ASC Logo by Paul Brown ASC

Thursday, April 07, 2005
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ASC-ASCF RESCUE KIT

Fostering

Most dogs rescued are not puppies. Rescued cockers are most likely 1.5 to 3 year old dogs that got “too big,” “too rambunctious,” or “stubborn.” Most of these dogs have not had effective obedience training as puppies - so as they grew, they did not know their place in the “pack order.” Foster care is the most effective way to fully evaluate the rescued cocker, to bring the dog back to health and to teach some basic house manners and obedience. In the ideal cases, foster care should extend only as long as six weeks - remember, cockers bond very tightly to their families (especially families that have given them their first taste of a good dog-person relationship). After six weeks another move can be very hard on them, making the chances they will bond to yet another family tougher and tougher. Our job is to minimize the disruption in their family lives.

Foster families should know the cocker spaniel. Maybe they already have one in residence. In addition, they should understand the special behavior problems that will come with a newly rescued cocker and be able to attend to its health needs. Some organizations use a Foster Home Application to screen foster homes and try and set out a clear understanding of the arrangement. Foster homes typically do not have ownership of the dog - the rescuer or rescue organization does. Some organizations ask the foster home to screen and place adoptive homes; some organizations use the foster home just as a complete evaluator with no say on placement. These terms need to be fully communicated. Very often, the foster home ends up being the adoptive home. Nice, happy ending for the dog - but maybe the loss of a good foster home for the organization! These issues should be addressed before foster care (and an emotional attachment) begins. After about a month in foster care, it is the foster family’s responsibility to fully evaluate the dog for placement. The dog’s level of protectiveness, aggression, socialization, and obedience training should be fully described so that the proper home can be found - or in some very unfortunate cases, recommend that the dog must be put down. Remember, there are both moral and legal implications behind placing a people-aggressive dog. It should be avoided.

Fostering a rescued cocker is a remarkably rewarding experience. Many of these gangly teenagers are fun and goofy and annoying as all get out at first - but a month of loving, safe family interactions and firm obedience training can transform them into attractive, responsive dogs.

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