When Special education teacher Samantha Ladwig began her dog fostering journey, she understood that making a difference can shape a single life.
By Monica Godinez, Photos by Sarah Throop
Her Decision to Foster
Samantha Ladwig, special education teacher and Austinite, embarked on an important journey this past year. She heavily considered adopting a rescue pet of her own. However, she quickly realized that her current lifestyle may not be “ideal for all the responsibilities that came along with adopting a rescue animal.”
Still, amidst the uncertainty that arose from the pandemic, Ladwig was certain of one thing. She wanted to foster a pet.
Pets are a large responsibility and financial obligation often overlooked by the adorable factor. After considerate research, Ladwig made the journey to the rescue shelter. She solidified her decision to foster when she met Ralphie, an Olde English bulldog. After interacting with a number of pets needing forever homes, she decided to help out and ultimately change the lives of her fosters.
Her Fostering Experience
Ladwig is an ongoing foster with Austin Bulldog Rescue. Her experience has been great, in no small part due to “the constant support and help Austin Bulldog Rescue offers throughout.”
The fostering process varies for each rescue. Ladwig expressed interest in Ralphie, her first foster, who has since found his forever home. As a basic requisite, she was required to complete an application. This process consisted of an extensive questionnaire. The intention was to obtain information on the prospective foster in order to find the right fit for parent and pet alike. “Austin Bulldog’s Rescue does an amazing job of asking all the right questions,” Ladwig shares. These questions ensure that potential foster parents understand the breadth of responsibilities they are signing up for. The process also prepares parents to properly care for all the needs of the pet they take home.
Following this step, Ladwig completed a virtual home visit to confirm that her house was suitable for a foster pet. Overall, she described the entire process as a “smooth transition.”
Austin Bulldog Rescue equipped her with every possible necessity. From food, treats and crates, to any medications a foster pet may have needed.
Recently Ladwig fostered Rini, a lovable bulldog-terrier mix. In the beginning, she and Rini had to work through some traumas Rini had when around other dogs. Once Rini formed her bond with Ladwig she overcame those traumas and opened up to the world around her. Rini has made so much progress since she first arrived at the rescue. She can now venture out to pet-friendly environments. She recently found her fur-ever home.
Ladwig has loved her experience as a foster parent and hopes to continue to be able to help. Her favorite moments are “every time she sees an improvement with Rini. To [her]it is such a rewarding experience. Especially when you realize that you were the person that helped them overcome those obstacles and traumas.”
Important Things to Remember
“All dogs have their own personalities. However, one thing all people need to remember is that all dogs have behavioral tendencies.” Ladwig insists. This is especially important to understand about rescue pets. Many of these rescues come from previous traumatic living situations. Have trust issues that cause them to act out. This should not deter you from wanting to foster or adopt. They just need to know that “they are loved,” Ladwig says. These undesirable traits and behaviors are rooted in anxiety caused by previous traumas. With proper conditioning in loving and nurturing homes, these pets will learn these behaviors are no longer needed to cope. Once your foster pets understand this, your next task is to properly train them.
First things first, “patience is a virtue when it comes to training,” Ladwig says. The fosters will “grow from their undesirable behaviors with proper training.” Every foster dog is trainable. Austin Bulldog Rescue does a phenomenal job when it comes to their training techniques. In Ladwig’s own words, “They did an amazing job of educating me on proper training techniques for both Ralphie and Rini.”
Find out how you can become a fur friend for life at Austin Bulldog Rescue’s website.