Peter Brewer, Canberra Times, 21 Oct 2019
Words to create a line return here
Imagine the emotional wrench of taking in a neglected dog from a pound, falling in love with it, and then having to hand it over to a new owner.

That’s a genuine “deep breath, give it a hug, and turn away” moment.

“That’s why our foster carers are very special people,” said Wendy Parsons, President of ACT Rescue and Foster, the Canberra organisation which rescues abandoned or unwanted dogs and finds them a new home.

“To be a carer you need to be a very caring person but also emotionally resilient.

Maddie, one of the rescued dogs featured in the recently-released 2019 ARF calendar. Pictured above

“It’s such an important role but it’s also a very difficult one because you don’t get involved in this unless you really love dogs and want the very best for them.”

Ms Parsons admits she’s one who couldn’t manage it.

“I was looking for a dog and I took Lochie into temporary care – he had been through a very rough trot – and then I just couldn’t let him go. So I know exactly the sort of emotions that our carers go through,” she said.

ACT Rescue and Foster is always looking for new foster carers but equally is always on the fund-raising trail so as to cover the costs associated with rescuing a dog.

One of their big annual fund-raisers is their calendar which features 12 rescued dogs from the preceding year.

“We’ve been doing the calendar for about 10 years and our rescued dogs are our natural talent,” she said.

“Professional photographers donate their time to take the pictures and a graphic artist then does the design work.

“It’s a labour of love for the people involved but it’s also our biggest fund-raiser so we really owe a debt to everyone who gets involved, including our corporate sponsors.

“The wonderful thing about the calendar is every time you turn the page you’re looking at why we exist; it shows a really happy dog that has found a new home.”

The money raised goes toward covering the costs associated with rescue and the fostering, including desexing, food, worming, vaccinations, and any vet bills. One of the pups currently listed needed heart surgery but has now recovered well.

“Every week we have behavioural assessors go to pounds in Queanbeyan, Canberra, Yass and Goulburn, seeing which dogs are nearing the end of their time in the pound and would be suited to foster care,” Ms Parsons said.

“We take them out of the pound and vaccinate and desex the dogs and then put their details up on a website for people searching.”

From a charity which started in 2001 as a stall at a Canberra fete with table cards showing the dogs up for adoption, ACT Rescue and Foster has now found homes for around 3000 dogs.

They now average about 300 rescues a year, which is why they always need good foster carers who play an important role in matching the dog to the right owner.

“It never ceases to surprise me how willing people are to give their time to such a noble cause which, in the end, you know is going to give you some heartache,” she said.

“But when you talk with them about it, they know what an important job it is.”