Dogs Trust | Behind the Scenes

As you have probably gathered from reading my blog I am a doggy kind of girl. I love dogs and I live in a dog loving country so everything doggy should be perfect, or so you would think at face value. Now for the last year or so I have been in contact with the PR department at the Dogs Trust through various campaigns and general communications and we have built up a good relationship, and last Thursday were given an amazing opportunity to visit one of their re-homing centres – Dogs Trust Harefield.

It might come as a surprise to some of you, mainly due to the fact that we have a rescue dog at home; I have never actually been in a rescue centre. Our Lilly is a rescue but she was lucky enough to be actually passed from one family to another – her old family dropped her off and we were already waiting to pick her up, so she never set a foot in the shelter, so neither did I.

I really wanted to go to the Dogs Trust Harefield centre. Mark however was concerned and was trying to tell me that it could be a traumatic experience and that maybe I should politely refuse, obviously confused as to why he would suggest such a thing I asked why. He told me the story of how all through his childhood his parents operated a dog rescue and re-homing service with their Local Authority. This arrangement played out by his family going to the local authority to see what dogs they had collected and picking one to bring home. Then through local advertising and word of mouth they would seek to find a permanent home for that dog and when successful they would go back and pick another one. I was still curious as to how this wonderful act could still be cause of a traumatic experience so Mark explained that the policy was that when the Local Authority collected an abandoned dog they would only look after it for 7 days and that if by the end of that week the dog had not been claimed that it would be put to sleep by a vet. So Mark remembers as a child looking through rows of metal cages at all the dogs that were on their 7th day knowing that they could only realistically save one of them, and that when his family did pick one to take home that when they left the others were probably not going to be alive the next day. So yes there was happiness regarding the now happy dog in the car on its way to a bright new future but it was tinged with great darkness as many had been left behind, this was traumatic. I could not reconcile what I knew about the Dogs Trust with this story so I still wanted to go and Mark agreed to come with me just in case as emotional support.

1. Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes

Apparently the world has moved on quite a bit since Marks childhood and we didn’t need to be apprehensive of any traumatic experiences as become evident from the second we passed through the wide welcoming gateway into the Dogs Trust compound. Impressive from the outset was our initial thoughts and we suspect the 15,000 dogs they have re-homed in the last year as well.

Yes you read that right, this one charity re-homes 15,000 dogs a year on average, and they are only one of many charities hard at work in this much needed field of care. That’s a jaw dropping fact right there.

We were met on arrival by the centre manager and the PR advisor and given the tour and chatted about the facilities and services they offer, it took 3 hours! And trust me we didn’t dally anywhere this was an engaging and informative tour it’s just that they offer so much it takes that long just to go and have a quick peek at all the parts of this centre and at the end of it all we wanted to do was change our careers and join them.

From the wide, open plan brightly lit reception where the public can sit down and have a chat with a staff member you can venture into an equally large library part. Yes, you are reading it right – they have a private library filled with donated books waiting there to be read or taken home in exchange for a small donation.

Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes

Once you pass through a half glassed door designed with a bone shaped glass in it, you enter the dog re-homing part where you can actually see all the lovely dogs waiting for a new forever home.

This place was nothing like I was expecting.

In my head I imagined dark boxes filled with unhappy dogs making puppy eyes at every person who passed by… in reality each “dog room” is large and well lit with comfy beds or even giant arm chairs or single sofas; the place is filled with various toys and most importantly access to the outside. I never imagined it will look like this… All the dogs out there actually looked happy and content. Their daily routine includes outdoor activities plus a cuddle time with a member of staff.

3. Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes 4. Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes 5. Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes

In addition to the public sections there are other parts of the centre in which dogs live…

There is a training section – this part is reserved for dogs which have just come in and are now undergoing a seven day assessment;

There is a puppy section – yes, puppies are brought to the shelter as well, we actually had a chance to meet some and participate in a cuddle time with them… and this little fellow is still looking for a home…

Dogs Trust  - Behind the Scenes - still looking for home

There is a “home room” section – this one is actually very interesting; it is reserved for dogs which have been through some traumatic experiences and they need reintroducing to a more home like environment and importantly relearn how to behave in such an environment; these rooms look like a proper front room in yours or my house; filled with furniture to resemble a home.

There is also a section for dogs which will stay in the centre for ever as they can’t be put for adoption.

The Dogs Trust Harefield has re-homed just over 150 dogs since the beginning of this year… that’s over three dogs per day… not bad is it?

The Dogs Trust is a charity and as a charity it is funded by people, people like you and I, people of good will, people who despite the current economic climate can still find compassion in their hearts to help others, to help animals in need who aren’t able to help themselves.

The Dogs Trust is doing a fantastic job. All the dogs we’ve seen and met were well looked after but even the best shelter isn’t going to replace a loving home with a family of your own.

If you are planning on getting a dog, please consider re-homing instead of buying a puppy. All dogs coming from the Dogs Trust are fully assessed when it comes to their behaviour, potential likes and dislikes as well as vet checked; they will be neutered or spayed, vaccinated, de-warmed and anti-flea treated before you take them home.

And if you aren’t looking for a new four legged companion maybe you could sponsor a dog? There are dogs which will never find their forever home. This is not always necessarily the dogs fault but for one reason or another they will never have a chance of adoption; they will always live in Dogs Trust Centre.

Looking for Love - – Dogs Trust Harefield

I left the Dogs Trust Harefield with a heavy heart. I wanted to stay and help. We brought a bag of toys to the centre and purchased some books but I just felt like this wasn’t enough; I felt like I should do something more to help.

I can’t visit the Dogs Trust too often; I can’t become a volunteer; it is simply too far for me to travel, but I can write… I have my little internet space where I can share… so I am going to write to you in hope that you will read and help… share with others to spread the word… share in hope that more people of good heart will stand behind the Dogs Trust and the fantastic job they are doing.

I would like to say thank you to Emily and Richard for spending this time with us on Thursday. It was really time well spent and we both learnt so much.

Thank you.

#MotherAgain – Time to End Backstreet Breeding

#MotherAgain – Time to End Backstreet Breeding

A mother… again… and again… and again… and again…

Every year, countless defenceless dogs are forced to repeatedly produce litters of puppies by unlicensed breeders and are then sold for easy money. They are mothers again and again before being callously abandoned, having served their only purpose; to make a profit.

Their litters are sold to owners who are often unaware of their origins before its too late, or worse, dumped when they fail to sell. Such over breeding can cause countless health defects and temperament problems in each generation.

Leading animal welfare charity, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is urging prospective dog owners to think twice about how and where they buy a dog, in an attempt to crack down on the horrific and cruel practice of backstreet dog breeding.

The relentless breeding of dogs usually in dirty, squalid conditions takes place throughout neighbourhoods up and down the country, so Battersea has decided to launch a major campaign – End Backstreet Breeding – calling for a clamp down on the many undercover dog breeders that profit from their cruel treatment of these animals.

The world famous animal charity is calling for:

A ban on the sale of puppies under eight weeks’ old. The current law allows for litters to be separated from their mothers at less than eight weeks old, to be sold on by pet shops when they are 12-weeks-old. Separating a mum from her puppies at such a young age denies her young from vital life and socialisation skills.

The introduction of a required breeding licence for any household producing two or more litters per year. A breeding licence is at the moment only required for a household producing more than five litters a year. Producing so many puppies has serious health and welfare implications for the mother.

Dogs used for backstreet breeding whose sole purpose is to make money are usually forced to lead a miserable life. They are frequently kept in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, are more often than not never exercised and are just used to produce litter after litter, with no regard for their health and even less for their happiness. Totally exhausted and inevitably under socialised, these dogs are all too often thrown onto the streets once they have served their purpose to fend for themselves until caught and entered into the “system”.

Battersea Ambassador Paul O’Grady is supporting the campaign and says:
“I’ve seen first-hand the poor, damaged dogs in Battersea’s kennels that have been bred from over and over again. It sickens me to think what these dogs go through before they’re dumped on the streets broken and unloved. The awful thing is that backstreet breeders are everywhere lining their pockets from the demand for puppies. If there’s one thing we can all do it’s to make sure we think about where we’re getting a puppy from. Visit a rescue centre or a registered breeder and help Battersea end backstreet breeding.”

If you are planning to buy a dog please spend some time and find a reputable breeder. The Kennel Club offers an excellent advice on how to pick a right breeder. Yes it will obviously cost more to buy your dog, but you will know the history and more importantly the mental state of your new found family member. Though never undervalue the importance of the small step you have taken to help eradicate the backstreet breeder.

And if you have two minutes to spare please email your MP today and help us change the law. No pet should be forced to breed again and again and again… no matter how profitable.

To spread the word about the campaign please share it with hashtag #MotherAgain

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation – Deadline Extended


Good news everyone – Dettol Baby Blanket Donation has had its deadline extended.

I know I’ve already shared this campaign with you a few times but if you didn’t manage to take part in it yet, you still have a few weeks left to do so. The new deadline has been moved to mid February.

Keep the memories, not the bacteria and help to raise money for children’s health charity Sparks.

Donate a blanket today by sending it to:

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
Balcombe Place Stables
RH17 6AZ

Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser and UK children’s medical research charity, Sparks, are working together to make a difference to children’s health both at home and abroad. They are asking you to help make a difference to young lives by donating your used baby blankets and ‘keep the memories, not the bacteria’. Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser has pledged to donate £1 for every blanket collected to children’s medical research charity, Sparks. Sparks want to raise much needed funds for UK families with children who are affected by serious illness or disability.

This is a really good cause. Join us and help today.

And if you have already donated a blanket why not get engaged on social media and spread the word? You can follow Dettol Baby Blanket @DettolBlanket, Sparks Charity @SparksCharity and Rachel Stevens @MSRachelStevens and use the hash tag #sharethememories

And if you have not become involved just yet, to give you a bit of an incentive Dettol Baby Blanket is running a small giveaway. Tell them about your favourite baby blanket memory and you could win a bottle of Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser 🙂

Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser kills 99.9% of bacteria at 30°C. Keep the memories, not the bacteria! Get involved now!

Send your blanket to Dettol Baby Blanket Donation and help spread the word. The more people get involved, the more kids we can help.


The 4-Box Challenge

The 4-Box Challenge

I was challenged by the Plastic Box Shop to use their 4-box method to de-clutter my home. The idea is very simple:

  •  Indentify the clutter in your home
  •  Follow the chart
  •  Place the item in the correct box

Easy peasy!

The four “magic” boxes are as follow:

Keep – Items which will remain in their current position and are to be kept.

Store – Items which you do not want to throw away but would be able to relocate and possibly store somewhere else.

Donate – Items which you intend to donate to charity.

Bin – Items which you intend to throw away.

I found myself lacking one more box – Sell. As I didn’t have my 5th box I just piled those items on the floor next to the four other boxes.

And the chart which can be used as an aid looks like this:

The 4-Box Challenge Infographic

The chart is actually very helpful and clever. I did follow it for some items, simply because I wasn’t able to make me mind up about the final placement of the item in question.

My boxes arrived and it was time to get to work.

I picked the worst room in our home – my office. Terribly, terribly messy room, full of clutter, spare furniture and was actually really badly lacking in space even for just moving around. I meant to “clean it” last week… last month… I don’t even remember how many times I have promised myself “Ok, tomorrow I will take care of it”, then tomorrow came and went and my office just collected more and more clutter.

So Saturday morning after a large strong coffee I put some lively music on and started on my epic challenge.

The 4-Box Challenge - segragation stage

Slowly piece by piece I was removing things from my office and placing them into the provided boxes… the pile of stuff in the boxes was growing fast.

The 4-Box Challenge - box number five

The pile of stuff for sale wasn’t doing badly either. I decided that if I do not want it and the item has some real value I will sell it. In the end of the day who really needs 3 phones?

The 4-Box Challenge in progress

Once I had actually dug myself through the endless pile of weird stuff I was actually able to remove a spare futon and a chest of drawers from my office. These two pieces didn’t belong in my office, so they had to go in order to get back so much needed space.

The 4-Box Challenge Donate It Trip

I spent most of the day clearing out my office. I found that the Donate It box was the most popular. The next day I packed the car, drove to my local village and donated everything to our local dog charity RATS.

It was a long and tiring day but it was really worth it!

Now I have a spacious office and if someone wants to join me there is actually some space for them to join me by my desk.

This clear-out session was long overdue, so thank you ever so much to the guys at the Plastic Box Shop for selecting me for this challenge, as this gave me the impetus and a very much needed kick to do it and I thus finally did it!

Job jobbed!

The 4-Box Challenge Before and AfterThe 4-Box Challenge Before & AfterThe 4-Box Challenge - Before & AfterThe 4-Box Challenge - Before and After