During our visit to New York we were determined to get our hands on some pooches! Luckily we stumbled upon some very willing furbabies…
I have been visiting New York city for nearly 23 years, but it was while travelling alone for the first time in 2006 that I felt a real attachment to the city and the people who call it home. So much so that Rob and I were married here 10 years later!
During my visits back and forth I have seen familiar faces come and go, businesses change hands, buildings be replaced, but all the while the neighbourhoods continue to thrive in their own unique way. One of the most notable changes in the past 10 years though, is the number of dogs on the streets enjoying walks with their owners. Once upon a time I would walk for hours, just absorbing the atmosphere and people watching, and while there would be the odd pampered dog being taken on a lovely jaunt along the sidewalk or playing in one of the secluded dog parks with friends, it was mostly pure-bred dogs I’d see and it was certainly not a regular sight.
During this trip however, it was immediately (and brilliantly) noticeable that there were dogs everywhere! Not just small dogs, but big dogs, medium dogs, smooth haired dogs and fluffy, scruffy haired dogs – and at least half of those, if not more, were clearly rescued and included many cross breeds.
One of the identifying traits of a rescue dog is often their nervousness and the streets of New York are crowded and busy. It was truly heartwarming to see so many loving doggy parents navigating their pooch through the noise and crowds, making sure they were bundled up from the cold in overly cute outfits or just watching them play with a newly acquired best friend (dogs are so good at uncomplicated friendship). We love anything related to dog behaviour and are very passionate about socialisation and suitable adjustment for rescued dogs transitioning into homes, and so we found ourselves drawn into watching how these people interacted with their dogs.
It could be easy to think that their additional presence was a case of dogs just being pushed into homes to make up the numbers – according to an article by The Gothamist in June 2019, the city was supposed to be ‘no kill’ by 2015 but statistics are blurry when it comes to the rules around surrender, sickness and “irremediably suffering” when it comes to the weekly lists for euthanasia.
We were happy (and knowing the people of New York City, not surprised) to see real awareness and bonding between parent and dog. Clearly the rescues are doing something right with their adoption process. We were curious to find out more about what kind of information is given by rescue organisations in terms of rescue back up, support and education on integrating a shelter or stray dog into a home.
We’d done our research on dog rescues in the area before arriving but knew we wouldn’t be able visit the majority of shelters due to the health and safety aspects. We’d also tried to get some time to speak with a couple of NYC rescue organisations we have personally supported for some time but couldn’t get our schedules to match, so rather than waste an opportunity while in the City, instead we set our sights on finding a worthy fundraiser. We are so glad we did – our very first search flagged up Foster Dogs Inc and their 2nd Annual Chloe’s Fospice Fundraiser.
Foster Dogs Inc was founded in 2009 by Sarah Brasky, who identified the need for ‘a positive and user-friendly resource dedicated solely to foster care.’ Their program Chloe’s Fospice Friends was set up in memory of a rescue dog called Chloe Kardoggian, their biggest supporter and advocate who is sadly no longer with us. Chloe’s Fospice aims to assist elderly and terminally ill dogs who were homeless or from shelters during their final months by sponsoring the dog’s needs for the remainder of his or her life. Nearly 50 dogs have benefited from this highly specialised program, from 22 local groups, over the last five years. The team work directly with several rescue organisations to choose the dogs for the program.
From their website; ‘Foster Dogs is dedicated to the advancement of education about fostering and rescue, and to creating a positive and inclusive foster community. While we are currently focused on the NYC area (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island), we also work to promote fostering nationally around the country.’
We were sold and immediately purchased 2 VIP tickets to this event and counted down the days!
On arriving at the Hyatt near Times Square and making our way to the meeting area, we immediately came face to face with a slack-tongued Chihuahua, being carried in a sling by their dutiful owner. We were in the right place. Keeping control of our excitement was short lived however, as we turned the corner only to be confronted with a room full of Fospice pooches – big ones, small ones, fluffy ones and a few more slack tongues ones, each as adorable as the next. The Fosterers/Adopters were all incredibly lovely and happy to chat to us and let us take photos of their pooches. Within minutes we were sitting on the floor, covered in hair and learning about all the Fospice success stories for each dog we met.
Of our new-found friends from the evening, the first we met was Pebbles, a lovely older lady only recently in foster and kind enough to pose for a photo (whilst keeping one eye on her treats at all times!) Pebbles and her foster family have their own Instagram, @pigpenthepittie and she is available for adoption via Friends with Four Paws. We then met beautiful Bowie, who is 4 years old. Bowie was found on the street as a stray on the day his namesake died and is now making a legacy of his own as a therapy dog for one of the City’s hospitals!
As the evening progressed we met the oldest Fospice friend, gorgeous 20 year old Albert, 16 year old Marvin (who absolutely rocked being carried in a sling), Simco, a young ‘un at 2 years old, 10 year old Cheeky, gorgeous Matrix who at 4 years old sadly has a heart condition, 13 year old Olivia, 7 year old Wiley and last but not least, Abbie, sporting a beautiful 80’s hair style not dissimilar to my own. She only had eyes for Rob however, and he was happy to indulge her with some head scratches!
So many dogs to cuddle and each had a heart-warming story of their own. The dogs we met had truly won the jackpot with a place in this foster community to see out their remaining days with love and comfort. Hopefully, those not yet adopted will eventually get their happy ever after with a family of their own too.
The evening promised drinks, nibbles, a raffle, a professional photo booth and live portrait art, and we weren’t disappointed – we even won a raffle prize! The host of the raffle was Dan Schachner, whose day job is the head ‘Rufferee’ on Animal Planet’s Puppy Superbowl. He did a fabulous job of representing the charity on the night and like a true professional navigated around the eager furbabies watching to present the raffle winners from a huge table of wonderful donated/sponsored prizes. One of these supporters was Manhattan Meow, a pet sitting business ran by Ceylan Yazar. It was great to chat to this lovely lady, she is a big supporter of this charity and you can visit her website www.manhattanmeow.com for all your pet sitting needs!
As this great evening came to the end, we were delighted for Sarah and her team. Such a good turn out in celebration of a unique charity perspective. Internationally, not many organisations spend time bridging the gap between rescue, fostering, adoption and rescue back up – and these are vital components to ensure that the dogs who are rescued from homelessness and shelter life are successfully saved, both mentally and physically. All too often lack of support in one area can break the chain and the dog ends up abandoned once again. It is a community effort and we wholeheartedly support collaborations with the needs of the dogs being first and foremost, always.
We are delighted to have met this team and are looking forward to supporting them in the future, in whatever way we can.
Finally, a huge thank you to all who let us cuddle, coo at and photograph their pooches! You made our holiday very special indeed.
You can find out more about Foster Dogs Inc and Chloe’s Fospice Friends at the below links:
Website – www.fosterdogsnyc.com
Facebook – @FosterDogs
Instagram – @fosterdogs
Twitter – @FosterDogsNYC
Please support them wherever you are and follow their great work online.