Two years ago Birmingham couple Janet and Graham decided to open their home and their hearts and foster dogs for Dog Watch UK – in that time they have helped to assess, socialise and rehome twenty five dogs!
Most of the dogs have been rescued from pounds – often on their last day of safety before being added to the “put to sleep” list. Here Janet tells us a bit about their experiences.
What made you volunteer to become a fosterer?
We lost our dog aged 5 years old, my husband was ill at the time and we felt we could not take on a dog permanently.
Tell us a little about yourselves are you a super couple?
We are a normal retired couple, we share the responsibility for the foster dogs, I do the administration, Graham does the practical things, feeding, poop scooping etc.
Who was your first foster dog?
Chubub was our first foster dog, quite memorable because he was an escape artist, he jumped onto a patio table then over the next doors 5 ft fence. I had to knock on their door and “ask for my dog back”, his head was in their cat flap.
What has been the most difficult thing about fostering?
Establishing trust and a bond with the dogs in the first few days.
Have you ever been tempted to “fail” and keep one of the dogs?
There are several dogs we have been very fond of, and sorry to see go, but we have a mind-set, that we do not want a permanent commitment and take pleasure in seeing the dogs go to loving homes. And of course within a few days we have another dog to look after.
What is the funniest thing that’s happened?
That must be Tank, which wasn’t funny at the time, but on reflection is very amusing. For 3 nights he woke us up. On the first night he broke out of his crate, so the next night we left him in the kitchen but at 2am we heard an almighty thud. I came running down to the kitchen to find Tank sitting in the kitchen sink, tail wagging and a huge smile on his face! On the third night we covered the sink, only to be awoken again by a loud thud we went down to find Tank in the sink again, the cover on the floor. He was so pleased with himself his tail wagging ten to the dozen but this time his tail had knocked my mobile phone off the window sill and into the water! Dogwatch were very supportive and transferred him to a specialist trainer.
Have you had a dog you didn’t like?
Not really, some dogs we liked more than others, they each have their own personality.
Have you found it hard?
We are experienced dog owners, and find the first few days the hardest until we have established boundaries and a routine. All the dogs have settled in after a few days.
Who was the naughtiest dog?
That has to be Lewis, he was naughty but nice. His favourite toys were anything he could find in the garden, this included a watering can, which was more like a colander when he had finished. He also ran around the garden with a 3ft plastic flower urn.
Why do you carry on?
There are several reasons we carry on, neither of us are in particularly good health, but having a dog to look after encourages us to go for walks, albeit a short ones. Fostering fits perfectly into our life style and it means we can have the company of dogs without the financial pressures, Dog Watch meet all the vets bills, supply food and they provide alternative fostering or kennelling arrangements when we are on holiday.
Do the dogs all have sad stories?
Most of the dogs have been rescued from the Pound and Death Row or their previous owners have died or cannot look after them anymore. Some have been abandoned or mistreated.
What are you proudest of?
We are proud of the fact that we see so many mistreated dogs go to loving forever homes, where we know they will be safe.
How does being in a foster home affect the dogs?
They quickly settle in and adapt to their new surroundings. When they are re-homed, they soon become part of their new family.
Tell us about your current foster dog
Lacey is our current foster dog, she is very friendly with a lovely personality. We realise that she has been mistreated in the past, because any sudden movements by us causes her to cower. This does not stop her being very trusting and her favourite sleeping position is curled up on my lap.
Update March 2014 – Lacey has a new home so Janet and Graham are now fostering Flake.
Do you hear from the new owners at all?
Yes we receive e-mails quite often, and we have even received Christmas cards from our foster dogs.
We get a lot of pleasure being foster dog parents and would recommend it to any dog lover.
Dog Watch can not thank Janet and Graham enough – if you would like more information about fostering please do not hesitate to contact us