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Postcards From The Pandemic: A First-Time Foster Pet Family

The Ranta family is fostering Stewart, a Corsican-Mastiff mix, until Geauga Rescue Village can resume normal operations. [Shannon Ranta]
Stewart, a large black Corsican-Mastiff mix, sitting on a white blanket on a grey couch.

Shannon Ranta and her family are spending plenty of time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and they have two rescue pets to keep them company: a bunny and an American bulldog-boxer mix named Krowa.

When Geauga Rescue Village put out a Facebook post asking for volunteers to serve as emergency foster homes for pets, Ranta signed up right away. Now the family has a new member, at least temporarily, to keep them company until the shelter can resume normal operations.

Introducing: Stewart

We have a 130-pound Corso Cane-Mastiff mix, his name is Stewart. He’s on a diet. He’s on a new fitness regimen.

He’s made himself at home. He’s good. He snores a lot. Being home, we have two small children, so we’re able to hike, and when the girls bike, he goes for a run with us.

Our girls are 6 and 8, and they’re very established in, okay, for the holidays we go and we get the dogs food that don’t have food, and we get them toys when they don’t have toys. So when they put out a campaign on Facebook that said, ‘We are looking for potentially having emergency fosters, is anyone interested?’ I, of course, filled one out.

On a Friday, they sent an email that they were placing animals in emergency care, and we needed to pick him up by Sunday. We didn’t have a choice, it was whoever they assigned us, but we were probably one of the few people who selected that we would take a large dog.

They said, ‘We have this dog, can you take him?’ They sent a picture. We said, ‘He’s cute enough, sure, why not.’ It was probably in a matter of 36 to 48 hours, we had to go pick him up from Rescue Village.

Geauga Rescue Village provide Stewart's food and flea treatments. Shannon Ranta and her family are providing a new workout routine. [Shannon Ranta]

Adjusting to a New Normal

We have a rescue bunny, and we forgot to really introduce him to that, so that was fun. And we have a rescue American bulldog-boxer mix, so we had to do some socializing with them, as far as two adult males living in a confined spot that is very confined.

They already have their assigned seats. Stewart sleeps on the couch, he has his spot. And then Krowa is our other dog, he has his spot in his chair or in the bed.

We definitely had some times where we knew they were going to get agitated with each other, and we were able to separate them. Whereas if we weren’t home, there would probably be some barking and door damage.

We’re not normally all home at one time, we’re normally running here, there and everywhere with sports and activities. So being home is definitely easier to foster, I think.


The state's stay-at-home order is giving the Ranta family, including Stewart, plenty of time for hikes and bike rides. [Shannon Ranta]

Finding a Forever Home

He could be here for a long haul. He could be here until June. But it’s fine because we’re all in education, so we’re not going back anytime soon. I think because this is such a new situation to everybody, there’s not really any guidance or firm decisions yet.

They’re going to start doing by-appointment-only adoptions, so if someone were to be interested in him, they asked if we’d be willing to bring him to Rescue Village for people to interact with him and meet him. We, of course, said yes.

Stewart is an older dog, and he’s probably not someone that we would have picked had we not had him placed in our home. I think that people need to really keep their eyes open to things like that, because 130 pounds is hard to love. Yeah, he's big.