fostering dogs, Personal

Colonel Potter Cairn Rescue: Fostering Dogs Part III

When we decided that we wanted to get involved with a dog rescue, initially I wanted to get involved with a rescue that works with mixed breeds.  My friend’s sister is very involved with Rawhide Rescue.  I have heard so many great things about them from her and had strongly considered fostering for them, but because of my allergies, my husband and I decided that we should work with a cairn terrier rescue.

There are several cairn terrier rescues and we ultimately decided on Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue because I emailed the different groups and the woman from Colonel Potter responded and answered all my questions, whereas the other groups never responded (I am not saying this as a slight to them, they might have gotten busy or the email may have landed in a SPAM folder).

Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue is extremely well-organized and well-run.  I did not understand the amount of work that goes into a dog rescue until we got involved.

There are people who spend hours every week looking through animal shelter websites for cairn terriers and cairn terrier mixes.  There are people who spend hours every week reaching out to municipal shelters and reminding them if they get a cairn terrier in, please call Colonel Potter.  There are people who work to develop a relationship with puppy mill owners so that if they have dogs to surrender, they will call the rescue.  There are people who coordinate picking up the dogs and bringing them to a VCA Animal Hospital (almost every dog spends several days at an animal hospital before entering the foster program; the vet evaluates them for any issues, grooms them and makes sure they are up to date on shots, heartworm and flea and tick meds).  There are people who find fosters who will be willing to house the dogs and people who arrange transportation – sometimes several hundred miles of transportation is needed.  There are people who volunteer to drive 100 miles one way to get these dogs to their foster home.  There are people who go through the applicants of foster homes and adoptive homes and make phone calls and do home visits to make sure the people would be good pet owners.  And, of course, there are the people who open their homes and hearts to the dogs until they can find their furever home.

Applying to Foster a Dog

Colonel Potter does a wonderful job of outlining the expectations and policies of fostering on their website.  I read them and went over them with my husband and daughters to make sure that everyone understood the policies.

Then I filled out an application online that asked things like if we owned our home, if we had a fenced in yard, if we had other pets and asked for veterinary and personal references as well as what kind of experience we had with other pets and how many hours a day someone is home.  It was actually quite similar to an application to adopt a pet.

I submitted the application and while it was being reviewed, I was asked to join two yahoo groups – one for policies and one where other people involved in fostering cairn terriers share information, etc.

I was kept informed as to what was going on with my application.  I was told when references were being checked.  I was told when I passed each phase of application review.  They emailed me a question, I can’t remember what it was.

Then I was told that we would have a home visit.  There is a sheet on the website to help you ready your house for a dog–making sure cleaning products are out of reach, electrical cords are out of reach, poisonous houseplants, etc.

A very nice gentleman contacted us and said he would be doing our home visit and asked when would be a good time.  We set it up for a Sunday morning.  He arrived on time and gave us some more paperwork on dog-proofing your home and Colonel Potter’s policies.  Then we sat down and chatted about our dogs and his dogs and our family’s life and when we are home, when we are not home, what our lifestyle is like.  Then he and my husband took a walk around our backyard – we have a fenced in yard and he wanted to make sure the fence was secure and there were no hazards.  Then we showed him around inside and he took some photos of each room to put in our file.  As he was leaving, he told us that he did not see any issues and would be putting in a good word.  I got an email that evening that he had done just that and we were awaiting final approval, which may take a while.

I think the entire approval process took between 2-3 weeks and then we got the news that we were approved!  They told us that fortunately there was not a lot of need at that point, that all of the public service messages to spay and neuter dogs and not to give dogs as gifts, etc. had worked and right then there was not a lot of unwanted homeless dogs.

A few months later, we got a call to foster a dog who was in another foster home but was not getting along with some of the other animals in the home.  We asked a few questions – was the dog housebroken? what was their temperament like? etc. and during that time, someone became interested in adopting the dog.

Another month or so went by and we were called to foster two dogs.  It was an unusual circumstance as both dogs were coming from Brooklyn were there had been an outbreak of canine influenza, and even though neither dog showed outward signs of canine influenza, the rescue felt it best to keep them both quarantined for the requisite 21 days.  Since we did not have any other pets to possibly be affected by the canine influenza, they asked us if we would take one of these dogs and we decided to take both.

In case you don’t know what a cairn terrier looks like, this is our Oliver.  Cairn terriers are sweet, spunky, sassy.  Typical terriers, they pack a lot of personality into a sturdy little body.  They have the spunkiest little walk with their tail raised, they kind of strut.  They are fun and playful.  They are a small but sturdy dog.  We adore the breed.

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