First Cavalier Foster, Chloe
My first exposure to rescue came from my mom. She rescued countless dogs from the streets when I was a kid. If the owner wasn’t found we gave them a home. She was always stopping to pick up strays and take them to the shelter. When a family moved from our neighborhood and left their two unaltered cats, our neighborhood soon became overrun with cats. We would trap the kittens; I still remember using a fishing net to scoop up unsuspecting kittens off our front porch. We would take them to the vet and then find them homes with the help of our vet. We used live traps to trap the adults and take them to the shelter. It was rough. The adult cats were sick and often injured. But we did what we could. We eventually moved out of the neighborhood.
After I got married and we got Danny, our first Cavalier, I got involved with a local rescue. I was a “socializer”. I would go to the shelter and visit with the dogs and the cats. I did adoption events and finally ended up being a foster for several dogs. Mostly Chihuahuas, but some other breeds as well. It was then that I really learned about the importance of fostering. Every dog I took into my home was one more dog the rescue could pull from the euthanasia list at the shelter. They never stayed too long, but I still remember all of them. The cute pair of Chihuahua’s that liked to burrow into the laundry and shiver. The Jack Russell that ran circles around Danny and the cats. The Pomeranian mix that had been so badly abused that she would urinate when she got nervous, and cowered from a hand raised near her. Of those dogs I only am still in contact with one of the owners and recently they sent me a photo. She is happy and spoiled!
When I first started Cavalier Crazy, it was a one woman operation. I had no fosters, so every single one of our early dogs was fostered by me and my ever patient (for the most part anyway!) husband. There were owner releases and a shelter dog. I remember all of their stories. As CCR got bigger I started having other people foster. But there are always more dogs and more fosters needed.
I cannot emphasize enough how important fosters are to a rescue, any rescue. Every foster home means one more dog that can be saved, one less dog that ends up in a shelter or as a breeding dog. Without the wonderful fosters I have, we could never have saved 22 dogs so far in 2014.
Fostering isn’t easy. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Some of the dogs come from loving homes that for various reasons can no longer keep them, but not many. Those dogs, while usually having training and attention, are bewildered and don’t understand why they are no longer with their families. But most of the dogs come from awful situations. Many of them are abused or neglected. They cower when you try to pet them. They have been kept in crates, or tied outside. They are matted and have rotten teeth. Some have never been a pet and have no concept of what that means. They do not know how to trust people. But until you’ve experienced it for yourself, I can’t explain the joy that you feel when you start to see these dogs change. When they start to see that people are okay. When they play with a toy for the first time, or seek out your lap. When you suddenly realize that you have lost a piece of your heart to this little dog that is going to move on to a new home and a new life.
Saying goodbye to a foster is one of the hardest things, but ultimately the most rewarding. When you get to see the happiness in the new family’s face or see the once shy dog run to greet them. It’s bittersweet, knowing they are going to leave you. But each dog that you take into your home, and into your heart, means one more dog that a rescue can save. When they move on to their new family there will be another dog that needs a temporary home until its forever home comes along. Foster dogs may not stay forever in your home, but they stay forever in your heart. You will remember all of them, and most times will get updates from the new family!
If you have never fostered, please consider it. Please consider opening your home to a dog (or cat!) in need. Rescues cannot survive without fosters.
If you’re interested in fostering for Cavalier Crazy, please send us an email. We will send you a foster application and keep it on file. Be honest about what kind of dog you are willing to foster. We will strive to make a good match and try to make the experience as easy as possible. More information can be found on our “About” page.