"For Foster Families Everywhere"
Your home may have been
The first kind one I'd ever seen;
Your voice the first to teach, to praise,
To guide me through confusing days.
You're the one who taught to me
What the life of a good dog ought to be.
Your patient persistence all the while
May have won my very first doggie smile.
And now that I am off to roam
The rooms of my forever home,
Yours is the home I will always dream of;
Your gentle hands, your smiling love,
The way you coaxed tangles out of my coat,
The sound of your voice, yes, every note.
If they learn to love me the way that you do
I will know that I owe my acceptance to you.
Though my paws may wander far away,
Yours is the home where I learned to stay.
Karen Ellery, 2000
Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue
So………you’re a Springer lover and you just can’t get enough hands-on with these incredibly wonderful dogs!? You’ve probably heard about foster homes for needy dogs too. But, you say to yourself, “How could sweet springers ever be in need?” Well, think for a minute………
Your grandfather has hunted all his life with another senior citizen and his Springer. That gentleman must now move to assisted living. He must part ways with his dog who is also a senior. Is this Springer in need? Absolutely! You also know of a family down the street who adopted a precious Springer pup 6 months ago. Now their 4 year old son has severe allergies to the dog. Though tearful, this family makes a difficult decision. Is this pup in need? Absolutely!! You know that animal shelters are typically pressed for space to house strays and drop-offs. Time often runs out for dogs before adoptions occur. “Surely”, you say, “springers don’t end up in shelters.” Sadly, they do. Are they in need? Absolutely!!!
Can MAESSR help in these situations? Absolutely!!! At the heart of MAESSR’s rescue program are foster families. Through their willingness to open hearts and homes to Springers in need, MAESSR rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes hundreds each year. Just as there are always approved families waiting to adopt rescued springers, there are always desperate springers awaiting foster homes to welcome them in. Can you help too? Absolutely!!!!!
MAESSR is always welcoming new foster families. Some of their regular activities include:
· Saying a calm “Hi there” to a Springer from a shelter, a surrendering home, a puppy mill, another rescue group, or a referring veterinarian
· Thoughtfully introducing a frightened dog to the human and 4 footed members of the foster family
· Visiting your veterinarian, at MAESSR’s expense, to provide a foster dog with basic vetting services, an assessment of overall health, and to spot and treat health issues.
· Grooming a soiled or matted foster at home or arranging to visit a groomer so the dog can feel and look its best.
· Exercising a foster dog much as one would a resident Springer, through leash walking, playing ball, free time in a fenced yard or dog park, swimming……….
· Writing a brief description for a foster dog’s webpage and capturing its beauty in pictures
· Shaping manners in the home and house training
· Assessing a Springer’s temperament and personality for a minimum of 2 weeks
· Updating the adoption home coordinator and volunteers who plan adoptions on a foster dog’s progress
· Emailing or phone visiting with a prospective family to share details on a foster dog who has been offered to them
· Finalizing an adoption and arranging for a foster dog to join its new family
· Experiencing the joy, many months later, of seeing a former foster dog who is well settled in the company of its new family at a MAESSR picnic
Yes... there is investment of time and heart in each dog, yet a foster family gives a final hug and hands the leash to a forever family, knowing that adoption means the best days are ahead for one more Springer.
The heart wrenching story of Brittany is unique in details but not in terms of her foster family’s commitment. She was found along side the road by an animal control officer. The officer thought she had been hit by a car and left for dead, but with a closer look, he found there was still life. He rushed her to a vet where it was discovered that Brittany had actually been shot in the mouth. Apparently, it was not an accident. She needed immediate and extensive medical help. The shelter staff contacted MAESSR and a foster family volunteered immediately for her. Three surgeries later, her foster mom took Brittany home. Her foster mom worked with the vet on follow up care and nursed her back to health. Brittany spent many months in foster care, recovering physically and rebuilding her trust in people. She was a tough little gal and seemed as determined to survive as MAESSR was to save her. Now she is a healthy, happy girl who was adopted by a family that cherishes her. She is a true joy to them.
Fred has his own amazing story of commitment from his foster family. Fred came to MAESSR from a puppy mill and had never been socialized with people. He was so scared of humans that shortly after meeting his foster family, he pulled loose from their hands and ran. His foster family was devastated, yet quickly put all their resources and those of MAESSR into motion to get him back. They combed the neighborhood, asking all the neighbors to watch for him but not to approach, lest he run farther. They set live traps and baited feeding spots with the choicest foods. Fred was spotted several times but was just too afraid to come near anyone. It was the dead of winter and everyone feared for Fred’s life.
Finally, a man walking his dog in the neighborhood spotted Fred. After being on his own for too long, Fred began coming to visit the man's dog and that led to his “capture.” Once back in the safety of his foster home, Fred’s socialization began. He stayed with his foster family several months and learned how great it was to be an inside dog and how great life is when humans love on you. Fred was adopted and is very happy to be a house dog.
Most Springers come into MAESSR’s care through no fault of their own. Many have been in loving homes for their entire lives but need to begin anew when brokenhearted owners can no longer care for them. They arrive with complete vetting histories, their toys and beds, and require minimal time to place.
Others come into foster care with no information on their past but are clearly victims of neglect, illness, poor socialization, or outright abuse. These Springers may take longer to ready. With the help of committed foster families, and a host of additional MAESSR volunteers who provide support, most rescued Springers reach their happy endings.
Fred and Brittany needed more time than most of MAESSR’s foster dogs to reach their happy endings. Yet, whether a dog needs 2 weeks or 2 months, the commitment of MAESSR foster families is really the same. If you have some time in your days, space for an extra snuggler at your feet, and a yearning to help, you can. The need is absolute. Your ability to make a difference through fostering is too………