Fetch and Releash dog fostering

Samantha Ashenhurst
Trish Baye is a self-described “foster fail”—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
This past April, Trish and a team of four other dog-lovers—Morgan, Kristen, Elise and Danielle—founded Fetch & Releash: a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization designed to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome dogs who have been surrendered or otherwise abandoned by their owners. The group’s inspiration came from the team’s own experience with adopting rescue dogs and volunteering their time with other similar organizations.
“Our founders all have experience and passion for rescue,” Trish explains. “We were very much inspired by rescue.”

In its inaugural three months, Fetch & Releash has already rescued and rehomed over 40 dogs. Some were saved locally, but Fetch & Releash also networks with other rescue organizations across the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean to transport dogs from abroad into their care in Mississauga. Here, the dogs are cared for medically and placed into foster homes to await adoption. This is where the matchmaking begins!
Fetch & Releash uses detailed questionnaires and a thorough interview process to ensure that their rescues are put in homes that will fulfill their needs—minimizing the chance that the dog will return to foster care. But it doesn’t stop there. The Fetch & Releash team continues to work with their recent adoptees and their new families, offering emotional support and training courses. 

The tricky part is finding the right match, but Trish notes that there’s been no shortage of interest. More and more people are looking to add a pooch to their families and realizing that adoption is the way to go.
“There’s a really big demand for dogs.” 
And why wouldn’t there be? Dogs are the best! They’ve got cute, waggy tails and little wet noses. I’ve smiled at every dog I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet. (Side note: if you’re ever feeling bummed out, do a quick Internet search for “basset hounds running.” You won’t be sorry.)

Trish has seen the kind of joy dogs can bring to humans. Reflecting over the past few months, she recalls how Joey, her favourite and most special rescue dog thus far, spent his stay in foster care spreading love and happiness to everyone encountered.
“Joey’s mission on a walk was to meet as many people as possible,” Trish says with a laugh. “Then he’d sit so calmly in front of them and just wait for them to pet him.”
“One day, there was a gentleman sitting on a bench. I was walking past him and Joey was obviously obsessed with meeting him,” Trish continues. “He spent a good five minutes with the dog and then we went on our way. The gentleman actually caught up with me later and said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I was having a really, really, really bad day, and your dog just totally changed my mood.”
Joey entered Fetch & Releash with separation anxiety. He loves people and had a tough time being alone. Trish says that this is one of the more common sensitivities experienced by rescue dogs—and one of the toughest to work through. Consistent and attentive training is essential. 
“Training requires time, patience, socialization, consistency and love,” Trish explains. Without training and socialization dogs can develop sensitivities. We want to set the dog up for success in his adoptive home.”
After receiving proper training in his foster home, Joey—now called “Memphis” in honour of his hometown in Tennessee—is thriving in his forever home. “He was recently adopted by a wonderful family that supports homeless people and people risking going homeless—a lot of people who have had to say goodbye to their dogs or pets,” Trish says. “He’s going through training through Saint John Ambulance, so that he can be a therapy dog.”

Joey-Memphis is one of 35 dogs Fetch & Releash rescued from the United States earlier this year. Rescue teams based in Tennessee provided 25 of the dogs with the remainder flown in from South Carolina. The Fetch & Releash team trekked down to Buffalo, New York to welcome their new adoptees and transport them to their forever and temporary homes. “The dogs came to one point, we met them, put them in our cars and drove back to Mississauga. It was a huge transport mission. Thankfully, they were all fantastic dogs,” Trish says. She smiles. “We actually had a couple of foster fails.”
Foster fails? 
“That’s where somebody who was just interested in fostering ended up falling in love with the dog and adopting the dog themselves.” Trish laughs. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say we had a few foster fails since we started. I’m a foster fail, Morgan’s a foster fail. That’s two of our board members that are foster fails.” It’s a hazard of the job.

To learn more about the fostering and adoption process at Fetch & Releash or to find out how you can get involved, visit fetchandreleash.ca.