Monday, 14 September 2020
So, what seems like a long time ago during lockdown I was very proud to be asked to be one of 11 people to be asked to contribute to a very special project.....
Giving me an opportunity to combine my passion for dogs and writing, more details will be available on Friday!
Saturday, 12 September 2020
Wednesday, 9 September 2020
Wednesday, 2 September 2020
It seems so long ago since we were all plunged into crisis at the start of lockdown and we wondered how we could get through.
We did, thanks to your support, in fact I'd say we've come back an even stronger and more efficient organisation.
One thing which helped massively was the generosity of our supporters buying things such as laundry liquid, dishwasher tablets, cod liver oil etc. All things which we use on a daily basis but cost money. Such was your support, we have only now started to see spaces in our supplies as your donations have all been used.
We know things are still uncertain, it is still a very worrying time, but as we are often ask what we need it seemed right to let you know how things stand.
Currently we are short of laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets. We have bought some to tide us over, but if anybody could donate some it would mean our money could go elsewhere.
We have an Amazon Wishlist with everything on we use:
Or of course you could drop things off in either of our shops at 12 Bowes Street, Blyth or 46-48 Queens Street, Amble.
Thank you in advance for remembering us in these times. Your valuable support really does make a difference.
Wednesday, 12 August 2020
It was another great practical day yesterday as I was joined by Rachel and Nima and we ventured off to a new beautiful place to explore.
I'd decided to give Axel a run out as and with their being two of us, Tye came too so he could have a break from kennel life.
Nima is a wonderful 'stooge' dog, so I wasn't to worried that she wouldn't get on with them, I was more concerned about Tye accepting Axel.
I shouldn't have worried though, all three were impeccably behaved, and its incredible to think that they had never each other before!
We enjoyed our walk so much that we decided to go back to the kennels and treat another two dogs.
This time it was two who had met Nima before but hadn't met each other, Sky and Rocco. As you can see, all three had an amazing time too.
We are so proud of all of them, its an amazing experience watching dogs that have been written off by so many others interact with each other and look to passers by that they are just 'normal' pets.
All four boys were in bed when I left the kennels, content and tired, even Nima was worn out!
Next up was a sleep over for Tia as she's at the vets to be speyed today. She is still a little whirlwind, but she has come on so much in the time we have had her, I knew she would enjoy the company of my dogs.....
Saturday, 8 August 2020
I was lucky enough to enjoy another great practical day yesterday and got Benji and Tia to the seaside.
It was a huge step for them both, but they behaved impeccably, ignoring the crowds of people, children and dogs.
Whilst he enjoyed himself, I think its fair to say the big wide world blew Benji's head a bit. Tia on the other hand just dragged me to every rock pool she could find!
Monday, 3 August 2020
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Thursday, 16 July 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 2020
Having worked so hard, it seemed only fair to give Sky a little treat. Especially saying yesterday's trip ended in such worrying circumstances. Cambois beach seemed perfect.....
Then of course, when he got home it was time to play with some of his new friends.....
Sky is a little male Staffordshire Bull Terrier that came to us a few years ago after getting himself into trouble in every foster home he had had. Quite a little character, he quickly bonded with the team here and I am pleased to say his history has been kept firmly in the past.
Yesterday I thought it would be nice for him to get a run out to somewhere different, but also so I could assess him a little more closely and work towards giving him the second chance he has worked so hard for.
We set off in my van and parked up at a place only a couple of miles from the kennels, but far enough for him to feel as if he had travelled to the other side of the world. Miles of green grass, trees, a river, waterfalls and a fantastic view of Alnwick Castle.
We did a loop and walked for maybe forty minutes, he sniffed everywhere, passed people without showing any interest, passed dogs with no issues, he really only seemed interested in them when they were off in the distance. He was having a great time, although as we were nearly back at the gate onto the road to the van, I noticed he was panting. He'd done so well and was maybe just tired I thought.
On the road he walked a couple of hundred yards then sat down. The panting had increased, I was beginning to get concerned. He walked another couple of steps then sat again. Picking him up I hurried him back to the van to offer him some water, which he refused. I rushed him back to the kennels.
Lying stretched out on the floor of his kennel the panting was getting heavier. It was as if he was labouring to breath. I opened his mouth and his tongue had turned blue.
I quickly called Coquet Vets who went out of their way to make sure they could see him as soon as I could get him there.
The journey is a bit of a blur. Sky was on the passenger seat and I could see the tongue continue to change colour. I really did worry if I was going to get him there in time. Talking to him all the way, I gave him a step by step update of exactly where we were on his route and how far away we were from his destination.
The doors to the surgery were opening as they saw my van screech into the car park. I carried him through into the operating theatre, where Rosie and Becca were already prepared with drugs to help him. On examination his larynx was massively swollen, hence the difficulty in breathing. Steroids and an antihistamine were immediately given to reduce the swelling so they could get an oxygen tube down his throat. I could see the worry on their faces, even more so when Emily rushed into help.
I left him under anaesthetic and getting X Rays on his chest in case there was something extremely sinister going on. I was still shaking with shock all the way home. How could such a nice morning of gone so wrong.
A couple of hours later Emily called me to say he was recovering well and his colour had returned to normal. The X Rays hadn't shown any abnormalities, neither had an abdominal scan. She didn't think he had been poisoned in any way, the strongest reason for his condition seemed to be that he had developed anaphylaxis in reaction to some kind of sting.
I have to say in all the years I have been doing this I have never seen anything like this. Its frightening to think that something so simple nearly took Sky's life. Very frightening.
I collected him on my way home and let him stay the night so I could keep a close eye on him. The dog I picked up was like the one who was thoroughly enjoying his day out in the morning. I cannot thank the girls at Coquet Vets enough for saving his life. Yes getting him there as quickly as I did was important, but the way they dealt with it and were so prepared made such a huge difference and probably saved him.
Sky has always been good with other dogs, so I wasn't surprised to see that he was perfect with my oldies, but next up was the big boys.....
Once again he was perfect, the boys loved him and he loved them. It was quite emotional watching them play after thinking he was going to die in my van just a few hours ago.
I am working from home today, so Sky has another day to recover and get over his ordeal. He has been clean in the house, waking me up three times during the night to go out for a wee which was expected because of the large amounts of steroids and fluids he had yesterday, and he adores being with the other dogs.
I have a new little shadow, but I don't care. I am just grateful he is here.
Of course all of this has cost us money that we weren't expecting to spend, especially in such uncertain times. Coquet Vets give us a very generous discount which is greatly appreciated, but still we have paid £333.93.
I know it is a very difficult time still, but if anyone can donate towards his bill they can do by the following:
Or via cheque (made payable to SHAK) to SHAK. Greenwell Road, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1HB.
Thank you in advance.
So, yesterday was meant to be a nice day out to learn a little bit more about Sky. I certainly have done, but I have also seen first hand how something as simple as an allergic reaction to a sting or bite can very nearly cause a fatal reaction. Please, especially in the summer, keep an eye out for any of the symptoms I have mentioned and if you see them get your dog to your vet as soon as possible. I wouldn't want anybody to go through what I saw yesterday.
I have learnt so much about Sky, he is an amazing little dog that does deserve that second chance. It would need to be an experienced home, but I am sure he could make that transition with the right support. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Carrying on in the series of ‘Practical Days,’ yesterday it was Daisy’s turn for a trip to the seaside. Another stray with no history, we stopped her being destroyed in a local pound for allegedly being aggressive.
In all the time we have had her she has been superb, apart from her tendency to want to grab the lead as you enter her kennel. Yesterday was a perfect opportunity to see if that behaviour was caused by being stressed in the kennel environment or something deeper rooted.
Jumping into the back of the Defender herself, she never looked at the lead the whole time, in fact I’d go as far as saying she was perfect.
She loved all the smells and sights and was far more affectionate than I thought she would be, always offering cuddles and giving kisses, whether you wanted them or not.
Friday, 12 June 2020
When we eventually turned around to head back, another lady approached with two Retriever’s off lead. Cheech clearly saw them approaching so I deliberately stood behind him and followed his steps one by one. As the contour of the beach changed, he couldn’t see them because of a rise in the sand. I nudged Rachel to watch his movement, discreetly and so quietly that you wouldn’t have noticed, Cheech made his way to the other side of Rachel, again stretching the lead to the limit. Afterwards, I explained what I had done. The fact that I had deliberately marked out where his path was going and compared it to where he was now striding ahead. Even though he couldn’t see the woman or the dogs, he had made sure he was safe.
Monday, 8 June 2020
Wednesday, 3 June 2020
I made a conscious decision during lockdown, that once we were beginning to come out of this, I was going to have one designated day per week, that I called my "Practical Day." These days would focus around enriching the life of the dogs, whether it be working on introducing them to new members of staff or volunteers, or like yesterday just giving them a break and doing some close up assessments at the same time.
I think it is fair to say that the majority of our dogs can be split into one of two categories. The ones that need just a little input to try and get their lives back on track and into homes, and ones that have been so damaged by people that such an opportunity will probably never arrive.
For my first "Practical Day" I deliberately chose one from each category and set off in the van to give Casper and Dande a great day out, but also to be able to learn so much more from them.
I have a real special place in my heart for Casper. We took him from another rescue when it looked as if he was going to be destroyed. He was finding it difficult to adjust to a new beginning after a previous life of allegedly being used in dog fights.
He has a constant need to have something in his mouth, in the past it was a lead, meaning that he was unable to be taken for walks. Anyone who has had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier tugging on a lead will tell you just how strong their jaws are, and of course such an obsession had escalated into getting himself into trouble.
As soon as we got him, I gave him a training dummy to carry around with him, and he loved it. Giving him a job and a purpose seemed to take his mind off the other issues, and kept both him and the handler safe. There has obviously been a lot of psychological damage done to him too, as sometimes he just doesn't want to walk. Instead he slams the anchors on and refuses to move. I think it upsets volunteers, as they all want to take him further, it seems such a shame that he misses out on the long walks the other dogs get.
During lockdown, I have spent a lot of time with him and we have gotten to the level where he will walk as far as I want him to. It has taken patience and resilience, but we seem to have made a connection. That's why I chose him for a day out away from the kennels. I wanted to see how he would react to not knowing where he was, all the new smells and sights. He was absolutely brilliant.
When we parked up, I got him out of the crate and he launched himself out of the van, so excited that he nearly pulled me off my feet. He had travelled exceptionally well, not crying or chewing the blankets, it was great to watch him steaming forward nose to the ground. He was so fixated on the smells that he hadn't even thought about his dummy, he just walked and sniffed until a toilet break for him broke his concentration and he looked at me for his dummy.
He walked a couple of miles to the beach, carrying his dummy and sniffing, then once he could smell the sea air and salt water, he dropped it again. It was great seeing him so relaxed, and trying to investigate the seaweed in the sea as he paddled.
We then ventured around the harbour where there was the distractions of people, fishermen, other dogs (more on that later) all the time he was close to me. I made sure that he knew he was safe. I would say that approximately 65% of the walk was 'dummy free.'
The whole time I was conscious of safety. I kept him away from others, both human and canine, nothing seemed to bother him. Even when he passed a huge fishing boat that was in a dry dock and being jet washed, he just kept walking.
Then we got to a little area where a couple were walking a pair of Collies. We both allowed each other plenty of room, but they retreated a little more. At first, I thought it was because they were wary of Casper, but then I saw why. One of their dogs was reactive and had a bark at us as we went past. That was just a little bit too much for Casper and he jumped up and grabbed his lead, even the offer of his dummy wasn't enough to distract him. Luckily, there was seat that was shaded by a wall, close by. I went and sat with him there, within seconds once he realised that he couldn't see anything and there was nothing to be afraid of, he settled right down and lay by my feet.
He got a drink from a bowl at a van selling ice creams, then we started our return journey. Once again he was calm, he walked up the high street, along a busy road, not once did he flacker at anything. The only thing we had to watch was the fact he kept dropping his dummy, he was that tired.
In total he was out walking for an hour and ten minutes, and apart from that one reaction when he was the victim rather than the instigator, he was impeccable. It was such a great thing to see and be part of, I think that he possibly had just had the best time of his life. Lying exhausted in the van as we got Dande out, he had the proudest and widest Staffy smile.
Rachel met me in the car park with her fantastic stooge dog Nima, because I really wanted to put the next dog through his paces. Dande came to us just a little while before lockdown came into force, after he was booked in to be destroyed at the vets. He was described as horrendous with other dogs and most people. At only two years old, he appeared to me as just a mixed up boy who was frightened of the world he was living in.
Having never met Nima before, I wondered how he would react, I shouldn't have worried. He was the perfect gentleman from the minute they were introduced outside the van. So good in fact, that instantly me and Rachel took turns in walking the two of them together.
We did the exact same walk, only this time it was us that stopped for a drink rather than the dogs. The two of them just sat outside the shop waiting for Rachel, it was amazing to see how quickly Dande had adapted.
|Dande on the left, Nima on the right.|
Dande seemed to like the beach and was quite relaxed, sharing the attention, there was no jealousy even when Nima found her favourite thing, a stick!
|Dande on the right this time.|
Walking back up the high street, again his behaviour was impeccable. A young couple made a comment as we walked by, they obviously thought the dogs looked cute, but also as if we were just normal people walking our own two dogs. Quite a compliment for little Dande, but he really had settled so well.
There was a couple of more times that a noise spooked him, the most bizarre one being when I opened my bottle of Pepsi Max, but once again it was just a little slouch that he quickly recovered from.
Yesterday was a brilliant day, obviously for the dogs, but also for me to be able to see how they both adapted to the various environments and surroundings. I am so proud of them both (and Nima) for taking it all in their stride, so much so I am still glowing now even as I write this 24 hours later.
(SHAK is a small independent sanctuary for abused, mistreated and neglected dogs. We get no government funding and rely heavily on our supporters and donations. If you would like to help towards our work you can make a donation via PayPal: paypal.me/shaksanctuary )