RUPERT — A family’s affinity for roly-poly little dachshunds led to nearly two decades of animal rescue — and a house full of bounding love that includes their newest rescue puppy, a 3-month-old terrier mix named Luke who will be ready for adoption in a couple of weeks.
At six weeks old, Luke was found wandering the streets of Burley and was taken to the pound. He is now learning the rules of his foster house — and his place among the family’s other canine residents.
As the population of the Magic Valley grows, so too does the need for families like this who will take in dogs until they can find permanent homes.
For Judy and Ron Fowler of Heyburn, the journey of rescuing dogs began after they agreed to care for a truck driver’s wiener dog after he found that the animal was more difficult to care for in his truck than he expected.
After a few days, Ron and Judy fell in love with the little dog named Honey and Judy told the man that she was going to keep her. That was almost 20 years ago.
The couple’s other dogs, Rusty, Heidi, Sissy and Nicholas, each came with their own personalities and they are loved and spoiled beyond measure with a run of the house and a place at night in Ron and Judy’s bed.
Memorialized on the kitchen wall are pictures of the family’s other adopted dogs that have since passed away and Judy is quick to talk about the many other foster dogs that were successfully placed in families.
Many of whom were dachshunds.
“They are just so personable to everybody,” Ron said about the couple’s affection for the breed. “But they are also very protective of their households.”
Visitors are greeted at the front door by the melodious sounds of hounds barking before a doorbell ever rings. Once the door opens, six small bouncing heads fill the span of a baby gate stretched across the family’s entryway.
“We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t absolutely love these dogs,” Judy Fowler said.
The Fowler’s daughter Jenny McGinnis of Heyburn also has a love for Dachshunds, which she has fostered and adopted.
“It kind of runs in our family,” she said.
She fostered three of her four adopted dogs and she also currently has four puppies.
“But they are all little and if you stacked them all together they would be about the size of a big Labrador,” McGinnis said.
People who are on the fence about fostering because they worry about not being able to eventually give them up should just go ahead and do it, she said.
“I always cry when they leave but then I think I have space in the house to bring in another one to love that might not have a home otherwise,” she said.
Dave Wright, owner of nonprofit Friends Furever Animal Rescue in Jerome, said though foster families sometimes adopt their foster dogs, it is a common misconception that it always happens.
Along with finding homes for homeless or abandoned dogs, the organization also operates a pet food and supplies pantry. Regular dog food and senior dog food is needed, along with bedding, toys and cleaning supplies. People who need these items can call Wright at 208-731-4459.
A foster home just provides a safe, nurturing home environment for a dog until an adoption family is found, Wright said.
“People think they can’t do it, that it would break their heart. But if they don’t, it will likely result in the animal’s death,” he said.
Wright’s organization provides a foster home with crates, bedding, toys and medical care for the dog. The person fostering the dog can be part of the process of selecting the dog’s permanent home.
Having other pets does not necessarily mean a person can’t foster dogs, Judy said.
Usually, she said, there is a short breaking-in period while the animals get use to each other and then they are usually fine.
“Everybody usually gets along,” she said.
Often the foster dog has been lost or abandoned and they are scared, so they take a few days to adjust to the new surroundings.
A person wanting to adopt a dog through Friends Furever Animal Rescue submits an application and undergoes an interview and home check before approval.
“A good foster is just a dog lover,” Wright said.
Judy said when a foster dog goes to its adopted home she always tells the owners to bring the dog back if they have any problems.
“I always give them the option to bring it back because I really want it to work out for the dog,” Judy said.
Wright said the population of homeless dogs in the Magic Valley appears to be growing and he gets four to five requests to re-home dogs per week.
That number doesn’t count the animals handled by other rescue groups or that are brought into the shelters or are living on the streets, he said.
His organization has about 15 foster homes and they are currently at capacity.
More foster homes are desperately needed, he said.
“Fostering dogs has really been an adventure,” Judy said. “If you love dogs and don’t like the idea of euthanasia, it’s a way to save their lives.”