Our breeding program would not be successful without the numerous families who participate in our Foster Family Program. The following information is designed to inform those who may be interested in being a part of this program.
Anyone who owns or has been owned by a schnauzer knows that schnauzers are people dogs. Schnauzers crave human companionship. They do not do well in kennels as their need for people is so strong that a kennel atmosphere can make them destructive, yappy and withdrawn. Those characteristics do not translate into a good pet or parent.
We are NOT a kennel. We are a family of five who loves dogs and who wants to carefully and selectively have a few litters of puppies each year. Since we have no desire to have dozens of dogs running rampant in our household, but we want to breed more than one litter a year, we developed the Foster Family Program.
How the program works:
The female or male "pick of select litters" is sold for a significantly reduced fee to a family that will provide a loving, caring home. The animal lives with this family for it's entire life except during the times when it comes to us to be bred and then, later to have puppies.
Ownership of the dog is signed over to the foster family subject to the foster family signing a restrictive breeding contract with us. As the foster puppy grows, its health, temperament and conformation is monitored to determine if it is suitable for breeding. Once the animal is of age for breeding, we decide who it will be bred to and when.
Placing dogs in foster homes results in a far better life for a dog than living in a kennel. The foster family program is a good deal for the dog, a good deal for the foster family and a good deal for my breeding program. In my opinion, it is one of those "win-win" situations for everyone involved.
If for some reason I decide an animal is unsuitable for breeding, I will ask that it be spayed or neutered. When that is done, our breeding contract is null and void and the animal is able to enjoy life with it's family.
Who qualifies for a foster dog?
We are very selective in who we choose to become foster families. We want to make sure that our dogs go to safe homes where they wil be well cared for and not allowed to escape and get lost or get run over by a car. We expect the dogs to be house dogs. We look for people who have had dogs before. The ideal person is one who has had a dog die of old age. This is a person who know how to take care of a dog and is willing to make a committment for life to one of our dogs.
Foster families need to fill out an application form and be willing to provide references that can be contacted during the approval process.
What are the Foster Families Responsibilities?
How often does a female come into heat?
Females come into season twice a year. We typically only breed a female once a year. As we have more females than we need for breeding, not all of our females are bred every year. A female will generally be retired on or before her sixth birthday. Occassionally a "perfect mom" will be bred longer. The fact is that if a female is in good health, having a litter keeps her hormones flowing and she stays in excellent condition as a result. How many litters she will have in her lifetime is determined by her overall condition, the quality of her pups, her attitude and temperament as a mother, the ease of labor and delivery for her and how quickly she recovers optimum health after a litter.
How long is a female in heat?
A heat cycle generally last 3 weeks. There will be bloody discharge for the first 8-10 days of her cycle. Then she moves into her "standing heat" which generally lasts 3-5 days. This phase is where she is "breedable" - will allow a male access to her. Until then, if a male tries anything, he will be told off. Once you are through the first 14-15 days, any discharge is miniscule to non-existent and, and for all intensive purposes, she is done her heat although she is technically still in heat until approximately day 21. It's the first two weeks you need to get through. Most people with an intact female will purchase a diaper for the female to wear in the house so that her discharge does not stain the carpet or furniture. Some females will have noticeable discharge and others can nearly get through a heat without being noticed. Each is different, just like human females.
How long is she with you when she is being bred?
We generally breed our females three times, aiming to time those breedings during the days of her heat where we are likely to produce the most puppies. If she is ready for breeding on day 12 of her heat, the family will drop her off to us on day 12, 14, 16 for breeding. The duration of her visit is usually 30-60 minutes each day depending on how quickly the male works.
After getting bred, she goes back to her foster family until 2-3 days before the expected whelp date. She then comes and lives with us until the puppies are born, weaned and start to leave for their own families at about 8 weeks. Once puppies start leaving for their new homes, the female returns to her own family.
How long/often is a male needed for breeding?
Males are generally ready to start their breeding career at 1 year of age. We try to give each of our males at least two females to breed each year: one in spring and one in fall. There will be some years where they may be used more often. Unlike females, a males breeding life can last 6-8 years. How long he is used as a stud and how often he is used depends entirely on the quality of the puppies he is producing.
As we generally breed our females three times during their heat, we will let the foster family know as far in advance as possible when the male will be needed. Details will be ironed out once the female chosed for him actually starts her heat. He will need to be dropped off at our house for breeding and then picked up and taken home the same day, once the breeding is complete.
How much extra work is involved in caring for a pregnant female?
Actual extra care is minimal. Gestation is 9 weeks and pregnancy is nearly undetectible until the female is 4-5 weeks pregnant. She will need 50% more food as of her 5th week. It is important for her to continue normal activity, including daily walks for as long as possible. She will slow down once she enters her 8th week and should be discouraged from jumping up on objects (beds or couches) and may need help getting in and out of vehicles. It is important to be aware that like people, each female is different in how she responds to pregnancy. Some are very active until the day they deliver and others turn into couch potatoes with weeks of being bred.
I will make arrangements to weigh/measure the female at the 4 wk, 6 wk and 8 wk mark of her pregnancy. This helps me to determine how many puppies she will be having. The weigh/measure takes only a few minutes and will be scheduled at your convenience.
Can I be there when puppies are being born?
When a female comes to us to have her puppies, we encourage visits and involvement from the foster family. Families are welcome to attend the birth if they want to. After puppies are born, they can stop by as often as they want to take mom for a walk or play with puppies. The interaction benefits everyone.
A family is not expected to be involved with the birth and care of puppies.
What about grooming my Schnauzer?
We prefer to groom our own dogs. It allows us to touch base with foster families on a regular basis and permits us to observe, first hand, the temperament, structure, growth, coat etc. of our fostered dogs. We provide the grooming for a reduced rate of $20.00 for our foster families.
What if I already have a dog in my home?
Depending on the personality and age of the dog already in a home, a dog may or may not be placed where there already is another dog. We will never place a female in a home where there is an un-neutered male or a male where there is an intact female. Dogs benefit from having animal companionship whether it is another dog or a cat!
How far away do you place your dogs?
I prefer not to place my foster dogs in homes that are more than a 30 minute drive away. In some cases, where we have an "ideal" family, we will make an exception.
Do we ever place older dogs in foster homes?
Some people know how much work it is to raise a puppy and would prefer not to go through the house breaking and chewing stages of a puppy. An older dog is a perfect solution.
On rare occasions, we have a young adult (and sometimes an older female) that we would like to place in a foster home. These are dogs that have been in foster homes and find themselves back in our home due to a divorce, relocation or sudden and severe family illness. Sometime people simply decide they can't carry on with the program and the dog finds its way back to us.
What about Medical Issues and the dog?
The foster family is required to keep the animal current on rabies and routine innoculations. Flea and heartworm are at the discretion of the family however, if an animal comes to us for breeding or whelping with fleas, the family will be charged for the cost of treating it.
if there are any medical expenses as a result of breeding or litters, this is taken care of by us.
How do I know when a dog should be bred?
We track a female's heat cycles on our computer so we can anticipate when she will come in season next. We plan our breedings based on the information that the foster family provides to us. This is why it is important that the information be accurate and delivered in a timely fashion.
We will be happy to go into detail with foster families regarding the signs of an impending heat and what to look for.
What if we decide that we don't want to be a part of the program anymore?
If at any time something changes in a foster home and they are no longer able to keep a foster dog, there is no problem with them returning the dog to us. When this happens, we will either place the dog in a new foster home or sell it depending on dog.
Are foster families ever allowed to whelp a litter?
NO. There is too much that can go wrong during a delivery to risk the life of a mother and her puppies in the hands of an inexperienced person.
Under what circumstances do we take a dog out of a foster home?
There are only a few reasons that we would take a female out of a foster home:
We do not board dogs or train dogs for people. Once a person talks with us and it is determined that they qualify for one of our dogs, they are encouraged to bring the dog back to us for grooming and a periodic visit. We prefer to have this arranged in advance. Due to the fact that we are not a kennel, we are unable to dogsit. Since we often have a mom and puppies in the house and mothers get very upset at having a strange dog around her litter it is not possible for us to take in a foster dog for any period of time due to vacations. We are happy to suggest care arrangements to cover for holidays etc. with families and can sometimes arrange vacation coverage with other foster families in our program.
A big THANK YOU! to all the families who have been willing to partner with us as a foster family. You are becoming too numerous to mention but you are all invaluable and your love and care for your dog and support for me are greatly appreciated!