Dogtime salutes Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue.
How did your organization get started?
Kathryn Glass, one of the founders of Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue, volunteered for another Cocker Spaniel rescue group in 2008 and became frustrated with the organization’s response time and practices, so she decided to start a new rescue based on her lessons learned. Putting first things first, she applied for and received a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization status, then networked with other rescue organizations to build RMCR’s reputation and visibility. Since no rescue group is successful without dedicated volunteers, one of RMCR’s priorities has always been to recruit and retain dog lovers who have the time and want to put in the effort to help homeless dogs.
What is your mission?
The mission of Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue, Inc. is to rescue, foster, train and rehabilitate unwanted Cocker Spaniels that have been mistreated, abused, neglected, or abandoned and to place them in permanent, pre-qualified homes.
How do most of your animals find their way to you?Cocker Spaniels are sensitive creatures who do not do well locked in a kennel away from their people, so we get most of our dogs from local as well as out-of-state shelters that are over-flowing with animals. These Cockers are often frightened or nervous in kennels, so they do not show well nor attract many visitors. Once we get them into a nurturing foster home, they relax and their true nature can shine through, making them much more adoptable.
We also receive numerous dogs as a result of owner surrenders, mostly due to the current economic situation. These situations are especially tough for everyone, but we are all looking to serve the dog’s best interests, so we will do whatever we can to find them a new home with a family that will love them and give them all the care and attention they deserve.
In addition, we get weekly, sometimes daily, requests to take in dogs rescued from puppy mills. These poor dogs almost always require extensive veterinary care and rehabilitation in terms of socialization and basic training to help them reach their potential as companions in the home.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of qualified foster homes, we often have to decline accepting dogs into the rescue. It is heartbreaking for us to say no to pleas for assistance, but available space in foster homes is mandatory since we do not put the dogs in kennels. Cockers need to be with people in order to rehabilitiate and recover from their previous experiences.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Each of our dogs goes to a foster home that can best meet their needs, whether that is basic training or socialization or frequent medical treatments. One of the first steps once the dog is in a foster home is scheduling an appointment for a health exam, vaccinations, and any medical treatment or procedures the dog might require. We are fortunate enough to work closely with a few veterinary clinics that share our love and passion for rescued dogs, so we are assured of the highest quality care for these dogs that, in more cases than not, have been previously neglected in terms of veterinary care. We spend the majority of our annual budget on veterinary care since these often require dental cleanings and extractions, medication for ear infections, surgery to repair cherry eyes or spaying/neutering.
The next stop for our dogs is the grooming table where they get brushed and clipped to remove mats and look like a Cocker again. We often take in dogs found as strays, so their coats are matted and filthy. A couple of dogs we have taken in were so matted that it took 2 hours just to shave them down, let alone bathe them, but they were very happy dogs once they were all cleaned up. A few of the volunteers like to groom dogs, so we are very fortunate to have these individuals who save us money in this area. We also work with a few professional groomers who make the dogs look absolutely amazing. Their before and after grooming pictures speak volumes!
Almost without exception, the dogs that come into the rescue need either housetraining, crate training or basic command training, so our fosters work on these things daily with the dogs in addition to socializing them whenever possible. Becoming good canine citizens may take awhile, but the time and effort is never wasted in the end.
Within a few days of entering the rescue, our fosters take pictures of the dogs and write up a paragraph or two on the dog’s behavior and personality for posting on various websites. We screen potential applicants over the phone, do reference checks and home checks before we match them with the Cocker Spaniel that fits their personality and lifestyle. Since our foster families know the dogs in their care the best, and they often have the final say on which applicant gets a particular dog.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
We accepted into foster care several puppy mill survivors who were so thin and fearful that it was clear they were never socialized nor had they received even the most basic of care. Their foster mom put their crates in a quiet part of house away from the noise of a busy family. For the first few days, these two dogs huddled together in the back of a crate, never wanting to leave and face the unknown.
Little by little, the dogs tentatively snuck out of their crate to take a peak at family life. One night while the family was watching a movie, the foster mom felt a little lick on her hand and looked down to see the male who quickly escaped back into the sanctuary of the crate. He had worked up the courage to come all the way into the family room where everyone was gathered just to say “thanks for saving me” before he made a hasty retreat.
That was the start of the dogs’ rehabilitation and it was celebrated among all the volunteers! Today, both of these mill survivors are in loving permanent homes where they are walked, socialized, and cared for as family members.