Fostering with pets in Rotherham
Lauren and Andrew have three pets in their home: April, a small short haired English black and white rescue cat, Trixie, who’s a Greyhound/whippet cross, and Nibbles, a soft fluffy black rabbit.
Lauren and Andrew firmly believe that “pets have so many positives and are great for breaking the ice. They are also great for teaching a child responsibility and creating a sense of belonging. Pets allow them [the looked after children] to be kids again and to have fun without coming to any harm."
Lauren describes Trixie as “a real character, she loves everyone and wants everyone to love her”! Lauren and Andrew have had Trixie for almost 5 years, since she was 7 weeks old.
Due to Trixie’s size and boisterous nature, the couple only looked after children over three years old. Even though Trixie has never harmed anyone, they don’t want to risk her knocking small children over and causing an injury. As Lauren explains: “even if you have a big dog, it doesn’t stop you fostering; like the foster carers, your animals are also assessed."
Nibbles the rabbit is the newest member and has been with the family for nearly a year, as Andrew reminisces: “we laughingly call her a Lincolnshire rabbit as she was bought on holiday at Mablethorpe! Our foster child nursed her all the way home and has looked after her very well ever since... Nibbles wasn’t a planned addition although we had started to discuss with our foster child the possibility of having their own pet, and another dog was quickly ruled out.
The addition has given our foster child a sense of responsibility, but even more than that, a sense of belonging and something to call their own.”
Andrew continues, “We didn’t really give much thought to having the pets when we applied to foster as we consider them family and believed they would be assets rather than a hindrance. All our foster children have taken well to our animals. Their greatest friend and protector has been Trixie who has always been their shadow, her size doesn’t put them off and she is so gentle with them all."
Lauren agrees that “by having our pets we have watched our children change and become more confident, be able to laugh and run around and just be kids again. April is the go to pet when the children need a calming influence: she has laid for hours with a child just letting it stroke her whilst the child self-regulated and calmed down.
Trixie is the big sister who not only protects but joins in the mischief making, and has on many occasions been told all the secret hopes and dreams of many of our foster children.
Nibbles is the final brick in the foundations and has given truth to our words that we are offering a home for as long as is needed."
The couple do give the following advice to pet owners hoping to foster:
“Some children have never been around pets and so you must take that into account when you see your much-loved pets getting a bit of a rough ride. Guidance and soft words are needed to help support the child on how to treat the pets with kindness. Wherever possible, give your pets somewhere they can rest and relax without being disturbed to keep them happy too."
Lauren concludes: “I believe having pets is an advantage, especially if they are trained and well behaved and have a good nature. Pets are good as a go between and can break through some of the barriers these children come with.
Don’t be put off if your dog is big or you have a pet which can be a bit mischievous at times. Pets are not a barrier, your pets will also be assessed and even my big dog Trixie passed and is now an official foster dog."
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
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