We work hard to make sure our kennels and cattery are as comfy and homely as possible, but some animals spend longer at Mayhew than others and our foster carers help by giving them the special attention they need. We caught up with Janet, our Dog Fostering Coordinator, to find out more.
I enrolled as a student at Mayhew in 2008, working towards the NVQ 2 course in Animal Care and Welfare. This involved written work and hands-on experience in the kennels and cattery. Once I qualified, I started volunteering in kennels and was then given a permanent Kennel Assistant role. I also occasionally helped with interviews and home checks for foster carers and, when the position of Dog Fostering Coordinator came up, I got the job! It was a nervous but exciting time for me.
A typical day may start with reading through new application forms. If the applicant is suitable to become a foster carer, they will receive information with insight into what dog fostering entails and I will follow up to arrange an interview and home visit. If they are not suitable at that time, I will get in touch to explain why.
When a dog is in foster care, I keep an eye on any veterinary treatments that are due and arrange their appointments. I am also on call for the foster carer: there for a chat or to help if they have any concerns. I visit the dog to check on their progress, to get new photos for our website rehoming pages or to help with training. Of course, I enjoy a catch-up with the foster carer too!
I love seeing the difference being in foster care can make for dogs who need it. For example, we recently had a small terrier called Maggie who had had a really bad start in life. She had been abused and had ulcers in her eyes which hadn’t been treated. When she arrived at Mayhew, Maggie cowered in the corner and was extremely nervous. We worked hard to gain her trust, but knew being in a foster home would be best for her to continue her rehabilitation.
The change was quite daunting for Maggie at first, but her foster carer was so patient and kind, and as time passed you could see the improvement – Maggie gradually began to trust in people again, little by little. She even (slowly) made friends with some of the doggie neighbours who she would meet up with in the park. Maggie has now got an amazing family, and I know that going into a foster home helped with her recovery, confidence and, ultimately, finding that forever home.
Some dogs need more time with us – for medical or physical rehabilitation, for example, or because they’re a bit older and can be harder to rehome – and these would be good candidates for foster care. Other dogs are ready to find their new forever home quite quickly, so their stay at Mayhew is short. We try and place puppies with foster carers to help with socialisation, getting them used to the noises, sights and smells of a home environment.
There are a few things I look for in prospective foster carers:
• Lots of experience with dogs. We do sometimes take people with less experience, however – it depends on the dog and their needs.
• Time, patience and emotional commitment – it is a rewarding role but it can require a lot of you.
• Home-based, or at least around most of the day, so the foster dogs are not left alone for too long.
• Located within an hour’s drive from Mayhew so the dogs can come to our vet clinic for medical treatment.
• Happy to take on a dog who may need to continue some training at home. If a prospective foster carer has a dog of their own, the dog must be neutered. They will need to bring their dog in to meet the foster dog to make sure they get on.
Mayhew is always looking for volunteers to provide temporary homes for some of our rescued dogs and cats. Find out more to see if you could join our team of foster carers.find out more
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