We’ve just said goodbye to our seventh foster dog for Spaniel Aid. Percy was an intelligent, lively collie cross working cocker spaniel. To celebrate his adoption day, I thought I’d share with you the our foster dog adventure list. Our list is full of typically new experiences I like to take the dogs on during their stay. Each item aims to equip the foster dogs with a new skill, which they can take with them to their forever homes once they’re adopted.
I’m very passionate about helping every dog live a life full of adventure, which is one of the reasons why we foster for Spaniel Aid. Foster dogs typically spend between one and two months with us before they find their forever home. This gives us ample time to play with and I like to make sure that they get to experience at least a couple new and fun adventures while they’re here.
A Beach Day
Living in Devon, this is non negotiable. There are so many dog friendly beaches across the south west of England. It’d be rude not to take our foster dogs to the beach! Many of the dog’s I’ve fostered have come from further up country, so it’s often unclear whether they’ve ever visited a beach before.
Understandably, every foster dog I’ve had loved the beach. Sand between their paws, endless space to run and sniff about and paddle in the sea. Our foster dogs get to enjoy the beach most days. I try to take them to a variety of different places, so they can experience all the smells, rock pools and coastal walks.
Nothing quite beats hiking with dogs. Spaniels on the whole are an incredibly active breed. Many of our foster dogs have been under-exercised before they arrived. Once they’ve settled into their new routine, I like to treat them for a long hike. Whether that’s a section of the South West Coast Path, a new route on Dartmoor or an extra long walk in the woods, we all reap the rewards of a day spent outdoors!
Snoop was by far the luckiest foster dog in this department. My long term relationship broke down shortly after he arrived. As a way of dealing with my emotions, I set out to hike and adventure outdoors as much as I possibly could. This saw us climb Snowdon, wild camp in Boscastle and eventually, once Snoop was adopted, hike 125 miles of the Cornish coast path!
A Day on the Water
More often than not, spaniels LOVE water. Luckily, I do too! I love taking the confident swimmers out on my paddle board or rowing dinghy, so we can explore new inaccessible coves at low tide together. Admittedly this is more of a summer adventure, as the water is freezing come winter time! On hot days I’ll join the dogs for a sea or wild swim too. It’s the perfect way to cool off together.
There’s no pressure for dogs to enjoy the water, Woody didn’t for a long time. It took a while to build his confidence in water, so I understand how daunting swimming can be for some of our foster dogs. This experience is definitely optional on our foster dog adventure list but more often than not they enjoy it!
A Day Out
Dog friendly eateries have become ever more-popular in recent years. This is great news for owners, as we no longer have to leave our dogs at home if we don’t want to. I make sure all of my foster dogs experience eating out with us during their stay. Not only does it mean I can still maintain a social life while fostering, it also gives them valuable skills they can take on to their forever homes.
Similarly to a meal out with friends, I like to take foster dogs on a dog friendly day out. This might be an attraction such as the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, or a dog friendly event like the Royal Cornwall Show. Some foster dogs are lucky enough to travel with us too, like Hen, who I collected while we were attending Dogstival in 2019.
An Overnight Trip
Around half of our foster dogs have been lucky enough to join us on an overnight trip. This includes camping holidays, press trips in and around Cornwall and overnight stays with family and friends upcountry. Many families take their dogs with them on holiday, so I feel it’s important to give foster dogs this opportunity when I can. It also gets them used to long drives in the car, another important skill they can take to their forever home.
Admittedly travelling with a foster dog for the first time can be stressful. Particularly if they find it hard to settle in their home from home. I’ve started crate training foster dogs as much as I can while they’re with me. I’ve found it a great way to keep Woody and Hen comfortable and safe while we’re travelling. It’s another great skill for foster dogs to have.
Are there any skills or experiences you think we should add to our foster dog adventure list? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
You can find more information about available dogs and how to become a fosterer by visiting the Spaniel Aid website.
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