Fostering – A stepping stone to a new life for rescue Cavaliers

Blenheim Cavalier King Charles
Adoption Procedure Update January 10th 2021
10th January 2021
Eira the snow Spaniel
Eira’s story in her words
24th January 2021
Fudge and Biscuit Cavalier king charles age 7 and 5

Here at Bliss Cavalier Rescue we don’t have kennels, all the little dogs that come into us go into a foster home, where they are welcomed as part of the family.

Cavaliers come into us for many different reasons, it could be that they can no longer stay in their homes because circumstances have changed within the family and their owner can no longer care for them. Sadly, this can be due to lack of funds, family break up or their beloved human may have passed away.

We are seeing more and more Cavaliers needing to be rehomed due to behavioural issues, especially resource guarding, growling and being aggressive towards their owners or the children in the house. We are also asked to take in ex-breeding dogs from time to time and on occasion vets contact us to see if we can take a little furbaby who has been taken into be euthanised without a valid health reason.

The rescue process

We usually collect the dog which can often be at the other end of the country but this dog needs us, so there is nothing else to do but to fuel up the rescue van, make sure we have everything we need and get on the road.

The dog is checked over, scanned for a chip and made comfortable in the van before the journey back to either Bliss HQ or to meet one of our super fosterers. These furbabies are either placed in a secure crate or are harnessed and seat belted into the vehicle. We always double lead the dogs for safety when we get them out or sometimes the crate needs to be lifted into the house and only then will the crate door will be opened. New dogs can be a flight risk because they may be frightened or excited, so extra precautions must be taken to ensure their safety.

Within 24/48 hours of being with us the furbaby will be taken to the rescue vet for a thorough examination- sometimes seeing the vet is much more urgent. This includes checks on their ears, eyes, teeth and heart as well as anal glands emptied and nails maybe clipped. The vet will also examine their limbs and body, and give any vaccinations that are needed. Often they will need to go back to have a full dental, be neutered or spayed and some may need an echocardiogram and maybe even an MRI scan if something else is suspected.  It is very important of course for the vet to recheck their microchip to make sure the dog has not been lost or stolen. Bill and Ben 9 year old Tricolour Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for adoption

Cavaliers like many other breeds do not cope well in kennels, this is one of the reasons why Bliss Cavalier Rescue was born. We wanted a loving, caring and healthy environment for the dogs. So many were not getting the correct nutrition or vet care they needed and deserved. Many rescues do not understand the complex issues and inherited illnesses that Cavaliers have, so a breed specific rescue is best suited to these wonderful little dogs.

Coming into rescue rather than be sold or passed on is very important for these beautiful babies and is a step on their way to a wonderful new life, but there are some that cannot be rehomed. We have what we call our Forever Foster dogs, they need to stay with us indefinitely, but this again comes at a cost to the rescue, hence why we are always asking you to help us.

Forever foster dogs maybe old and need end of life or palliative care, or they may have behavioural issues or other medical conditions that could be too complex or expensive to pass on to an adopter.

What do foster carers do to help?

So, what do we ask of our amazing foster carers?  Well in simple terms a lot is the answer! We are truly grateful to them. They are amazing caring selfless people who give a big part of their lives up for the furbabies.

A foster parent needs to be either retired, not working or works at home.  They will need to make several vet trips to and from the vets, especially in the first few weeks of the doggy coming in. So, if they do work at home, they need to be able to do this without needing to stick to a schedule. Some health conditions need urgent treatment that cannot wait.

Emergencies do occur, so again the fosterer needs to act fast, day or night to get that dog to the vet or specialist.

We need our foster carer to drive, they may need to collect dogs from North Lincolnshire, sometimes at short notice. All our foster homes must be within an hour of Barton Upon Humber as this is where our main rescue vet is located, or our other rescue vets in Bishop Auckland or South Yorkshire.

The dog’s initial check-up and major operations take place at the main vet practice, this is why it is so important that a foster is prepared and able to travel here as and when needed. We have in the past used different vet practices nearer to our foster homes, but this has cost the rescue much more than is necessary and we have not received the same care and commitment that we get from our amazing vets and the staff who go above and beyond to make sure all our dogs get the first class treatment they deserve.

When you begin on your foster journey you receive a foster pack, this contains contracts for you to sign and return to us. You receive worming tablets, flea treatments, ear cleaner and food for the foster dog, as well as adoption paperwork, an assessment sheet and a list of what you need to lookout for.  There are certain conditions that are not visually apparent, so you need to look for signs like excessive drinking or urinating. Signs of neurological conditions, or heart problems, we can help you to spot some of these signs and give you links and websites that can help also.

Behaviour issues are commonly seen

Cavaliers can have behavioural issues which may need a kind but firm foster parent, so not being frightened is very important also when it comes to guarding, fear and dominance issues.  Not all behavioural conditions are like this of course, some dogs can be very frightened and hide away, they may need time and space to adjust to their new surroundings, resident dogs, new humans and maybe a whole new way of life that they have never experienced before.

We do sometimes need to contact a behaviourist, so we ask that our fosterer liaise with them to understand and put into practice what they are being taught.

The dogs are rarely house trained

Many rescue dogs are not house trained at all and the foster parent needs to go back to basics, or they may have accidents through fear or illness. They must also have a fully enclosed garden for training the dogs, some will be so frightened you would not be able to take them on a lead for some time.

Exercise, fun and outings are a big part of a foster dogs life at Bliss, you need to stimulate your dogs with amazing smells and exciting sites. This helps their wellbeing, their mental state and keeps them active and healthy. Some have not been well socialised in their previous home so lots of walks and trips out are absolutely crucial. Our fosterers must be fit and well in order to give the dogs what they need. Marley Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Blenheim age 3

Good quality food is also very important to a dogs wellbeing, we tend to use Burns , Lily’s kitchen and Wainwrights, food is provided for the foster dogs. We are very grateful to Burns Pet Nutrition  as they provide food for our foster dogs along with nutritional advice to us, our fosterers and our members.

Unfortunately, there cannot be children under the age of 12 living or visiting the property, these dogs are unknown, and we cannot put anyone at risk. So many have come from homes with children where they have been the problem, so we cannot then put them right back into the same situation.

We ask that fosters keep in contact, often on a daily basis through a Facebook Messenger chat that we set up. The chat consists of the Bliss admin team including experienced fosterers to help and give support. Our chats are friendly, fun and informative, we build a great relationship with our active foster families. You also need to become a photographer and writer, we need lots of photographs and updates for our wonderful supporters and potential adopters to keep them in the loop.

As a Bliss Cavalier Rescue fosterer you will help in finding the dogs their new forever home, we include you in the decision-making process as you know your foster dog best. You will probably develop a friendship with the new adopter and keep in contact for the rest of the dogs life. We love to receive updates and photographs, watching the dogs flourish and grow in confidence is truly wonderful and heart-warming.

Something that is very important for people who are applying to foster for us is to understand that they cannot adopt their foster dog. Sometimes we find that people assume they can do this and that it is an easy way of getting a dog,  it states this in the contract you cannot that we ask you to sign. We carry out so much training and have so many dogs needing foster homes that we just cannot allow this.

Fostering is very rewarding, you are providing a safe caring, loving environment for a dog, you are a very important step along the way to that dog becoming a permanent, forever member of their new family.

The volunteer team at Bliss Cavalier Rescue and the foster family are a steppingstone to a new life.

If you can commit to being one of our foster team then please do fill in an application form, if you do meet the criteria one of our volunteers will contact you for a telephone interview- https://www.blisscavalierrescue.org/foster/