Foster Carer Daniel and his partner Mark have been fostering together for 7 years. Dogs have always been part of their fostering family and they play a valuable role in helping to settle the children they care for, as well as introducing them to boundaries, routine and responsibility.
"We’ve got three fairly small dogs and when a child first comes to us, it’s amazing because it changes the dynamic straight away. Often the dog is quite excited to see somebody, which is a great way to break the ice… the kids get onto the floor to play with the dogs, so you can introduce them to play straight away. It’s a great tool. We put some rules in around what is and is not acceptable for the dogs, so it’s a really good way to introduce gentle rules and boundaries.
The sibling boys we care for love playing games with the dogs. We have little treats, and we hide them around the lounge while the dogs are in the kitchen. And then the hunt is on! Both dogs know the game, and the boys are just clapping their hands with excitement… it’s lovely to see.
We also use the dogs after contact. We make sure the dogs are in the car when we pick the boys up, because we know that often they feel shut down or they don’t want to talk to us. They’ll talk to the dogs though, as the dogs don’t know where they’ve been. If contact has been difficult, we’ll go straight to the park. We’ve got ball throwers, one for each brother, and it can be a really engaging way to get rid of any anger or frustration.
We try and get a few walks in each day. It’s about us all going out as a family, rain or shine, and it’s part of our routine. The boys are part of the walks, they’re part of letting the dogs out in the morning, and it’s about responsibility. Even down to feeding the dogs; it’s quite a privilege for the boys to mix the food or put it down for them, so it’s also about giving them a little bit of control."
Having pets will rarely stop you from fostering, in fact, as Daniel and Mark show, animals can often be a source of comfort for children and a therapeutic distraction. However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer. Call 01273 295444 to speak with a member of our team or complete an enquiry form via this link