Fostering a Balkan Underdog
The role of a foster
When you foster one of our dogs you are dramatically improving their chances of getting adopted - they're then in the country, in a home environment and learning how to be a real family pet. If you are proactive, you can even help them to find a home in your local community!
In addition to helping them to find a new home, you are also getting them out of kennels. There are numerous benefits to this! For one, a kennel environment is very stressful for a lot of dogs and doesn't have the comforts or 'rules' of a home. They forget their training, their personality may change and they don't receive the unconditional love and affection they would get from a family - you can change that! Secondly, you can help us to find out more about the individual dogs - when we rescue from the streets and they go into kennels, all we can usually say is 'good with other dogs' or 'likes cuddles.' Sadly our volunteers are usually unable to spend the time to find out about their individual personalities and other information that a potential adopter may want to know: are they good with cats? how about cars? do they play fetch? This information also helps us match them to the best home possible. A third benefit of getting out of kennels (or pension) is then freeing up a space for another street dog. Most of our dogs are sponsored by individuals whose money keeps them safe off the streets. When you foster, our regular sponsors tend to use this monthly allocation to rescue another dog. You will be saving a life!
Requirements and commitment
We are always looking for new foster carers - it's an arrangement that benefits both parties! You've already read about the benefits for the dog, so let us tell you what is expected and involved for a foster carer:
1. You must have a safe and secure garden (although no garden is also considered in certain cases so get in touch if in doubt!)
2. You must be willing to commit to the dog! We anticipate that most of our dogs will settle in quickly but we do ask that you give a few weeks (or months) for them to adjust to their new lifestyle. They have had difficult lives - abandoned or born on the streets, possibly abused by passers-by, potential 'picked up' by the dog catchers and spent time in a kill shelter before making their way to the relative comfort of a kennel or pension. The rare lucky few might find themselves in a foster home in the Balkans but this is rarely the case. As a result, training and patience is essential. Just remember what a difference you will be making to this dog's life! We have so many happy adopters that will never look back and adopt rescue after rescue, knowing just how rewarding it is and how fantastic these dogs truly are.
3. New behaviours are to be expected. Given the previous point about life in kennels and on the streets, your dog may develop a slightly different personality and display new behaviours. This could be a good thing (more trusting and cuddly - very common) or cause anxiety (resource guarding or anxiety). Should you be worried by any behaviour, we have an active online community where you can talk to other BU adopters and foster carers about their experiences and get advice and guidance. The BU team is always on standby and able to talk to you about any problems you have and how to resolve them. We will always support you.
4. From time to time there are instances where it goes wrong. The dog may not settle with existing pets or cannot cope in the new situation or even may develop a new personality and display new behaviours that worry you. We provide guidance and support to try to help you through any 'teething issues' but in the event that it truly doesn't work out we will always provide rescue back up. It may take a few days or even weeks but we will always be there to support you and find the dog a suitable placement. You must never sell, surrender or euthanize the dog except if medically necessary with consultation.
5. Each dog has different requirements and we will discuss these with you prior to placement. Puppies, for example, cannot be left alone for as long as a mature dog. Medical history, if known, will also be disclosed.
6. The charity will cover medical expenses where necessary. Sometimes the dogs come over with underlying (but often common) medical conditions that go unnoticed in a kennel environment or will develop an illness/have an issue once in foster care. We do not expect you to fund these costs yourself. Sometimes we may ask if you are willing to help fundraise to help with the costs but we are always grateful for our foster carers time and do not expect vet bills to be paid as well (unless you want to!). Where a dog has a pre-existing medical condition, we also cover the costs for ongoing treatment and medication.
7. Failed foster. We LOVE failed fosters (no, not where it goes wrong) and they are also fairly common. Should you find yourself irrevocably in love with your foster pup please do let us know as soon as possible so we don't break your heart when they get adopted! Without letting us know, there is a chance that someone else might apply and commit emotionally - in which case they will have the stronger case for adoption (even if we really like you and want the dog to stay with you) it's only fair!
8. Sometimes we have dogs that have someone interested but they need to meet the dog for various reasons to ensure it will work out. In these cases we might only need someone to foster for a few weeks to get the dog to the UK - let us know if you can do this but not commit long term.
Choosing a dog to foster
Our official stance on fostering is that any dog in foster is a good thing! However, since you would be fostering (not adopting) we would urge you to consider our long-termers: our dogs who, through no fault of their own, have been waiting a very long time. They might not be as 'cute' or young and may need ongoing medical help (which we cover) but they are just as loving and just as in need of homes.
When you have decide you want to foster, complete the online adoption form putting "foster" in the dogs name box and we will contact you with our dogs in need of a foster.