Change Lives

Change Lives

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Words Aren't Enough.....

Thank you to  the Stuart Halbert Foundation who have once again supported our work by backing us financially. When I wrote to them expressing my concern at finding the funds to keep on my trusty two lieutenants Melissa and David for the next year, I never thought in my wildest dreams they would come back with what they did..... The full salaries of both of them for the next 12 months in the form of £25,000.

SHAK couldn't operate without these two dedicated and talent young people. I couldn't get on with my work without them, and so many dogs wouldn't be saved without them. The Stuart Halbert Foundation have helped secure this continues.....The three of us can't thank them enough.


You've Done It.....

If the true spirit of Christmas is giving, then the people of north Northumberland have proved once again that they are truly festive.
For the third year in a row, the Jam Jar Army campaign has been a roaring success, as the total for dog charity SHAK has now smashed through the £10,000 target.

Stephen Wylie, from the charity, said: “The whole Jam Jar exercise has been a fantastic experience and I have been blown away by the amount of support we have had from the readers.

“Reaching the £10,000 mark before Christmas is an amazing achievement and one we’re all very proud of.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped us get this far.

“Last, but not least, thanks to my mam who has counted every last penny!”

The concept of filling empty jars with loose change was the brainchild of author Judith O’Reilly.
Teaming up with the Gazette, the first Jam Jar Army campaign, for HospiceCare North Northumberland, was launched in May 2011.

The community took to the idea with aplomb and £13,000 was raised for the charity, which supports people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Following on from that success, we opened the 2012 campaign up to nominations, allowing our readers to vote from a shortlist of local beneficiaries.

The Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre won and went on to raise more than £12,000 to allow youngsters from across north Northumberland the opportunity to sing, dance and act.

Earlier this year, we went through the same process and SHAK was the worthy winner.

And once again, the generosity of our communities has shone through, with the total currently £11,025.63.

It means that in just over two-and-a-half years, our readers have raised more than £36,000 for three charities operating in north Northumberland.

Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “This is a fantastic achievement for SHAK and another great success for the Jam Jar Army, which really highlights the generosity of you, our readers.”

But the fund-raising doesn’t stop here. We are continuing to collect jars full of coins for SHAK to raise as much money as possible.

Then, at the start of next year, we will open up the nomination process for next year’s beneficiary, which again will go to the public vote.

Until the new campaign starts, we want readers to keep on collecting their pennies for SHAK.
Full jars can be dropped off at the Gazette office, on Bondgate Without in Alnwick, Taylor’s newsagents or the Lions bookshop, both Bondgate Within.

l And SHAK is also set to receive a boost from an unlikely source – dog-fouling fines.
As part of Northumberland County Council’s zero-tolerance approach to dog fouling, there has been an upsurge in enforcement activity in 2013.

So far this year, 74 fines have been issued and the money raised is now funding the council’s 2014 dog rescue calendar, from which all the proceeds of sale are going to dog charities across Northumberland, including SHAK.

Stephen Wylie said: “Another great calendar, with so many faces we’ve helped throughout the last twelve months, and we are grateful to the council for including SHAK. We value our close working with public protection’s animal welfare team.”

All I Want For Christmas.....

Looks like I need to take Blais off the walking list as he now has a new home for Christmas. Serena and Steve have worked so hard wih him, including achieving his Kennel Club Bronze Good Citizen Award after just two lessons. Well done Blais and you guys.


A Message From Our Very Special Friends K9 Search.....

Amazing people who do a wonderful job. We have a lot of great dogs to thank them for.....

"Have a wonderful Christmas Stephen.

Hope you like the video.

From us all at K9, god bless SHAK



Monday, 23 December 2013

Wishing You A Merry Christmas.....

So, all that is left is for me to thank you all for your support in what has been the busiest year for SHAK yet. It has been a difficult year, but looking back the good has leveled out the bad and helped make up the loss of losing some really important and loved SHAK characters.

Thank you and wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..... x

Some Of Davids Moments Of The Year.....

In true "round up of the year" mode, like one of those cheesy tv shows showing the 100 best whatevers, here's a selection of photographs from David, as he looks back on a year that got him over his fear of German Shepherds and Rottweilers!

The three pictures above are David and the very handsome Bobby.

Benson, another handsome boy.

And Oscar, showing off with 4, yes 4 balls!

Sending Love To A Beautiful, Brave Girl.....

Thursday saw me take a trip upto Edinburgh to see another dog close to my heart, but one who has been extremely poorly. Everyone knows how much I love Molly (and Dolly) and it has been a very worrying time over the last 4 weeks or so as Molly has been, and still is extremely ill.

It all started when she went to be speyed and the vets found a mass called a Teratoma on her ovaries that was twisting them as it grew. Obviously it needed to be removed. The little one recovered well from her operation, but then a few days later collapsed and started suffering serious muscle spasms.

To cut a long and very distressing story short, Molly was rushed up to the veterinary hospital in Glasgow where weeks of tests still couldn't find the cause. It was so bad at one stage that she could hardly lift her head, and the dreaded question was beginning to be asked. The vets tried everything, and even sent muscle biopsy's to the USA, but eventually a concoction of medication saw a slight improvement and Molly was allowed to go home to help her recuperate.

Her Mam and Dad (and big brother Murphy) have stood by her and provided the best treatment and care any dog could ask for. The mattress on the floor so they could sleep with her shows that has continued now she is home. They love her so much, and have gone through so much, I can't thank them enough for looking after my little girl so well.

Molly too has shown so much spirit and fight to get this far. She wants to be home and with her family, she has waited so long for it. She recognised me as soon as she saw me, and I saw that old spark in her eyes despite struggling to stand up. All we can do now is send her love and positive thoughts to help her recovery, and send some for her Mam and Dad too..... They have been magnificent.

Two Wise (Old) Men.....

If that last post showed the three Kings, King himself is here but in the guise of a wise old man. Along with Denbar (I know we need another to make it the 3 Wise Men) I thought I'd let you see how the two big oldies were doing via an update from Lesley:

"Denbar is with Janet and David and, when I went to see him last week, was as relaxed and happy as I've ever seen a dog. He looked like he'd been with them all his life and, apparently, settled in with no problems whatsoever. He's now part of a large extended family and will spend his first Christmas surrounded by those who love him.

King is doing equally well with Dawn and Terry. They had big enough hearts to take in a huge, nearly blind, arthritic old bear in desperate need of love and care. He's loving every minute of all the cuddles and attention he's getting and is giving them so much pleasure in return. He's such a lovely, relaxed, mellow character, he thoroughly deserves this kind, thoughtful retirement home.

These guys have both fallen on their feet, but I think they show how much pleasure an older dog can bring - lovely gentle companionship without the demands of younger ones. I'm so pleased for both of them."


Christmas Time And The Three Kings Arrive.....

As is always the case in this job, time moves on so fast and so does life so after the shock of losing Harvey and my Oskar being rushed in for major surgery to have his spleen removed, there hasn't really been time to touch the ground. We have however had a few desperate arrivals, which is typical of the lead up to Christmas, and of course the constant stream of "Can you take my dog because....."

First up is the handsome young Hunter. A Bull Mastiff that despite his massive size, is still just a baby and under a year old. His story is both sad, disgusting and so typical, that it quite simply doesn't surprise me anymore. However he is such a nice playful boy, we just need to get Christmas out of the way and then will try and find him somewhere to call his home. WE WILL NOT REHOME him over the festive period, but if you are interested in being considered for a Forever Foster home for him in the new year, then please contact

We also had a very sorry sight turn up collapsed and hiding under a fallen down tree and only approx 4 months old. Very weak and very tired, Woody (as he has since become known by his new owners) was rushed to the vets by our Out of Hours team. The following day after some rest and a bit of tlc, he made his way up to us.

On arrival we noticed a swelling just below a scab on top of his head. I cleaned the would and the scab came off to reveal a pussy hole, that looked very sore. However, Woody wasn't going to stay with us for long. A phonecall to the people who had found him to assure them he was ok, disclosed they hadn't slept all night, and that they wanted to adopt him! We agreed they could foster him for the remaining period of his seven days, and jumped into the car instantly to collect him. I arranged another vets check up on the way home where he received anti-biotics, before Woody went home.

We've also welcomed George to the gang, and this cheeky little guy is winning over hearts dramatically. We believe from the history we have that George has had quite a tough time, and will not tolerate being touched around the head. He is so frightened by it that he will use whatever he can to avoid it, including his teeth, and therefore it takes a lot of trust for him to let you put a lead on. Melissa and I have worked very hard building up that trust, but a ball and some treats are a good way to start, and as you can see he is beginning to trust..... So much so that he sticks his head in your pocket now as soon as you walk into his kennel to make sure you have some before he goes out!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Run Free Harvey, A True Legend.....

We received some very sad and shocking news this morning, as we lost one of the best ambassadors SHAK has ever had. Harvey was in a right state when I collected him as a stray, having been dumped on a country road. Skinny, and smelling of urine the first thing I did was bath him!

In Geoff, Harvey landed on his feet, and the two really were inseparable. Geoff taught Harvey so much..... Harvey told Geoff what he would do. It was a match made in heaven. Harvey attended many fundraising events and awareness days, and was always the star of the show, and through welcoming Grace into his home he gave another SHAK German Shepherd the gift of a new start. It wasn't just Grace though, Harvey helped so many other dogs on their way to new hopes and lives as he would welcome any temporary foster dog into his home.

Last night I learned Harvey had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver that had spread to his lungs. Harvey had been so brave he hadn't shown any signs until it was too late.

Harvey was a pleasure to know. He's left behind a Dad who's world has been shattered, and he's left behind a legacy of what a rescue dog can achieve. We are all of proud of him, and miss him so much already.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Barney Gets Christmasy.....

It really is nice to see some old friends faces, even if it is by email. This big handsome boy is Barney, who was with us around 5 years ago, and he too hasn't forgotten his old friends by sending them a Christmas food parcel. Thanks to Barney and his family, It's great to see him getting so festive.

Opening his advent calendar.

Little Foxy Pays A Visit.....

It was great last Saturday to see an old friend of mine, Seymour. I nicknamed him Foxy when he came to us from a pound about 4 years ago, and age is beginning to catch up with him a little now. That foxy red has been replaced by a stylish silver grey, but then looking at this photo, Father Time has had that effect on us both!

Great to see you Seymour, I'm still very proud of you, and thank you for remembering all your old pals in the kennels at Christmas.

Why I Get Up In The Morning.....

People often say to me "I couldn't do your job, I don't know how you do it." Well the answer is right here in this picture. These are the friends I share my home life with. 10 of the 11 rescues, and 8 of the 11 SHAK dogs..... This is why.

Blade Watching The Tide Come In.....

I love these photo's of Blade on a recent trip to the beach with Melissa and David. I've been spending a lot of time with Blade recently, and can't believe that we have had him so long. He truly is a great dog, and deserves a home to call his own.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Courtesy Of Chris.....

Its always nice to see what SHAK brings to the lives of the people that help out, that's why I thought I'd share these photos taken by are very own Chris. His kind of photo diary of some his best friends.....
Fraser looks very happy with his new girlfriend Dolly.

The beautiful Bonnie.

"Did you see the hole I put in this?" says Oscar.

Doyle and Chris.

Fraser and Chris.

Wise old Max.

Melissa and Fraser.

The wonderful Henry.

Hugo play ball.

Three Inspirations.....

I also love this photograph taken last week of three amazing German Shepherds..... Doyle, Star and my own Oskar. All three were deemed dog aggressive at some point, and for Doyle and Star they could of lost their lives because of it. Just shows what can be achieved.

Jingle Bells.....

So Christmas is coming, and its great to see some of the dogs that have been such a big part of SHAK enjoying Christmas in the outside world. I love these photos.....
Santa has a stand by Reindeer..... Lola

Not sure who is the real Santa and who is Woody.....

Closing Date For Christmas Clothing Orders.....

Please note tomorrow 11th December is the last date for any clothing orders to be delivered by Christmas. As we get clothing items made to order they need to be printed etc before delivery. Thank you.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Beautiful Bonnie And Handsome Brady.....

The other new arrival I mentioned on the radio show this morning is the beautiful Bonnie. Yet another Lurcher that arrived seriously under weight (she has put a lot in these pictures since she arrived) horrendously long claws, and terrified of men. However as you can see she has quickly made friends with Brady and it is great to see them both looking so happy.

Bonnie has just moved to good friend Alexa at Alexa's Animals. If you would like to be considered for a Forever Home for her then please contact Alexa on 01665 576677.