A Cairn's Journey Through
Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network
A Cairn Arrives at Col. Potter
Cairns come into Col. Potter in many ways. Some are owner surrenders, either because
an owner may not be able to care for the cairn anymore due to health or situation, or
because the realization comes that the family personality does not match their cairn. Others
are cairns found at many shelters across the US. Lastly some Cairns in our program
spent a lot of their lives in commercial breeding operations. We get these either as
donations from the breeders or at dog auctions.
If you know of a 'Cairn in Need', please let us know by filling out our
Report a Cairn in Need Form.
Foster Homes and Funds
Once we know of a cairn in need, two things are needed before we can accept
the dog into the program: A foster home, and the funds to care for the dog.
To date, we have NEVER had to refuse a dog for either of these reasons,
although at different times, running out of one or both has been a concern.
Our Foster Homes are all over the United States, not necessarily where the
cairn may be. Once a cairn is assigned to a foster home, the Transport group
makes sure the dogs get safely there. Many of these transports
are made by our volunteers making a driving chain across the country.
If you are interested in being a foster home
or in doing transports, please let us know by filling out our
You can do as much or as little as you choose, all assistance is appreciated.
Fundraising is also an ongoing need. We receive funds directly as
donations or as purchases from our
Cairn Rescue Mall or affiliate programs.
All Col. Potter foster dogs go through an extensive 'vetting' protocol which includes their annual shots, heartworm testing and treatment if necessary and preventative, along with flea prevention in areas of the country where fleas are also an issue. We test for parasites or automatically treat for all types of worms. Bordatella is given and testing for Brucellosis is done if the foster dog has been in a breeding or puppymill situation. All unaltered dogs are spayed or neutered. Some of our incoming dogs have had no dental care, and may require a tooth cleaning or removal. Many of our foster dogs have other health related issues that we also treat, such as eye or ear infections or skin problems.
The majority of our rescue cairns first spend 10-14 days at the Vet's, while they are also observed for other unknown health issues. Since all Col. Potter dogs are fostered in family homes, we must NEVER chance spreading a possible illness to the foster families pets. This history will follow the dog through their fostering and on to their adoptive homes.
Health care is more than Veterinary services. Many rescue dogs have matted coats, some so bad that they require a complete shave down. Most need at least a bath and grooming. Puppymill dogs who may have never received a bath have an odor that only multiple baths, time and good food can remove from their skins. We require our foster homes to use a high quality nationally available food so that if their foster is adopted far away, the same food can be found. It can be quite amazing the changes good regular feeding can do to a dog that has been in less than ideal circumstances.
Some dogs are taken in with severe health problems. Col. Potter provides vet care, however it is only through the generosity of your sponsorships in our Grandparent and Guardian Angel programs that we are able to care for so many Cairns with severe injuries or those who are very ill.
We also see many dogs who have allergies. Karen's Skin Care Regime and dog food without corn has done wonders for many of our dogs, but we also have done allergy testing and allergen shots to improve their health.
Meeting the other dogs
Once the needed medical care and the transport are complete, the rescued cairn is then placed in an approved Col. Potter foster home. We are always in need of Foster homes, and volunteers are greatly appreciated. If you are interested, please fill out our foster home form.
Most of our foster homes already have other pets so the introduction of the new foster is critical to harmony in the home. New foster dog must be integrated into the household slowly for the foster dogs well being as well as that of the other pets. Many have recently had surgical procedures, and their personality may not be known at this time. The foster can be temporarily kept in a restricted part of their foster home for a few days to let the excitement of the intake or transport to leave them. Then a more relaxed dog can meet the other home members with less chance of an incident.
CPCRN has a requirement that all foster dogs must sleep in crates at the foster home. This insures that the foster starts a routine for naps, time out, and bed time sleep, that won't have to once again be disrupted in their new adoptive home, and this allows this future forever family to make the choice as to where their dog will sleep. By starting the cairns in crates on the first day in their foster home, they feel secure and they have their own space in which they can eat and sleep and keep their special toys. We require keeping harnesses on them for all walks and transports since they give better control of a dog that may be frightened with new sights and sounds.
It is very important during the introduction period, to take care that the foster's pets feel secure with the new arrival. Some dogs may get jealous of the attention paid the newcomer, especially if they move in on their special toys, treats or 'person.' Most fights occur over 'FAT' - Food, Attention, and Toys. It is also best if a secure open area can be used so that the dogs do not have to be on a leash for the initial meeting (they should wear a harness). During the initial meetings, the foster parents have to be very alert for any body language behavior that is not positive. The harnesses on them can be used to help separate the dogs if any fights do occur. With one hand on the harness, and one at the root of their sturdy little tails, any cairn can be picked up and put on the other side of a gate or in an exercise pen to separate them from the other pets or people with a stern NO.
It is also important that all dogs in the home recognize the priority of the humans. If the people are the 'Alpha' personalities, many dogs will realize they do not need to protect 'their people' from the 'strange dog'. Some simple techniques to help enforce your role are to be the one first through any door or down stairs, and if a dog happens to be in your path, to gently walk through the dog, not around it... the head dog does not 'walk around' their minions. A good lesson in 'Look at Me' and a quick 'Sit' can also enforce that you are the boss.
Most foster dogs get along very well with their new friends. Cairns can easily be pack hunters and its quite enjoyable watching their interactions. Those that do not, may need separate accommodations their entire foster life, and are always marked on the available dogs page to show any issues (No Dogs, No Cats, and/or No Children). This being said, there are some instances that two particular dogs just simply do not like each other.
When our newly rescued Cairns arrive into our rescue program, they come with vastly different levels of training. Puppymill survivors know no commands, while some owner surrenders are quite adept at many. Our foster homes do not normally take dogs to training classes, but do attempt to train the cairns with simple commands. We also teach respect for people ... humans go through doors first, down stairs first and we make sure that the dogs know they are not the king or queen of the world ... only a prince or princess.
Some of the most important training isn't command training at all. We leash train all our rescued cairns. With Puppymill dogs, this is usually quite a feat since most have never been on a leash or have a fear of one and they start out by cowering wretchedly at the sight of a leash. Eventually, they come around and learn to tolerate, if not enjoy, their walks. CPCRN now requires all foster homes to use a combination of collar and harness on the cairns. The collar is worn to hold their tag identification and is normally NOT attached to the leash. A properly fitted harness is what the leash is attached to. We do this because a harness is much harder to slip off than a collar, but in the event that they do get out of the harness, the collar is still there with their rescue identification tag with our toll free 800 number on it. This new requirement, of both the collar and harness, came about due to a recent terrible loss, when Loretta slipped out of her collar while being transported to her foster home.
Crate training is also very important. The crate can be a rescued cairn's best friend. It provides them with a protected environment where they can go for peace and quiet, a place for a nap, their treats or meals, or to unwind. But there is more than one benefit of crate training than providing a safe haven. Having a crate and a dog that is comfortable in a crate can save their lives if there is a natural emergency. Some pets can be destructive out of fear, anxiety or just plain boredom when we leave the house. So crate usage can also prevent the destruction of family possessions, and the dog's home life MORE pleasant because they are not in trouble when folks go away.
Then there is house training. Many dogs end up in rescue because their owners fail to properly house train them, and then there are the puppymill ones who never knew any better. We work with them by using regular times to go out and using a crate to help them not make a mistake. As with all training, positive reinforcement of successes will get you farther than any negative reinforcement. A cairn quickly learns that negative reinforcement IS ATTENTION ... and since they crave attention ... it is very easy to be reinforcing bad behavior... A tremendous fuss over success.. and maybe a treat.. and they will go out of their way to potty outside...Bellybands and Onesies (with a pad inside) can help keep the mess with the dog - this sort of negative reinforcement is NOT attention.. and teaches the dog to not do it inside.
The most important thing our foster families teach our rescued cairns.. is hope and love. Some of these dogs have never known either, but they certainly learn it here. They learn that hands are for scratching and petting, not for punching and hits. That feet take you on walks or rub you, not kick you. That being picked up means cuddling, hugging and grooming.. not throwing or hurting.
But for a few, the love and hope are not enough to help them leave their fears and pain behind. For them, the love of our foster homes may be the first love they know. When we encounter a cairn with uncontrolled aggression, all possible avenues are pursued, with hope that they can overcome their demons. Vets and behavior specialists are consulted. We cannot knowingly adopt out a dog that may hurt an adoptive family. It saddens us deeply that occasionally a beloved soul is sent over the Rainbow Bridge to the peace at the end of their journey. We keep them all in our memory though, because they ARE loved. You can meet them at Buf's Memorial Park.
Training is the least expensive thing we do, but it is the most effective preparation to successfully rehome these cairns ... and all it costs is a part of our heart.
Application Comes in
Between our Available Cairns and Faces of Rescue, Col. Potter's cairns are viewed over 10,000 times a month. These wonderful dogs peer out of the screen at people who learn to love them from afar, and soon they decide their home is for them.
All of our applications must be inputted through our Adoption Application . All questions must be answered and we require four personal references and a vet reference. Be sure to let your references know that they will be contacted by us so that they will talk to us when we call. Be sure to read our FAQ's to learn about Rescue Cairns. While Rescue Cairns are just as wonderful and lovable as any other cairn, we do not have a full history on them so we cannot know all the fear triggers in their lives. This is why we do not normally adopt a rescue cairn to a family with small children. We do not want to take that chance with the lives of your children and our rescue dogs.
Applications are reviewed for completeness and may be rejected if incomplete. We do not have a way of updating your application, so we would require a new one if the original was incomplete.
Once an application is completed and approved for further processing, CPCRN volunteers complete the reference checks. Applicants are asked to list at least four personal references in addition to two veterinary references. CPCRN volunteers call each and every one of the personal references on an application and ask a variety of questions to determine whether an applicant is sincere in their wish for a Cairn, adequately prepared to care for a Cairn, responsible, and can provide a safe and loving home for one (or more!) of CPCRN's precious charges. Volunteers also call the applicant's veterinary references to ensure that the prospective adopters have been providing adequate medical care to any existing pets and to inquire about the general health status of any existing pets.
The Communications Coordinators work with the applicant to the point where it is sent to the Matchmakers who send it to the Adoption Committee for a final decision. After that, our work is finished unless the applicant writes back with another selection of a dog she wants to be considered for. This group of Coordinators are very important to the adoption process and their Reference Reports figure very importantly in the decision made by the Adoption Committee.
A "Home Safety Inspection," often called a "Home Visit" is CPCRN’s final step in our three-part adoption process. When an applicant reaches the final step towards adoption of one of our rescue dogs, the applicant has passed the first two steps (the application review and the reference checks) towards the adoption of one of our dogs.
Since CPCRN is a national rescue program, much of our adoption process is handled through e-mail and phone calls. The home visit is truly the only chance that we have PRIOR to the placement of one of our rescue dogs (IF the home is approved to adopt) to assure that the Cairn will be in a safe and loving home. This is also the opportunity to verify that the dog, which the adopting home is requesting, is the correct dog for the home. This is based on your inspection.
Please know that we are NOT looking for a spotless home that will pass a "white glove" inspection: far from this, few ever would. We are looking for a home that is free of dangerous clutter, a home that is safe, and a family that is prepared to love a rescue dog and make this dog a member of the family. ALL CPCRN dogs are house dogs, meaning they sleep in the home at night and are not kept outdoors for the majority of the day when the family is at home.
During the home visit, if the inspector is a CPCRN Volunteer, they can answer questions about our organization, and can help you with potential hazards to your future family member.
Once your home visit is complete, the Board of Directors goes over all the information and decides to approve or disapprove your application. You will receive a letter with the outcome.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match...
Approved adoptive homes get to work with their own personal Matchmaker! They'll ask lots of questions via questionnaire, email, and even call you to help find your perfect match! Are you looking for a couch potato or an agility pal? A friend for a pet already there or a King of the House? During fostering, the foster family also sends updates with their cairns behaviors, fears and expectations. The information they provide contains some of the same questions given to the approved homes. This helps our Matchmaker Team to determine if your home is a good match to the foster family's dog!
The Matchmaker Team looks at all the information and makes suggestions about which cairns would be the best match for a specific family. They share additional information that may never have been on the website. Once a cairn is chosen, the Forever family - to - be talks to the foster family about the cairn in question. This is an in depth discussion about habits, expectations, house training, attitudes etc. Sometimes this discussion ends with one or the other deciding that this is NOT the match for THAT cairn, but many times it ends with rousing enthusiasm for a perfect match. Each person involved discusses why it is a good or bad match with the matchmakers, then the final decision is made by the board.
Once a match is made and approved, the adopted cairn goes to their new home by a variety of ways. Some are near enough for a quick trip to their new home, some are far enough away to need to be flown - either with their adoptive family or as cargo. The adoptive family pays the price of the transport.
After a week at their new home, our Post Adoption group gives the adoptive family a call to see if any assistance is needed.. and to get a quick report on how the new family member is doing. Each cairn leaves a small hole in our heart that is healed by knowing they are in a good home. And the new home always knows that Col Potter Cairn Rescue Network is here to help in any way we can.
Thank you all for your support of our Penny Drive. Separate tracking of it is officially closed, but all donations are still welcome.