Got question on the volunteer foster program? We have answers!
We understand that you'll have questions about how IHDI's foster program works. That's why we complied the most received questions and answers below. However, having more or other questions is allowed. We're happy to fill in any blanks. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Ashley, or call us at 303-481-2370.
What do the foster families have to provide?
Foster families need to be willing to provide a loving, happy, and welcoming home to our dogs and commit to utilizing only positive re-enforcement training. All supplies are provided, including food and training treats for their stay. The foster can check out crates, blankets, and other items if they are not already outfitted in their home. Transportation of the foster dog for pick up and drop off will be the responsibility of the foster family. All medical care and prescriptions (if applicable) are provided by IHDI for the dog throughout their time in foster.
What is the minimum time commitment?
We ask that fosters dedicate at least one weekend per month for a minimum of 6 months.
Can I foster if I have a pet dog in the home?
Our preference is that the hearing dog in training is the only dog within the foster home environment. However, a single companion dog will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
During the home visit, all pets will be observed and evaluated to ensure that the foster environment matches our service dogs in training. It is vital that if you have a dog or other pets, they too enjoy the foster dog's company. We don't want this to be a disruption in their life, and we don't want anything to jeopardize our dog's service dog career. If a supervised meet and greet is desired, we will do this at our facility, monitored by one of our trainers.
Can I foster if I have children?
Families with children ages 14 and older may be approved.
Do I have to have prior dog training experience to foster a service dog in training?
Not at all! We will provide all the necessary training tools and techniques. And we offer continual guidance, support, and training to every foster.
We do ask for willingness to learn and grow in your dog handling skills.
What is a home visit?
A IHDI staff member will set up an appointment with you to visit your home, all people living in the home, and your pets. This visit is to ensure your home is a safe environment for our dogs and to measure the entire family's commitment and ability to uphold the dog's training during the foster stay. Also, as an organization regulated by the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA), detailed records of a home visit are required to comply.
Can I request a specific size of dog or type of dog due to allergies?
Yes. During the application, you can request your dog size preference from small and medium (up to 35 lb.) to large (35+ lb.). We will try to accommodate your preferences. To make for a successful foster pairing, we will also match your training and activity level with the appropriate dog's training and activity level. Please indicate on your application if your size preference is a deal-breaker and/or will only foster a specific size dog. We will do our best to accommodate for allergies, but hypoallergenic dogs are not always available in the program. Please note that there is no guarantee that one of our 'hypoallergenic' dogs will not bother your allergies, even with an accommodation for allergies.
What if I go on vacation or need a break?
We understand that life happens! However, we ask that you please give us as much time as possible to find another foster family. If something arises during your foster time, don't hesitate to get in touch with IHDI.
IHDI sets the foster schedules at least a month in advance. Our greatest need is for holiday weekends.
How much exercise does the foster dog need per day?
Our hearing dog hopefuls need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. Therefore, we ask that fosters to provide at least an hour of exercise per day.
Is the foster dog allowed to travel with me?
Yes, weekend hikes and camping trips are allowed with approval from IHDI. Any crossing of state lines requires advanced notice, an itinerary of your travel plans, closest vet information, and approval by a staff member at IHDI. Crossing international borders, cruises, or taking the dog on the airplane is NOT allowed.
Are my friends and neighbors able to greet with the foster dog?
Yes! We would love for the foster dog to meet other dogs and for the foster parent to make detailed observations during each interaction. We ask that you know these dogs prior and that they are not dog selective or dog aggressive. We do not want anything to jeopardize the service dog's future career with any bad dog experiences. We will provide the training on how to introduce and appropriately meet other dogs for a successful interaction each time.
Are my friend's and neighbor's dogs able to greet with the foster dog?
Yes! We welcome the chance for foster dogs to meet other dogs and request that the foster make detailed observations during each interaction. We ask that the foster be familiar with the dogs prior and know that the dogs are not dog selective or dog aggressive. We do not want any bad experiences to jeopardize the foster dog's potential as a service dog. We will provide training on introducing and appropriately meeting other dogs for a successful interaction each time.
Can the foster dog be off leash or visit dog parks?
It is IHDI's policy that dogs are leashed at all times unless in a securely fenced in area. IHDI dogs are not allowed to visit public dog parks.