Change Lives

Change Lives

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A New Independence For Doyle.....

Since finding mobility again with his set of wheels Doyle seems to have found a new zest for getting up and about. I said earlier that we would do everything we could to help our big boy and make sure he was happy.

Yesterday we tried something new, and it seemed to work. We tried Doyle in a rear support harness meaning that he can still walk himself but we support him by taking the weight of his back end.  Hard work for us all, but I think Doyle's face shows just how much he enjoyed his new found independence.....





Monday, 27 July 2015

Five Years On We Still Have True Spirit.....

It's 5 years today since I lost a dog that I was only lucky enough to have for ten days, but has had a lasting impression on the lives of so many other dogs. Of course I have now lost Oskar too but the effect that Spirit had on his life and of so many others, an effect that lives on today in dogs like Kai and Maisie that Oskar helped, will never leave me.....

I first saw Spirit on a website where a rescue were trying to secure dogs rescue places. He was very skinny and appeared to be holding his back leg up on the photos, I was delighted to hear when I enquired that he’d found a place and would be moving on any day soon. The next day I got a phone call to say that his placement had fallen through and could I take him. Of course I couldn’t say no.

When Spirit arrived he was painfully thin and there was obviously something seriously wrong with his back leg. I decided to take him to the vets and decided that he could stay at mine over night before returning to the kennels. The vet discovered he was suffering from severe hip dysplasia and was going to need surgery on both hips. A plan was hatched, the vet kindly donated his time to keep the operation as cheap as possible, and Derek even came up with a Spirits For Spirit raffle to help raise the funds to pay. But the most amazing thing was still to come. My GSD Oskar was at that time dog aggressive, so for his sleep over I decided to sleep on the sitting room floor with Spirit to keep them separate, forgetting Oskar can open doors. The next morning I was woken by the sound of the sitting room door opening, then the shock sank in, my eyes burst open to see Oskar and Spirit kissing before Spirit toddled out after him. I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. They were best friends after that, and for the next week they went everywhere together. Spirit was happy, and Oskar loved the male company.
Then the shock hit. A routine x ray to see the damage to the hips showed that Spirit was suffering from something more sinister than Hip D. That back leg was riddled with bone tumours. I had to go with the vets advice and do what was best for Spirit, I never saw Spirit again.

The ten days he was with me, Spirit changed things forever. All the male dogs that live and have had the chance to live in my home have him to thank, as has Oskar for getting him through a difficult spell in his life. That dog was  so brave, he would have been in so much pain, a true true spirit.





Sunday, 26 July 2015

Two Great Voluntary Opportunities To Join Our Team.....

The hardest part of running this charity isn't the dogs, but managing the people side. The work we do is so specialised that you have to be a really special person to help on ALL levels.

It's not just at the kennels that we need a reliable, dedicated and highly skilled team, but also behind the scenes we need need just as special an individual to help out with all the aspects of the team that keeps the whole thing in existence..... The fund raising team.

Joan and her team do an amazing job sourcing, arranging and then manning all the official events throughout the year. Without them there wouldn't be a SHAK.

On Saturday two VOLUNTARY positions within this team became available, people move on that's life, but it has left us very short of 'hands on deck' when it comes to the events that we already have booked. Events that we must fulfil, and will fulfil.

So..... Here's another great opportunity for somebody (or preferably somebodies) to join our team. Here's what we need......

-Someone who can give up time slots of at least 3 hours per day on a Saturday or Sunday, at least TWICE per month.

-Someone who is flexible and can fit the time around when they are needed the most to make sure that the whole event is covered.

-Someone who has their own transport and can turn out all over Northumberland.

-Someone who is dedicated to saving the dogs that really do have no where else to go, and can work as a vital part of a team. Whilst at first you will be helping with existing events, we would love to have someone who can work alongside the head of fundraising and look to take responsibility in taking on their own projects.

So if you have all of the above and would like to express an interest in this VOLUNTARY role then please email fundraising@shak.org.uk

(Please note due to time constraints not all enquiries may receive replies.)


ALSO WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR.....

I guess we've become a victim of our own success, and whilst the charity has grown beyond my wildest dreams,  it has also become more and more difficult to manage. We are punching well above our weight for such a small charity and running on such a restricted budget.

We would love to have another member of full time staff on board to help with every aspect of the day to day routine and the dogs needs,  and to help with the dogs with the severe health and behaviour issues,  but unfortunately we just don't have the funding to do so.

However, as they say "as one door closes another opens" and a VOLUNTARY position may provide us with the help we need. So, I am appealing for somebody to join our team that can designate at least 6 hours a day for a minimum of 2 days every week, has their own transport and wants to learn and experience the joys that arise working with dogs that have had such a tough time.

I think it's important to point out that this is not an advert for voluntary dog walkers, nor will we be starting to take on volunteers on a regular basis.  It is a chance for someone to become a valued member of our team, to learn all aspects of rescue (including cleaning kennels) and has the time to prioritise two days of their week to help the dogs that nobody else wants. Believe me when I say seeing the rewards of giving your time well out ways the actual time you give.

So if you have two days a week to volunteer for at least 6 hours on each, have your own transport and would love hands on experience of getting to really know man's best friend, then drop me an email at foreverfoster@shak.org.uk

(Please note due to time constraints not all enquiries may receive replies.)




Thursday, 23 July 2015

Freya's Next Adventure.....

I thought it was time to give Freya a little bit more to think about, and decided to test her out with Star, Laser and Bandit. Well, see for yourself how it went.....


Freya is a gorgeous girl who is stuck with us simply because of her breed. If you are interested in offering her a Forever Foster home then email foreverfoster@shak.org.uk


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Doyle Doing What He Loves.....

I have real mixed emotions posting these updates on Doyle, sadness that he is so poorly but also happiness that we are getting to make his time with us fun. There is also a lot of pride in what we are doing for him and not giving up on him.....

Yesterday David and I were very lucky to spend some time with him doing what he loves..... Playing Ball!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Work & Life Begins Now For Max.....

A video of Max who arrived in a very difficult situation last week. Clearly terrified, he is beginning to come round, and shows what can be achieved in a couple of days.....


Friday, 10 July 2015

SHAK.....

A new promo film to show what SHAK is all about. There are some disturbing images on there, but that's real life and what we have to attend to every day.....


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dino Making Friends.....

We decided to call the American Bulldog that arrived a couple of weeks ago Dino, and I have to say we are all very proud of him. After making such huge progress, yesterday was a big day for him as he went out on a walk for the first time with two other American Bulldogs that live together, Kennedy and Layla..... 


Kennedy, Layla and Dino.
As you can see he had a great time and really enjoyed the company..... a far cry from the dog that arrived with us.....


You'll also hopefully remember his first step into the outdoor world with us the very next day.....


Then just 11 days later.....





Freya's Holiday Romance.....

You will remember that Freya has been staying at home with us for a little while as she recovers from a skin problem and being speyed. As you can see she is looking very well, having fun and making new friends.....


And just for your amusement, and like all good films, here's the out take! (Literally)


We would love to see Freya find her Forever Foster home from here rather than her having to face the hustle and bustle back at The Rescue Place. If you would like more information then please email foreverfoster@shak.org.uk


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Freedom.....

Thank you to everyone for their best wishes and words of support for Doyle and everything we are trying to do to help him. We are all aware that this is the last roll of the dice, and only time will tell how long those dice continue to roll.

In the meantime I cannot sum up in words the joy on his face when he sees his wheels or how great it is to see him sniffing the air and grass and really feeling like he has freedom.....

Monday, 6 July 2015

Would you like To Join Our Team?....

I guess we've become a victim of our own success, and whilst the charity has grown beyond my wildest dreams,  it has also become more and more difficult to manage. We are punching well above our weight for such a small charity and running on such a restricted budget.

We would love to have another member of full time staff on board to help with every aspect of the day to day routine and the dogs needs,  and to help with the dogs with the severe health and behaviour issues,  but unfortunately we just don't have the funding to do so.

However, as they say "as one door closes another opens" and a VOLUNTARY position may provide us with the help we need. So, I am appealing for somebody to join our team that can designate at least 6 hours a day for a minimum of 2 days every week, has their own transport and wants to learn and experience the joys that arise working with dogs that have had such a tough time.

I think it's important to point out that this is not an advert for voluntary dog walkers, nor will we be starting to take on volunteers on a regular basis.  It is a chance for someone to become a valued member of our team, to learn all aspects of rescue (including cleaning kennels) and has the time to prioritise two days of their week to help the dogs that nobody else wants. Believe me when I say seeing the rewards of giving your time well out ways the actual time you give.

So if you have two days a week to volunteer for at least 6 hours on each, have your own transport and would love hands on experience of getting to really know man's best friend, then drop me an email at foreverfoster@shak.org.uk

(Please note due to time constraints not all enquiries may receive replies.)

Friday, 3 July 2015

We Did It.....

I'm delighted to announce that we have won the vote for Sainsbury's Alnwick charity of the Year!
Thank you all so much for voting for us against such strong competition.

Please keep an eye open for future events at the store.....

We're really proud to of won this.  Thank you. 

Proud But Sad.....

I am very proud of what we did yesterday, although its also very sad to see Doyle needing to use his wheels. A big old ex scrapyard dog like him being so dependent on help.

Still it gives him quality to his life and allows the back end to move as quickly as the front end and the brain still does. He is so brave and has so much fight that he will not give in to CDRM, but when it comes to Doyle so do we.....




Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Kayla's Story.....

A real fitting tribute to a wonderful girl, thank you Jenna.....


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Eleven Days On.....

You'll remember the big male American Bulldog (we still need to give him a name) that arrived not long ago.....


You'll also hopefully remember his first step into the outdoor world with us the very next day.....


Well here he is today, just 11 days later.....


Amazing progress from an amazing boy.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Ignore The Ignorance And Don't Be Breedist.....


It's a busy time for Freya, as she popped down to see the vet at the weekend for medication to clear up a spot of wet eczema. We thought she deserved a little break afterwards, so she's been here on holiday.  Freya has been brilliant, taking everything in her stride, and I think she is enjoying seeing the sunset and the countryside.

She has been in kennels a lot longer than she should of been, I guess if she hadn't had the misfortune of being born an American Bulldog she would of been snapped up by now. Truth is that she is a wonderful friendly and playful girl, who despite her obvious mistreatment earlier in life, is so trusting of people. True testament to what a fantastic breed she belongs too.....

So if you can 'ignore the ignorance' and your not 'breedist' and feel you could offer Freya the home to call her own she so much deserves, then get in touch..... foreverfoster@shak.org.uk


Buddy's Story.....


mentioned the amazing little dog that is Buddy a couple of weeks back, well having got sick of me not getting my backside in gear and pulling his story together, Melissa has decided to do her own video..... and a great job she's done too.

Buddy was collected by our Out of Hours team, emaciated, wobbly on his back end and bloated from scavenging off the streets. On the way to the vets he was sick..... kebab and pizza!




Mel and David fell in love with him and took him home. After trips to the vets and eventually a MRI scan it was discovered he was most likely born with a kink in his spine putting pressure on his spinal cord. After much thought it was decided surgery was his only option to have a normal pain free life. The tops of three vertebrae were taken off to relive the pressure on his spinal cord.

 I'm delighted to say that once again Moorview Vets were superb, and the operation has been a huge success.

As you can see Buddy's quality of life has had a dramatic up turn, and now he lives and runs like any dog can, and he has a family that adores him.....















 All that said though, they say that actions are better than words, so thanks to Melissa, heres..... Buddy's Story:


Goodbye To The Wonderful Kayla.....

Saturday was another really sad day, as we had to say goodbye to another very special and wonderful girl.

Kayla was covered in huge lumps when she turned up at our door as a stray. She had a huge one around her back end and it was clear to see that she'd been dumped.....



But Kayla's luck had just changed for the better, and when Jenna, Sarah and Lewis offered her a home to recover in after her surgery, she never looked back. That temporary arrangement became permanent after Kayla had won a huge place in their hearts with her never say die attitude and spirit. She was already a great dog, but with a family of her own she blossomed and even adjusted to when Blade went to stay without much fuss.

I will never forget Kayla being the perfect ambassador for SHAK at a fundraiser at the Blue Bell, introducing herself to everybody at every table..... that had food!

Recently Kayla had slowed right down, and x rays last week confirmed our worst fears. A huge bone tumour had settled itself in her hip. It was so large there was nothing that could be done.

So after a week of dining out and take aways followed by ice cream, Kayla's family had to be brave themselves and let her go. I will always be grateful to them for giving her a chance when she needed it most. For giving her a life..... that was all Kayla needed.

She is missed, and loves. God bless her.



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

We Lose Another Very Special Boy.....


We are all trying to get to terms with another very traumatic and sad 24 hours. I received a call whilst travelling to Scotland and a rare day trip to say that Benson had collapsed and was in a bad way. A very supportive and understanding Rachel agreed that there was nothing else to do but turn around and rush back to get him to the vets. It was a long road back.

Benson's story in itself is a very sad one. Found by the body of his owner who had committed suicide using his lead, Benson was understandably stressed and fearful. I still have the paperwork from the Police stating "property to be rehomed or destroyed." It took Benson a long time to get over those events and I guess it was even years before the real Benson started to shine through.

In Sheena he found a true friend, a person who he could trust, and a person he could call his own on her days at the kennels. Their bond was incredible to watch, and she could do things to him that I wouldn't dream of trying. I think despite our own grief the thoughts of the team are all with her right now.

Yesterday we found Benson lying down, dehydrated and anaemic. He was shaking every time his body breathed, and as soon as I saw him I knew that Melissa and David had done the right thing calling.

We rushed him straight to the vets, and I have to say that the care and attention provided by Moorview even though his arrival was at such short notice was amazing. He was too weak to sedate, but allowed Rachel to show the vets his mouth, he then allowed me to muzzle him. This in turn lead to him being scanned several times and examined all whilst conscious. Quite an achievement if you had ever met him.

The scans showed a fluid leaking in his abdomen, but because he was awake we couldn't get him in the right position to get a good look. At one stage there was four of us trying to get him where he needed to be. I had the sharp end, Rachel the front legs and Mark  the vet the back legs whilst Darren scanned. Still we couldn't get a definite answer.

The plan was for him to stay in over night on fluids to try and get him strong enough to be sedated and fully checked. He was a little brighter in the morning and even had breakfast and a little stroll with a nurse..... then an hour or so later he went to sleep and didn't wake up.

A post em showed the cause, a large and hugely aggressive tumour that had eventually burst, having leaked for so long. There was nothing that we could of done, and the vets thought maybe that his little revival was perhaps relief after the tumour burst before he bled out.

As I said we are all shell shocked. Benson, like Lewis and Hugo was with us for so long and such a big part of our routine, our day and our life. It's so hard to think he's not with us anymore, but we can remember him knowing he got the best when he needed the most, we didn't destroy him like unclaimed property.








Something I'm very proud of..... Benson. The cover star on my book.


Monday, 22 June 2015

The Big Guy Braving Outdoors.....

Whilst this video isn't the most exciting I've posted on here, the big American Bulldog that arrived on Friday as a shivering wreck has certainly won the hearts of a lot of people.

I spent a lot of time with him on Friday afternoon, just talking to him and letting him see I wasn't going to hurt him. Saturday morning was the same, and then it was crunch time..... we needed to go out for a walk.

Below is a short film of how it went. Incredible to think this was less than 24 hours since I shot the first video.....


I can't help admitting I'm falling in love with this guy, and with the help of my team do all I can to give him a new start. In case you missed it, here is how he was when he arrived.....


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Now Chico Works With The Others.....

I think this photo is quite amazing..... the dog on the left is a new arrival, the dog on the right is little Chico.

What's so amazing about two dogs being walked together? Well if you search Chico in the search bar at the top left of this page you will see Chico was just hours away from losing his young life for being dog aggressive. 

Today I used him as a stooge dog to test the temperament of another. Incredible turn around for such a brilliant little man.


Friday, 19 June 2015

Today Of All Days I Miss The Dog In Whose Memory I Created This Charity.....

June the 19th is a date that is of paramount importance to this charity, and without June 19th 2006 there wouldn't be a SHAK as you all know it today. That horrible day was the day that I lost my dog to Lymphoma out of the blue, just an ordinary guy running his own business with 1 pet dog that went everywhere with him. That dog was called Shakur (meaning 'thankful to god') or Shak for short.

I don't want to go through the whole twisted paths that brought me to where we as a charity are today, there isn't the time to go through all the good times and bad times, but I do want to say how proud I am of what has been achieved in the memory of a dog that got me through some tough times, and really was my soul mate.

When he died, I swore I would never put myself through that ever again. The loss and pain was too much to bare. Today we have around 70 in our care. Yet I have seen and been present for the last breath of so many dogs since that day and I would be lying if I said it got easier..... It doesn't. Everyone we lose hurts even more.

Today of all days we were asked to help three. Two we saved, one disappeared into the hideous world of not knowing. A change of heart maybe? Or to another vets who are less conscious with the needle? I'll never know. But we saved two (more on one of them later.) I'd like to think Shak would be happy with that return, everyone keeps telling me "you can't save them all." But the day I stop trying to save them all is indeed the day that I myself won't be saved.

So 9 years on, the charity I founded in memory of my best friend continues to help the dogs that nobody else wants. The video below shows one of the arrivals today. He is exactly the kind of dog I set this charity up for. The ones nobody else wants. The fact he arrived today just proves that deep down I must be trying to do something right. The politics, the media frenzies and the huge ego's connected to rescue mean nothing to me, I'm simply trying to give a little back to creatures that gave so much to me in the shape of one.....

I miss you Shak, you changed my life forever. I hope what I set out to achieve in your memory will continue to help so many more just like you.....

Stephen Wylie.

Shakur Wylie 07.03.1999-19.06.2006