The most important things about fostering?
It needs to be done properly. We all need to sing the same
song so some training is needed.
If a dog is moved from a foster home in Scotland to one in Essex, to be close to its potential new home, it needs to be fed on the same food, be handled in the same way and receive the same commands. When a dog is rehomed a new home can use the same commands. This gives a dog familiar anchors if it moves around while it is in rescue and facilitates a smooth transition to a new home.
Before anyone can apply to become a foster carer they will need to have been a committed volunteer with the charity for at least a year.
Before being accepted as a foster carer they will need to have learned all our commands and be familiar with all the ways we want dogs of differing backgrounds and temperaments to be handled and accommodated. They will need to show us they know and understand our rules and methods and be assessed by the charity with respect to their ability to handle, control and train dogs.
The charity will provide some equipment to a foster home to be used exclusively for dogs they foster. What is needed will vary but it will be an investment of funds and resources so we need to be sure that the investment is going to be for the long run!
Border Collie Rescue has no room for amateur foster carers. To help us and our dogs you will need to accept and adapt to our methods.
WHY USE FOSTER HOMES ?
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 the majority of 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. The attention of the person handling the dog
is spread between many others. Proper assessment under these conditions is almost
impossible and correct assessment is important.
We need a real 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 placed in unsuitable homes by some rescue groups and then need to be re-homed again. It's something we avoid.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FOSTER / CARER ?
For the dog give respect, care, altruism, leadership and consistency. For the charity be responsible, honest and dutiful.
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 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. No-one else could possibly be good enough!
Re-homing is not as big a problem for the dog as the handler.
Border Collies are a breed that instinctively tries to bond with its handler.
It is part of their selective breeding and a quality greatly desired by a shepherd or stockman who will work daily with their dog.
In any working relationship, dog and handler need to work as a team so respect has to be mutual.
Each must have confidence in the other with the dog looking to the handler to lead and the handler allowing the dog to make decisions on its own if it can see something the handler cannot.
This strong bonding instinct can give a false impression. People can be fooled into believing that their relationship with a dog is unique and the dog will not bond with anyone else or settle into a home 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 - but only if the new handler inspires confidence in the dog and the dog looks to the handler as a leader and trusts them. A foster carer needs to have these qualities and be aware of the pitfalls..
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.
A foster home must help the dog progress and help shape it for it's new future according to the decisions reached through its assessment.
A foster home also forms part of the dogs continued assessment, training and re-habilitation.
The re-homing of a dog kept in a foster home will then enable the foster carer to take on another dog and so on and so on.
It is wrong 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.
The reason? Dogs are placed in foster homes for a purpose beyond
that of just accommodating, feeding and caring for them.
A foster home is offered a dog because being there can provide something that counts towards the dogs rehabilitation.
This does not means that the foster home could give 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.
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.
As said above, 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 the charity find the right home for it's needs.
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), in the company of someone else.
This may carry through to helping rehome the dog - under instructions of the co-ordinator - and monitoring the dogs progress in the new home.
Homing a dog does not necessarily 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 best reward is to know the dog is happy and content in its new home.
On most occasions data protection prevents divulgence of the location of the new
home impossible but we can always pass on updates if the new owner allows.
Some foster carers do not wish to get that involved or put in the extra time or go through the training process to qualify for the extra activities.
It's an individual choice but it is always subject to the new home giving consent
Whatever their position or involvement, all volunteers are subject to data protection law and must not disclose any information they are privy to.
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.
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
Border Collie Rescue operates under a set of Rules and Guidelines
that are updated from time to time by the current Management
These 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 working with Border Collie Rescue is expected to
donate any more than their time and goodwill.
Authorised out of pocket expenses can be reclaimed by volunteers. All costs associated with fostering dogs are covered.
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The border collie rescue society is a specialist canine welfare charity based in the uk to help the border collie dog breed and the working sheepdog.
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