Could your home be a forever home?

Nora, all nice and cozy. Photo by Samantha Pearsall.

By Samantha Pearsall

What does it mean to be a forever home? It simply means life for an unlucky pup that might not otherwise have gotten another chance to live theirs. For three years now, Forever Home Rescue New England (FHRNE) located in Medfield, Mass. has been rescuing dogs from the south, where kill shelters are commonplace, and finding them their lifelong families and homes.

Belle fits right in with the family. Samantha Pearsall photo.

Joanne Wilkinson, who established FHRNE, uses a combination of foster homes and their own shelter facility to house the 50+ dogs they have available for adoption each week. The mission is to rescue homeless and unwanted dogs from kill shelters and abusive and neglectful situations and find them loving, long-term homes and families. Since opening, FHRNE has done over 90 adoptions to the Cape and South Shore, and about 40 to the Cape alone, but Joanne would like to do more in this part of the state. “We're always looking for foster homes for dogs wherever we can find them,” she said. At this time there is only one foster home on the Cape located in Falmouth. That foster mom is Lisa Richaud, a true dog lover.

“It’s really fun with all these different personalities coming in to your home. We get excited about our canine guests, when they’re coming sometimes we’ll go out and buy new toys and beds for them,” Lisa says.

Lisa has fostered 16 pups from FHRNE since 2008, after she and her husband returned from an extended international sailing trip. Lisa loves dogs but her lifestyle as an avid sailor unfortunately does not allow her to be permanent dog owner. Fostering lets the couple enjoy having a dog around but only when it’s convenient and when they can give the pup the attention it needs and deserves. Since returning from sea, Lisa has been house sitting a 10-acre property on a long-term basis in a rural part of Falmouth. “This place just called out for dogs,” Lisa said, so that’s when she decided to work with FHRNE’s fostering network.

Faith--another success story. Samantha Pearsall photo.

On average, Lisa has a dog for about 3 weeks at a time, but puppies are generally adopted quicker. Potential adopters come to the foster home to meet the dog and in most cases, the first visitors end up being the new forever family. Lisa said that she does get attached and emotionally invested. But the one thing that has made it easier for her to see so many dogs come and go is that “it just seems like magic—the people that are adopting and the dogs are just meant to be together.”

After one dog has been adopted Lisa visits the rescue’s website to see if there are others she is particularly interested in bringing home. She provides Joanne a list of a few dogs that caught her eye. “I seem to like females. I’m really drawn to the unwed teen mothers,” she laughs. Sometimes, though, Lisa simply asks the FHRNE volunteers who they recommend for her or who they need a home for right away. Lisa explained that all the volunteers are “unbelievably supportive and extremely knowledgeable.” If it does not seem to work out, other arrangements can be made. Foster parents need not worry about finances either. Vet bills, dog food, and most other expenses are covered by the organization.

Lisa currently has been fostering a female black lab mix, Faith, for 4 months now, which is the longest stretch that they have ever had a dog. She came from the south, from which most FHRNE dogs are rescued. She had been shot in the rear leg, but has recovered quite well and now only has a slight limp. “Faith has come such a long way,” Lisa explained. “She loves going for long walks on the beach and she is so great off-leash. I can leave her outside all by herself. She’s the first dog I’ve been able to let do that.”

Although Faith is on the shy side, she loves to play and enjoys her bones and toys more than anything. Lisa said she would be thrilled if Faith found her forever home on Cape Cod. “Faith loves the Cape… running and swimming at Chappy (Chapoquoit Beach in West Falmouth) and the flats in Brewster.” For more information about Faith, please contact Lisa at 508-563-9513 or [email protected].

The Cape Cod Pet Resort in Falmouth also fosters FHRNE dogs. To date, approximately 25 dogs have been cared for and adopted through CCPR, including Belle a shepherd mix. Belle was adopted by the O’Brien family from Falmouth. She was a small spunky puppy when the O’Brien’s first got her last summer. After obedience classes and persistent training, Belle has become a running buddy and a well-mannered companion for the whole family, including two young children.

“CCPR has been a Godsend for us,” Joanne said. “Some of the dogs that come to the shelter need some socialization and the doggie play-groups at the Pet Resort allows those dogs an opportunity.” CCPR usually takes two dogs at a time, which is invaluable to FHRNE because it allows them to take in even more dogs each week.

FHRNE is always looking for foster families and homes. Joanne would especially like more fosters (and adopters) on the Cape and Islands. Fostering is a wonderful way to meet lots of dogs and become familiar with different breeds, ages, and sexes. If you think you may want a dog but you’re not sure where to start, try fostering some pups and it will help you determine what kind might be best for you and your family.

But fostering is only temporary which can be a blessing and a curse. “I’ve been known to cry for days. It’s like having a love affair and having your heart broken 10 times a year,” Lisa said. However, if you can’t see yourself saying goodbye to little Spot, there is always the opportunity to adopt your furry friend and make your home his forever home.

Visit to see the many available dogs and learn more about FHRNE. Still have questions? Contact Joanne at [email protected]. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on