In response to the Covid 19 situation, the IHDI facility will be closed starting March 23rd. Currently, we are intending to re-open April 20th. With such a small staff, we believed that we needed to be pro-active as the virus began to affect staff with self-quarantining, people in staff’s member’s circles being tested, and the ever-changing restrictions that are being set for the State of Colorado. It did not feel like a situation we could take a “wait and see” approach with.
It has been a hectic week at IHDI as we made this decision Tuesday (3/17). Consequently, over the course of the five days, we have designed and implemented a Volunteer Foster Home Pilot Project. We needed to recruit and screen for Volunteer Fosters for all the dogs. We then conducted training with each Foster in order to prepare them for the expectations of their role; as well as provide the necessary instruction on dog care, obedience cues and sound alert training for everyone.
Each dog, with a long list of accessories, has set-up “home” with a carefully selected, and initially trained, Foster. We have created a portal for the Fosters to do daily updates and weekly reports. We made training videos this week, which the Volunteer Fosters can access through the portal. These videos demonstrate our trainers working with the dogs on their obedience and sound alert training in order to help the volunteers as they work to support the dog’s training, The trainers will be working with each Foster via phone and video chat to address behavioral challenges and training issues.
It has been an exciting and whirlwind week as we have developed volunteer protocols, policies, and agreements. Developing an ongoing Foster Home Program for our dogs was one of the items we had identified as a critical priority in 2020; therefore, we are thrilled that we are building its foundation and that we are implementing many tools in order to asses and evaluate its effectiveness and its needs for improvement.
We have been so humbled by the response we have received as we have worked to recruit and train Foster Homes. It has been an inspiring experience to work with such kind and committed individuals who have been willing to jump in so quickly and take on this project with us. Amid this rapidly changing landscape, IHD has been blessed to have remarkable individuals join our team; keeping our dogs safe and well cared for, while continuing to support their training. We are infinitely grateful!
All of us at International Hearing Dogs wish you, and yours, health and peace during these tumultuous times.