Mary Ridgway has a special place in her heart for her canine friends, whether it’s a big, a medium-sized or a tiny dog.
She shows that love by sharing her time and her home fostering dogs for the Humane Society of Perry.
“I started fostering in 2007, moved away for a little while, and came back in 2009,” Ridgway says. “I’ve been fostering dogs ever since.”
A couple of the four dogs she now owns were once her foster dogs.
“I started keeping a scrapbook of my foster kids (dogs). They have found homes all over the place. The furthest away one went is to Pennsylvania,” Ridgway says. “She was a Brittany. Abby Benifiel (with the local Humane Society) contacted the Brittany Rescue Society.”
Members of the rescue society helped move the dog from Iowa to Pennsylvania.
“When I get a foster dog, there are different things I work on, depending on the dog,” Ridgway says. For example, two mixed-breed puppies, Bella and Benjamin, need to be housetrained before they are adopted out. She’ll have them for several weeks at least.
“Benjamin is already going potty outside,” Ridgway says, as proud as a mother potty-training her child.
Ridgway held Bella under one arm and Benjamin under the other and smiled.
“Bella is pretty outgoing,” she says. “Benjamin is kind of shy and a little afraid of things.”
The Humane Society of Perry is always in need of foster homes for dogs. While they have room for more than 20 cats, they are very limited in the number of dogs they can house at any given time, Benifiel says.
Ridgway says while she has found fostering rewarding, people need to consider whether they have the time and the right place to foster a dog.
“Dogs respond to attention, touch, sound of the voice. They have to feel the love you have for them, but you have to be the alpha person for them. You need to use one-word commands with the dogs,” Ridgway says. “All the abandoned dogs need a home, and if I can help get their behavior to where someone wants them, then I’ve helped one of God’s creatures. I guess I just have a soft spot in my heart for an animal no one else wants.”
Anyone interested in fostering, or adopting an animal may call Benifiel at (515) 240-7581.