Sunday, 18 May 2014

What is the point of fostering? - Meet Rusty

Walking with Rusty
Now here is one valid reason why fostering is a wise idea.  Fostering a dog or a cat is a handy way to find out if it is for you. You can take on an animal for a while and see if it is a suitable choice, and if not, you can give the animal back.

Fostering an animal - mostly dogs, but also cats - can be a life-changing and enriching experience. It can also be an eye-opener. Let me explain that in a little more detail. 

When I fostered Rusty, an older Springer Spaniel with some hound thrown into the mix, I didn't really know what to expect. I had never had a dog before, my only experience of a dog in the house was more based on hearsay than anything else. When I was a baby, my parents had a very loyal German shepherd that my father already had before he got married. That German shepherd guarded my pram when I was sleeping outside the house (no problem in those days!). So that was more or less the extent of my experience with dogs.

I consider myself a cat person, and my cat would wisely nod if he could read this. When I decided to foster a dog, my motivation was threefold: to help out Paw Pourri, finding a permanent home for the dog, and at least, give the dog a nice holiday. Those were my reasons for fostering but little did I know what would happen.

Rusty learning stuff about archaeology
Deliberately, I opted for an older dog, one that would not find a new home easily. Most people want young animals, animal babies if possible, and they want purebreds. Maybe they want them more as accessories than pets. I don't know, but I would always go for the "underdogs" and "undercats".

First, I had to get used to walking the dog before and after work no matter what. As I noticed that he was much livelier and happier when he could explore new walks, I often took him to the beach or the shore, or somewhere where he could just run around without any constraints. That of course took up quite a bit of time, but I got more exercise, and the dog got much fitter, too!

I took him to outings where there were people, to meetings and to any kind of gatherings of people who would tolerate a dog in their midst - for the simple reason that I wanted to expose him to as many people as possible. I was hoping that somebody would fall in love with his kind and happy temperament and offer him a permanent home. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Not on my watch anyway. (Don't worry, there is a happy end to the story!)

Fostering a dog Paw Pourri
Rusty with his new fosterer - happy!
What did happen though was that after I posted a request for a new foster home for Rusty, a lovely foster family took him in who had read the post. He was very happy there, and he calmed their two terriers down a lot with him demeanour.

And then the totally unexpected happened! All of a sudden, weeks after posting on Facebook, there were two families interested in taking him in for good. One of them met him, and immediately fell in love with him. So now Rusty is living with his forever adopted parents, having the happiest time of his life with them. (Rusty had been abandoned just like that by his family when he was about 10).

But that was not all that happened. When the post on Facebook appeared asking for fosterers, we had a few inquiries of people who had never made contact before. They will now be fostering as well. And spread the word among their friends. A colleague of mine is now fostering a lovely dog. A family with two girls took on a foster puppy when they read about it.

And this is how the magic is being spread...

I have never wanted to have a full-time dog, and this foster experience - albeit a great one - confirmed that I am a cat person. Fostering a dog or a cat is a handy way to find out if it is for you. You can take on an animal for a while and see if it is a suitable choice, and if not, you can give the animal back. There is nothing worse than buying (not the best option anyway!) an animal and then finding out that it was the wrong thing to do. Paw Pourri is dealing with the fallout of such bad choices only too often.

If you want to become a fosterer, call us on 087 9460061 or send us a message on Facebook. We will then have a chat with you about the best options, and take it from there!

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