After almost 30 years of obsessively investigating dog behavior through books, seminars, courses, webinars, and more, Louise Crane found that most of her learning has actually come from working with the dogs themselves. Louise has worked with hundreds of dogs, from fosters of her own, to clients’ dogs, including every breed you can think of with varying degrees of behavioral issues, as well countless dogs in shelters.
Even after all these years, she is still learning brand new things and techniques, not only from all the brilliant people out there making discoveries to help our little canine friends, but primarily from the dogs she encounters. She is an out of the box thinker and loves creating new ways to help people and their dogs live an easier life together. We wanted to get to know Louise a little better and highlight all of the amazing work she has been doing.
PRIDE+GROOM: Tell us about yourself, your career, and your history with dog ownership and fostering.
Louise Crane: I have been dog crazy since I can remember. I got my first dog, a beagle mix I named Xiola from the New York ASPCA when I was in high school (in the mid ‘90s!) . Since then I have gotten to love THE BEST dogs: Larry, my pit bull, I had for 12 years. Joseph, my Presa Canario, Detective Sue Ellen the bloodhound, Genghis Khan the Great Dane, Ninja the Cane Corso, Christopher Tracy the labrador to name a few. Right now I have three dogs of my own: Lisa Marie, a perfect poodle mix, Thumper, a sweet silly Beagle, and Cronuts, a brilliant 18 lb terrier mix
I have had many careers. I worked in music in New York for many years and then about 20 years ago when I moved to LA, I got involved with film editing in the commercial world. At the same time I found a pit bull rescue out here called Villalobos Rescue Center and started volunteer training up there every week when they found themselves with a TV show on Animal Planet (“Pit Bulls and Parolees”). I ended up getting hired for season two as a producer, acting as the bridge between the dog world and the TV world. I was also handling the adoptions for Villalobos (off camera) which not only meant vetting potential adopters, but also doing a complete dog behavior analysis including dog testing, cat testing, kid testing you name it. At the same time, I was also doing private behavior consulting and behavior work for my own clients (mostly aggression stuff).
I had already adopted several dogs from Villalobos but when I was hired on the show I was able to up my fostering game and started with the puppies... (mostly because my dog Joseph LOVED them and helped me with raising them). I also felt very strongly about doing what I could to set them up for success in their future homes. Once the rescue moved to New Orleans in 2012 I fostered every and all kinds of dogs you can think of - but mostly the more sensitive dogs who did not do well in a kennel environment.
I'm now back in Los Angeles - working in television, fostering dogs for Los Angeles rescues and doing private dog behavior work (still specializing in aggression).
PRIDE+GROOM: How did you get started educating others on fostering dogs?
Louise Crane: Fosters are the backbone of rescue - without fosters most rescues wouldn't exist. From the human perspective, fostering is such a unique experience - for a few days, weeks, or maybe months you have a dog in your home that isn't yours that you take care of and love but not too much because then you let them go to a perfect stranger. It's the most heartbreaking and rewarding thing a person can do who loves dogs. And on the flip side - from a dog's perspective the foster is providing a critical role in their journey and while playing a pivotal part in their success.
So when I started fostering dogs in Los Angeles I realized that there is not a ton of information and support out there for fosters. Rescues are stretched so thin with medical bills and everything they do on a day to day basis that I wanted to step in and help with supporting the fosters with both behavior help as well as general support.
PRIDE+GROOM: How many dogs have you fostered over the span of your career?
Louise Crane: Too many! Probably hundreds...
PRIDE+GROOM: If you could inform people on one thing related to fostering a dog, what would it be?
Louise Crane: Learn their dog body language and take my free webinar.
PRIDE+GROOM: Tell people about your program and your monthly webinar series.
Louise Crane: So I started with a monthly free webinar on the third Saturday of every month for anyone fostering a dog. In the webinar I go over the basics, give you some tips and tricks as well as dos and don'ts. I also allot a large portion of the time to Q&A. I recently started offering free one on one help for those people who are having behavior challenges with their foster dogs.
Lastly I am in the process of starting a donation center to give away free helpful items for fosters - baby gates to help with management, enrichment activities to help entertain the foster dog, long lines for exploring, your shampoo products (I esp love the waterless & wipes to use on a nervous dog right out of the shelter), home cleaning products cos foster dogs can be dirty! My intention is to have companies donate their products, the general public can also donate gently used items and I've also created an amazon wishlist. Everything will be free to anyone fostering a dog in the Los Angeles area. Again, the rescues are stretched so thin with insane medical bills and fostering can be expensive without support so here's a way to encourage more people to foster while helping to set the dogs up for success.
PRIDE+GROOM: What is the most unique experience you have had while fostering a dog?
Louise Crane: OK my FAVORITE experience with fostering was with a border collie I fostered for Villalobos years ago called Flower. She came from the Louisiana countryside and ended up in the local shelter (at a jail). I took her in, she was super sweet & not too hyper but she looked like a working type dog to me so I found a farm just outside of New Orleans that did 'instinct testing' and training for border collies with sheep. When I took her out there and we let her loose in the pen with the sheep, she was an instant natural - getting down low and herding. I, of course, burst into tears - seeing a dog that was sitting in a jail a few weeks prior get to exactly what she was born for was incredible. So for the next couple of months until she got adopted (to a family farm in Connecticut) I would take her to different sheep herding trainers all over the country when I would travel for work. AMAZING experience.
PRIDE+GROOM: Can you share some foster success or fail stories with us?
Louise Crane: Success - It was the middle of the pandemic & my friend Rita was networking dogs at the Lancaster Animal Shelter. One night we were on the phone and I was looking at their website and I saw a Pyrenees looking mix and asked her about him - she told me that he was 'rescue only' because he had such an extreme aversion to the leash and his time was running out. She sent me a video of him shivering (in fear) in his kennel and I told her if you can find a rescue to pull him I will foster - anyway next thing you know the rescuer and I are carrying this 100lb dog in a giant crate into my tiny little house in the heart of Hollywood.
I named him Michael. He was TERRIFIED of everything and the mere sight of a collar or leash panicked him. And so for weeks we built trust and then I started systematically and slowly introducing him to a collar and then a leash, and then going outside my house and then in my car and within a couple of months he made a complete 180 and would wait at the door to go out. We went for hikes, to the dog beach, strolling around Hollywood. I have never had a dog make such an incredible turnaround. He now lives an amazing life in Big Bear with two dog siblings and a lovely family. Side note: after I dropped him off with his new adopters I cried my eyes out, called Rita and told her I would never foster again. Famous last words…
Foster fail - Thumper my beagle. He came from the swamps of Louisiana at 6 months old, had severe knee issues, was known as 'NO WAY THUMPER' for the first year I had him with me because he was so naughty but he was so hilarious I couldn't give him up. Best fail I ever had! 8 years later, he still makes me laugh.
PRIDE+GROOM: If you could go back and change one thing about your career or the work that you do, what would it be?
Louise Crane: At one point I started experiencing some compassion fatigue. The dog situation in Louisiana was so dire and on top of that we had just had a hurricane which stranded even more dogs so for a little while I had too many dogs in my house. Luckily there was a big support system out there and now I've learned my limits.
PRIDE+GROOM: How can people find you or connect with you?
Instagram - @hollywoodtails