Written and supplied by The Team of Cape Dachshund Rescue
Photography by Zoey Furtography
Our Frosty Face Foster Program was conceived over a windy weekend in May 2016; why that is vivid in my memory is because Kara (CDR’s Chairperson) and I were supposed to be out riding pillion on our husbands’ bikes. The wind had everything akimbo that miserable weekend and the motorcycles didn’t stand a chance, so we ended up doing that rare “weekend away from everything” in a car.
Stuck in the back of the car with nothing to do but some virtual dog rescue on our phones and yacking about shoes, we started talking about the elderly in both human and dog. The thing is, we’d had so many pensioners mentioning on our Facebook page and in email that the adoption fee was unaffordable for a person earning a pittance of a pension, and the cost of the potential ensuing vet bills could be crippling. And we both felt this was an injustice. Back and forth it went, all the while boring our long-suffering husbands.
“So what happens,” she mused, “if we retain the ownership of the dog?”
“Yeeeees?” I responded, not quite reading her mind yet.
“Well, if Cape Dachshund Rescue retains the ownership of the dog, we can legitimately treat it medically, right?”
“Yeeeees?” I responded once again, now quite convinced she had smoked some contraband that I wasn’t aware of (and very decidedly jealous of) but, nonetheless willing to humour her.
“So, how about we don’t adopt them out but ask pensioners to foster them? That way, we can ask the public to help with the vet bills and keep an old dog with a pensioner in foster forever. Like uniting the retired with the retired. What do you think?”
“SHALL WE CALL IT THE FROSTY FACE FOSTER PROGRAM?” I yelled in a shouty voice, always delightfully happy when I nail an alliteration. (I concede to being obsessed with them.)
And so it began as with all our bright ideas. As an amoeba, it starts and flourishes into action after she and I have batted things around.
Part of the family
Dogs older than 10 have since then been offered to people still sizzling at 60+, with no adoption fee and all veterinary costs paid for by Cape Dachshund Rescue, as it is, after all, just fostering for Cape Dachshund Rescue and not a change of ownership.
While the number of Frosties successfully in Frosty Face Foster care is limited, and is currently only running at 14, we celebrate each one as we are partial to our Frosties. We’re as partial to pensioners as we know full well that one day we too shall be counted within their numbers.
And, because we are a Big Little Organisation, we are big enough to care for many, but small enough to love each one. And every foster home, adoptive home, Facebook fan and contact somehow becomes part of our Big Little family; more so our Frosty Face Foster homes. We cherish them because there is a certain kind of specialness going on there.
Our rules for engaging in the Frosty Face Foster Program are pretty simple: an Application Form is emailed in response to each enquiry and, on receipt of the completed application, we undertake a home inspection. Once the home has passed, we try and make the perfect match. On occasion, it has taken one or two tries to find the perfect pooch but when the “connection” is made, there you have it – a Forever in a Foster home.
And everybody is happy and we cry mascara-smudging tears because that stuff is really sniff-worthy. To see an elderly person get misty-eyed over the dog she or he intends to love till Death Them Do Part can send even the most stoic of people into a sob fest.
Why homing Frosties gets us smiling
And, while a rescue org should not have favourites, we do. Placing an old dog into Frosty Face Fostering home is when we feel we have done what we set out to do and we feel content. You see, placing a puppy is easy; anybody can rescue and rehome a puppy, particularly a purebred, provided you rehome carefully and are very particular about where they go. There needs to be extra special attention paid to detail as so very many people want to simply adopt the Cute Factor, but don’t see beyond. And that is why we personally prefer to rehome to where there are existing dogs and thereby we can assure ourselves that the puppy won’t be ousted outside once “cutesy wootsy” has worn off.
But when it comes to the older dogs, more particularly those considered by some as geriatric, we know, seriously, we just know that by the time that email arrives, it’s almost a forgone conclusion that the home applying is dedicated and dog-loving.
But back to the FFFP as we have nicknamed it (sounds a little like a political party, doesn’t it?). It’s greatly celebrated amongst the members and volunteers every single time a Frosty finds its way into the loving offered by a pensioner. Two souls happily unite, and we are ecstatic. And each one is a certain kind of special.
Sassy and Mrs Alexander
What made the “Sassy and Mrs Alexander story” come alive on social media was that Sassy’s journey was a little unusual. Having been surrendered in Gauteng, she managed to land herself a free flight with CemAir (who have become a miracle to many orgs who move dogs around) from Gauteng to Knysna.
She spent a night or two there with one of our volunteers and then hitched a ride with another loving volunteer to Cape Town. And then to our Chairperson’s home who then ceremoniously handed Sassy to her new Mama over a glorious cuppa tea on the Saturday morning.
A misty-eyed human and an elderly dog thrilled to be cuddled. Can anything beat that feeling?
The perfect place for a pension pooch
One of the mindsets that the Frosty Face Foster Program is slowly but surely changing is that of people considering putting an old dog to sleep when they can no longer care for it (for whatever reason).
For instance, quite a number have come through our org because people are in the process of emigrating and vets are unwilling to issue certificates saying the dog can fly (for obvious reasons) and the heartbroken family can take the youngsters but the oldie gets left behind through no fault of anybody’s except circumstance.
These are people who have, in the main, tried every conceivable measure to get their dogs overseas into their new homes. And so it is that people, instead of putting their old dogs to sleep, are now turning to us instead, knowing that their precious will either end up in one of our foster homes until it meets its maker or it’ll find its way into the gentle, caring, loving arms of a pensioner. A perfect place for any pension pooch.
For more information, or to apply to be a Frosty Face Foster, please call 082 978 6874, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit http://capedachshunds.wix.com/cape-dachshund or follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CapeDachshundRescue
Mrs Alexander, Sassy’s new owner, shares…
I first heard about the Frosty Face Foster Program when I donated Lucy’s (my beloved little Daxie of 17 years who recently passed away) food to the vet, and Dr Gray of Panorama Veterinary Clinic told me about it. He said I needed a little dog in my life, the pitter-patter of paws and a waggy tail to help heal my heart. How right he was!
After completing the forms sent to me by Cape Dachshund Rescue, they came to see me and my only request was for a little girl dog.
I was so excited when they called me two weeks later, on a Wednesday, to say they had a little girl for me and she was arriving from Johannesburg on the Saturday – it was as quick as that – and suddenly she was mine.
Sassy settled in very quickly and there was no problem at all. She sleeps right through the night and she may get up for a drink of water. She sleeps right next to me on the bed and as soon as she wakes, I wake.
She is like my shadow and happily follows me everywhere. I’ve taught her how to use the steps I have to the couch in the lounge and to the bed, ensuring that she doesn’t jump up and down. She understood and learnt how to do that in no time at all.
She is part of my life already and I am so blessed to have her with me.