The Adoption Packet

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I have often found it helpful to prepare a small "starter package" of things to send with a foster dog when she moves on to her forever home. Not only does it benefit the adopters, but there's something soothing about the emotional ritual of it. Putting together the adoption package is a way of letting go while preparing the foster dog for success in her new life.

Calista, a pit bull mix rescued by A New Leash from Robeson County Animal Shelter in February 2012

Here are some things I like to include in the adoption packet:

  • A few days' worth of whatever kibble the foster pup is currently eating, packaged in a gallon-size Ziploc bag clearly labeled with the brand and flavor
  • Ziploc sandwich-size bag of mixed training treats, also labeled with brands and flavors
  • Two or three edible chews and one long-lasting chew the foster dog favors
  • Foster dog's favorite toy or blanket (something with comforting, familiar smells)
  • Copy of Patricia McConnell's Love Has No Age Limit
  • The dog's medical records (although it's a good idea to make copies for tax purposes first, if you paid for any veterinary care out of pocket)
  • A 2- to 3-page letter to the adopters, covering everything I know about the foster dog's pre-rescue history, probable age and breed mix, behavioral and dietary quirks, current training progress, potential trouble areas and what I've done to address them (and whether those strategies appear to be working, and why or why not), and any other information that seems likely to be interesting or useful.
  • My contact information in case they have questions or want to send updates

Sometimes I also include a Kong, clicker, or EasyWalk harness if I have one to spare and that piece of equipment seems especially worthwhile for that particular foster dog.

WAGS provides a leash, temporary tag, and collar for every adopted dog, so I do not routinely include those items (although I used to buy a new collar for every dog to commemorate her adoption and signify her new life, and sometimes I still give away the collars if the adopters happen to like the way it looks on the dog).

And then the dog is ready to go, whether or not I'm ready to let her.