Meet Emma, volunteer Fosterer from Surrey
Posted 5 months ago in the Volunteers and fundraisers category
Are you wondering how you can support our mission at Canine Partners? Read Emma's story on how she is helping transform lives.
After losing the last of her family dogs, Emma joined the Canine Partner’s volunteer Fosterer community back 2018. Since then, she’s been on a rewarding journey. This is her story:
“I have been fostering for Canine Partners since November 2018. My voluntary role is as a Fosterer for dogs in advanced training at the Southern Training Centre near Midhurst. This includes fostering a canine partner in my home from when the dog arrives into advanced training until he or she hopefully passes the course and is matched with a partner.
With the current model of training, all dogs live with their Fosterer 24/7 rather than living at the Southern Training Centre all week and just being fostered at weekends. Each dog has an assigned Advanced Trainer who works closely with each Fosterer and they will either come to your house to work with the dog or meet at a mutually convenient location for different training purposes. The dogs will usually be required to attend the training centre for two or three days a week and on those days I drop off and pick up my dog at the start and end of the day. The rest of the time, he is at home with me where I continue to reinforce the training he has been doing and also to work on any new tasks which have been introduced, under the guidance of the Advanced Trainer.
My Advanced Trainer provides huge amounts of support and guidance to me so I never feel as if I am doing everything on my own. She is always at the end of the phone or email if I have a question or concern, or if I am struggling with a particular issue in relation to the dog.
As a Fosterer, I carry out general obedience training, specific training tasks that have been demonstrated to me, walking and exercising, grooming and taking care of the dog’s general everyday needs. All of these things are explained by our Advanced Trainer in detail, I am not just handed a dog and expected to get on with it!
My current foster dog came to live with us at the beginning of March when he was around 21 months old. I was prepared for him to take a while to settle in, but he amazed us with the way he took it all in his stride. Other than a little bit of crying on the first night, he settled really quickly and fitted into our family as if he had always been there.
He loves people and other dogs and really enjoys playing with his toys, although they have a very short life if he is left alone with them! He has excellent house manners and is like my constant shadow. It will be hard to say goodbye to him when he moves on but we have loved having him and he will be greatly missed.
I started volunteering for Canine Partners after we lost the last of our family dogs. They had left a huge gap in our lives but we didn’t feel ready for the time and emotional commitment of having another dog straight away.
A few years ago, I saw a demonstration by Canine Partners at a local dog show and it made a lasting impression on me. I have been receiving their newsletter over the years and, through reading that, discovered that there were various ways of volunteering for the charity. I felt the role of fostering best suited what I was looking for. It enabled me to still be involved with dogs without the full time commitment that a pet requires. This has changed as a result of the pandemic and although the fostering has become full time (whereas before it was weekends only), ultimately, you always know that the dog is not yours and it will be moving on at some point in the future.
The most rewarding thing for me about volunteering for Canine Partners has been the sense of purpose which having these incredible dogs in my life has given me. My children are grown up and have either left or about to leave home, so I have quite a lot of time on my hands.
The thought that in some way I have helped one of these amazing dogs on their journey to transform someone else’s life is extremely rewarding.
Volunteering for Canine Partners is something I would strongly recommend others to do as it a wonderful community to be involved with. It is a great way to make friends with like-minded people and also if someone is a dog lover or has owned their own dogs previously, I have found it extremely beneficial in building my own dog handling skills and knowledge. Ultimately, getting involved with Canine Partners is fundamentally a way of helping other people live an independent life.
Although the arrival of Covid-19 has increased the commitment level required from Fosterers, it has actually been a very positive thing in helping to get through these very challenging times. Having a dog to look after gives you a reason to get out and about and just get on with things. The two dogs I have had since the start of the pandemic have been proof of that. They have both been extremely welcome and much loved temporary additions to our family. Although it is not always plain sailing, the trainers will always guide you in the right direction. I only wish I had volunteered sooner!
Would you like to experience the wonders of looking after one of our dogs in Advanced Training who will go on to help transform the life of a disabled person? Find out more at caninepartners.org/foster.