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Foster Home & Volunteer Guidelines

Rescue and Clinical Care

Clinical care consists of an initial intake exam as well as treatment for whatever medical conditions the exam might reveal. Any additional work-ups must be authorized by one of the coordinators. Foster Homes and Volunteers taking our dogs to clinics need to make sure the clinic is doing vaccinations (rabies, DHPP, bordetella for kennel cough), fecal and heartworm tests. If you feel you have an emergency with your foster Sheltie, email or call one or all of the coordinators immediately; leave a message if you don’t get us right away.

  • Transports: We recommend keeping old bath towels and paper towels in the car in case a dog gets sick and bringing a crate for safety reasons. HSS will provide CapStar to kill any existing fleas. If you’re transporting a rescue for us from a considerable distance, also keep a bowl and bottled water in the car for the dog and allow for comfort stops, of course keeping collar and leash on him. If the dog has fleas or seed ticks, be sure to vacuum your car thoroughly after transport.
  • HSS Tags: We will provide each dog with a numbered HSS Tag that must be kept on the collar along with the rabies and microchip tag. All of our dogs are microchipped.
  • Greyhound Collars: HSS will provide a greyhound collar and leash for all dogs. Shelties will slip a regular collar.

Initial Clinical In-take

Foster Homes and Volunteers taking our Shelties to the clinics need to ask if the dog is neutered or spayed (ask the doctor to check for spay scar) and a general idea of the dog’s age. The doctors don’t just look at tartar build-up but also the wear on the teeth and if there are any missing. One thing you’ll also learn is to check the gums: they should be pink; pale or white gums indicate possible illness, anemia, or shock. When you press gently on the gums (if he’ll let you), the thumb print should come back pink, not stay white. If you see white gums on the dog in the shelter, get him quickly to the clinic.

Foster Homes and Volunteers taking our Shelties to the clinics need to know that in addition to rabies and DHLP vaccinations, we also do the Bordetella vaccine for kennel cough. Foster homes need to make sure their resident dogs have the Bordetella shot since we are exposing them to rescue dogs. In addition to vaccinations and HW test, we also test for other fecal parasites and treat for them as well.

If your foster dog is having surgery (spay, neuter, or other) and is an older dog or is anemic, we do ask for the pre-op blood workup to make sure the dog is strong and healthy enough for the surgery. Generally, though, we don’t do surgeries or proceed with heartworm treatment on anemic or malnourished dogs until they are well enough to sustain the operation or treatment — usually a couple of weeks. Post-op, be sure to watch the incision for pulled stitches, redness, swelling, and odor. If the incision looks suspicious to you, please contact one of the coordinators. If you are unsure how to proceed with other surgical issues, or what procedures to approve, or you feel you have an emergency, call and/or email one of the coordinators.

  • Medications: we know our foster homes will be vigilant about administering any prescriptions. Some of the best ways to do this are hiding the pills in cheese, cream cheese, peanut butter, or hotdog bits.
  • Dental: We do not do teeth cleaning routinely, as we feel the new owners can take care of that. However, if the teeth and gums are seriously dirty and the breath is very bad, we will do the teeth cleaning for the health of the dog.
  • Heartworms: Please refer to our separate guideline for Heartworm Disease Aftercare on the sidebar of our website.

Home Care

  • Introductions: Some rescues are frightened when they first enter the foster home. Most rescues are best if introduced to the other dogs and to the family gradually and quietly. Most Shelties get along well with cats, but if they chase or herd them too much, then we need to know that. Report any undue problems with resident dogs or cats, and we will move the dog to another foster home.
  • Behavior Assessment: We need our foster homes to evaluate our dogs’ behavior by introducing them to a variety of situations, determining what behaviors may need work and socializing them for their new lives. We like the foster homes to take the dogs on walks, car trips, outings such as trips to PetSmart etc., observing the dogs with other adults, children, noise, etc. We also want to see how the dogs relate to other dogs and cats. If foster homes note any aggression toward people or other animals, that does not ease as the dog settles in, we need to know that immediately. If our foster dog bites any animal or person, we need to know that immediately and will remove our dog from the foster home.
  • House training: we do ask our foster homes to let us know if the dog seems well trained, and if not to help the dog learn through crating, treat-training, and vigilance.
  • Manners: we appreciate our foster homes teaching our rescued Shelties the basics of ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ along with healthy walks on leash with the HSS greyhound collar. Basic obedience training will make fostering that much more pleasant and will assist the dog’s adoptability.
  • Feeding: we trust that our foster homes offer good kibble to their own resident dogs, and the foster dogs can eat that as well. We recommend ProPlan, Iams, Nutro, etc. because they are processed better by dogs than some of the cheaper brands. If your foster is a bit reluctant to eat the first day or so, offer some Mighty Dog mixed in. If your foster dog drinks an abnormal amount of water after the first few days, please contact us. He or she might need to be checked for diabetes, hypothyroidism or Cushing’s. Always feed your foster dog in a room or crate away from resident dogs.
  • Grooming: normal grooming (baths, brushing) is the responsibility of the foster home. However, if the dog is badly matted, has obvious dermatitis, or excessively long nails, a professional grooming is in order. Please contact the Coordinators to make arrangements. While you’re brushing your foster, please keep a vigilant eye for skin, coat, eye and ear problems because even after clinic care, problems can show up, especially for a dog coming in from a shelter or who has been a stray. If you see your foster dog shaking his head, look inside the ears: black gunk spells ear mites; inflammation spells infection. If your foster seems to be rubbing his rear end on the floor or has bouts of diarrhea, he may have worms; eggs could have hatched after he was vetted. If his eyes are tearing excessively and reddening, he may have an infection. In any of these cases, please contact the coordinators to make arrangements to get him to one of our clinics.


If a prospective home comes to see your foster, we will get your permission first to give them the phone number, and only after we have reviewed their application, and another volunteer has done the home check. If family and Sheltie are a match, the home signs the final adoption agreement form (available on the sidebar of our website) and provides the adoption check. We never let our Shelties leave the program — even for a sleepover — without both of those. We will hold the check a few days if the family wants to be sure. If you are transporting a Sheltie to the home, the same procedure applies; they must complete the paperwork and adoption check before you leave the dog. After the dog’s adoption, mail the paperwork to Linda at the PO box. When Linda receives the check/agreement, she will mail a copy of the dog’s vet records (indicating the heartworm preventative date) along with a copy of the final agreement to the new home.

  • How the match is determined: we make every effort to carefully review each application, and we send volunteers to the applicant’s home to talk with them and make sure this is a safe, dog-friendly home. When the applicant arrives at your home, often both dog and applicant “know”. However, like anything else in life, sometimes despite everyone’s best efforts, the match does not work.

Extremely Important

New owners need to understand these are rescued Shelties and must be watched and guarded even more closely than usual. If you do the final adoption, make sure the new owners know we require that our HSS/microchip tag be kept on our dog’s collar. We’ve had several cases where the adopted dog has slipped out through a door or gate accidentally left open. We get those calls and reunite family and Sheltie within hours. New owners should also provide their own ID tag with their phone number as well.

While we welcome adoption referrals from our foster homes, who know their dogs very well, other than immediate family for whom we are willing to vouch, ALL applicants will receive a home visit from an impartial volunteer.

  • How to Let Go: Letting go of your foster dog will be one of the hardest things you have ever had to do. We have found that when we give our dogs the best medical care possible and all the love we can provide them, they are now both physically and emotionally ready for their forever homes. In every case, the now rehabilitated Sheltie has understood when his new home has finally come for him. Seeing that joy for both family and dog is one of the many blessings you will have as a foster parent. It also helps to remember that another Sheltie is desperately going to need you again — sooner than you might imagine.