My partner Lewis, on the other hand, was rather nervous of dogs until the day he was introduced to Brian, my home-bred Border Terrier puppy. Lewis was smitten and quickly transformed into as big a dog-lover as I am.
Fast forward a number of years, and Lewis and I moved into a cottage in rural Hertfordshire, with plans to adopt a rescue dog as a friend for Brian. We knew of Give a Dog a Home through our good friends Emily and Rob Lucas (adopters of the awesome Arild), and a few weeks after we moved in we adopted Nero, our wonderful chocolate Lab x.
Fast forward a further eighteen months; scrolling through Facebook, I saw a plea from Lynne, Give a Dog a Home founder, asking for a fosterer for a puppy who was in transit but didn’t have a home to go to.The timing was ideal (Lewis and I could arrange time off – a rare occurrence at such short notice!) and so we volunteered to foster him. That Saturday morning we picked up Chance, an eight-month-old Shepherd x.
Chance was understandably very nervous when we first met him. He didn’t make a sound the whole journey from Faversham back to Hemel Hempstead – even when we were parked on the M25 for a good half an hour – and I was nervous about how he would adapt to life at ours.
Initially he was very timid. We had to start off by carrying him in and out of the house, and we were careful not to let Nero, who is very boisterous and excitable, completely overwhelm him.
We introduced Chance to our dogs slowly, following the Give a Dog a Home guidelines, and far from making him more nervous, their presence actually seemed to help enormously. He drew confidence from their blasé attitudes towards loud noises, sudden movements and open spaces, and within just a coupleof hours was coming out of his shell.
Just a few days later, Chance is happily playing with Brian and Nero, zooming round the garden,enjoying a tug of war, and is really starting to show his real personality. The change in him has been incredible. He is staggeringly smart, mastering ‘sit’, ‘paw’ and ‘lie down’ within three days, and is thoroughly enjoying his walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. He has even been introduced to our eight rescue chickens, which he found rather underwhelming. The chickens seemed more interested in Chance than he was in them!
Fostering has been so rewarding, even though it’s only been a few days. Seeing Chance blossom from a timid and tense little creature into such a playful and delightful dog has been wonderful, and although we can’t foster regularly, due to work commitments, we are looking forward to supporting Give a Dog a Home in other ways. I would recommend the experience of fostering to others – it really is so worthwhile, both for the fosterers themselves, and the dogs in need.