This weekend marked my one year "vol day" anniversary of volunteering at Cardiff Dogs home. 52 weeks of spending my Saturdays and sometimes Sundays at Cardiff Dogs Home. The only weekends I've had away from the place are when I've been on holiday or ill. I thought I would reflect on the past 12 months, what I've learnt and who I've met.
My first walk was with a dog called Saffron (Read more here) she's a Lurcher who was picked up as a stray with another dog and came to the home so underweight she looked like she would snap in two! She spent just over a month at Cardiff Dogs Home. I knew from this moment on that I would put everything into the dogs that end up at Cardiff Dogs Home.
Marley was the second dog I walked after my induction (Don't worry I won't post about every dog I've ever walked, tempting as it is!) he was a nutcase, completely different from Saffy and I still have my lead that he munched through. He was full of character and loved playing in the garden with the football. (Read more here).
Being part of the amazing volunteers means that you throw yourself into everything, for me this has included organising litter picks, taking part in dog shows & even fundraising bootcamps (spot me in the photo above!) and filming the dogs for the forum.
There is so much more to this than walking dogs and I don't even do half of what others do, there are so many parts you don't see to the charity, for example a spot at the local flea market which is run by some lovely ladies, ladies who boot sale every week and all the people who form the committee.
Rather than talk about every single dog, I thought I would run through some dogs that really stand out in the last 12 months. I was pretty impressed with myself that when looking through photos for this post I could remember every single dogs name, something I never thought would happen, but not surprised it has happened.
People who I'm friends with on facebook, or follow my instagram will not be surprised that Harry is the dog I would talk about first. Harry was found as a stray in October 2014 who everyone described as silly. He is the only dog in the last 12 months that I can hand on heart say "I want him" and mean it. Luckily Harry's owners keep in touch with me and I've even visited him in his new home! Which was pretty emotional. Harry has something special about him, we instantly clicked and everyone know he was "mine".
When I visited Harry in his home I was completely overwhelmed. He greeted me like an old friend, jumping up and throwing his arms around me, he plays with loads of other dogs, enjoys mountain treks and is just generally loving life.
Meet Sadie, aka "Sadie Socks" who, after a long stay at Cardiff Dogs Home is now loving life in a rescue home. Sadie was one of the first "difficult dogs" that I walked, saying that it was nothing like aggression what so ever, she just like to walk in circles and spin up her lead. However taking tips from the experienced I soon built up courage to walk her and ended up falling a little bit in love.
Storm, oh Storm, he was the first dog to make me cry, and when I say cry I mean sob. Storm was surrendered at CDH and I will leave the story there because I don't want to make this post about the people who leave dogs. Anyway, he looked so old and was full of arthritis, yet he was only about 2/3, shocking. We took him into the vet room to get to know him a bit and he had actual tears running from his eyes. This is the reality of signing a dog over, they don't know where they are, they don't know what they've done to deserve this, yet they still show love and acceptance to who they are around. As you can see from his forum write up, I took my boots off and chilled out on the floor with him.
Quite often when I check the forum I spy a dog and think "you, yes you are just beautiful and you are my favourite", a little silly perhaps, but sometimes you just *know*. That's what happened with Troy and we spent a few days having wonderful walks and dips in the pool. Sadly Troy didn't get the chance to find a home as a very serious incident left the amazing staff at CDH to be left with no other decision that to put him to sleep. I won't lie and say that I was OK with that, I was heartbroken, but I understood the reasoning and agreed with it. I have a huge amount of anger towards the people that previously had Troy, their actions towards him resulted in a waste of his life.
This is Molly who was just so funny, very kennel stressed the poor thing but so awesome on walks and in the garden, she's just stuck in my mind ever since I met her. Currently she's up for adoption at The Dogs Trust I believe.
Mia, name chosen because of "Mama Mia", found straying and heavily pregnant at the beginning of December last year so soon became a hit with everyone. Despite looking like she swallowed a beachball and was clearly uncomfortable, Mia loved to cuddle in her birthing box. I spent hours sat in there with her, as did many volunteers where she loved to have the belly scratched. Her personality never faltered even in the last stages of her pregnancy. Her son Joseph will make an appearance later on in this post. It goes without saying that a dog with this much personality is now in her forever home.
I first met Brinny on one of the Saturdays where we held a meet up at Pets At Home, we spent the day raising awareness for the charity and Brinny spent the day curled up on my lap, she was just beautiful.
Meet Rosie, who is one of my favourite staffies I have ever ever met. Aside from her glorious good looks, her personality was spot on. Fantastic with people, around other dogs and on the lead.
Blue went to his home yesterday and he's gone to live with a beautiful Rottie! He came into Cardiff Dogs Home with a horrible skin condition but with love and some medicated baths he soon looked better. His personality was spot on and so funny when he would get all stubborn on his walk and just sit down until you went where he wanted to go.
Star was an amazing little dog and not one that would usually be the breed I would fall for, but she had that sparkle in her eye and I had some great fun with her. You'll have to click her thread to read what happened with Star, because it's too upsetting to type out again.
Chuck is now living it up with a fellow blogger and now friend! I won't post too much because you will have to read her blog post for that, but he's a deaf American Bulldog and is just scrummy. I left plenty of kisses on him when I saw him a couple of weeks ago.
GREYHOUNDS...!! This is Ruby, who has now found her home, but there are still three who havent. Recently CDH took in 5 ex-racers and they are all just beautiful. I've fallen in love and not just because they are my favourite breed of dog.
There is a constant stream of puppies at the dogs home, which naturally go really quickly. Ranging from ones that were born in the pound (like Mia's pup Joseph in the last photo) to being surrendered, they never stay this small. The reality is that a puppy no longer looks like a puppy after a few months and the amount that are bought back when they are bigger is really sad. Whilst no one can deny that puppy cuddles make you smile, it's always tainted with that little bit of sadness. Puppies are far too needy for my liking and I'd much prefer an OAP dog.!
Still needing homes
Meet the stunningly beautiful Amelia, a larger crossed breed, but she has the most amazing eyes and she even smiles at you. I really like Amelia and would love to see her in a home ASAP, she's been in kennels far too long for such an amazing dog.
The same goes for Lola, she's a larger cross breed but she's so friendly and loves other dogs! Have a read of her forum and see if you know someone who would be perfect for her.
This Saturday I spent the day with that little old man Alf, he's currently being fostered by an amazing volunteer as he is so shut down it's truly heartbreaking. He had to come back for the night so I spent all day monitoring him, walking him, making sure he ate and everything basically. I created a video on my youtube channel of our day too! Watch it here! Like I said before, it's not just dog walking.
I've made some really good friends over the past year, where we all have a mutual love for dogs and would do anything for them, group walks are my favourite as the dogs can be around other dogs, the vols can chat and it gets some really great footage for videos to show off the dog personalities.
I've recently started making a kong up for every dog in the pound on Saturdays, sometimes even freezing them so they last longer. Putting them in the kennels and hearing every dog chomp away on them is really rewarding. Other volunteers do this throughout the week too, with stuffed hooves and all sorts. There is a general view that the pound isn't the best place for dogs, but they are warm, fed, walked and loved whilst they are there by so many people.
I didn't write this post to say "look at me, look what I do" but to just show you just how much of a difference even the smallest of efforts make. You can changes animals and even peoples lives by volunteering so I really encourage you to look into it.