Foster Perspectives

I've been a long time (decades!) Cavalier mom and volunteer with Cavalier Rescue USA, so I feel I can say with some authority that while every Cavalier is special, there are extra-special Cavaliers that we encounter from time to time whose health or behavioral needs exceed the commitment or capabilities of their families - either for financial or practical reasons. These special needs Cavaliers are where our mission, values and actions truly intersect to the ultimate benefit of the dogs and the special people who come to their rescue.  Meet foster moms Lynn Bushnell, Mavis O'Hara and Donna Beirne and their stories of three very special Cavaliers whose needs were great and whose lives  were transformed. Deb Anders- Cavalier Rescue USA Coordinator, Southern California


Meet Gracie, Becky and Mavis O'Hara in Corona, CA


Mavis O'Hara is a retired registered nurse and long time Cavalier Rescue volunteer who is our go-to foster mom whenever a diabetic Cavalier comes into our care in Southern California.  

Diabetes is a overwhelming diagnoses for some dog owners because it places demands on the owner/caretaker that can alter normal, predictable household routines - and it involves insulin and syringes!  Nonetheless, diabetes in dogs can be readily managed and the pet can live a long and happy life with good medical care.  Thanks to Mavis and other rescue volunteers like her, we are able to treat and stabilize the diabetes and find special new homes for rescued dogs like Gracie and Becky.  Here's their story, as told from Mavis's perspective:

I guess once a nurse, always a nurse. I don't mind rehabilitating diabetic dogs because I know diabetes can be fairly easy to control with a strict diet and insulin.  Special needs dogs can go on to live a great life once their medical problems are taken care of. I feel these dogs really appreciate what we do for them.

I have two little dogs of my own that I love very much, they are both rescues. When I accept dogs to foster I know that I'm getting them healthy and well for their forever families. It's like taking care of patients, you get them well and they go home. If I didn't think like that it would be very hard to let them go. It makes me feel good to know that I made a difference in a little dog's life. I would save them all if I could.

The dogs in this picture are Gracie and Becky; they both have diabetes and I took care of both of them while we stabilized their diabetes and a search was conducted to find their new home. Gracie is 8 years old, Becky is 7. Becky was blind as a result of her diabetes but Cavalier Rescue paid for cataract surgery and now she can see!  Both girls were adopted by the same wonderful family and now live at the beach in Dana Point - they are very lucky dogs indeed! Mavis O'hara - Cavalier Rescue foster mom and registered nurse  


Meet Lynn Bushnell in Dana Point, CA

We love telling people our rescue stories and that we have 3 rescue dogs: Kaya (our yellow lab , age 10), Gracie (our "semi blind" Cavalier, age 9) and Becky (our Ruby beauty, age 8 - who our neighborhood 3 year old declared the cutest dog ever tonight on our evening walk!)  

Older dogs are just the best: they are potty trained, mellow and they're so  grateful for the love and attention they get. Even better is how they make us feel : loved, loved, loved! My 86 year old father-i n-law comes over daily to walk each of our three dogs - modifying the route to accommodate each dog's health issues. We love that we can give these  senior dogs fun, healthy, and loving final years.  


I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to adopt these amazing dogs. Becky is darling and a perfect fit - we spend 15-20 minutes daily, am and pm, administering eye drops and insulin shots. I have taught family members, friends and neighbors how to give insulin shots in case I need help (it's so easy!) - you will be surprised how many people want to help take care of your cute Cavalier! Lynn Bushnell - Cavalier mom , wife, mother, yoga teacher


Meet Donna Beirne, CR volunteer in Woodland Hills, CA

It started with a Cavalier named Audrey, just shy of 10 years old, who led me to become a handler in a dog therapy group, which then led me to Cavalier Rescue.  It's been a life-changing odyssey.  

I adopted 2 year old, Tri-colored Cavalier Audrey from a shelter 9 years ago. It was my lucky day, it was kismet. Soon after adopting Audrey, I enrolled in a dog training and certification class to transform us into a therapy dog/handler combo. When my Golden Retriever passed, I knew I wanted to adopt another Cavalier so I applied to Cavalier Rescue USA to adopt; I also applied to volunteer. I had an interview and home visit and soon thereafter, I received an inquiry and invitation to foster my first rescued Cavalier. Soon, another foster followed, Liza: my ‘special needs’ girl. Liza and I quickly developed a very special bond as she had limited mobility, but much to my surprise I discovered Liza loved swimming and could move through the water like a champion!  Liza was soon certified for dog therapy visits and off we went to the local senior homes, she in her attention-getting red stroller, me trailing along in her wake. Liza was beautiful, vibrant and a huge hit with the seniors, putting big smiles on the faces of the residents she met. It's impossible to overstate how much joy Liza brought to all she met.

In my experience, caring for a dog as an adult is a much different experience than possessing a dog in childhood. Fostering has allowed me to share my time with many dogs, of all ages, various personalities and different ‘issues’ - either in health or behavior. Fostering has provided a valuable hands-on educational experience. The primary benefit accrues to the dog of course, but there is more than ample reward in knowing you've made a profound and positive impact on a dog's life.    

I've found fostering to be a family endeavor. My husband (and partner in rescue adventures) has on more than one occasion arrived home after his workday to find a new dog. He’ll say ‘not another one!’…and in a day or two he’ll want to keep each one. He never fails to enjoy each new pup - with any and all of its shortcomings - as much as I do.  His reward is another wagging tail to de-compress with at the end of the day. He loves to spoil them all.

In no other endeavor have the rewards been so immediate, profound and everlasting as those I've found through my rescue adventures. Each foster brings a smile and heartwarming reminisces at various times and -always - they take a piece of my heart when it’s time to move on to their new forever family. Donna Beirne - Cavalier mom, Cavalier Rescue foster mom, wife and grandma

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