Fostering Creates Sense of Pride

Imagine waking up each morning with a satisfying purpose; fostering dogs is a rewarding way to make a difference in the lives of many. 12-year-old Tyler Ross, who attends Mercer Elementary in Cincinnati, contends to this. He and his mother, Barb are currently fostering Rudy, a puppy in  training to be a service dog for Assistance Dogs of America, Inc. (ADAI) based in Swanton, Ohio.  If all goes well, Rudy will have a future career that will enhance the well-being of someone who is physically impaired and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of that special friend who will make them feel whole once again.

Barb and Tyler have been raising Rudy since he was eight weeks old.  This is the second puppy they’ve raised. Their first dog, Cassidy is currently being fostered by a family closer to Swanton, where she can receive more frequent training.

While Rudy is learning valuable skills, his foster family has received guidance from ADAI and help from a trainer in the Cincinnati area who has taught them how to train Rudy in basic obedience. Tyler is in charge of Rudy’s day –to-day maintenance and he also contributes to his training process. The training guidance stresses the importance of using gentleness when handling the dog. They recommend using positive reinforcement for the skills he is learning, by providing love and compassion.

Tyler says there is no typical day with the pup, although he wakes up early each morning to take the dog outside. “He needs to go on potty breaks a lot.” The young man also takes Rudy along with him on outings in the community.

Exposing the pup to all types of situations is important. As a service dog he will need to know how to behave in public areas such as stores and restaurants.
When asked whether it is difficult to give up the dogs as they approach graduation, Tyler and his mother both agreed that it is heartbreaking, yet rewarding at the same time. Although it is not easy to say good-bye to their close companions, they benefit from the realization that other people need the dogs more than they do.

“It makes you feel like a better person for contributing to their success,” says Tyler. The entire process is very rewarding and they love being a part of it.

Assistance Dogs of America, Inc. (ADAI) helps children and adults with physical disabilities achieve greater independence by training and placing service and therapy dogs to assist with the individual’s daily needs. The organization places about 15-20 dogs within a 250-mile radius of Northwest Ohio. The fosters, as well as the organization share a common goal- to make a difference in the lives of people who are most in need of assistance. ADAI relies on volunteer fosters and puppy raisers to reach our mission. We are always looking for new foster volunteers. For more information on fostering dogs, please visit our website at or call the office of A.D.A.I. at 419-825-3622.

Posted: 7/9/07