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.
Training a service dog is a long, tiring, and often times difficult process but the outcome for the new client-dog team is life changing. Service dogs have to be at the top of their game for their person in whatever service they provide and a lot of training, time, and development go into each dog. You've heard the saying 'it takes a village' to raise a child, well the same can be said to raise a successful service dog. These service dog candidates, with the help of their village, will go on to change the life of a Deaf or hard of hearing individual. Are you willing to be a part of their village?
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 so you will be able to help the foster dog overcome new challenges and praise for success. 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 to matching with a client on our wait list, the foster family will get to see and possibly meet the individual who's life your hard work and dedication directly impacted.
It may be exhausting at times and a difficult journey but to even be a small part of the transformation, will be well worth it. The dog will thank you, the client will thank you, and our IHDI family and community will thank you for your commitment. 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 in your area trying to change the world just like you are!
If you are ready to make this commitment to support a hearing dog hopeful during this process, IHDI will be there to support you every step of the way!
IHDI's foster program asks for a minimum of one weekend a month up to every weekend for a minimum of 6 months. Extended foster stays are possible. For your weekend, pick up your foster dog on Friday, with all the supplies need for their stay. At pick up, get a one-on-one mini orientation with the dog's trainer on the dog you are taking home about his/her skills, things the dog needs to work on, and things you need to enforce during their stay. Have a weekend full of companionship along with fun daily service dog training and then drop the dog back off for formal training at our facility each 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 in-person, phone, or Zoom interview
- Schedule a home visit with the whole family
- Complete background check ($20 fee per report that foster family will need to pay prior to orientation)
- Attend Orientation 1: The Basics
- Attend Our Loose Leash Walking and Dog Handling class (This orientation is hands on with lots of practice all about dog handling, training, and continual support with IHDI dogs.)
Check out our FAQ's for more information.
If you are ready to make this commitment and take this journey with a service dog in training then apply below!
What do the foster families have to provide?
Foster families need to provide 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 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) is provided by IHDI for the dog and throughout the foster stay.
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?
We would prefer no pet dogs at this time. Although, one pet dog will be allowed on a case by case basis.
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 supervised 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, support, and training will also be provided along the way.
We ask for willingness to learn and grow in your dog handling skills.
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. All together it is used to measure the commitment of the entire family and their ability to uphold the dog's training during the foster stay. Also as an organization regulated by PACFA, detailed records of 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 your preference of a size of dog from small and medium (up to 35 lbs) to 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. Currently, we have all large dog that are primarily Labrador Retrievers. Please indicate if your size preference is a deal breaker and will only foster a specific size dog. The only request that we can try to accommodate is for allergies, but do not always have hypoallergenic dogs. 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 posted on the Foster portal to arrange pick up/drop off.
Otherwise, IHDI likes to plan foster schedules at least a month in advance. Our greatness 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. 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 introduce the foster dog to 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 selective or 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 introduce and appropriately meet other dogs for a successful interaction each time.
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