Foster

Fostering is critical to most Rescue organizations, but it is absolutely essential to the Thulani Program.  This program is 100% foster-based–the Thulani dogs simply cannot be placed in kennels to live out their lives.  That would fly in the face of our mission to provide warm, loving homes for these very special dogs.

Fostering for the Thulani Program is somewhat more challenging than regular Rescue fostering, especially emotionally.  With regular fostering, the animals are prepared for eventual adoption, after which the assumption is made that they will live long and happy lives.  Parting with a foster animal in a regular Rescue situation has been likened to sending one’s kids off to college.  It is sad that they likely will not come back home, but happy that they will move on to their new lives.  The same is hoped for in regular fostering situations, the animal will move on to its new life, and the fosterer will be sad but proud.

Fostering for the Thulani Program is fundamentally different in that the Thulani fosterer takes in a German Shepherd knowing full well that the dog will spend the rest of its  life in that home, and that heartbreak will follow all too soon.

“Abandoned because he was old, sick and hurt, Bailey was a survivor.  Taking care of him the last couple months he had left was my way of saying “Thanks” for the loyalty and devotion he had in spades.  It was also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have.”
Pat Skora

The Thulani dog is effectively ‘adopted’ but we keep it officially as a foster dog in the Thulani Program for reasons that are explained below.

It should be obvious that being a Thulani Program fosterer takes a very special kind of person, one emotionally strong enough to maintain a calm perspective under circumstances that eventually will be come very difficult.  I have had countless people tell me they could never become a Thulani Program fosterer because of the emotional strain, only to have them reconsider when i explain to them that the dogs live for the moment and don’t know that they are terminal, that even six months of additional quality life is a significant part of an average German Shepherd’s total lifespan, and that as a Thulani fosterer they personally are the difference between a dog living out its natural life in comfort and love rather than dying alone and afraid on a stainless steel table at the shelter.

“I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision.  We had a quiet home, just my GSD and me.  But somehow I needed to help make a difference.  Two days into our new adventure when Katie grabbed Marie’s (now called Kassidy) lead from me and pranced her off around the yard as her new best friend, I knew I’d made the right decision to bring a Thulani foster into our home.  Two weeks later when I got my first kiss, my heart melted and I was sure.”
Sharron Daniel

Although every Thulani Program foster situation will be an emotional rollercoaster for the fosterer, people who have experienced it almost uniformly look back on that time as one of great satisfaction and fulfillment.  Below are excerpts from some of the people who have fostered Thulani Dogs.

The Thulani Program covers all costs associated with the life, health, and well-being of the dog–the fosterer is not responsible for any costs other than those that he/she chooses to assume.  The fosterer will have no required out-of-pocket expenses related to the fostering.

“George is my fifth Thulani foster dog, and as all the others he has been a joy to have around. They have all come to us with that look of uncertainty about their future and within days they are happier, look healthier and have that look of contentment.  When I see George run to greet my husband and make his little happy sound it reminds  me why I do this.”
Brigitte Donner

Our policy is to maintain each Thulani Dog as a permanent foster dog within the Thulani Program.  The reasons are:
•    the Thulani Program remains officially responsible for the dog in the event that something changes and new measures need to be taken
•    the Thulani Program remains officially responsible for the dog in the event that for some reason, the fosterer cannot continue to foster the dog
•    by being the official owner of the dog, the Thulani Program can cover all costs of maintaining the dog in its foster home with tax-free funds donated to the program
•    if the fosterer chooses to assume the costs of some aspects of the fostering, these cost are tax-deductible because the dog remains the responsibility of the Thulani Program

Foster Homes

We are developing a foster home network for Thulani dogs that will hopefully overlap our area of coverage, all of California and Nevada.  For now, our network extends from coastal central California to coastal northern California.  We are actively working to expand into a wider area.

Fostering for the Thulani Program is difficult but incredibly rewarding.  Please read the comments of some of our fosterers below.

If you would like more information about fostering a Thulani Dog, please contact me directly at    ThulaniDogs@gsrnc.org

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“I can’t thank you enough for all the opportunities you have given me in rescue. The things I have been blessed to experience make me feel so fortunate. These animals have given me so much unconditional love and a true perspective check. Aren’t we lucky.”
Ann Hetherton

“Senior dogs have earned the right to live out the rest of their life in a loving home. I was excited to participate in the Thulani program because it gave me the chance to provide a loving home to senior dogs who did not have many months left in life, but they months they did have I made sure were loving ones. It made me feel good knowing that the dogs would die knowing they were loved”
Mike Walker

“I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision.  We had a quiet home, just my GSD and me.  But somehow I needed to help make a difference.  Two days into our new adventure when Katie grabbed Marie’s (now called Kassidy) lead from me and pranced her off around the yard as her new best friend, I knew I’d made the right decision to bring a Thulani foster into our home.  Two weeks later when I got my first kiss, my heart melted and I was sure.”
Sharron Daniel

“George is my fifth Thulani foster dog, and as all the others he has been a joy to have around. They have all come to us with that look of uncertainty about their future and within days they are happier, look healthier and have that look of contentment.  When I see George run to greet my husband and make his little happy sound it reminds  me why I do this.”
Brigitte Donner

“I always wanted to do something more significant and more tangible to help animals. This program makes me feel like I’m really making a difference. And my foster is so wonderful, she’s worth it!”
Suzanne Wagner

“Senior dogs are often discarded after a lifetime of giving their best to their people.  How can we say no to them?  All they ask from us is a safe place to lay their sweet old grizzled heads.    In return they give us their unconditional love and gratitude.   All you have to do is look into their eyes to know you’ve done something worthwhile.”
Kelly Butler

“It is one of the best things I have ever done in my life.  I loved the experience of living with the dog (Blanca) and I will always love her.  It was very hard to say goodbye to her, and I don’t regret one moment.”
Kathy Norman

Abandoned because he was old, sick and hurt, Bailey was a survivor.  Taking care of him the last couple months he had left was my way of saying “Thanks” for the loyalty and devotion he had in spades.  It was also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have.”
Pat Skora

“Whose spirit touched whose more?
This love unconditional
Bittersweet challenge”
Patty Lacy

“Every day of fostering a Thulani dog is rewarding.  We provide a comfortable and loving home, but it does not compare to the unconditional love and happiness we receive in return.”
Emily and Dave Leslie

“Knowing her days are fewer, makes us do every thing we can to make each one memorable and special. A good reminder for everything else in life!”
Joan Hoover and Jim Rabjohn

“To give love to an animal that  has  been abandoned, and knows they are loved again, is an incredible feeling. Any time you can bring happiness to an animal whose life has been confusion, loss and, in many cases mistreatment, just makes yours  much better.”
Dorian Brumbaugh

“This is a story about my 2nd Thulani GS. I did have Thulani, the original, who crossed to the Rainbow Bridge early at about 4 mos.  He will be forever in our hearts, and we were with him in his death.  He had Aortic stenosis, which means his big outgoing valve in his heart was very narrowed, and his blood supply to the body was limited. This is a story about my second Thulani dog named Woolsey or as we call him Kramer….He also has Critical Aortic stenosis.  He will be 11 mos old on Feb. 8th. What happens to him is he will run, and have what we call syncope, or passing out, and collapsing. This has happened about 20 times since we have cared for him.  I feel like a kindergarten teacher, calling out NO RUNNING to a puppy.  We have two other GS dogs.  Bella is about 3 yrs, and had broken legs, but with swimming, can run in a sort of crooked way, and Sherpa, who RULES!  Woolsey is on a medication that lowers his heart rate, so he won’t pass out as often. He is ball driven, and can carry three balls at once, and loves to go in the swimming pool.  I have rescued him on several occasions, including the pool, and have fallen in love with him.  He sleeps in the bedroom with the other dogs, and prefers the cool tile, as he can breathe easer.  This is a labor of love, and we want more time.  On another note, he has chewed my shoes, socks, sweaters, my husbands slippers, and cane, and dug up my bulbs, and my Mother’s antique chair…It is all O.K.  He will have a short life, longer than the original Thulani, but no less special.  Every day I pray I will come home to three wonderful rescue GS’s, and they will only know how much we love them….”
Ginger Lev


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  1. Hello, My name is Joe Clark and I have sent an email to the email address provided on this site. I am just following up and very interested in helping and preferrably becoming a foster home. As I stated in my email, I have experience with older dogs and making that horrible decision that they cannot make for themselves. I’ve even gotten the name of a vet who will make house calls, should that be necessary I am very eager to meet with you and discuss how I may be a great addition to your list of foster homes for dogs getting up in age. Briefly, as stated in my initial email, I have a 9 1/2 yo great dane, who, unfortunately is reaching his end (we have our medication routine daily – and walks, depending on him and how he feels.) I have experience with dobies, rotts, danes, and greyhounds. German shepherds run in my family as (years ago) my grandmother was a shower and a breeder of German Shepherds.

    I would love to hear from you and hopefully be able to begin helping out as soon as possible.

    Best regards,

    Joe Clark

  2. Hi Joe, thanks so much for your offer to work with the Thulani Program as a foster. We always need foster homes, and you seem very experienced. If you have not already been contacted by the Thulani Program Foster Coordinator, you will be in the next few days. We look forward to having you join us. Bob, Thulani Program Coordinator

  3. Hi Bob,
    I have not yet been contacted, but look forward to hearing from and meeting someone.

    Joe

  1. Pingback: Thulani Dogs in Shelters « Thulani

  2. Pingback: WHY FOSTER A THULANI DOG? « Thulani

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