An extra guest for Thanksgiving

By on November 27, 2019

SPCA shelter dogs find homes for the holiday

Griswald, with Hunter Crum, being fostered at Jessica Wilson’s home in Kitty Hawk.

Thanks to a few local families who have opened up their homes and hearts over the holiday weekend, five grateful shelter dogs are going to have a special Thanksgiving filled with plenty of turkey and table scraps, family cuddles, a warm bed and lots of love.

As part of an Outer Banks SPCA Thanksgiving fostering campaign, five-year-old hound mix Griswald and his four of his shelter buddies – Cole, Alice, Jovie and Ruth –  will have a holiday hiatus from the shelter that will help to socialize and acclimate them to everyday life in a home, which ultimately increases their chances of a successful adoption, SPCA experts say.

Spearheaded by Interim Director Chrissea Rothrock, who saw a Facebook post about a similar program being promoted at another animal shelter, the holiday fostering program is one Rothrock plans to promote over the Christmas holidays as well.

Jovie, fostered by Becky Whitehorse and Kevin Williams of Southern Shores.

So far, the canines have been settling right in for the Thanksgiving weekend. For Jovie, a two-year-old hound mix, her holiday started off on Tuesday with homemade pancakes. She’s being fostered by Becky Whitehorse and Kevin Williams of Southern Shores, who fostered 67 dogs from their local shelter in Los Angeles, Calif. before moving to the Outer Banks two years ago.

Making pancakes for their foster dogs, Whitehorse said, has become a tradition and helps the new guest acclimate herself to the couple’s pack of four pups by sharing a meal together. In just a few days, she said Jovie has enjoyed time at the dog park, has found a great spot on the couch and has learned the ins and outs of life in the home.

“Being part of family truly helps them,” Whitehorse said of her foster dogs. But she admits at times it can be hard to see them go. “Every once in a while, one tugs at your heart strings, but even though you know you can’t keep time them, you are setting them up for success down the road,” she says.

Rothrock echoed Whitehorse, saying that fostering helps pets for even short periods, such as over the holiday weekend, because it socializes them.

“It really benefits them being around people and families…and they love being inside the home,” she said. For dogs like Alice, who is on Thanksgiving holiday at a foster home and who is a little skittish, short-term fostering can really help. “It’s really good for her to get out,” Rothrock notes.

The ultimate goal in short-term fostering, Rothrock acknowledges, is what she calls “foster failures,” in which hosts decide to permanently adopt. And that was the case this week with Jazzy and Annie, two terrier mixes whose holiday plans changed at the last minute and they ended up moving home permanently with their new owners.

Outer Banks SPCA Board of Directors President Bobbie Stager says fostering also helps the shelter staff gather more information about the dogs. “It’s real hard to assess a dog” in the shelter, she noted. “Foster failures” are the ultimate success stories, but short-term situations, she adds, “enrich a person’s life, an animal’s life and gives us feedback about the animals.”

“We hope [people] take them home and fall in love with them,” Stager says, but sometimes, “the best thing we can do is get them out to see what life can be like…and work on their manners a little bit.”

Cole was fostered by John Bliven of Manteo.

John Bliven of Manteo is fostering Cole, a two-year-old lab mix, over the weekend. He met Cole on Nov. 26 while volunteering at the OBX SPCA. Having Cole for the weekend, he explains, will “help him get used to everyday life. The more you do with him, the more adoptable he’ll be,” he noted.

As for Griswald, a five-year-old hound mix, he’s made himself quite comfortable at Jessica Wilson’s home in Kitty Hawk. “He’s been a great little house guest. He’s very loving and affectionate with people,” says Wilson, adding that her family has been showing him the ropes of living inside a home.

For her part, Rothrock said the OBX SPCA hopes to have more success at Christmas in having shelter dogs go “home for the holidays.” And according to the shelter’s webpage, with names like Buddy the Elf, Comet and Blitzen, these guys are already geared up for the season.


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