Change Lives

Change Lives

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Two Gone But Never Forgotten.....

As my own life begins to get back to normality I just wanted to mention to wonderful SHAK dogs who will never be forgotten.....

During the process of moving and having no internet reception I was given the very sad news that Sonny our original three legged dog had passed away. When he arrived with us Sonny was depressed. He need an operation called an entropian on his eyes, and look quite simply down in the dumps. On top of all this he had a front leg missing.....
After a few false dawns he found true love with a family that adored him, and with Graham a Dad who simply adored him. I think the picture below sums him up, especially after such a difficult start in life:

Then the 13th September marked the 4th anniversary of the death of a really BIG character at SHAK. Mama Bear was an amazing dog who touched all of our lives.....Here is what I wrote on her first remembrance:

It's a year today since we lost the biggest (in every sense of the word) dog SHAK has ever had. Mama Bear passed away in her kennel 5 hours before she was due to go into a foster home, and two days before she was due for surgery to remove mammary tumours.

Having arrived from the Midlands where she'd been a stray, she quickly won over the hearts of everyone, we were all desperate to see her through to better times, but it just wasn't to be.

The photo's above weren't staged, she literally decided she wanted to sit on my knee. At over 60kg she took some getting off. Still what a hug.

Nobody that was lucky enough to meet you Bear will ever forget you. I just wish we'd got you sooner. I'll see you at Rainbow Bridge for another hug one day.

It's A Dogs Life.....

"Abandoned by the people you trust,left on your own without the family you adore. Everything you've ever known gone forever. Surrounded by strange places and strange people. Your whole life turned upside down. How would you cope?

But every cloud has a silver lining and for this dog the emptiness is gradually replaced by new friends, bestfriends, all with their own story to tell, and perhaps all facing the same fate.

It’s A Dog's Lifeis an insight into the frightening and heart-breaking world of a stray dog – a Rottweiler’s view on life in a pound after he loses everything he's ever owned,loved and cherished, and his battle to try and understand why."

Written by Stephen Wylie, each copy sold means a donation to SHAK.

Here's a few thoughts of people who have bought and read it.....

"I was a bit scared to read this at first because I love dogs but it is is nicely written in an easy to read style. It's written from a dog's perspective and helps you understand how they must feel when their owners abandon them. Everyone who has a dog should be made to read this to remind them that dogs do have feelings and they trust us."

"It's rare that I pick a book up and feel that I have to devour it in one sitting, but with It's a Dogs Life that is what happened. An easy read that is brilliantly written from a dogs point of view it outlines the feelings that an abandoned soul goes through when he loses the family he loves and the lovable characters he meets on his journey who are all struggling to come to terms with similar, each page leaves you wanting to know more.

As a fellow rescue worker, I could easily identify with the characters in the book and I feel that the human race sometimes forget the extent that dogs feel, that they do have feelings that they think and they love.

A must read for animal lovers but have the tissues handy and a harsh reminder of the cast away society we live in and that more needs to be done to combat an ever increasing unwanted dog problem.

Hats off to the author, brilliant job, would be interested in seeing a sequel and for a final bonus, profits from the book helps a fantastic charity!"

 "Brilliant! What i expected, but complete honesty.It makes you review Mankind, & understand the fragility of the canine's world. I would highly recommend this book. A must read."

"Couldn't put this book down until I had finished it! What an emotional read. Could really empathise with the souls portrayed in this book. Makes you want to help them all, just as the author hopes!"

"It's an emotional read, but an excellent insight to the pound system from the dog's eye view. I just wanted to hug the the abandoned Rottwheiler that is the main character & the others! The bouncy staffy, the noble greyhound, the elderly girly, all frightened and bewildered & wondering what they did to deserve being in the pound! Anyone who ever thought about getting a dog should read this.

I was recommended to this by a Rescue Colleague & ordered it, mainly to support SHAK, as they do fantastic work. It arrive the day after I ordered it, I opened it & started reading. A couple of hours later, i had completed it, put it down with tears in my eyes & hugged my dog, she was one of the lucky ones.

Keep up the good work"

"Totally agree with this well written review. My copy of the book arrived yesterday, and I read it in one sitting, and was in tears by the end - tears of sorrow and anger.

I have recently adopted two rescue dogs - both were dumped by their owners, and one has been utterly brutalised, both physically and mentally. Two wonderful dogs, with so much to give, and who ask very little in return.

Sadly, as a friend commented, people treat children despicably in our society, so the animals stand little chance. However, we must continue to fight, because, as the saying goes, 'all it needs for evil to flourish is that good people stand by and do nothing'."

You can order your copy here:

Giving A Bark.....

I'm delighted to finally officially release a brand new SHAK T Shirt on here.....

"Giving A Bark About The Dogs Nobody Else Wants".....

Exactly what SHAK is all about. Featuring the silhouette of the much loved and much missed SHAK godfather Oskar, these high quality screen printed Tees really get the message across.

Available in black and purple or purple and white......

Order yours here:

Giving A Bark.....

Monday, 15 September 2014

Anja At The Seaside.....

You will remember Anja from a "Change Lives" appeal a little while back. She is responding well to her renal diet, and I had her down to the vets last week for her routine blood tests to check her phosphate levels. As you can see though she is enjoying her life, and making new friends all the time. This is one of several trips she has had to the seaside, and I'm not sure who looks the happier, Anja or Kate!

Pictures like this make it all worthwhile, but remember we still need your help..... Anja's prescription food cost just over £80 for a 14kg bag. Can you help us with our life long commitment to give Anja the only thing that can help her?

If so you can contribute by the following methods:

Send a cheque (payable to SHAK) to Wildwood Cottage, 3a Stead Lane, Bedlington NE22 5LT.

Make a donation via PayPal to the email address (marking all donations the Anja Appeal)

Call Moorview Vets directly on 0191 256 6990 (please tell them it is for food for Anja at SHAK)

Hand in your donation to the SHAK stall at one of the events on the Events Page.

Or print off the Standing Order form below:
Of course, another way of helping is by offering Anja a Forever Foster home. It would be the very least she deserves if she was to spend her life with a family that loves her. If you are interested then please contact me via email
The information we have tells us Anja is only three years old. Her life hasn't even started yet. We are doing all we can to kick start it, and even save it. But we need your help.....

Little Tai All Grown Up.....

It's always nice to get photographs that show how happy in their homes our dogs are, but in Tai's case its just great to see how handsome he has turned out.....

Tai When He Arrived With Us.
Graham and his family have done a wonderful job, and as you can see he is well loved and has a best friend. Well done Tai.

"Hello Steve,just to let you have a quick update on Tai as its just over 2 years since he joined the family.He's well loved by us all as he was from day one and still enjoys a cuddle on the settee from my daughter when shes tired and wanting to go to sleep! .He's great company and still as boisterous as he was when he was a pup!Hope you're all doing well andthanks again for letting us take Tai way back then,regards Graham"

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Heidi Comes With Another Sad Story.....

There has been a lot of movement with the dogs over the last month or so too. One girl who has arrived and instantly won hearts is Heidi.

Heidi was due to be destroyed in a pound, she is in fact very fortunate as she was put on the van to us at the last minute on a transport run for another dog. On arrival I noticed a huge lump underneath,possibly a mammary tumour, and after seeing a vet it was decided that she required x rays to see what was going on. She is booked in for Friday coming.

However on Thursday Heidi collapsed. After that she was very unsteady on her feet and walking as if she were drunk. I rushed her to the vets who examined her and told me to monitor her. She stayed the night at our house, and on Friday morning she was dramatically worse. I rushed her down again as she could hardly keep herself on her feet,where the news wasn't great.

Heidi is being treated symptomatically for Vestibular Disease, a disease that effects the body's ability to balance. Here is a link that describes the disease:

Vestibular Disease Explained.....

However the bad news didn't stop there. Worse case scenario is that rather than this condition, Heidi has something more sinister like a brain tumour. I cannot put into words how the thought of that makes me feel.

She has been prescribed antibiotics, anti motion sickness tablets and has had a steroid injection, and I am pleased to say that she is looking a lot more like her normal self. She still isn't out of the woods as I still believe further investigation is needed, but at the moment we are taking each day at a time and she seems to be enjoying the holiday of staying with us.
Heidi Enjoying The Sun Going Down.

The Launch Of The New 2015 Calendars.....

As I said work has been on going, and I'm delighted to announce the launch of the brand new and official 2015 SHAK Calendar, which is available now!

Please remember, that thanks to the wonderful sponsors EVERY PENNY made from the sale of these calendars goes straight to the dogs!

Have the faces of some of the dogs you have helped us save brighten up your day, every day.

To get yours, please follow the link to the SHAK Shop.....


Apologies for the lack of posts on here, but I have had to move house, and that coupled with a wait of two weeks for broadband to be connected has made posting impossible.

There has still been a lot going on at the kennels, and I will try my best to update you all in the forthcoming days/weeks.

In the meantime thank you for your patience.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Can You Help Bella.....

This beautiful girl is Bella,, a Crossbreed that has recently come to us after a tough life. She was covered in fleas, in fact her infestation was so bad you could actually see them jumping all over her body. She appears to be a girl that is eager to please, and is waiting for an opportunity to start her life properly.

If you are interested in helping Bella (or any other of our dogs) then please contact

Bailey All Grown Up.....

Geoff and Lesley had a great time recently catching up with a familiar, but now all grown up face in Bailey. You may remember Bailey being very young and puppyish when he arrived at SHAK, well I think its safe to say he has grown up into a very handsome boy:

Baby Bailey When He Arrived With Us.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Another Special Day.....

My head is spinning right now, so many memories coupled with the loss of JD yesterday. Today is another special day, as its three years since we had to say goodbye to another massive SHAK legend. Anyone who listened to today's radio show will know exactly how emotional we all are right now.

Gunnar was without doubt the most fearsome dog I have ever met. He didn't need to bark or growl, he simply clacked his teeth to let you know he didn't like you, and those eyes..... I was fortunate, I never witnessed either directed at me. In fact I received more affection than I thought was possible given his background.

I still think about him, and miss him. I still love him, and take strength from all he taught me. Lessons no text book could ever teach, and for that I will always be eternally grateful.....

Here's what I wrote the day he died:

"This is has been one of the saddest weeks in SHAK's history. First we had Harry being diagnosed with Lymphoma, today one of the special big boys died in my arms.
Gunnar came to us because nobody else would take him. The fact that he was a security dog meant that nobody wanted anything to do with him. He was discarded, after the idiot that had ruined his life decided he didn't want him anymore. The day he arrived, he wanted to eat everybody. It took 4 of us to carry him in a crate to his kennel, it was like carrying a wild animal.

Over time, Gunnar and I bonded to the extent he was my dog. After that "difficult" start, I got to do everything with him, groom him, walk him, even attend to little ailments and injuries. To everyone else he was scary, to me he was the biggest, cuddliest bear. I lived to help him.

After a couple of days of not being quite right, and appointment was made for him to go to the vets tomorrow. Given his past, getting him there was going to be like a military operation. This morning though I went into his kennel as soon as I got there, and on trying to get him out he collapsed. He was never to walk again.

I rushed him to the emergency vets, where we tried everything. Blood tests revealed his body was shutting down, multiple organ failure the vet called it. She went to get the needle to ease his suffering, but she didn't need it. He died naturally in my arms.

Gunnar gave me so much. Much more than I ever gave him. He died unmuzzled in my arms with vets and nurses trying to save him, just like any normal dog would. A far cry from the crazed beast that arrived that Good Friday. The 18 months we had was perhaps the best months of his life, but he taught me so much and proved so many people wrong. Above are some photos of the good times we had. I am so proud of him, and miss him so much already. Life really won't be the same without him."
In a week we have lost another big boy that taught us all so much, Gunnar has been clear in my thoughts. In fact if Bodie (and Doyle) hadn't come here I wouldn't of had the courage to take on what turned out to be one of my best friends. I miss you Big Gee.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Farewell To JD.....

More bad news as we had to say goodbye to a dog that has been an absolute superstar from the minute I picked him up as a stray. JD was exactly as his name stated..... Just Dog, but in the nicest possible way. An over night stay on being collected turned in a forever home for him with my daughter and her Mam, and from that day forward he was the perfect pet. He loved food, he loved walks (a little too much at first as he pulled like a steam train) but most of all he loved the little girl that looked after him.

Lymphoma took hold of JD, the disease itself attacked his intestines, but he was brave and his strength meant he was able to enjoy some more fun packed weeks with his family, especially his favourite place, the seaside.

Today he has gone to a better place, no longer suffering but still loved as much as ever. He has left a family that loved him and will always miss him. He has also left a lasting impression on a little girl as her dog that she grew up with..... Just like a dog should do.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A Year For Big Bodie.....

It's a year today since we lost big Bodie, and all though so much has happened in between, it still feels like he is still there. I often have to correct myself from saying "can you please walk Bodie and Doyle." Those two just seemed destined to always be here..... and together.

I still miss him. We all still miss him, and a year on after we lost him that's not a bad achievement for a scrapyard dog that nobody else wanted.....

Turning back the clock a year:

It is a really sad day today as we lost one of true legends that this charity has been lucky enough to spend time with. Bodie came along with his brother Doyle after spending 8 and a half years in a scrapyard. They arrived on a Sunday morning. The bulldozer and a marksmen was booked for the Monday morning.

This morning we found he had passed away in his sleep.

Bodie was a mess and scary on arrival, but he quickly came around. Its a testament to him that when I spoke to people today to tell them he'd gone, at least three volunteers came back with "he was the first SHAK dog I walked." Even more incredibly was that when David came to work he admitted he was scared of German Shepherds. Guess who I made him walk on his second day.....

Bodie has left everyone devastated. Being at the kennels will never be the same without Doyle's sidekick. However, like I told everyone today, we can all be extremely proud of him, and consider ourselves extremely lucky to of spent 3 years with such an amazing, gentle giant. After all before coming to us he'd been left to fend for himself in the snow for 3 weeks, and was less than 24 hours from getting a bullet.

There are so many stories and tales about this big guy and his brother, but for me personally there are two I will never forget. The day they arrived, muzzled, matted and ready to eat me. Stopping just inches from me as they hurled from the transit van that they had travelled in.

Secondly today, as I wheeled his shrouded brother past his kennel, Doyle stopped and sniffed him from head to toe and back again, licking him on the way back up, and crying. He then started playing with his ball again.

Brothers too the end, but life goes on. We all miss you  Bodie, the world is an emptier place without you in it. Thank you for showing us so much.

Bodie the day after he arrived.
Years of oil engrained in his coat.

How we all remember him.