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Fido Field Trips

One of the toughest aspects of a shelter dog’s life is the reduction in the sights, scents, sounds and human companionship of normal life. For years, tireless volunteer dog walkers have taken dogs out for short walks around the property. Now, Fido Field Trips enable dogs to go “out on the town.”

The Fido Field Trip program focuses on members of our community taking a dog out of the shelter for a few hours of stress-free time. Volunteer “foster parents” check out approved dogs for a few hours - enriching the dogs’ lives in a hassle-free way for the participants.

When dogs get out of the shelter environment, research shows a reduction in kennel stress – similar to getting away on vacation or even just a weekend away from work. Even one day away from a shelter’s noise and stressful conditions has a measurable impact on the reduction of animal stress.

Now Saving Grace has joined the Maddie’s Fund Nationwide Fostering Study. With funding support from Maddie’s Fund, Arizona State and Virginia Tech Universities are studying the impact of foster parenting on shelter dogs. As one of the 100 animal shelters participating, Saving Grace is helping to establish how field trips affect dogs awaiting adoption as well as shelter staff and volunteers.

Foster parents fill out a brief “report card” following their field trip. Dogs often express behavior in a shelter that is very different from what they are really like. Dogs are prone to jumping up and barking in the kennels as they compete for attention from passerby. The observations of Field Trip foster parents help staff and potential adopters understand how the dogs behave in home environments, in cars, outdoors and alongside people and other animals. A shelter environment limits how much we can learn about a dog. Does he like playing ball? Is she great on a hike and friendly with people?

Saving Grace selects the dogs that would benefit most from an outing and matches them with appropriate volunteers. Field Trips can last as little as 2 hours or as much as a full day, depending on what works for the volunteer. We just need the dog back before closing time.

There is very little training involved in becoming a foster parent at this level. Foster parents leave the shelter with a dog and a supply bag that includes treats, leashes, a seat-belt connector, litter bags, water bowl and an identifying vest that lets people know the dog is available for adoption. Also included in the bag is a list of dog-friendly businesses that are happy to have Fido Field Trip participants visit their stores. In addition, Roseburg Dutch Bros coffee stands invite Saving Grace Field Trip participants to stop by for a free puppuccino and will share photos of the dogs enjoying their snacks on their social media.

Dogs may be taken on leash to the park, on a hike, to appropriate stores and even home for a nap or play time at your home. Dogs are not to be taken to dog parks, and during the initial rollout of the program, dogs should be kept away from other family pets or very young children.

Foster parents must be 18 years of age and must be available by phone during field trips. Participants complete an information form and sign a release of liability.

To get involved with Fido Field Trips, fill out a volunteer application.