What Makes A Fosterer?
What makes someone become a fosterer? To foster a dog means to take a vulnerable, dependent animal into your home, to nurture them, allow yourself to fall a little, or a lot in love, and then to let somebody else take the dog and do all of that forever. It’s selfless. I’ve always had huge admiration for those who do it. Knowing I probably couldn’t, not sure I could take the goodbyes, time after time.
I’ve recently got to know Clare. She’s a fosterer for two rescues – Dogs Friends and South West GSD Rescue. Our paths have crossed as she’s fostering two puppy farm rescue schnauzers for Dogs Friends, Esme and Ember. Schnauzerfest is helping with their veterinary bills, including cataract surgery for Ember when COVID-19 restrictions permit. Seeing how Ember and Esme are flourishing in Clare’s home, I wanted to find out more on what motivates her to foster.
Clare fostered her first dog, Molly a 15 year old Patterdale on New Year’s Eve 2016. At the time Archie and Indie were Clare’s only dogs. She adopted Archie, a staffie when he was 6-7 months old. He’d been found as a stray and was due to be put to sleep. Luckily for Archie, Clare spotted him in the rescue, took her Rottweiler Deano along to meet him, all was great and off they all headed home together!
After Deano passed away aged 8 from cancer, Archie was very sad. A contact of Clare’s was looking to rehome their German Shepherd and Indie soon arrived to keep Archie company. Things weren’t easy in the early days; Indie had major anxiety, separation issues and needed serious attention and training. All of which Clare provided, enrolling in courses, which both her and Indie loved. The work paid off, Indie calmed down, got to use her brain, and became a fantastic family member thriving in Clare’s home.
Clare continued to foster other dogs and one day a pair of miniature schnauzers arrived into rescue: Luna and Rita. Both were in a terrible state, matted, covered in urine and traumatised. They went home to Clare who over time gained their trust, which was not without difficulty.
Luna was the more confident of the pair and was adopted locally, while Rita stayed. She’d begun coming out of her shell but remained petrified of humans, Clare included. But she loved Archie, happily squeezing herself into any gap next to him, drawing comfort and confidence from this gentle boy. Clare knew Rita had to stay and in March 2017 it was official, Clare’s gang was now Archie, Indie and Rita.
In June 2018, Clare’s 24th foster dog arrived, this time from SWGSDR. Pearl, once a Romanian street dog was petrified, hiding in a bush for most of the first 3 days. Clare describes those early times,
Each of my dogs would go and give her a sniff, then walk away. If I went indoors she would venture out but run back to her bush if I reappeared. Pearl seemed to like Indie a lot and would treat her almost like a mother. She was pretty feral, and very agile. She did hundreds of pounds of damage to the house in her first week. Ripped up cushions, jumped onto extra large crates in one leap, chewed through I don’t know how many hose pipes, destroyed my iPad. More than once I came into the conservatory to find devastation.
Clare worked patiently with Pearl over the next few weeks, getting her used to a collar and lead which initially she hated. It took a long time for her to accept any touch but she took comfort from Indie. Clare decided it would be too traumatic to rehome her, so she joined Archie, Indie and Rita, changing from Pearl to Xena, a much more suitable name for Clare’s rough and tumble, tomboy dog.
A few moths later, in December 2018 Stumpy arrived as a young puppy who had missing bits of his back legs. It was thought by the vet that his mother (in a puppy farm) may have chewed them off, a not unheard of act of desperation for mothers in distress when whelping. His lack of full legs seemed to have little effect on Stumpy’s wellbeing. He’s stayed with Clare, grown into his less than perfect body and gets around like a demon. He’s most definitely a happy boy!
Clare says all the dogs help any new fosters that come to her. The scared ones take comfort from her canine crew in ways they can’t from humans, even kind and understanding ones like Clare. As Rita has settled and overcome her own issues, she’s become motherly to all the fosters. Even the larger breeds, the lurchers, rottweilers, shepherds all become soft pudding puppies with her. She’s the meeter and greeter for all newbies arriving.
Clare’s compassion clearly runs deep and she had great role models when growing up.
Mum and dad have always been dog lovers. They fostered children for Barnardos before I was born. I never understood how they could cope with parting with those kids until I started doing the same with dogs and found it to be so fulfilling. I lost mum to cancer in December 2015, I think fostering was partly to give me something good to focus on after losing her.
Clare’s worked for the ambulance service for 18 years. While she now works part time as a paramedic she also has 3 other jobs. She works as a forensic paramedic for the police looking after detainees in custody. After suffering two separate injuries at work, and taking time off to recover, Clare decided to qualify in a dog-related discipline that she could do alongside her paramedic work. She’s a fully qualified animal hydrotherapist, working when required and available, with dogs for a local rehabilitation centre.
As if all this isn’t enough to keep someone busy, Clare also runs her own cake making business! And just to round off a busy life, Clare volunteers and helps to run a community group for the over 50s at which Stumpy is a particularly popular visitor! Sadly, with COVID-19 restrictions, this is all on hold and Clare can only work in her paramedic roles for the time being.
To date, Clare has fostered 41 dogs. I’m sure none of them will ever forget the time spent in her home, a place of love, dedication and compassion.
If you’d like to support Clare with providing everything for the dogs in her care, her Amazon Wishlist has items which she’s always in need of, click HERE to help.
You can follow Clare’s fostering news on her Facebook Page HERE.