If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fosterers – The Unsung Heroes

Baxter was fostered and nursed by Irene.
Being offered a foster place means everything to our dogs; a second chance in life. Without fosterers, we would not be able to help as many dogs as we do.

No matter how many animal shelters there are, there will always be times when they’ve reached saturation points and dogs have to be turned away. This is where an animal fosterer plays a critical role. Fosterers save lives by allowing many others to be helped and fostered dogs generally get adopted faster into their permanent homes.

Who they are
Fosterers are people who temporarily provide a safe and caring environment in their own home until a permanent home is found, helping them make the transition from their current predicament (of abandonment by their previous owner, a stray recovering from a horrific injury, or one that has just escaped the jaws of death, rescued from being put to sleep) to a new adoptive family. It’s a tremendously fulfilling position to be in, knowing that you’ve helped these animals through a difficult period of their lives and transforming them into socialised adoptable dogs, ensuring greater success in rehoming them.

What fostering involves
There are different roles for different types of fosterers. Besides providing a safe and loving environment to the fostered animal, a fosterer might be called upon to:

A) Monitor the temperament of the animal
B) Nurse them back to health
C) Provide basic training

A) Monitoring
Like us, dogs too have their own unique nature and characteristics. This knowledge helps us to match our dog to the right home and would allow them to integrate quickly into their new permanent homes.

Fosterers provide invaluable information about our rescued dogs, such as acceptance of visitors, whether they are friendly with children and other dogs, their behaviour when left alone, whether they drag on the leash, etc.

Nursing a 3 week old kitten, one needs to bottle
feed it every 2 to 3 hours and help it to urine and poo.
B) Nursing
Many a time, we have had dogs come to us in very poor condition, e.g. Malnourished, skin problems, infected eyes etc. These conditions are better managed in a home environment. Other times, stray kittens or puppies are rescued and they need to be fed regularly for a period of time.

Others may be ill and need to be given medication at certain times of the day or perhaps be bathed with vet prescribed shampoos periodically, and have to be brought to the vet if unwell. Fosterers provide such vital care to these animals.

Once back to health, the chances of them being rehomed will increase many-fold.

Kaelyn our youngest volunteer
walking Tiger at the Park
C) Training
It is easier to adopt out a toilet trained dog with good manners to good, prospective homes.

Every dog wants to be loved, well taken care of, and protected by their owners. But first, the dogs have to be trained and they are taught basic commands such as ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ etc. Training these dogs and makes it easier for the adopters to handle the dog in future.

In addition, the fosterer helps these dogs get used to living in a proper home and around humans, making it easier for dogs to adapt when they find themselves in their permanent homes.

The fulfilment
The fulfilment of dog fostering is immeasurable. Yes, it hurts when you’ve bonded with the dog and it has to leave for its permanent home and yes, it does take up time, effort, dedication and genuine care, so it’s not a job for everyone. But the sense of purpose and fulfilment you receive knowing that you have made a huge difference by helping one more dog find its way into a happy home where it will be loved and cared for makes it all worthwhile.

If you would like to join the ranks of being a foster parent and help give our furry friends a second chance in life, email us at dogstalk@starhub.net.sg.

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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."- Unknown