Doggy Foster Home: The Right Solution For GSD with Special Needs

Almost a year ago, Rescue Ranch was seeking a doggy foster home for Cleo, a German shepherd with special needs. She’d been with us for a while and wasn’t thriving. So in March, we posted her story on our website. It went out in our newsletter and on social. By April, we were able to report the happy news: Cleo had found a match! I caught up with Kristin over the phone, this week, and the news is good!

Cleo obviously craved human companionship, it was equally apparent that she had never really experienced it and didn’t know what it meant to live in a house.

It took nine months for the special needs GSD to decide she could spend the night inside her doggy foster home. Until three months ago, she insisted on sleeping outdoors.  Kristin didn’t push; she just followed the same routine every night — letting Cleo out to potty, then inviting her back inside. Her patience and consistency paid off. One day, Cleo came in for the night. Now, she sleeps next to her foster mom’s bed, either inside or next to her crate. Her choice. Kristin often curls up to sleep with Cleo on the carpet beside her.

Cleo doing great in in foster

Cleo’s obsessive behavior has diminished somewhat. She may still circle around the yard when her momma’s at work, but Kristin hasn’t observed the behavior when she’s home. As she says, it’s become a habit and will likely persist to some degree.

We suspect that Cleo was neglected most of her life. The constant circling, sniffing, and chewing are all forms of stress release. Her worn teeth suggest that she gnawed on rocks to relieve anxiety. Kristin tells me that Cleo picks up and chews on everything: socks, toys, shoes — whatever crosses her path. Except for her plush ball toy, that is. She cares for that like it’s her “Precious.”

Cleo has a thyroid condition, but her vitals are good. With the help of medication, she has relaxed enough to begin bonding and interacting with Kristin. She gives kisses and absolutely loves belly rubs, which she asks for by plopping down on the floor.

I was glad to hear that, despite the degenerative myelopathy, she likes to run. She’s no acrobat, but she’s active. Kristin texted this morning that Cleo was beyond excited to find snow in her yard and turned it into a game: sniffing, nibbling, and rolling around.

Kristin is a caregiver through and through. Her other pets include Bently the Chihuahua, who sleeps with her daughter, as well as Tiger, Bella, Louie, and Bandit, four cats who have the run of the house at night. Kristin keeps them all separate for safety. She’s also been feeding about 20 feral cats for years.

She spends her free time with Cleo, but she’s contemplating a Bluetooth speaker to play special dog relaxing music she’s away at work! We’re so grateful to Kristin for giving Cleo such a wonderful doggy foster home!