After being without a dog for the first time in my life when my old Sheltie died at the age of 14 years, I thought that it was the end of my dog owning days. And it was, until 3 years ago I bowed to pressure from my very insistent 14 year old son.
I was very adamant that we weren't going to buy a puppy from a breeder. A puppy would need house training, lead training, playing with and generally meant a lot of hard work and with 3 boistrous boys to look after, it really wasn't an option. I wanted to adopt a dog in need, a poor abandoned pooch or one that needed a home through no fault of its own, so scoured the internet for rescue centres.
Alfie and Milo
Our local centre is Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue so we popped up there to see Shadow (a blue merle collie) and ended up a few days later with Alfie a greyhound x lurcher. After a few teething troubles Alfie settled with us and became part of the family.
Since then, I have seen hundreds of dogs pass through the doors of Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue via the virtual portal of FaceBook and have "liked and shared" every single one of them and each time thought of the poor souls being in the kennel environment but knowing that one dog is enough for us and hoping that their stay in kennels would be a short one. As far as I was concerned, I was doing my bit and could help no more.
Waiting patiently for a new owner
Then up popped an appeal for foster carers for the HWAR dogs. This is a way to get the dogs into a home environment to save them the stress of kennel life before they are placed in their forever home. On some deep level this appeal struck a chord with me and off I troggled to see if we would be suitable. They bit my hand off! Because I had already adopted they knew my home was suitable and my garden was secure as I had been "home checked" when we got Alfie. So I registered, which was a simple process giving details of home life (how long dogs are left unattended, ages of children, other pets etc), telephone number and preferred breed (yes, I get to choose!).
My children enjoying walking the dogs
Whilst registering we got to talking about volunteer walkers. These are people who give up their time to take the kennel dogs out for walks as the dogs need plenty of exercise and time out of the kennel environment. Another deep chord struck! There and then I found myself volunteering for it ("can I bring my dog?" ... "yes" ... "can I bring my children?" ... "yes"). The following Saturday morning saw me being dragged along by a very strong laborador who had a habit of going where he wanted when he wanted and it was a good job I wore walking boots because puddles and muddy ditches were a favourite for him.
Isn't Dennis gorgeous?
I was not only walking the dogs but also keeping my mind on whether they would be a potential foster dog, unfortunately this boy was too high maintenance for me (and fortunately for him he has since been rehomed), next was a little terrier and whilst he was friendly, I have an aversion to barky dogs so I didn't want to foster him (he has been rehomed too). I learned that HWAR were expecting some lurchers in the following week and this is when we met Milo! A very timid and scared lurcher x (Whippet? Collie?).
Come on Milo!
Such a tender, calm, laid back boy who was just so out of sorts he didn't quite know what to do with himself. If something spooked him he would go still, completely still! If another dog so much as sniffed him he would hunch and wrap his tail under him with ears flat to his head. When I fussed him, he leaned in, tucking his head down so he could be really close, and when he walked out on the lead, what a transformation! Ears up, tail out and a beautiful proud trotting gait that any ballet dancer would have been proud of! The thought of that poor gentle boy spending another night in kennels, all doe eyed and scared was enough. "Can we please take Milo home?" and we did!
My fire is SO inviting!
Milo and Alfie had already met on the walk so there were no worries there. What concerned me most was whether Milo was house trained. There was no history on him as he was a stray. Apparently, he quietly introduced himself to someone in a dark lane one night by putting his nose in their hand then quietly following them home! After an afternoon of him orienting himself around the home and being greeted by half the neighbourhood, I settled him down for the night beside Alfie, crossed my fingers and went to bed expecting maybe a bit of whimpering, barking and most definitely prepared for a puddle or a poop in the morning. None of that happened and I was greeted 8 hours later with a windmilling tail and skippy excitement.
Milo's picture appeared on the HWAR website and FaceBook page with a few details about him. I spent some time updating in the comments about his life with us, new things I had learnt about him (will do anything for cheese, recalls on a training lead, recalls off lead, loves sniffing in hedgerows) and 3 weeks after he arrived, someone showed an interest in him. Being new to this fostering lark, I had no idea if they would like him, if he was what they were looking for and although I was hoping for the best, I knew that he might be staying with us for a while longer.
Milo now has a forever home.
I took him to meet the family and their dog and chatted with them about their life and how Milo would fit in with them. The visit went fabulously well, Milo watered their lawn, sniffed at then ignored their other dog, mooched around in the house, accepted plenty of fusses then plonked himself down for a snooze. I was really pleased when the family decided that they would love to adopt him, the paperwork completed and he set off for his new forever home.
We are now a bonafide successful fostering family
So, we are now a bonafide successful fostering family and I for one am extremely proud! I have taken a poor frightened soul into my home, cared for him, fed him, let him lie on my hearth, walked him, kept him safe and made him feel a little more secure about life. Fostering a dog is a very rewarding thing, for the fosterer and the pooch.
Buster, only 13 months old, a whole life ahead of him
HWAR (and other places) are always on the look out for people to volunteer in many different ways, be it fostering, walking, donations of food, bedding or money and fundraising. One of the many ways you can help is at their shop.
We have a nice array of clothes, shoes, jewellery, books, ornaments and some lovely gift items that you won't find anywhere else.
The address is 28 High St, Leominster.
It's a couple of doors down from Subway Sandwich shop and almost opposite Parry's the Greengrocers.
We also have a listing on E Bay, where we offer a variety of goods, all profit going to the rescue.
*************** A REQUEST *****************
The shop urgently needs more stock to sell. In particular:-
Men's clothing and shoes
It is open from 10:00am to 2:30-3:00pm. If you are unable to drop it off at the shop, you can leave it at the kennels at Meadowbank and we will deliver it for you.
Article written by Stella Jeenes.