Tony & Charlene Onisko

Why did you get into fostering?
We originally saw an article in the Edmonton Journal about hart and we decided it was something we would try. Not knowing what to expect, we didn't commit beyond our first dog. Once we started, we knew it was something we would enjoy very much with our entire family. Our kids immediately have fallen in love with each dog we've brought into our home, and have been active participants in fostering.

Which hart dogs have you fostered?
We fostered Regis in 2009, Milty (now Monty) in 2010, Duke in 2011/2012, and Danno in 2012 as well.

What has been the most rewarding aspect to fostering?
Knowing that our family has been able to take a dog at its most vulnerable time and provide it with a loving foster home is the most rewarding aspect. Taking a puppy that is perhaps scared and just starting their life in unfamiliar territory, and watching them develop into a dog with good manners and social skills is very rewarding.  Some dogs require little assistance in developing into that dog, and others need extra time and help. Duke was our most challenging puppy, but at the same time, the most rewarding. He went from a feral dog scared of any human interaction to a 90 lb. dog who wanting nothing but to lay beside you at all times.

When individuals think it will be too much work or too emotionally taxing, what feedback do you have for them?
I think the key for us is the fact that we already have a family dog. Our dog is a black lab named Buck and he is the greatest help when it comes to fostering. He offers puppies security, playtime, companionship, and most importantly boundaries. Buck is most likely the best trainer out of all of us for the foster dogs we've had. Since we already have a dog, we are already going for walks, and participating in other dog activities so having that second dog never seems like any extra work.

Relax and enjoy your foster dog. Just like a toddler acting up, puppies do the same. Patience and a little discipline pays off.

If your foster dog(s) could speak, what do you think they would say to you?
I know each time the dogs look at you with a wag in their tail or a subtle lick on the face exactly what they are saying.