Many people have been choosing to adopt new pets during the pandemic. It’s a great way to spend your socially-distanced days, but many dogs still need a place to live before they can be adopted.
That’s where Renegade Paws Rescue steps in.
All the dogs are fostered by a growing group of volunteers. Do Savannah sat down with one volunteer, Michele Nyberg, who started fostering for Renegade Paws Rescue in April. While the single mother of two boys is still relatively new to it, she’s learned quite a bit in a short amount of time.
Do: What made you want to foster?
Nyberg: "We went to my brother’s for Christmas. I have a dog. He got to play with my brother’s three large dogs for three or four solid days. When we came home, he didn’t want to go outside.
"I wasn’t really sure about getting a second dog. I didn’t know how he would do. I didn’t know how much it would be on me, a single mom with twin boys and two jobs. I thought [fostering] works out really well. We can foster, we can help our dog, we can see how this goes, how much help I’ll get from my children, and possibly adopt a dog in the future. If not, we can help dogs that need help. It’s a win-win for all of us."
Do: What drew you to Renegade Paws Rescue?
Nyberg: "My neighbor across the street works for Chatham County. So I was talking to her about fostering with the animal shelter. She threw out Renegade’s name."
Do: What was your first foster dog experience like?
Nyberg: "Our first foster was Ophelia. She was about three to four months old and was from a litter of four, and she was a doll. I texted Jennifer [founder of Renegade Paws Rescue] and I said, ’Look we’ve got to get this dog adopted or I’m keeping her, and I can’t do that.’
"Ophelia had been around dogs her entire life, so she was completely comfortable being around my dog. She was very excited about my cat. My cat would actually go up to her and put a paw on [Ophelia’s] face.
"[Ophelia] did not like to sleep in the crate at night, so we brought the crate up to my son’s room. After we did that, she was perfect. In hindsight, you’re kicking yourself in the butt that you didn’t think of that sooner. But then you remember she’s never been alone. If we put her in a room with others, she’ll be better, and she was.
"We had her for three weeks. She went to a fabulous home."
Do: How supportive has Renegade been?
Nyberg: "Really good. Pretty quick on messaging with any questions I have or if there’s something I need. They’ve been really good about reminding me to ask. ’Don’t be afraid to ask us for anything. If you need something, let us know, even if it’s something simple.’ That was great."
Do: Has there been a moment that has stood out to you?
Nyberg: "I have twin boys. Their nicknames are JDawg and Catman. Catman is all about cats. He absolutely fell in love with Ophelia. When we got Carmen [their second foster dog], she jumped up and curled up right in his lap. To see us have a smaller dog and him really respond to that, for me, that was the best thing."
Do: What are the benefits you see to getting a dog from a foster?
Nyberg: "For one, they are socialized. They are really good about being around people. Renegade takes dogs on a pack walk, so it helps socialize the dogs around other people. Almost all of the dogs are around another dog. I have another dog. I have a cat. I have kids. They are around a lot of noise, different sized animals, different personalities. They are usually already crate trained, already potty trained; even some of them know commands. They are already used to getting the training that they’ve gotten that even if they still need training; you’re already on your way there.
"Also, they are so loving."
Do: You seem to really enjoy fostering. What would you say to anyone who is thinking about fostering dogs?
Nyberg: "If you can, do it. There’s nothing but good. My sons are so happy about it. They’re so into doing it."