IHDI's Pilot Foster Program went great... so great that it is becoming a weekend event!
Check out International Hearing Dog's new Foster Program to see if you may be a match to support one of our Hearing Dog Hopefuls through their journey in becoming a service dog.
This weekend program is truly the best of all worlds. Take a service dog in training on your weekend adventures and provide fun social outings while watching them grow in their service dog training. Experience each new phase together and watch them grow into becoming a hearing dog. No financial commitment and all training and support will be provided. You will get to be a part of the foster dog's journey from arrival, to learning basic commands, to alerting to sounds. If and when they make it you will get to see and possibly meet the individual's life you are directly impacting. You may just find yourself with a new Deaf pen pal across the nation, a new 4 legged furry friend, or a community of like minded fosters trying to change the world just like you are!
IHDI's foster program asks for a minimum of one weekend a month up to every weekend, with extended foster stays possible. For your weekend, pick up your foster dog on Thursday or Friday, with all the supplies need for their stay. At pick up, get a mini orientation on the dog you are taking home about his/her skills, things they need work on, and things you need to enforce. Have a fun-filled weekend full of adventure and/or the relaxing comforts of your home and then drop the dog back off for training on Monday. You can start it all over again the next weekend or wait till next month to take on the same dog or a new one!
To start fostering:
- Complete and submit the application below
- Set up an interview and home visit
- Complete background check
- Attend Orientation 1: The Basics
- Attend Orientation 2: All About Training (this is a hands on training class with dogs and practice)
Check out our FAQ's for more information and if you feel like you want to take this journey with a service dog in training then apply below!
What do the foster families have to provide?
All foster families need to provide is a loving, happy, and welcoming home to our dogs. All supplies are provided, including food and training treats for their stay with their foster family. The family can check out crates, blankets, and other items if they do not already have these items. All medical care is provided by IHDI.
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?
Yes! For beginning fosters, only one pet dog will be approved. All pets will be observed and evaluated during the home visit to ensure this is a good environment for our service dogs in training. We do ask that your dog and other pets enjoy other 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 meet and greet is desired, we will do this at our facility, monitored by one of our trainers.
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. Continual guidance and training will also be provided along the way.
What is a home visit?
A representative of IHDI will set up an appointment 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. The interview can also be done during the home visit and all together it is used to measure to commitment of the entire family to the training during the dog's stay. Also as an organization regulated by PACFA, detailed records and a home visit are required to keep us in compliance.
Can I request a specific size of dog?
Yes. During the application, you can request a size of dog from small (up to 20 lbs), medium (20-35 lbs), and large (35+ lbs) and we will try to accommodate your preferences. We will also match your training and activity level with the appropriate dog's training and activity level to make for a successful foster pairing. All of our dogs are of mixed breed currently, the only request that we can try to accommodate is for allergies. Even for allergies, there is no guarantee that one of our 'hypoallergenic' dogs will not bother your allergies.
What if I go on vacation or need a break?
We understand that life happens! We do ask that you please give us as much time as possible to find another foster family to take the foster dog. If something arises during your foster stay, contact the IHDI on-call staff to arrange pick up/drop off.
How much exercise does the foster dog need per day?
Our Hearing Dog Hopefuls need lots of mental stimulation and exercise. We ask that foster families 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 state lines will require advanced notice, itinerary of your travels, 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 people and for the foster parent to make detailed observations during each interaction. This will help IHDI and their future careers out tremendously. We will also give you the training on how to appropriately meet other people for a successful interaction each time.
Are my friend's and neighbor's dogs 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 aggressive. We do not want anything to jeopardize the service dog's future career with any bad dog experiences. We will give you the training on how to appropriately meet other dogs for a successful interaction each time.
Where can't I bring the foster dog?
For beginning fosters, we ask you do not take the dogs out to dog friendly places until you complete more advanced training. Limit public outings to walks around the neighborhood and in familiar places. Once you have completed the more advanced training, foster dogs can go to dog friendly places, like Home Depot or Petco, again with prior authorization from IHDI staff. Foster dogs will never be allowed to go to dog parks under any circumstances.
IHDI made a call and our wonderful fosters answered
In response to the CoVid-19 pandemic, IHDI didn't want to be caught like a deer in headlights. We made a call to our volunteer pool, close friends, and family to see if they could help IHDI out in ways that we have never asked of our community before, to foster all of our Hearing Dog Hopefuls for a month and boy, did they deliver.
As of March 23rd, every single dog was placed in a home perfect for their needs. Some of dogs were brand new to the program so those foster parents are focusing on their basic obedience. Some of our dogs were more advanced in their sound training so those foster parents are supporting their foster dogs and helping them adjust to their new surroundings. This has been such a wonderful experience for all of us at IHDI and the dogs are loving it too! We are so deeply appreciative of our fosters and what they are doing for IHDI, we truly couldn't thank them enough.
Check out some fun pictures that our Hearing Dog Hopefuls have been experiencing!
River Meeting A New Friend
Dottie Observing New Dogs From the Patio
Levi Going For A Walk
Siblings Rex and Lucy Going For A Walk In The Neighborhood
Career Change Niko Working From Home
Dottie Taking A Much Needed Nap
What Our Client's Have Been Doing During The Pandemic
Working, operating, and learning from home is quite a new adjustment for many. Mona and her Hearing Dog, Moose created a fun video for her students, highlighting the importance of a routine for our physical and mental health as we all adjust to a new "normal." Mona is a school psychologist for a district of about 700 students where her role includes teaching social emotional skills. Moose helps Mona bring extra light to these lessons, and a sense of additional comfort to her students during these uncertain times.
"I am so thankful to have Moose right now as we are safe at home though alone during COVID-19. He’s such a good companion, dependable listener/alerted, and benefit to my physical and mental health! I wouldn’t be stepping outside so regularly much less taking short or longs walks each day. He also brings such a peace to me (and my family in Texas) as he alerts me of sounds I don’t hear: the doorbell; knock on the door; even the sizzling on the George Foreman and the water boiling on the stove. We truly are a team!" Mona & Hearing Dog Moose -- team since 2018