By LeRae Haynes –
Sometimes the best way for a puppy to get a great start in life is to be taken in by a loving foster family. It takes a unique volunteer to open their home and their heart to a batch of puppies who many not make it without them.
Nancy Jalbert is that kind of volunteer. She and her children have provided a foster home, mostly for dogs, for the Williams Lake SPCA for six years.
In a way, she got started fostering puppies because her children love them. “I told them that it would be nice to foster puppies because then we’d always have them around. And this way, my kids weren’t always asking for a puppy,” she said with a smile.
The very first foster she took was a mom with nine pups who were about a week old. “The biggest litter I took in was 15 puppies,” said Jalbert. “I keep them until they’re at least eight weeks old and sometimes longer. I keep them until they’re ready to be spayed or neutered and then adopted.”
She said they foster animals that are too young to be in a shelter, explaining that a shelter is not a great atmosphere for a young pup. “It’s better to grow up with a family,” Jalbert said. “I usually take on a mom with puppies or a mom about to give birth.”
“I really like the fact that I can help out. Some of these puppies got dropped off on the side of the road, or their mom got hit by a car. A lot of these puppies wouldn’t make it without foster care.”
Jalbert takes the bigger batches of puppies, sometimes providing back-to-back foster care. Sometimes she bring a batch of puppies to the shelter and picks up another one to take home.
“I like dogs; I have three of my own who are well-trained, well-socialized. They really like the fosters, too, and are a big help with the pups with no mom,” she explained. “The mama dogs are pretty protective of their puppies for the first week. Then they come around quickly and start playing with my dogs. And then the puppies join in: they all play.”
Her foster environment and her heartfelt care give puppies a great start in life. “We live in the country, and the puppies get used to kids, chickens, horses, and other dogs. They get used to seeing and smelling these things and become socialized: you don’t want a dog to chase horses and eat chickens,” she added.
There are special challenges to fostering in the cold winter months, and Jalbert makes sure her fosters are as warm, protected, and comfortable as her own dogs, placing heat lamps and twice as much hay in the pen to keep them warm.
Fostering with Jalbert gives the puppies a good start as a family pet. Over the years she has been thanked by people who’ve adopted the puppies, saying it was the best dog they ever had.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of music with kids.