Change Lives

Change Lives

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A Very Sad Christmas Kick Out?....

It didn't stop with Heidi on Monday, as John from my Out of Hours Stray Team got a call out just before his shift finished on Monday night. A Whippet type had been seen wondering around for days all over Christmas. He had a big lump on one of his back legs, unable to put pressure on it, and was having problems breathing. John took him home for the night, he wanted to keep him warm and to keep an eye on him.

Yesterday morning Animal Welfare collected him and took him to our vets, I had secured a place for him after his condition had been assessed. It was a place he didn't make it too.

The lump turned out to be a huge bone tumour, his lungs were riddled with secondary tumours, some of which were extremely large. On vets advice we didn't wake him up.....

Such a sad tale of a classic Christmas kick out perhaps? One thing for sure, it made me realise just how lucky Heidi had been, and how lucky we'd been to find her.

At least at John's house this little man found some compassion and love on his last night, thank you John.

A Very Special Lady Moves On.....

I woke up on Monday morning to a phone call to say that Heidi had been rushed to the vets. She was having serious problems breathing, and wasn't in a good way at all. Imaging confirmed everyone's worst fears, the tumours that were in her chest had finally taken control, there was nothing more we could do for her.

Heidi had a great time as a SHAK dog, having arrived by the skin of her teeth one Saturday morning. She'd got herself in a bit of bother in the pound after snapping at someone touching her head, and was due to be destroyed on the Monday. I got the phone call on the Friday and as luck would have it we had a van coming up on the Saturday. She was added on as a freebie!

Not long after arriving with us, she had a really funny turn, losing her balance etc, and was diagnosed with vestibular disease. It was clear now why she'd done what she'd done in the pound. She came home with me and my family  to recover, and our love affair with an amazing dog really began.....

Heidi had a huge lump underneath, and whilst it didn't seem to bother her for such a long time, at the turn of the year we had it removed. It was cancerous, and those tumours had spread up into lungs, this was February and she wasn't expected to stay with us long.

But Heidi never gave up. In Gavin and Susie I found her a great foster family with other dogs and cats, and she really blossomed. We were lucky enough to have her back for holidays, and it was great seeing how much having her own home had helped her blossom.

Heidi loved her Gavin and Susie, following Gavin everywhere, and I will always be greatful for them giving her a chance knowing that a day like Monday would come. I think the fact that they had 10 great months with her, shows how much she loved being there, and being with them. Our thoughts are with them at this sad time.

We will all miss Heidi and her quaint little ways. She was a wonderful dog who fought so hard to survive. She may of come to us as the 'just put her on the van' dog, but she has left us as a dog that has meant so much to quite a few of us.

"A wonderful Year….

Darling Heidi came into our lives in February. Warmly greeted by Lucy & Belle but cautiously glared at by Kofi and Gracie, our accepting, genteel Siamese.

Heidi arrived with Steve, her beloved protector and guardian having just ensured an operation to remove painful mammary tumours.  Her stomach tightly stitched back together with tubes allowing excess fluid to drain away. Every day became less uncomfortable for Heidi and with this came her emerging delightful, mischievous but lovable personality. With her trust now gained, stiches and tubes removed, tail up high we introduced her to our local field where freedom was hers and life was for living.  So many smells so much to explore!

We loved Heidi and in return she found her place in our home, respected those sometimes pesky Siamese and was at her happiest cuddled up on our or should I say Heidi’s office sofa.

Her busy year included, a visit with Steve to see Morrissey in Glasgow. A delicious Afternoon Tea at Laburnum House.  Numerous visits to the beach. And finally, a weekend of walks in the Simonside Hills where we were all privileged to see a spectacular half rainbow.

Christmas for Heidi was magical – she absolutely loved having all our family around to spoil and cuddle her.

The 27th December came and everyone reluctantly departed.  On the 28th Heidi was also ready to say goodbye too.  Thank you for a wonderful year Heidi, we all really miss you.

Thank you Steve for bringing Heidi into our lives and an enormous Thank you to the compassionate, professional and skilful team at Backworth Moorview vets.

Susie & Gavin"

Here's some of Heidi's holiday pictures.....

Heidi ready to see Morrissey

And with her best pal Star

I took this just a couple of weeks ago

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Can't Believe She's Gone.....

I wrote this last night. An internet problem meant I couldn't post it till today:

It feels as if there is no point right now, as if there is never any good news. Never anything to give us hope for very long. I'm sitting here in tears having just had to say goodbye to one of the dearest dogs I've ever had the privilege to meet, trying to come to terms with the cruel hand that Anja was dealt.

Anja suffered from a disorder where her kidneys were to small. Through medication and a renal diet we managed her condition, and gave her a happy and contented life living with first Doyle and then Oliver. Such fine company for a dog that was left abandoned in a crate with no food or water in the back garden of a deserted house. She loved both the boys, so much she would never go on a walk without them, and I think everyone could see just what a bundle of fun she was. Anja loved company, she loved to play, she loved life.....

Today she wasn't good. She was very lethargic and her nose was filled with a really thick mucus.  Her gums were really white and deep down I knew the inevitable time had arrived. At the vets her blood test results were through the roof, described as worse than they ever expected, and having left her to be hospitalised I got the call as I reached home to say there was nothing anyone could do.

You will have to excuse me for not remembering all the figures or even the names of what they represented, but the one I do remember was that her phosphate level which we'd managed to maintain at around 300 was up to 780. The results showed that she'd lost the use of at least 80% of her kidneys, and unlike a liver there was no chance of her regaining it.

I turned around and went back, and was met by a waggy tail, slightly jaded but a waggy tail all the same. As she slipped away we cuddled on the floor, she starting licking my face. I don't know if she was saying thank you or if she was telling me she was ready but she left this world still giving me a kiss.....

I guess that summed Anja up. So affectionate and so loyal. She always put others first. I feel as if I failed her by not finding her a family who would of benefitted from all that love, although I do know that with out us her life may not of lasted even the short time she had. And both of those points are just so sad.

I can't believe she's gone. The people she's left behind who loved her can't believe she's gone. The world really has lost an amazing character and a dog that really did epitomise everything that was good.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Please Don't Forget Tomorrow.....

Over the years people have always been very generous, especially at Christmas time. Food, toys, blankets..... works collections, collections with friends, we really are lucky to have such wonderful support.

With our kennels not being open to the public for the best interest of the dogs, dropping off and collecting has always meant a lot of hard work for people, so this year we're trying something new.....

'Santa's Helpers Day' on Saturday the 19th of December is your invitation to pop down to SHAK HQ with all your goodies for the dogs, and of course see our new base.

We will be at SHAK HQ, Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB from 10am-3pm and look forward to being able to wish you Season's Greetings in person!

Thanks in advance for your wonderful support, and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Gema Comes Home.....

The one thing I've learnt after last Friday's devastating goodbye to Scout, is that when you know a dog hasn't long on this earth with us, you make the most of every second you have left with them. Scout was my shadow for the two weeks he fought cancer that I was aware of, and I mean he never left my side. Now he has gone, I have the deepest and fondest memories of  a best friend that refused to give up.....

You'll remember in the middle of all the sleepless nights and worries during the last week, that Gema had also been diagnosed with cancer. Her's was presenting itself in a different form, a bone tumour, but ultimately it is a battle we will lose.

Having spent time with Gema on Saturday treating her to essential oils and some very special one on one time, Rachel approached me on Sunday. Having had no other offers of a foster home for her to see out her days, I'd had the same feelings Rachel had.....

So despite the rawness of the pain of losing Scout, we've decided to give Gema what she needs right now, and she came home with me on Monday. I don't know how long she will be here, but I think you can already see that she is having fun and making some new friends. Making those special memories.....

Last Day For Ordering Calendar's For Christmas.....

As Christmas is quickly approaching time is running out for you to order your official SHAK 2016 Calendar..... PLEASE NOTE LAST DAY FOR POSTING IS NEXT MONDAY THE 14th OF DECEMBER.

Unfortunately as we get the other merchandise such as T Shirts and Hoodies made to order, we can no longer guarantee any orders before Christmas.

After a pre-sale at last weeks fundraising events, I'm delighted to announce that the Official 2016 Calendars are now on sale. Remember thanks to the wonderful sponsors the printing costs have been met, so EVERY PENNY from their sales goes straight helping us save even more "Dogs On Death Row."

You can order yours from our on line shop via the link below:

Friday, 4 December 2015

Too Many Lost.....

Two weeks ago today, Scout was diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumour on his spleen that was bigger than his spleen itself, and it had also spread to most of his liver and up into his chest. He had been so brave he gave us no inclination he was suffering until it was too late for us to help him.

This morning we had to say goodbye to a dog that had given this vile disease the hardest run for its money I've ever seen. Scout simply refused to let cancer get the better of him and for the last two weeks he has been constantly at my side, even when it was clear that he was suffering from an internal bleed. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of owning a German Shepherd will know that loyalty, but the last two weeks have been beyond anything I have ever witnessed. His determination not to let illness take him from his family, to not miss out on a second of anything, breaks our hearts right now, but makes us feel so proud and lucky.

My understanding of Splenic tumours (and please excuse my lack of veterinary terminology)  is that every now and then they bleed into the abdomen, the body then reabsorbs the blood before the process starts all over again. Thus you witness the dog suffering lows and then picking right up. Eventually the tumour gives way completely and the dog suffers a bleed out that will lead to death. It's such an agonising waiting game with only one winner. This morning when Scout woke up on our bed we knew.

At the vets he was so calm. Rachel described it as "he was waiting for his Dad to tell him it was ok to go." I'd just spent two weeks telling him to hold on, but she was right. I believe if we'd put it off another half an hour he would of gone naturally. He was so tired.

As we pulled away from the vets, Star let out a huge bark. She's been with him so much in my van, I'm sure she knew he was gone.

Living with Scout wasn't always easy. Having turned up as a stray covered in engine oil, he was so confused and frightened with what was happening to him. It took him a long time to adapt to life in society, but we stuck by him and he grew into a sensational dog that we were all very proud of. Our home is not the same without him.....

Scout relaxes at HQ

Gema loves to play!
 The heartache doesn't just stop there. On Monday, Gema who has been with us for a long time was also diagnosed with cancer. This time a bone tumour in her front leg. Unlike Scout's form of the disease, this one is painful, and again we are left with no choice other than to manage her pain and do what is right for her when the time comes. You think dogs like Gema will be around forever, having to face the fact we are going to lose her is so hard, but we will be strong and always put her first. It's all we have left that we can do for her.

Then as the week has progressed the news filtered through that both Holly and Lucas had also passed away leaving families devastated and huge holes in lives that simply cannot be repaired. The numb feeling of having to accept that they are not there anymore is so raw, and the families of Holly and Lucas are both very prominent in our thoughts.

As you can see from the before and after pictures of Lucas, he had such an amazing turn around.....

I cannot express in words how low I feel right now. Hearts are broken, lives have been lived, leaving behind them gaping holes that cannot be fixed. Love has replaced fear.....

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Santa's Helpers Day.....

Over the years people have always been very generous, especially at Christmas time. Food, toys, blankets..... works collections, collections with friends, we really are lucky to have such wonderful support.

With our kennels not being open to the public for the best interest of the dogs, dropping off and collecting has always meant a lot of hard work for people, so this year we're trying something new.....

'Santa's Helpers Day' on Saturday the 19th of December is your invitation to pop down to SHAK HQ with all your goodies for the dogs, and of course see our new base.

We will be at SHAK HQ, Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB from 10am-3pm and look forward to being able to wish you Season's Greetings in person!

Thanks in advance for your wonderful support, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Your Chance To Learn How To Be Part Of Our Team.....

Just a reminder that if anybody is interested in learning more about applying to be a SHAK Volunteer we are holding an open morning tomorrow morning at SHAK HQ,  Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB from 10.30am till 12.

It's an excellent opportunity for anybody thinking about wanting to get involved to come and see the full picture of what we do and the dogs they can help.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Our First Event..... And The Next.....

I'd like to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who braved appalling conditions to the open night at SHAK HQ a great evening and a great start to a major project that will have such a positive influence on not only the charity, but everyone who comes through the doors.

I arrived early to set up, and all of a sudden turned around and the place was full..... After all the hardwork put in by so many people over the last few weeks it really was great to see. By the time the evenings proceedings started with the premiere of the new promotional video which is below, there was very limited standing room only, and it was great to have such an audience for not only myself but for our special guest Leigh Smyth of Essential For Equilibrium.

"Good night at the Shak HQ launch. fab facilities in alnwick and lots of exciting things to come. A fabulous charity doing a fabulous job !"

"Open night at SHAK HQ was a great success. A good turn out on such an awful night. Lots of more exciting & new things to come."

"The place is looking great!! And excited about the future. The talks were great and the turn out was pretty good :) fingers crossed for 2016 "

"Excellent turnout for such a wet evening. You must be so proud of all that you are achieving."

"Thank you so much for inviting me to a most enjoyable and friendly evening last night at the new SHAK's HQ. Good luck with your new premises and all the best."

A special thank you too for the people who have believed in me from day one that this could work, and for supporting me by not only giving their support, their time and expertise, but also contributing financially to make the open night as special as it was. I couldn't of done it without you all.

And Now Onto The Next Event.....

However we can't rest there.... and I'm delighted to announce that the next event at HQ is next Tuesday at 10.30am. It's the first of our..... ‘Join The Team’ An opportunity to learn more about being a SHAK volunteer sessions, and is an opportunity for anybody that at is interested in applying to become a SHAK Volunteer to come along and see exactly what it is all about.

So if you have ever considered being part of the team or just would like more information about what the positions we are currently looking to fill entail then please RSVP to book your place.

SHAK HQ. Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB

Friday, 13 November 2015

Great News For Misty.....

I'm delighted to say that I've just spoke to the vets re Misty's histology report and the results of the mass taken along with her spleen have come back benign,so surgery should be curative.

Fantastic news for a great little dog. It means we can now try and push forward with finding her forever home.  As you can see she is getting comfy here and making friends.....

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Please Pray For Misty.....

It has been a worrying week after Melissa and David found a lump on Misty last Sunday. Misty has always been a 'chunky' dog but over the last couple of weeks we'd all noticed that despite being on a constant diet she seemed to of gained a bit more weight. Occasional lethargic spells also didn't send out great signals, and a vet check was paramount in my schedule.

I took her on Thursday, and it really was a case of good news and bad news. The good news was that the lump found was nothing more than a fatty lump. A biopsy proved that. However her weight gain and lethargy it was suspected was down to something more sinister. She stayed in over night, and later that evening a scan confirmed what was feared..... a huge mass on her spleen. Chest X Rays didn't show any obvious signs of any cancer spreading, so Friday morning I was faced with the difficult task of deciding what to do. Having spoken to a couple of vets we went for removing the spleen. Again during surgery there was no clear signs that there was cancer elsewhere. The spleen has been sent away for tests, we have to pray that the tumour was benign. 

Where go from here for Misty really depends on those test results. If there is no cancer then hopefully we have caught it early enough and she has a happy life ahead of her. If there is cancer and it has spread then we have to spoil her the best we can for all the time we have left together. Either way we are trying to find her a foster home. She is currently at our house, and has been absolutely brilliant with all the other dogs. I will get some photo's if it ever stops raining.....

If you like your oldies and you'd like to offer Misty a place to see out her days no matter what she faces then please make contact via email to Likewise we now have another huge vets bill that we just didn't need right now. Misty is worth every penny of course, but we desperately need help to pay. If you'd like to contribute towards the cost of giving her the best chance then please do via paypal or call Moorview Vets direct on 0191 2566990 and say you'd like to donate towards Misty on the SHAK account.

Thank you.