young children would be best. Come meet this stunning guy in kennel #37.



Yale is a 3 year old Pit Bull male. This guy has an amazing blue and white coat that will catch your eye for sure. He is a playful guy who is looking forward to the next chapter in his young life. Could that be with you? Yale is in kennel #46 ready to meet you.

Go Cavs!

Dogs of Spain and Portugal

Sorry for the long break guys! I was on vacation for two weeks and then had trouble getting back into my routine again. I’ve never been away that long from home, and from my pups, so when I got back I just wanted to relax and spend some time with them.

I had a great vacation though, so it was well worth the time away. Although I love to travel, it’s a little harder now with two dogs. When it was just Hunter I didn’t worry as much about leaving him with family or friends, but once I adopted Roscoe I realized that I needed to find someone who could handle two dogs and would be sensitive to Roscoe’s quirks (ie: not picking him up, not walking towards him, generally just leaving him alone until he crawls over to you and begs for snuggles and pets. He’s kind of like a cat.) Luckily, I found a great pet sitter through, Leigh (who also owns Bouncing Light/Chewbone Studio), so I feel comfortable leaving my pups and traveling a little more now. And, she sends me great pictures! It’s a win-win all around. (Here’s her Rover profile if you’re in the market:

Luckily I got to see plenty of dogs on my vacation in Spain and Portugal. I was so blown away by how dogs were EVERYWHERE, especially in Barcelona. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a dog, usually one that was walking off-leash with his or her owner. Usually seeing dogs off leash makes me nervous, but in Barcelona in particular, all of the dogs were very well trained and focused on their walks, rarely noticing dogs or people around them. I really wanted to stop and ask the owners how they trained them so well, but since my Spanish is not very good, I didn’t.

I also noticed that no one seemed very interested in the dogs when they were out on a walk, which I feel is very different than in the states. When I am out walking my dogs, or sitting with them somewhere, people often stop and want to pet them or say something. I never saw that happen in Spain and Portugal — maybe because it is so common to see dogs everywhere. It might be one of the reasons  the dogs seem to be so well behaved, because they don’t get as much outside attention. Whatever it is, it was an interesting contrast to the states.

Since I had to get my fill of dog photos even while being away from my dogs, I took a few photos for you.

This puppy I did stop to pet because he seemed very interested in me and he reminded me of Roscoe. I hope he wasn’t a stray, but it was hard to tell.

image image


Not something you’d usually see in the states – an older man carrying a small poodle in a bag. Loved it!



A tribute to dogs and cats on the beach in Cascais, Portugal.



A photo montage of dogs in Barcelona, a few on leash!



If you want to see better photos of dogs all around the world, check out this photo project by Jesse Hunter “All the Dogs in the World”

It’s pretty cool to see how the love for dogs transcends different cultures!