Hope2K9 Rescue friends,
It is our absolute pleasure to be bringing you and our Hope2K9 readers some occasional writings from one of our most treasured clients over at Hope2K9 Foundation; Linda and her pup, Nigel, have been paying it forward in a very big way since learning THE secrets to creating a better relationship, and eliminating unwanted behaviors and unnecessary stress in their lives. Please enjoy Linda’s recount of our recent Rescue Reach Out event at Hope2K9, and some insights into what we’re up to with our commitment to improve the world of rescue as a whole.
Linda had a unique seat at the table last weekend as we began a community mission with other rescue groups, focused on properly seeking out foster families, and providing education and support to them in a revolutionary way. If you’re interested in becoming a foster or volunteer for Hope2K9 Foundation, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to discuss the best fit volunteer involvement for you.
Author: Linda Beard
For over ten years, I have lived next to a couple who have either owned or fostered numerous dogs. When they have adopted dogs, the dogs have been “unadoptable” – dogs that were elderly, infirm, or both. They lovingly opened their doors and their hearts to dogs of their preferred breed, Labrador retrievers, and blends of other breeds with Labradors. They never had a dog long term, because the dogs they chose did not have a long life expectancy. This loving couple endured heartache after heartache, but that did not stop them from wanting to give these dogs the comfort of a loving home in their final years or months.
Last year, they said goodbye to two dogs with a one-week period, one was elderly and the other had a life-threatening illness. Losing two beloved dogs in such a short period was more heartache than they cared to bear, so it was no surprise when they told me they were “done with dogs.”
The following month, I was scrolling around on my Facebook feed and noticed a new dog being offered for adoption by Hope2K9 Rescue. This is Cameron Thompsen’s rescue organization, and as Cameron is my dog’s trainer, she and her rescue organization are near and dear to my heart. Bonus: They’re in my local area.
This new dog was a Labrador puppy, white, eight months old, full of exuberance and love. He had a distinct black heart shape on the instep of his left front leg, and his personality sprang from the page. I decided… I’ll just throw the information out there. The gift is in the giving, right? If they don’t want this dog, that’s fine. But if they never have the opportunity to decide, that’s no bueno.
You’re way ahead of me, I know. Yes, they liked what they saw. They loved the dog when they met him, and that love was absolutely mutual. Fast forward to today, and that magnificent dog is now my new neighbor – destined to give that wonderful couple many years of dog companionship and shenanigans.
But what I didn’t count on, what absolutely floored me, was when the wife was asking me what I knew about the dog prior to them making their first phone call to Hope2K9 Rescue. I mentioned that he was already fully trained, and she said, “Trained? Really? We’ve NEVER had a rescue dog who came to us trained!”
The only rescue group I have ever had more than passing knowledge of is Hope2K9 Rescue. My assumption was that, shelter dogs have little to no known history, and you take what you get. Rescue dogs, I assumed, came with training and a full background. Not so, I have learned.
Many rescue dogs enter into a rescue organization with no more information than where the dog was found, similar to the path many shelter pups take. They often come saddled with baggage, from owners who meant well but didn’t have a clue (yes, my hand is raised!), as well as owners who were negligent and/or abusive. Some of these dogs are runaways, or born as strays, and it’s up to the rescue to assess the dogs, address immediate medical needs, house the dogs, get them fostered, and re-home them all with the hope that their adoptive home will be their last.
It is an all-consuming, back breaking, heart breaking, mind-numbing, heart fulfilling calling that these amazing souls answer to.
There are far more dogs who need homes, than there are homes for dogs. Housing, feeding, fostering, physically healing these dogs – is an around-the-clock endeavor. Full training is not typically offered – it’s time consuming, requires specialized expertise, and is a huge expense to provide, in personnel, equipment, time. Thus my neighbor’s shock and delight upon finding such a lovely adoptable dog with an incredible foundation of training already in place.
With these issues in mind, Hope2K9 Foundation offered an open house discussion to local rescue organizations, board members, and fosters recently; with the goal of establishing a network wherein expertise could be shared, and dogs could be trained, greatly increasing the chance that their next home would be their forever home.
Most exciting to my ears (I crashed the event, and eavesdropped!) was the concept of establishing a standardized manual for fosters. This manual would include a format of “What to do if…” “Who to call if…” “If those options don’t bring about a resolution, then you should…”. But they didn’t stop at the idea… they actually set a date, and made a plan to bring this to the community.
The collective directors discussed how potential fosters would/could be given a training session, so that they would be clear on how to use the manual, so that it would be an automatic response to an unexpected situation with the foster animal. With that manual in hand, the foster can seek answers to health or behavioral concerns any time of the day or night. The foster would be supported, empowered, and more likely to want to foster again and again. And the rescue organization would ideally only have to respond to calls that truly required their attention.
What a novel solution to both promote foster and volunteer involvement, as well as preserve success and avoid unnecessary struggle within organizations. Struggle that often leads to foster families declining involvement, becoming burned out and/or rescue personnel becoming over burdened by excessive support and problem solving demands.
I’m pleased to report that an event is brewing to accomplish this goal, and we’ll be sharing the impact of it later in February 2018. Follow the Hope2K9 Foundation events page to stay up to date and join their team for this awesome training opportunity, or feel free to pass it on to those you may know who would benefit. I know H2K9 believes, ‘the more the merrier’!
If you are a trainer, is there a local rescue you’d be willing to offer your training expertise? What about even virtually?
If you’re a dog owner, or a dog admirer, would you be willing to foster? Even just one week every two months?
Would you be willing to volunteer at your local rescue? Walking the dogs, cleaning the kennels, offering snuggles?
Would you be willing to donate to your local reputable rescue group? Maybe set aside a set amount, every month? Even a $5 – $10 dollar monthly pledge, multiplied by donations from other people, can have a huge impact.
Search your heart, assess your abilities, and help to make your local Rescue the success it strives to be. There are some amazing groups out there working so diligently to do right by your gifts of time, physical support, and financial backing. I’m thrilled to be able to share one of those examples with all of you in what Hope2K9 Foundation is currently up to. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you wish to be involved in any of the above methods of giving and community support, they’d love to have you.
Alpha B Columnist