Something for the New Year?

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New Year Resolution with a difference

Are you looking for something special to adopt as a New Year Resolution? One that you will be able to stick with? How about helping your local dog rescue? They are more than likely to welcome you with open arms, and will be grateful for any support you can give. There are many ways that you can support dog or animal rescue centres. It is not just a matter of giving money, though that, of course, is very welcome. Often time is just as important a commodity.

We tend to think of rescues, or shelters are they are called in North America, as coming in one form – the ‘pound’ where dogs are kept in kennels with runs and there is lots of noisy barking. While there are many of these – and the barking is generally only where there is something interesting going on like a visitor, or dinner time – there are also what might be termed ‘virtual’ rescues where the dogs are in foster homes. This is particularly the case with the breed specific rescues, who like to foster dogs with homes experienced in the breed. Fostering is also cost effective as the rescue is not paying for buildings and infrastructure. The a further advantage of fostering is it keeps dogs in home environments so their transition into a new home is as smooth and stress free as possible, increasing the likelihood of successful adoption. It also helps the rescue assess the behaviour of the dog more closely so it can be placed with the right forever home. Often, fosterers spend quite a bit of time doing ‘remedial’ or top up training. The demand for foster homes is extremely high, so whether or not you are experienced with a particular breed, you could maRehoming peopleke a significant difference if you could offer this type of help.

Walking a dog kept in rescue kennels is a good alternative if fostering is too much of a commitment, you work long hours or your own dog(s) would not cope with having a ‘stranger’ come into their midst. It allows you to give some quality time to dogs who otherwise may have very limited one on one contact with anyone for many months. Boredom and lack of good quality stimulation is a real problem for dogs who end up in rescue long term, and it can make it difficult for them to readjust to home life. Walking, going in to play with them or doing some top up training is a great way to help a dog stay ‘positive’ and ready for a new home.

Home vetting is another time consuming activity that can keep a dog in rescue longer than necessary because of a shortage of volunteers. Many rescues check that a family who would like to give a dog a forever home is ready for the change it will make to home life by making a home visit. It is similar to checking that a home is toddler safe. More often than not, it involves advising on things that may have to be altered, if only initially, so that dog and people stay accident and incident free. It does require a bit of knowledge, but advice or if you prefer, training is usually given to prospective home checkers.

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If time is what you don’t have, then financial support is always needed. Regular giving can be done by sponsoring a particular dog. The amount typically requested is £5-10 a month. Because the sponsored dog will hopefully be rehomed, it is a commitment that is not endless and you can have the pleasure of seeing your ‘sponsoree’ going to a new home. You can then decide to transfer the sponsorship to another dog or discontinue, depending on what you feel you can manage.

Fund raising events are a regular thing for rescue charities – auctions, raffles, dog shows to name a few. When a dog has high vet bills, there are one-off fundraising events to pay specific bills. You can contribute items to these or perhaps encourage your place of work or business to provide regular financial support to a local rescue.

You don’t have to be hands on with the dogs to help a rescue or even live locally to a rescue that you would like to support. If you are computer competent, then you could help run the online shop or keep the website up-to-date. Everyone needs to be using social media to stay visible these days, so running the rescue’s Facebook or Pinterest page is another way to offer your support. A great many rescue charities are run by a tiny number of dedicated individuals. Why not make it your resolution for 2016 to contact an animal rescue to find out how you can help.