Fostering tips from an akita rescuer in America

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Fostering tips from an akita rescuer in America

Post by Deborah » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:37 pm

This fits in well with the ethos of rescue remedies and is well written so I thought I'd share. It's from an akita Facebook page I joined before getting miko.
'How do I treat a traumatized and wounded Rescue? What if they growl? What does that mean?

Often when a new foster came into my home it had been traumatized. Whether it was from cruelty or being abandoned or a tragedy; they had one thing in common. They were terrified.

It is important to address this but not in the ways you might think. I found that acknowledging their fear or pain was a very important first step towards their rehabilitation.

When I brought a new, unknown foster into the house I let them determine their pace. I didn't give them much eye contact. I keep the volume down on the TV or music. I move slowly. I announce my coming and going. I'm near you. Your safe sweetheart. I keep things very simple.

When I feed them I separate them from my other animals and make sure they feel safe so they can eat. They begin to understand that I am looking out for them. I am going to keep them safe. I am watching them to make sure they are safe.

I acknowledge their pain. I don't pet them until they come close to me and nose nudge me. They invite me to pet them. I don't pet them roughly. Everything in the beginning is about acknowledgement and asking permission. It is all about compassion and respect. In this way you are honoring their life and their feelings. They may never have experienced this before or maybe they were stolen and let loose, you have no idea what their experiences have been with people. Maybe their hearts are broken. You are now in the presence of a life that has suffered, at the very least, disappointment.

You, your compassion, your willingness to share and teach them is their lifeline. This is where the rubber meets the road. You need to know how important your role is in their recovery. The greatest gift you will give them is the ability to trust and love, maybe for the first time, maybe.... again.

I never started off with any training at all. Just focused on developing trust. So, move slowly. Acknowledge pain or a lack of trust by saying simply, Your safe. What I did do was set them up for success. Any pillows I liked or comforters I liked or shoes were all put away. I got in the habit of always putting my shoes away! I picked up all toys and in some cases even dog beds, so there was nothing to protect or defend. I was not overly affectionate with any animals. I just let them have time to understand that I was the one that would watch over them and take care of them and they were all safe. I bought metal garbage cans. The kind I could step on a pad and the lid opened up. I kept the kitchen one under the sink. Putting it somewhere that they will not have access to is a good idea. When preparing food I put the baby gate up at the entry to the kitchen. I did not talk to any of the dingbats or look at them. In their hearts they were excited and I didn't know how long it had been since they were fed. I kept it real simple. I would either let my dog into the kitchen and then took the foster's bowl of food outside of the gate and put the bowl down and then I gave them space to eat in peace. If I felt the new foster needed to be out of sight of the kitchen I stepped away so they wouldn't see my dog or dogs.

Everything I did was to anticipate what would make them feel nervous or insecure and calm those feelings down so they knew they were safe. That was the beginning. Anything further than that was initiated by them. I put the leash on my dog first and took it for a walk and then came home. Maybe I walked to the end of the driveway. Just to let them see that my dog accepted the leash and we left and came back. Then I would clip the leash on them and we would walk. We walked as long as they wanted. I didn't teach them to heel or stop or anything like that. The only leash training we did was when they pulled, I stopped. Later that became a technique that I intentionally used. It works.

I would come home and then take my dingbat for a nice long walk. It is a lot of work to foster. But the reward of seeing the lost dog become secure and happy and ready to be adopted into a forever home is worth every bit of the effort and patience and compassion we give so they can trust people.

I was often asked, isn't it hard to give them up? And I would say, in the beginning it was. I always want to keep them all. But I can help more than I could ever own. And the rescues I worked with made sure the homes were good. And I chose who I thought and felt was going to be the perfect fit for the foster. I was a foster failure more than once. But many wound up in wonderful homes with another dog to play with and people who wanted to take them for a walk. All were leash trained by the time they were ready to be adopted out.

I only have one thing to say to rescues..... well aside from thank you. I know you want to save them all and can't. But the one thing I have to say that is very important is make sure you know the dog first. Make sure you communicate honestly with the people bringing this dog into their home. If the dog needs rehabilitation first.... work with someone who is a capable trainer and make sure the dog is ready to go into a home. And a home that is right for them. Be honest about what their needs are. And then let the potential family or person think about it. Matching up the right foster with the right family is crucial to a successful adoption. None of mine were ever returned. I think that was because I focused on love, compassion, patience and trust and then on training.

Have a great day everybody. And thank you to everyone who has walked down this challenging road of rescue.'
Rescue animals are not damaged they have just experienced more in life. If they were human we would call them wise.

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