Change Lives

Change Lives

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Rescue In Lockdown On Radio Tyneside.....

Last week I had the pleasure of doing an interview with our good  friend Yvonne Bell on Radio Tyneside.

The topic of conversation was 'Rescue In Lockdown' and in case you missed it, here it is.....

The book itself will be available from our stores in Blyth and Amble once they are allowed to reopen in December.  

However, if you can't wait until then you can order on line here.....

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Choose Life.....

Continuing on with my post last week about trying to remain positive and make people smile at the work we are doing, I am delighted to announce the launch of our new retro 'Choose Life' T Shirts. 

Now, not only can you travel back in time to the 1980's and relive your youth, you can support us in doing so!

As all our dogs were once facing destruction,  by finding their way to us and giving them a chance we do indeed 'Choose Life'

Numbers of these Tees are limited so hurry to get yours from:

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Competition Time.....

Carrying on with trying to be positive during the latest Lockdown, today is Competition Time!

Rescue In Lockdown has been around for a couple of weeks now, and sales have far exceeded my original expectations! The reception to the book has been brilliant, I really appreciate all the kind words and support I've received.....

"70 days in the life of a dog sanctuary founder during a pandemic, I found this read very fitting during this current time of uncertainty. Everyone is worried about the human race and how we are all going to survive, but who thinks about the animals in a charities care? This book helps you understand the troubles and struggles many animal welfare charities are facing right now, and it goes deeper, hitting home the struggles of mental health which many people are facing, even more so now. An inspiring read, a reminder to never give up when times are hard, inspiring from both the author and the stories of his beloved dogs who are no longer with us. You don't have to be a dog lover to get caught up in this book, but it will certainly pull at your heart strings if you are. I highly recommend you to buy a copy of rescue in lockdown, even better still you are contributing to saving a dogs life when you do."

"Anyone who follows SHAK will be interested in reading this book. It gives an interesting insight to the struggle & determination that helped SHAK survive the last lockdown . Makes a nice Christmas Gift too."

So today we are giving you 48 hours to enter a competition to win a signed copy worth £11.99. All you need to do is pay a £2 entry fee via PayPal and in the comments section of your payment tell us in no more than 10 words why we should make you the winner! Easy!

The author Stephen Wylie will pick his favourite and announce the winner on Friday afternoon and a signed copy will be posted out.....

Thanks for your support and good luck!

When the world went mad and the whole country descended into lockdown. There were some who didn’t understand what was happening. When the routine they’d grown to love disappeared along with the ones they’d learnt to trust, they had no idea why. With their entire future in doubt, their lives at stake as the whole world stood still, they still craved the care and attention of before.

Rescue In Lockdown is the story of how a sanctuary for abused and neglected dogs in Northumberland called SHAK try their best to survive a devastating global pandemic.

Following the days told by the charity’s founder, Stephen Wylie, this book is a true account of running a rescue whilst the whole country is in Lockdown. It highlights the desperation for money and the need to adapt. The stress and worry coupled with an instinct to survive.

The real story of the biggest threat to human civilisation which many of this generation have ever faced.

Will the rescue make it through this, but more importantly will the dogs stay alive?

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Facing Lockdown Again.....

So once again we find ourselves in the very worrying position of facing at least a month in Lockdown, a situation out of our control but one which will hopefully save the lives of people and reduce infection rates.

It seems so long ago in one sense when we were facing this for the first time, but on the other hand Boris Johnson’s announcement on Saturday evening brings back so many dark memories.

This time though it is different.

The support we received from you all during the original Lockdown was nothing short of incredible. You all reached deep and supported us in anyway you could, without you we would no longer be in operation.

This time though, it seems unreasonable to come to you cap in hand again. Everybody is feeling the pinch of how the world has been since March, some people are still not working, and everyone is concerned for their own futures. Then of course there is Christmas.

The reality for us though is if this second lockdown goes on longer than the four weeks initially announced we could be in real danger of closing once more. We are having to close both of our highly successful stores tomorrow (more on those later) meaning we will have no self-generated income to see us through and pay our bills. The jobs of our very experienced staff could be in danger, the rents of the properties we need for the charity to run will also have to be paid. I don’t need to spell it out, the charity could collapse and leave the lives of our dogs in the balance. So many would have nowhere else to go.

Such a devastating thought, and one I really do not want to dwell on, instead I am putting all my efforts, along with the rest of the team, into making sure the above is simply not an option.

This year we have pushed the boat out trying to introduce some new products with the Christmas market just around the corner. Unfortunately, such a market is something we will now be denied. So, with that in mind, please allow me to reintroduce you to our online merchandise shop,

This has been around for a lot of years, but with the imminent restrictions on high street trading, I have stripped it down ready for the new merchandise and to make it all easy to find.

There is my book ‘Rescue In Lockdown’ which documents how we faced the first Lockdown and survived to tell the tale. We have also introduced new style hats to the range, as well as the 2021 Calendars and Diaries.

The ‘Oscar’ T Shirts will be online for the first time in the next few days, with just limited numbers and sizes left. I will also be releasing a new retro style T Shirt which I think people will like. The current situation is delaying printing at the moment.

There may even be more products to follow.

Again, remaining positive rather than submitting to the fear which is driving us all on, we are looking to celebrate the rebirth of the online store by giving you the opportunity to still be able to purchase your Calendars and Diaries. We understand you too are suffering from the constraints of the situation; how can you go through 2021 without being able to look at one of our beautiful dogs every day?

So with that in mind, we are offering a FREE POSTAGE on all Calendars and Diaries bought from between now and midnight on Sunday 8th November!

Giving you an opportunity to support us and get your SHAK fix, its something we have never done before. However, in these times we feel we have to do all we can.

Of course, you still have time to pop down to our stores in Bowes Street Blyth and Queens Street Amble. Blyth is open until 3pm, Amble 4.30. So much work goes into the operation in these two shops, it would be fantastic for the volunteers to see how much their efforts are appreciated by sending them off with a great day tomorrow.

Despite what I said at the start of all this, some of you of course may still just want to make a donation. If so, there are several ways you can do.


Cheque (made payable to SHAK): Posted to SHAK HQ, Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB

Or via bank transfer: Sort Code 30-95-76 Account Number 01990158

Thank you in advance for your support and for taking your time to read this. If we all come together, we will survive Lockdown once more.

Stay safe and see you on the other side.

Stephen Wylie

Founder of SHAK

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

New SHAK T Shirts Availble In Stores Only.....

I am really proud of these new T Shirts which send out a message Oscar himself would have been very proud of......

We have limited number of these shirts, in Emerald Green and Heather Green, so due to limited sizes etc they are currently only available in the SHAK Shops at 12 Bowes Street, Blyth NE24 1BD or at 46-48 Queens Street, Amble NE65 0BZ.

If they sell well we may extend the range, but with current uncertainty within the retail sector we decided to keep things small. 

So hurry down to either store to pick up your own one of these vibrant tees and remember "Never Give Up."

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

We Are Recruiting.....

We are looking for an enthusiastic person to join our experienced team at our kennels North of Alnwick, Northumberland. 

In the role of a Kennel Cleaner it will be your responsibility to make sure our dogs have a clean and comfortable home to call their own.

Hours we are looking for are from 8am until 12pm, 5 days per week (days may vary) with the successful applicant being paid the national minimum or living wage depending on age.

Whilst this is not directly a hands on role with the dogs to begin with, opportunities to help with our work should develop over time. 

If you are interested in taking the first step to work with our dogs, then please send a covering letter and an upto date CV to or in the post to SHAK HQ, Greenwell Road, Alnwick NE66 1HB.

(Please note because of location and no public transport your own form of transport is essential.)

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Books Have Landed.....



Pre-order my 4th and brand new book, Rescue In Lockdown, now from 

When the world went mad and the whole country descended into lockdown. There were some who didn’t understand what was happening. When the routine they’d grown to love disappeared along with the ones they’d learnt to trust, they had no idea why. With their entire future in doubt, their lives at stake as the whole world stood still, they still craved the care and attention of before.

Rescue In Lockdown is the story of how a sanctuary for abused and neglected dogs in Northumberland called SHAK try their best to survive a devastating global pandemic.

Following the days told by the charity’s founder, Stephen Wylie, this book is a true account of running a rescue whilst the whole country is in Lockdown. It highlights the desperation for money and the need to adapt. The stress and worry coupled with an instinct to survive.

The real story of the biggest threat to human civilisation which many of this generation have ever faced.

Will the rescue make it through this, but more importantly will the dogs stay alive?

Friday, 16 October 2020

EXCLUSIVE Opportunity To Pre-Order 'Rescue In Lockdown'.....


When the world went mad and the whole country descended into lockdown. There were some who didn’t understand what was happening. When the routine they’d grown to love disappeared along with the ones they’d learnt to trust, they had no idea why. With their entire future in doubt, their lives at stake as the whole world stood still, they still craved the care and attention of before.

Rescue In Lockdown is the story of how a sanctuary for abused and neglected dogs in Northumberland called SHAK try their best to survive a devastating global pandemic.

Following the days told by the charity’s founder, Stephen Wylie, this book is a true account of running a rescue whilst the whole country is in Lockdown. It highlights the desperation for money and the need to adapt. The stress and worry coupled with an instinct to survive.

The real story of the biggest threat to human civilisation which many of this generation have ever faced.

Will the rescue make it through this, but more importantly will the dogs stay alive?

I am delighted to say my fourth book 'Rescue In Lockdown' will be hitting the SHAK Shop shelves very soon. You can however, pre-order your copy on line now.....

To be one of the first to read how we during the most difficult time we have ever known, follow the link below. Thanks for your support.


(Books will be dispatched once they arrive from the publisher. With the current COVID-19 restrictions delivery may take a little longer than normal. Thanks for your patience.)

Friday, 2 October 2020

Does This Interest You?....

The latest regional COVID-19 restrictions makes rehoming and placing dogs in foster impossible at the moment. Our procedure of doing either consists of multiple visits to the kennels and to the home, with the current situation neither is practical or safe.

However, my practical days have provided me with a much better insight into some of our dogs, and allowed us to try and correct some behaviours whilst encouraging others.

All of our dogs have a story to tell,  some are more horrific than others, but some could be ready to make the step back into the outside world if we can find the right people to guide them. 

As I said at the start of this post, making that change now is not the right time, but it has given me an idea.

Whilst we wait for the madness in this world to pass, I thought it would be good to gather some experienced homes ready for when the time is right.

It is our policy not to rehome with children or other animals unless we have prior history of the dog living with them before, and for accessibility the homes must be relatively close to us (we're in Northumberland) so home visits could work.

If you are interested in offering yourself as an experienced Fosterer (be in temporary or forever) then please email telling us a little bit about yourself and the experience you have.

It may take longer than we hope for this to pass, and I understand you may find your new four legged friend from elsewhere in the meantime, but it would be nice to have homes in mind for the dogs which are really making us proud.

I look forward to hearing from you and stay safe. 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Some Time To Spare.....

I think its fair to say the retail sector has taken a huge hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,  with so many units empty on the High Street. Its quite sad seeing established businesses closed, the road to recovery for many will be a long one.

However,  thanks to incredible hard work and dedication from our retail team of volunteers, the two shops which provide a lifeline for the dogs in our care continue to thrive.

In the short time our Amble store has been open it has produced fantastic results.  A great team has been assembled and it feels very much a huge part of the charity's future.

After taking a little while to find its feet after lockdown  our Blyth store has really taken off once again, producing record figures on some days.

This in turn has lead to an exciting opportunity for anybody who has time to spare and wanting to regain a little but of normality in these crazy times.

We are looking to recruit a couple of new volunteers for our Blyth shop, covering shifts from Monday to Saturday.  Obviously we are COVID-19 compliant and all applicants must adhere to the guidelines set out by the Government. 

If you'd like to find out more about the role then please email

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Rescue Dog Rehoming Remedies Volume One.....

During lockdown our good friend Dominic Hodgson asked me if I'd be interested in contributing to a book he was putting together for rescue dogs.

It was good an opportunity to miss the chance to combine my passions for dogs and writing, so I gladly accepted the challenge. 

Writing alongside some great dog trainers, I feel very proud to be asked to contribute and hope I've played my little part in a fantastic publication.

Below is an interview I did with Dom to celebrate the release of the book last week.....

More great news on this, is the proceeds of every sale are being shared amongst all the rescues Dom visited (including SHAK) during his Tour De Rescue last year! 

To assist all the rescues in such difficult times, and to get some great tips on helping your rescue dog you can buy the book in either paperback or kindle format below.....

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Rescue In Lockdown......


Coming soon.....

Monday, 14 September 2020

Exciting Project On The Way.....

 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

Rescue In Lockdown.....

 Another complete edit done, another step closer.....

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Giving Us Inspiration Going Forward.....




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

Quite A Big Practical Day.....

 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

Benji and Tia Enjoy The Seaside.....

 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

New Shop To Open This Saturday.....

Today we are delighted to announce wr are opening a new charity shop this Saturday in Amble. The premises at 46-48 Queen Street are in the centre of the town and were newly refurbished before SHAK took the lease. Following a whirlwind of activity a team of volunteers has been recruited and a quantity of super quality stock has been donated. Call in between 9.30am and 5pm on Saturday and 11am and 4pm on Sunday to see for yourself.

 SHAK Founder Stephen Wylie said "This is an incredibly important step for us, owing to the disruptions of the virus we have lost all our regular fundraising events. We see this shop as being a vital new source of funds for SHAK. We have been so heartened by the support from our regular givers and this new opportunity in the most vibrant and attractive town centre will enable many more people to support SHAK and give Amble residents and visitors a fantastic source of great bargains."

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Lady's Trip Out.....

I think that of all our current dogs, the one that had the biggest reputation on arrival was Lady.  She spent the first year of her life living in a van to protect it. She had seen nothing of the outside world.

Today we took her for a little trip out.....

Thursday, 16 July 2020

More Progress For Little Sky.....

I make no apologies for another update on little Sky. He continues to do well, although the shadow i mentioned has got closer. I am so proud of the way he has adapted.....

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Another Big Day For Sky.....

Its been another busy day for Sky as he came and helped me and Rachel take a van load of donations down to the SHAK Shop in Blyth. It was a win win situation too as we picked up another amazing amount of bedding and food donations. Thank you to everyone who has dropped that off.

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.....

A BIG Day for Little Sky.....

The practical days that we have been able to enjoy since the lockdown restrictions were reduced have provided so much fun and knowledge for both the dogs and me. I still have so many great videos and images to share with you when time prevails, but yesterday's adventure was a little bit special, and not all in a good way.

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

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Daisy Goes To The Seaside Whilst Dande Goes Shopping.....

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.

It was fantastic watching her play with a random balloon that had found its way to the waters edge. She was so gentle and tried hard not to burst it, there was such a look of disappointment on her face when the inevitable happened.
She happily passed people and even a group of children who were doing some kind of activity digging the sand and running up and down the dunes. Not once did she react.
If she saw another dog, she was interested but by no means aggressive and even when a group of three Collies went by barking at her, she still was just curious. That incident took her focus away slightly, so we had our own jaunt through the sand dunes, which I think she enjoyed even more ploughing up and down the hills and through the grasses.

From what we saw, there was nothing to say that Daisy could not adapt to life in a home, as long as the people were experienced in American Bulldogs. I think she longs for that ‘closeness’ of someone and would be a great fun dog to have around.
You can see how much fun she had in this video, and if you would like to express an interest in Daisy email
Having been such a superstar with Nima a couple of weeks ago on a trip to the beach, I wanted to see how Dande would cope in a slightly busier more formal atmosphere.
He was still a little scared of getting into the Land Rover and continued his 100% record of travel sickness, but once we arrived at the small retail park he was in his element. By chance we bumped into SHAK volunteers Jax and Darron, and the little man was delighted to see familiar faces.
A trip to Pets at Home followed, where he made a new four legged friend and loved exploring all the isles, even if they weren’t specified for dogs! Eventually he settled on a squeaky cup cake as being the best item in store, which Rachel bought him as a souvenir.
He really did us proud, reacting once to a dog in a situation between isles where he perhaps felt a little bit trapped in, but that was complimented by being great with every person he met.
I think he was exhausted going home, even after just half an hour being out and about, but he had taken in so much and encountered so many new things. It is great seeing him progress.