Ever thought of fostering a dog? Many people don’t know it’s a possibility, but fostering is a very important role in the running of dog rescue centres. Country Life’s Heather Clark keeps a diary of a first time dog fosterer.

We signed up with Hounds First Sighthound Rescue because they specialise in rescuing some of our favourite breeds – lurchers, greyhounds, whippets, and salukis. Hounds First use foster carers as a stop gap between rescuing stray dogs (or those given up by owners) and finding them a new home. The foster carer is there to analyse the dogs nature and where necessary, rehabilitate them back to full health. All Hounds First rescue dogs have a full assessment and health check while in foster care and are given any required veterinary treatment, neutered if old enough, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed and flea treated before going on to their forever homes.

We were home-checked by a Hounds First volunteer, just as as potential adopters are and within 3 weeks they had matched a “poundie” to us. An un-neutered male lurcher found in Salford. Two rescue volunteers shared his journey down to Essex and he arrived with us on Thursday afternoon. As a stray he had no name (no microchip or tag) so our young nephew had the honour of choosing his new name…welcome Lenny.

Day One
Lenny arrived around 17.30 after a long journey down. The volunteer who picked him up from the pound noticed he had many lumps on his tummy, something which will need to be investigated by our vet, and reported that although he was very timid and scared, he travelled well. He was nervous coming into the house, but once he finally set foot over the threshold he curled up, then didn’t move for 3 hours! He looks a little ragged, and is pretty smelly, but no fleas were found and he has very bright kind eyes. Obviously very scared, and very skinny, we eventually tempted him with some food and after wolfing down a whole bowl he got up and started investigating his surroundings. We took him for his first walk, which he seemed to enjoy and settled him in for the night.

Day Two
Lenny whined a bit during the night, we probably shouldn’t have but we couldn’t help but go down and settle him. He didn’t broach the stairs nor have any accidents overnight so we think he must have had some previous house training. He had his first health check with our local vet this morning and they estimate him to be around 3 years old and very underweight at 15kg. The lumps on his belly were deemed to be skin tags, and he has sores on his feet from possibly being kept in a confined space for a while. His teeth were a major concern though, he is likely to need some out and he has kennel cough. He was perfect with the vet though, and no trouble in the car getting there and back which is good as he’ll be back soon to get his lumps, teeth and neutering done.

Day Three
We took him out on a longer (2 hour) walk today and he loved it. We have to keep him on his lead as part of the fostering agreement, which makes him very good at exercising us as he’s very sprightly! He attracted a lot of attention from both dogs and humans, as he has such a friendly face. He seems fine so far with other dogs, a bit timid with big bounding dogs, but mostly seems unfussed. We did meet a pair of greyhounds who he seemed to have an affinity with, as they say sighthounds always recognise their own kind.

Day Four
We woke up to the first puddle up the kitchen wall this morning – perhaps we slept in a bit late. Lenny does not make a sound so it’s hard to know when he wants to go out. He’s getting about 6 walks a day though so he has plenty opportunity to relieve himself. He finally got a well needed bath by my sister who is a dog groomer today. Our bathroom is upstairs so we had to tempt him up – previously he hasn’t even looked at the stairs. He was very good for his bath though, I think he liked the warm water and having the shampoo massaged in.

Day Five
Another long walk today and we came across some livestock which he was absolutely fine and took no notice of. He saw some foxes on his evening walk and very much wanted to chase them. On the whole he’s good on his lead and doesn’t really pull to get away.

foster dog diary

Day Six
Lenny had his first trip to another house today to meet our family and their lhasa apso. Both were surprisingly good with each other. Lenny loved investigating the new house and garden and loved getting strokes from all the humans. The lhasa tried to play, but Lenny was having none of it, although he did let the lhasa have his treat he was offered. Lenny seems very fussy with treats and doesn’t really play with toys either.

Day Seven
Back to the vets today for his microchip and vaccinations. It was confirmed he needs his lumps taken off and sent for biopsy, and a few teeth out, but he still has kennel cough which he needs to get rid of before he is taken in. Hounds First pay the bill for all this, but have started a fundraising campaign to help cover it as it will add up. The vet said Lenny can’t have bones to chew as his teeth are too fragile, so we tried him with some rawhide which he seems to enjoy. Good to know we’ve finally found one treat he likes.

For more information about Hounds First Sighthound Rescue visit houndsfirst.co.uk or telephone 03000 121 555.