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Border Collie Rescue - On Line - Fostering Rescued Dogs

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Keeping an "Eye" on the breed.


Border Collie Rescue no longer uses kennels as primary housing for the dogs in our care. Foster homes and foster carers have now replaced kennels as the preferable way of accommodating dogs, although we may on occasions use kennels in emergencies.

The reasoning behind this is not financial - although we save on kennel running costs or boarding fees, our transport and communication costs are higher with this system - but it is better for the dogs.

Border Collies do not generally fare well in kennels - the restrictions on exercise, mental stimulation & personal attention are detrimental to the well being of the dog - the excitement and noise of other dogs kept in close proximity induces hyperactivity in many Border Collies.

As many of the dogs referred to us are suffering from, or on the verge of, behavioural problems, a kennel system often makes matters worse. It is also very difficult to really get to know a dog if it is in kennels and the attention of the person handling the dog is spread between many others.

Proper assessment under these conditions is almost impossible.

Correct assessment is important. We need a proper understanding of the character and needs of a dog in our care before we can clear it for re-homing. Without this understanding, we will not have sufficient information to enable us to make responsible decisions when selecting a new home.

Too many dogs are being placed, irresponsibly, in unsuitable homes by some rescue groups and end up needing to be re-homed again. - What's the point?



Courage, love, altruism, leadership and practical responsibility are the main requisites of a foster carer.

It is not easy to take a dog in, spend time looking after it and then have to part with the dog. It is too easy to fall in love with the dog and then want to keep it for ourselves or to fall into the trap of thinking that the dog is totally dependent on us and needs to stay with us if it is to have a happy life in the future.
Re-homing is not as big a problem for the dog as the handler.

Border Collies are a breed that instinctively bonds to its handler. It is part of their selective breeding and a quality required by a shepherd or stockman who will work daily with their dog. Dog and handler need to work as a team so respect has to be mutual and each must have confidence in the other with the dog looking to the handler to lead.
This bonding instinct can give a false impression to an inexperienced handler who can be fooled into believing that the relationship is unique and the dog will not bond elsewhere.

Sorry to say, this is not true. Border Collies will come into care from homes where they have been for all their life - knowing no other.
Within hours they can switch their allegiance to the new home - The breed is capable of doing this - but only if the new handler inspires confidence in the dog and the dog looks to the handler as a leader and puts their trust in them.
A foster carer needs to have these qualities.
If the foster carer does not inspire trust or is not capable of leadership the dog will not feel comfortable and may pine for the missing elements in its life.
Dogs have different priorities to humans and do not judge life by the same values. Food, shelter and interaction are priorities for them but they also need a strong leader.
Without one they tend to make their own decisions.

The purpose of fostering is to keep the dog in suitable conditions until a new home is found that is permanently suitable for the dog.
Suitable conditions is not just a suitable environment with exercise, food and care provided. It must help the dog progress and help shape it for it's new future according to the decisions reached through its assessment. It also forms part of the dogs continued assessment, training and re-habilitaion.
The re-homing of a dog from a foster home will then enable the foster carer to take on another dog and so on and so on.
This does more good than by providing a permanent home for one or two dogs.

It is also extremely arrogant to believe that no-one else is capable of looking after a dog in the same way that one would do it oneself. Some foster homes have fallen into this trap in the past and it has reduced their effectiveness.

So we have a few rules for our foster homes now. The main one is that a foster carer is not allowed to keep any dog we place with them.
This is because dogs are placed in foster homes for a reason and that reason is more than just accommodating them. It is because the foster home can offer something that counts towards the dogs rehabilitation. But it does not means that the foster home could offer the dog what it needs for the rest of its life.

There are other rules too, but a foster carer would learn those as part of their training.
Training is relative to a foster carers previous experience but no-one can just join up and be a foster carer. Training is needed.
Before anyone can apply to foster dogs they need to have been a committed volunteer, working with the charity for at least 12 months and been assessed by the charity with respect to their ability to handle, control and train dogs.
They need to have learned all our commands and be familiar with all the the ways we want dogs of differing backgrounds and temperaments to be handled and accomodated.

There are a huge number of dogs needing help. A single foster carer can help lots of dogs each year but will need the courage to part with them, love to spare for them while in care, an altruistic attitude as they are doing the job for someone else, not themselves and practical responsibility to observe the dog objectively - not through rose tinted glasses.



There is more to fostering than keeping a dog and feeding and exercising it daily. In the long run, that would keep a dog alive but does not contribute to our knowledge of the dog and will not help BCR re-home it.

Foster carers are required to keep a written daily notation of the dogs behaviour, noting any changes and peculiarities that need attention and monitoring diet and habits.

The information gathered on the dog is passed onto the co-ordinator who is responsible for the dogs re-homing to enable them to decide when the dog is ready to be re-homed and to help them select a suitable home for the dog.

It is also useful if a foster carer is able to assist in the rehabilitation and retraining of a dog, implementing instructions from the co-ordinator in charge and noting results. Foster carers can also get involved in the assessment process if they are capable and willing.

On some occasions we may ask a foster carer to assist in the home visit and re-homing process, either by accompanying a home visitor or (if also a registered BCR home visitor), on their own.

This may carry through to the actual homing of the dog - on the instructions of the co-ordinator - and follow up calls to monitor the dogs progress in the new home.

Homing a dog does not mean that a foster carer has to lose contact with it. In BCR we recognise that people invest time and effort, for the sake of the dog, and sometimes the only reward is to see the dog happy and content in its new home.

Some foster carers do not wish to get that involved or go through the training process to qualify for the extra activities. That is up to the individual.

Fostering a dog for BCR need not involve the foster carer in any expense. Vet bills are covered by BCR with an account at a nearby vet who will invoice us directly.

Food is supplied by BCR or can be claimed back. Travel costs are also reclaimable. There is a time limit on reclaiming legitimate out of pocket expenses and claims must be in within 30 days of the date on the receipts on a claims form available from BCR.

Any necessary equipment will be supplied by BCR and would remain the property of the charity. The dogs also remain the property of the charity and HAVE to be surrendered when required. We have to remember that we do this for the sake of the dogs.

Border Collie Rescue offers training to all its members. The training is specific to the job the member is interested in doing. With fostering, training is 'on the job' and a foster home needs to be in contact with head office or a co-ordinator for guidance and advice if they are unsure.



It depends on you, your circumstances and your abilities. We would not wish to foster a farm dog in a pet home or a pet dog in a working environment. Foster homes, like permanent homes, are selected to suit the dog. It does not follow that a foster home would be suitable for a particular dog on a permanent basis but is judged to be suitable for a short time.

Some foster homes specialise only in puppies - some in geriatric dogs. Some can only handle placid dogs and some are capable of taking on and controlling dominant or aggressive dogs. Border Collie Rescue needs many different types of foster home to suit all the variations of character and need of the dogs we are called on to take in.

If you want to get involved or find out more - contact Head Office

General help

Border Collie Rescue needs an army. The enemies are Cruelty, Ignorance, Neglect, Poverty, Complacency, Injustice and Pride. We fight these foes constantly.

There are no qualifications needed to join us other than honesty, kindness, care & common sense. Sharing tasks makes burdens lighter.

If you can give a little time to help us generally we will be able to use your services somewhere, sometime. But be prepared to be surprised at what you can do and be prepared to enjoy doing it.

If you need some training for a job we will give it to you and you will always be supported in your efforts by other members. There is no risk, if we ask you to do something you are unhappy with or havenít got time for you can always politely say. NO, sorry, not at the moment !

Its as simple as that.


A word about the Rules and Regulations

Border Collie Rescue operates under a set of Rules and Guidelines that are updated from time to time by the current Committee.

The Rules are mainly common sense but, we are funded by donation and we have, by law, to be accountable for the way that the money we receive is spent, so the rules, especially those regarding the keeping of financial records are strictly upheld.

As a voluntary organisation, no-one in Rescue is paid for the time they put in and as volunteers, no-one is expected to put in more than they wish or can afford to.

No-one in Rescue is expected to put money in. It is not a requirement and authorised out of pocket expenses are reclaimable by members. Those fostering dogs are covered for food and care.

Travel expenses are paid where applicable, if a member uses their own vehicle. These expenses are available to all members but it is not compulsory to accept them. If you wish you can always donate them to Rescue.

All information about themselves, given by a member, is treated as confidential.


You are here >>> Funding and Helping >>> Helping & Getting Involved >>> Fostering Rescue Dogs

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