Wunderdog correspondent Jess Martin reports on her volunteering at the historic Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home, where she also adopted her blind pup from
I have had the pleasure of working at Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home since my final year at university, in 2012, following a work placement there to look into the Dangerous Dogs Act for part of my studies. After completing university I stayed on at the home, and can safely say I have never looked back since.
I love working at Cheshire Dogs Home so much that, when I got a full-time job shortly after finishing university, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the place, so I now work there one day a week so I can still do my bit, and give out plenty of cuddles to the rescue dogs at Cheshire.
Manchester & District Home for Lost Dogs was founded in 1893 by a group of Manchester businessmen. Its mission is not just to rescue and rehabilitate dogs in order to rehome them, the team also offer low-cost neutering and other support to dog owners on low income, and they go into schools to educate children about pet care and safety.
The Manchester site is now very much an inner-city rescue site, whereas the sister site in Warrington is in more rural settings. Cheshire Dogs Home was purchased in 1999 – it was a run-down boarding kennel, which has now become the flagship site. Cheshire Dogs’ Home has a specialist care unit, which provides intensive care for the dogs that need it most, pregnant dogs, nursing mums and dogs that do not adjust well in a normal kennel environment.
Collectively the two sites take in and care for over 7,000 dogs every year, many of these dogs are never reclaimed by their owners and require a great degree of emotional and physical support during their stay with us.
For the perfect people
It can be a difficult place to work, we see dogs that are not in great conditions and that haven’t been treated as well as they should have by their humans, but it is also incredibly rewarding to see the success stories, settled and happy in their new homes.
It is especially satisfying when our long stayers get adopted – some of the dogs in our care wait more than a year before the perfect people for them arrive and fall in love with them – but when the perfect people come, it’s so rewarding to watch the dogs set off with their new families.
I am also thankful to do the Dogs’ Home, because this is where Amos’ story began, my blind rescue dog and my Border terrier Toby’s ‘brother’. Amos’ mum, Rita, was one of many pregnant strays that the home deals with each year. At only eight months old, when she came to the home, she was far too young to have puppies – and yet, she had eight pups, but sadly only three survived. Of the three, two were completely blind. The pups were taken to see a specialist who checked out their eyes. In the case of Amos, both his retinas were detached and the specialist advised that the kindest thing would be to remove them when he was a little older, to give him a happier and pain-free life.
Amos, his siblings and his mum stayed at the Dogs’ Home until they were old enough to be rehomed. The home knew that finding families for the two blind pups would be difficult, but they didn’t give up on finding those homes. Because of the pups’ eye situation and some additional issues during the time they were in the home, they weren’t ready to be rehomed until they were four months old.
Rita was rehomed shortly after the pups found their new homes, and I am happy to report she is very much loved, happy and settled in her new home with her new family.
In very good hands
Cheshire Dogs’ Home also has a veterinary department, for the dogs in the home to receive any treatment that they require and also to offer a low-cost neutering service to the public.
The veterinary department at Cheshire is where Amos had his bi-lateral enucleation before he could be adopted by us (he was originally a medical foster with us, until he had his operation), and this is where countless dogs have been treated when they become residents of the home to ensure that they are in the best shape they can be in before being found their new homes.
It is a difficult job, there are plenty of ups and downs, but all of the staff that work at the home adore all of the dogs in their care and make sure that they are given plenty of love, care and attention until their forever families come to get them.
I have represented the Dogs’ Home with my Border terrier, Toby, at numerous events including Crufts, National Pet Show, DogFest (North) and many more. Toby is not from this home, but he is a star and as a qualified therapy dog, he is a brilliant ‘spokesdog’. He has also taken Amos under his wing, and together these wonderdogs are on walking adventures every weekend.
Read Jess’ account of adopting and living with her blind pup here.