Giving Back: How We Became Foster Dog Parents

Chelsea and Pi - The Happy BeastAfter my dog’s sudden death this summer, I found myself incredibly lonely. My best friend, who I spent hours walking with every morning, who I rushed home to after work, who kept me company in the kitchen and kept my feet warm at night, was suddenly and very unexpectedly gone.

Fortunately for me, my life is saturated with animal lovers. After Pi died, a friend came over and helped me pack away all her things. I kept a couple bowls, her leash and collar and a few toys. Everything else went in boxes for the shelter where another friends works. The next week, I drove to Adams County Animal Shelter (ACAS) in Brighton to donate Pi’s things. That’s where I met Mila. She had just been surrendered to the shelter for the third time in her short life and her sweet little face melted me.

The next week, I went back to the same shelter with toys donated for a group of dogs pulled from an overrun shelter in Texas. This time I got to go to the ‘Texas Dog’ playgroup. In Texas, these dogs had been living in overcrowded kennels with little human interaction. At ACAS, they were given their own spaces and they were spending time every day with volunteers. Later, I met a springy Dalmatian puppy brought in as a stray and a very sweet but very sad bulldog who had been surrendered by his family of six years. I was torn between wanting to give all of these dogs a home and knowing that I wasn’t really ready to have a dog of my own yet.

Brownie - Foster dog at The Happy BeastUnderstanding how I felt, my friend who works for ACAS gave me a foster family application. A few weeks later, our home was approved and soon after that, my boyfriend and I went back to meet a few dogs who needed a temporary home. Brownie came home with us that afternoon. We took him for a walk through the park that evening, and that was the first time since Pi died that I felt really happy. Brownie needed time as a foster because he was a little nervous around men and the shelter needed more information on what his behavior was like in a home. After a couple days of slow introductions every time we entered the house, Brownie became very comfortable with us. He proved to be an excellent snuggle-buddy to my boyfriend and the perfect hiking partner for me. After his time with us, Brownie went back to the shelter and a few weeks later, we got the amazing news that he found his new family!

Antonio - Foster dog at The Happy BeastWe just finished up with our second foster dog, a sweet and goofy blue pit bull named Antonio. In the shelter, he was anxious around the other dogs. He spent most of his time hanging out in staff members’ offices, but he still lost weight from the stress. In our home, he was a happy, snuggly, lump on our couch. Wherever we were, he liked to bulldoze himself between us. My boyfriend likened sleeping with him to cuddling with a rock. He quickly stole our hearts and we seriously considered keeping him, but were hopeful he’d find another home. With that hope in mind, after his two weeks with us, I returned him to the shelter. Dropping him off absolutely broke my heart. That guy did not want to be surrounded by barking dogs. He wanted to be in our bed. But less than 24 hours later, Antonio was on his way to his forever home with his perfect family and that felt really good.

This is what I’ve learned about fostering dogs so far:

  1. Fostering is flexible.
    Different organizations have different needs, as do the animals they serve. The program at Adams County Animal Shelter allows us to take dogs short term based on our schedule. Keeping an animal for a week or two gives them a break from shelter life while allowing us to gather more information on how the dog does in a home environment. For our situation, foster care is a mini vacation for the dogs. Other dogs from ACAS may need a home to stay in until they find a permanent home and many rescue groups operate solely out of foster homes. Those animals typically need a place to stay in until they are adopted which could mean a longer commitment.
  2. Fostering is free.
    Well, kind of. The shelter provides us with beds, toys, a crate and food, (but I can’t help myself from bringing home extra treats from The Happy Beast!) Any medical care is handled by the shelter veterinarian and the shelter covers the bill.
  3. Shelter dogs are amazing!
    Because we are dog-savvy people in a mellow household with no small children, we can host dogs that may have a few quirks or need additional training. So far, our fosters have been incredible, and we joke that if these are the ‘challenging’ dogs, the other dogs in the shelter must be pretty darn perfect.
  4. Giving them back is really hard, but totally worth it.
    It’s hard to communicate to a dog that this home is temporary (it’s also hard to convince ourselves that we can’t keep all of them) so taking them back can be difficult. I remind myself that our role as a foster home is to be a stepping stone to their forever home. We can work on behaviors like leash walking and impulse control and help determine what kind of home they would do best in.
  5. ‘Foster Failure’ is actually a really good thing.
    While the term may seem negative, ‘Foster Failure’ only means the foster family decided to keep the animal forever. Foster Failure = Adoption Success!

While not without challenges, this experience has helped me heal from losing my dog and has already brought so much happiness back to my life. My time with Pi showed me what it means to really love and respect an animal. She taught me all about dog behavior and training and now I can use everything I learned from her with each dog that comes into our home.

If you are interested in fostering with Adams County Animal Shelter, visit

Many shelters and rescue groups, including our friends at Mother Gaia Animal Rescue are also always in need of foster homes. If you are looking to foster in your area, check with different organizations to find the one your lifestyle fits best with!

Foster Cats at The Happy Beast

Why We Love Fostering Felines

There are many reasons why we foster cats here at The Happy Beast. The first is we simply love cats and will make any excuse to spend the entire day in their company. We also use the opportunity of fostering cats to indirectly help our customers. For instance, our experience in helping our IBS foster cats reinforced our drive to help get our cat customers off of kibble, and to eliminate it from the store completely by July 2016. (You can read more about that decision in this blog post.)  Now for the update you’ve all been waiting for…

The Happy Beast foster cat Dottie

Dottie with her new friend.

We are happy to announce that Dottie was adopted in the beginning of April and is doing really well in her new home! Dottie was originally rescued from a cat hoarder by Almost Home Adoptions and had been living at the shelter for several years. She is missing her right hind paw and has IBS, so it took just the right family to come around and give her a home. Like most cats, she was a bit scared the first few days, but gradually came out of her shell and is now quite comfortable ruling the roost! Her new family is in love with her, which is exactly what she deserves, after many years of waiting for a home. We miss her dearly, but know that a quiet home environment is what is best for her and what will allow her to reach her highest potential.

Around the same time that Dottie was adopted, we acquired a new foster whose family needed a temporary guardian of their beloved cat, Carlos. He is a welcome addition to The Happy Beast family, very social and playful, and has really become the perfect companion for Fancy (who really enjoys the company of other cats). Carlos is a hardcore kibble addict and we have gone to great lengths to keep him from tearing open our bags of dog food. He is a high energy cat and his drive to break into dog food is likely due to boredom and his natural instinct to hunt. He just happens to be hunting dog food, instead of mice. A cat with this personality would really do best with safe outdoor access so he can climb trees and run around a yard. In the meantime, I take whatever down time I have to play with him, and his absolute favorite toy is the Go Cat Da Bird! Even Fancy likes to get in on the action. I try to play with the cats for 20 min 3 times per day in an effort to curb his naughty behaviors.

Cat snuggle ball

Carlos and Fancy cat fur ball.

Fancy (our other IBS kitty) is doing great! Her stools finally began to solidify after 4 months of an exclusive raw diet. Quite frankly this is a miracle I thought we would never see. We think that she really likes having another cat to cuddle with. Fancy’s inclination for the company of other cats is nothing like I’ve ever seen in the 30 cats I’ve had in my life! Initially, she played hard to get with Carlos and would hiss at him when he would get too close. After a couple of weeks they were sleeping next to each other and next thing we knew, they were cleaning each other and spooning. However, Carlos’ kibble habits did have a negative effect on Fancy. Carlos tore open a bag and Fancy must have decided to take a couple of bites because the next day she had bad diarrhea and we had to give her a bath, which is basically like bathing a wild animal. She’s small but incredibly feisty and doesn’t like to be messed with. It took about a week to recover from this “kibble episode” but she’s back on track and continues to have nicely formed stool as long as she is on an exclusively raw diet.

Stop by the store to see them for yourself and let us know if you have any success stories of your own. For example, we just received a some great news from customers Melinda & Jon about their newest family member. These are the kinds of stories we live for. 🙂

We adopted a new kitten as a rescue who was under-nourished and neglected. At The Happy Beast we were supplied with information about the best foods for her. It has only been a few weeks and already we see much improvement in her temperament, her coat and her eyes. She is gaining weight and obviously feels much better.

Our Newest Foster Cats | The Happy Beast

Restoring Their Roar: Our Newest Foster Cats

We recently welcomed three new foster cats at The Happy Beast – Fancy Pants, Violet, and Dottie (in addition to our other rescue, Mr. Kitty, now christened “Teo”). All three cats came to us suffering from chronic diarrhea, which was the result of their irritable bowel disease (IBD). Dottie was also born without her right hind paw, but gets around fine and climbs like a champ! All three cats were originally rescued from hoarding situations by Almost Home Adoptions for Rescued Cats, which is a cage-free cat rescue in Westminster.

The rescue had tried everything to help resolve the cats IBD, except for putting them on a raw diet. As a last ditch effort, the rescue contacted us and asked if we would be willing to foster them and put them on a raw food diet. Of course, we agreed and all of the cats are doing much better now.

Dottie has made the quickest improvement and as soon as we transitioned her to a raw diet, her stools became solid. The rescue had a feeling this would happen because her brother also suffered from chronic diarrhea, which was resolved once his adopted family put him on raw. It has been an interesting process and we have been taking copious notes about their progress. Fancy Pants and Violet still have a way to go, but are making progress. Their stools haven’t quite solidified, but they have fewer episodes of diarrhea. This is really nice for us because it means there is far less clean up!

Another interesting observation is that even when Dottie ate a high-quality canned food (she would get into Teo’s leftovers) she would immediately have soft stools. This happened on three different occasions. It seems that her body needs raw. This makes sense because cats certainly don’t cook up mice after they catch them. 🙂

Dottie is now up for adoption through Almost Home Adoption Center. She is a lovely cat and must be kept on a raw food diet, as her digestive system is very sensitive.

Stop by the store to say hello and meet these sweet kitties!

Meet Mr. Kitty, our newest foster cat at The Happy Beast

Our Newest Foster Cat – The Fantastic Mr. Kitty

Look who moved in with us! This kitty was set to be euthanized, but he’s getting a second chance with us as our newest foster cat! He’s very hungry and his fur is a little patchy, but our vet friends at Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital checked him out, ran his blood work, and we think that with a good diet and some TLC he’s going to be just fine. He weighed in at 5.5lb when he arrived at Humane Society of Boulder Valley on September 18 and as of October 6, he’s already up to 8.4lb! Read on for his full story or stop by the store to meet this sweet boy – and maybe help us come with a name. 😉

Before he came to The Happy Beast, Mr. Kitty had been living as a stray under a porch. He was relying on the family there for meals, but once they saw that he was competing with raccoons for food, they decided the living situation was no longer safe for him. They took him to Humane Society of Boulder Valley where he stayed for a week. The shelter determined that he may have hyperthyroidism and therefore would not be adoptable. The family who turned him in were notified that they had 48 hours to pick him up before he was euthanized. They reached out to our neighbors, Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital, who asked us if we would foster him. On September 24, he moved in with us as our newest foster cat.

A couple of days later, Dr. Kugler at Lafayette Companion checked him out and ran his blood work. His white blood cell count was slightly elevated and he has some tartar on his teeth, but the great news was that he does not have hyperthyroidism as the shelter suspected. With a relatively clean bill of health, it was time to put a new feeding plan into action.

THE PLAN: Gain Weight & Improve Immune System Health

  • Diet: High-quality canned cat food and raw goat’s milk
    • Mr. Kitty is hungry and eats almost anything we offer to him. We’re selecting high protein foods with as few carbs as possible. He loves Tiki Cat, Mauri, and ZiwiPeak and Big Bark raw goat’s milk provides probiotics and additional fats.
  • Supplements: Optagest Prebiotic & Digestive Enzymes
    • We sprinkle InClover’s Optagest over Mr. Kitty’s food to boost his digestive health and support his immune system. The powder is odorless and tasteless.
  • Lifestyle: Mr. Kitty is hanging out in our office on soft beds and a cat tree. We leave the door open (and shut it when over-enthusiastic dogs come into the store) so he can come out into the store when he feels comfortable. He’s getting frequent visits from new friends, including a few animal communicators and energy healers (and Loki, of course). All that love is definitely pulling him out of his shell!
Change a Pet's Life Day | The Happy Beast

Change a Pet’s Life Day

Here are four ways for us to change an animal’s life for the better this year (Which will ultimately make our lives better too!)


The motivation behind Change a Pet’s Life Day is to help animals in shelters and rescue groups find their forever homes. is an awesome site that lets you search for animals by breed, size and age or you can browse through all the dogs and cats in your area. You can find puppies and kittens or older animals who already have some training. Providing a great home for an animal in need is the ultimate way to change their life!


If you’re not ready to commit to keeping an animal for the rest of his life, consider fostering! Most rescue groups are based solely in fosters homes and many shelters rely on fosters for animals who are stressed by the shelter situation. Dogs in foster homes tend to find their forever family faster than ones in shelters because they’re out and about meeting friends and neighbors! (Be warned: many foster families “fail” the process and end up adopting their foster pup! It’s a happy accident!)


We’ve made a friend at The Happy Beast who volunteers for the Colorado Rabbit House Society in Broomfield- a rescue devoted entirely to bunnies! She told me they are always looking for volunteers to feed the rabbits, clean the cages and to take care of daily chores. How fun would it be to spend an afternoon with a whole bunch of rabbits??

Check out to find opportunities to volunteer with animals in your area. We can put you in touch with our favorite rescue groups too!

Exercise & Train

Behavioral problems are the most common reasons given when people drop their animals off at a shelter. While most of us can’t imagine giving up our pets, providing them with a balanced and active home can make sure we’re never faced with that dilemma! Make sure your pets get plenty of mental and physical exercise. Play with your cats and give them a variety of toys. Walk your dog, take him on hikes and teach him new tricks.

Alright, now get out there and change some lives!