Friday, April 2, 2010

Fostering a Cairn - Something to Ponder

Written by a CP Volunteer

Hello friends . . . something for you to ponder, if you wouldn't mind.

Being a part of Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network is a wonderful thing. We have found friends, some of them amazing friends, whom we never would have otherwise met. And we witness the miracle of rescue happening, in little bits - baby steps, every single day.

When you think about it, CP is truly just an idea on paper. We have no physical location, no brick and mortar structure that says Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network. We only have paper somewhere that gives us permission to act as a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization. (And the original probably is not even paper but just a conglomeration of bits and bytes on some computer somewhere just waiting to be accessed to confirm our legal being.) There are corporate papers somewhere, and a corporate seal. But they are just things and their location is not CP.

So where is CP? Look inside your heart. You will find it there. CP lives with every stitch a crafter makes, with every dot of glue or cut of the scissor. It lives with every keystroke of every e-mail, with every keystroke of every form we fill out, with every thing we create, with every word read on applications to adopt or foster, with every mile someone drives, with every shelter searched for Cairns in need, and on and on and on. CP lives within each of us and deep within the eyes of every dog that is our charge.

Every mile, every keystroke, every shelter search, every dot of glue, scissor cut and word read is vital. Make no doubt about it, if they stopped CP would stop. It would be the end of this wonderful idea that lives within us. No more would there be dogs that live because we didn't read an application (for the twentieth time that day), we didn't check that shelter, drive the miles, stroke those keys, or cut the paper, the fleece, the whatever.

And CP would cease without foster homes. Foster homes are the heart and soul of CP. Without them, there would be no applications to read, no dogs to make blankets for, nothing for which we needed to raise those funds, etc. Without foster homes, CP would cease to be.

As we grow, our need for foster homes grows along with us. Our current foster homes are almost always filled to capacity. And occasionally, they, and their resident dogs, need a break. And that is where YOU come in.

Many have never though of fostering. Fostering seems like something you just could not do. It would just be too hard on so many levels. The thought of giving up foster dogs to strangers (even if you were once that stranger) - well most think that they could never ever do it. And anyway, many think they would never know how to foster a dog - how to get it from where it was to a point where it is ready for adoption. Many just feel inadequate.

We ask those of you who think you could never do it to reconsider. We have resources to help you that are beyond what most could ever imagine. When you get a dog to foster you are suddenly surrounded by a bevy of people who are there to support you in ways you never even imagined. When you become a foster home you receive a Foster Home Handbook that is filled with information that is there for you 24 hours a day. And this is not just a pamphlet telling you of your duties. This handbook is a how-to manual. If you have a problem, more often than not an answer lies within. It currently has almost 150 pages of priceless information on fostering. It is a how-to if there ever was one.

But, aside from the Foster Home Handbook, you have a foster mentor. Your foster mentor is your go to person with any question, problem, etc. (S)he is a mentor because (s)he is skilled and knowledgeable. (S)he knows what to do with most problems that come up and is able to authorize a vet visit if necessary. And if there are problems that seem beyond even your mentor (very rarely, btw - our mentors rock!) CP has a behaviorist/ trainer at our disposal who will work with you, one on one, over the phone, on how to deal with the problems that arise. And she will work with you until the problem is solved.

Medically we have quite a few people who will offer you immediate support. Be it supplements or conventional medicine, or both, we have help available. Our medical people know Cairns so well that we have had members tell us that their own veterinarians have asked them about special things about Cairns. (Here is something that you can tell your vet. Acepromazine, normally a mild sedative that vets give first line for most dogs, often acts in a paradoxical way with Cairns. For the vast majority of Cairns, it makes them hyper. Most vets do not know this. But our medical people do.)

Emotionally, fostering can be a roller coaster. Most often, though, it is same old same old. Until your terrified foster takes a baby step. A wisp of eye contact from a terrified dog is enough to set us up to do the happy dance. Cheese! My mill baby discovered the joys of cheese! Toys! He looked at a toy, a ball, a kong! He ate while I was in the same room! It is amazing how such mundane things continually bring such joy. But that is fostering. Joy just creeps up on you and takes over. Time and time again. Zooming! My foster zoomed! Joy, joy, joy!

Yes there is poop to pick up - often from the middle of your living room carpet. And pee to wipe up from your freshly washed kitchen floor. (How do they know to wait until we wash it to pee on it?) And there is the sadness that permeates our soul when their terror is so obvious. And then there is the rage. How could someone have treated this innocent soul so badly that this happened? The RAGE! And the joy! Yes, the joy.

Then comes the sadness at the prospect of saying goodbye to this little furry creature for whom your were his first best time. This little creature who once cowered in the back of his crate even at dinner time has come to trust you and you alone. How could you possibly give up this lump of love?

And then you remember the application form. And the home safety visit. And your long phone call with them and how you grilled them about everything you could think of and, even when you tried so hard to find something wrong with them they still seemed like the perfect family. Maybe even a better family for you foster than your family is.

But how can you give up this tiny mass of blossomed love and trust? How can anyone possibly do it - even giving it over to this wonderful family who will love him beyond all reason? You do it because of the eyes. The eyes of the other dogs who are somewhere, right now, perhaps currently filled with fear - fear of what will happen in but a moment.

By giving up the eyes of the moment, you will be saving the eyes of the future - the eyes that will know nothing but fear unless you step up and say "I will take another". And you do. And it is wonderful. And oh, the joy! The amazing joy! And as you give up the next one and the next one and the next one, you think about the eyes out there waiting for you to say "Yes, I will foster you".

And suddenly you realize that not only have you made human friends beyond compare, you are now totally addicted to fostering these babes. And you are making a difference in a way that you never imagined you could do. So think about the eyes. And reconsider your feelings about fostering.

There is help beyond compare. There is nothing that you will experience that we have not already taken care of. Probably at least twice. And even if there is a bad fit between you and the foster (this rarely happens, but, on occasion it does), we will get the dog to a more appropriate foster home really quickly. And then we will get you a foster that better fits your family and your lifestyle, be it a quiet senior who just wants a couch buddy or a rambunctious puppy who wants to play play play play play.

Fostering is a joy that is indescribable in words. You have to try it to understand. Think about this. Ponder it. Speak to your family and your friends about it. Remind them of all the support you will get and all the joy that will flow. And then, when the time is right, click here to fill out the application to foster.

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