Tag: dogs

Battersea – My Experience

Battersea – My Experience

A challenge for next year is Battersea Dogs & Cats Home event called Muddy Paws. A 5km race for you and your canine pal to take part in. Tim, Albert & myself have signed up!

The main reason for this is due to our rescue dog Albert. He is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossed with a Bull Mastiff. As you can tell by his face here he is all staffy in looks but mastiff in size and weight.

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He was 5 years old when we first got him on New Years Eve 2016. All we know about his background is that his previous owners were evicted and couldn’t take him with them.

I have grown up with dogs since I was born. I love their company and their funny mannerisms. So when Tim and I moved into our own place I missed Maille my family dog. After 6 months of me sending pictures of dogs to Tim he caved when I was scrolling through my phone on the Battersea website after watching Paul O’Grady for the love of dogs TV show.

The dog that caught his eye wasn’t Albert but a Sharpei. He started talking about visiting or how do we do the adoption process. I quadruple checked he was being serious before I put my hopes up as teasing me about this is just mean! So the next day 27/12/16 we drove to our nearest site in Windsor to enrol our details. We put down all of our personal info plus our experience and garden measurements. They then offered us to take a look round the kennels here, which we did. There was a beautiful boxer who was deaf. But I didn’t want to give Tim (a cat person – yuck) an bad experience of getting a dog. After I had managed to talk to all of the pooches we sped home to host a family Christmas gathering!

Our appointment to meet the Sharpei was on 31/12/16. We set off early to head into the middle of London and arrived as the gates were opening. I recognised areas from the TV show and just had an almighty sense of **OH MY GAWD HOW CUTE ARE ALL THE DOGS GOING TO BE** and **IS PAUL O’GRADY GONNA BE HERE**

We then got taken into an interview room to look over our credentials again. It turned out that because we didn’t have enough experience with the Sharpei breed they weren’t happy for us to see him. This was fine as we also had a few back ups just in case. But again these were all larger breeds than what we are used to. I got a bit disheartened but also didn’t just want to take any old dog home.

In hindsight what Battersea should do is kind of a ‘dating profile’ for re-homers. (Work with me here) People would put their experience, housing arrangements, working schedule, likes and dislikes of breeds etc. into a profile and then based on this, dogs profiles would appear. Only to reduce people’s disappointment levels. I even suggested this to the feedback team (not in the dating profile way) but he understood what I meant. Rather than letting everyone see all the dogs available. If my selection of choice was only 10 dogs for example I would have chosen what I thought would be ‘the one’ out of those dogs.

I digress; the lady mentioned Albert. He was one of our choices but lower down on the list. She said that he would be the best fit for us as he could be left for periods of time and was well trained. We got taken to a room and waited for Albert to come and join us.

My face lit up when I saw him. He was so full of energy. He bee-lined for us with the wiggliest tail and he went straight in with an almighty lick to our faces! The Battersea staff member left us alone with him for a while to sort out some paperwork and find out some more information on Albert’s vet records. Albert sniffed out the treats that were on a desk plus a tennis ball. He loves playing fetch. I had to take a phone call about Albert’s vet treatment and conditions. It was rather a lot of information to take in but I got the jist of it.

Albert has a condition known as ‘crocodile eyes’. This is where his eyelashes are in growing so causes him to have weepy and itchy eyes. Battersea had completed an operation a few weeks before we met him to correct this. The scarring is where he gets his eye markings from and the reason he had a ‘cone of shame’ on when he met us. What cause the eyelashes to grow inward are teeny tiny mites that live on his skin. This makes his skin sensitive and causes him to nibble at his paws (another sensitive area to the mites). These mites are microscopic and the vet even said that testing skin cells wouldn’t even guarantee any results on finding them. Due to this being a lifelong condition that could possibly need continual treatment we were able to adopt Albert for free.

After deciding that Albert was the one for us we received information packs, eye drops, food, lead, collar and the ‘cone of shame’. Albert was rather excited to be out of his kennel and loved meeting everyone else that was visiting Battersea that day. Once paperwork was all finalised, that was it! We were free to go.

Due to the long drive home I didn’t want Albert in the boot of the car all alone plus we didn’t know if he got car sick. So I sat in the backseat with him. It took him a while to settle, I think this was due to the cone around his neck and everything being new. I was feeling rather anxious as well as the reality had kicked in about owning a dog and being solely responsible for him! No mum and dad to save the day! But once Albert had settled, so did my nerves, next minute we are both asleep cuddling each other.  

As they say, the rest is history! Albert settled in straight away and was fine when I had to work 3 days a week. He still greets me with a wagging tail and it always lifts my mood. He has helped me with my mental health no end. I get up earlier in the morning to feed him and walk him on my days off. Plus I now have company in the house 24/7. Due to Tim working long hours I may not talk to anyone some days. His company has been a god send. Our favourite thing to do is to snuggle up on the sofa with a duvet and watch TV, he loves getting under the duvet! I’m also walking more now Albert is around. I’m gradually getting to my daily 10,000 steps every day! I have got to know a few new areas whilst walking and exploring with Albert too which has been great fun.

Rescuing a dog is a great experience. I still watch him now bouncing around on a walk, sniffing and sprinting and think to myself that I made the right decision. He’s just so happy.

So this is why we are all taking part in the Muddy Paws Challenge in September. We have a just giving page for any donations big or small!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lydiabarber2017

How many of you have rescued a dog? Tell me about your story!

 

#5 Complete

I am now a proud business owner! Here is how I got to this point.

Way back in secondary school (junior high school for the Americans) you have to decide what you want to do when you grow up. That’s such a hard choice when at 14 you are worrying about shaving your leg hair for P.E. or stropping over your mum buying you the wrong school shoes.

Image result for teenage angst

So I made the decision then that I’d like to be a Sport Psychologist. I loved my sport and wanted to help the athletes be the best they could. I got good grades for me to go to College (high school for those over the pond) and here I chose the relevant subjects for this career path. Human Biology and Psychology. For a start, giving teenagers a substitute teacher is just bad news so it didn’t surprise me when my paper came back as Ungraded in Biology (it was a much harder syllabus and I admit I switched off and misbehaved).

Second year of College I had to choose another subject so I took Business Studies. Which I aced. It may have helped that me and a friend had to sit in with all the first years so we actually concentrated. Also by this point my friendships changed and my attitude changed towards the education system. You realise all your hard work at the previous school means jack shit! Plus I had myself a part time job and just passed my driving test. Money became more of a pull then essays and exams. I think I was working more than attending College by the time I left with some ad-hoc grades.

A huge topic is University (College in America) and personal statements. I had no interest whatsoever in going. I had no idea what career I wanted and Sports Psychologist was out the window. Therefore I made the decision to not go to Uni. I didn’t want to waste my parents money on something I wasn’t 100% committed to.

Fast forward by whizzing through ski seasons in Canada & Austria and then working in the leisure industry. Working behind the scenes with money at G4S in England and Ireland which ended up me being signed off sick with anxiety and depression. So even after 26 years I still hadn’t found my niche of what I wanted to do.

I do not regret not going to Uni. I’ve had my party days in different countries and cities with travel buddies and rugby pals. I earned myself some decent money to pay for luxury trips to different states in the USA including Hawaii, Thailand and Canada.  At interviews for jobs I’ve always been under qualified but my attitude and life experience has been the factor for me being the successful candidate. I think the interview panel get bored of hearing the same old shit. I know I would.

Whilst I was off work with mental illness you get a lot of time to think. Ok mostly overthink but on my better days I managed to come up with the idea of setting up a dog walking business. Dogs didn’t care what I looked liked. Dogs loved you no matter what. Walking would get me out in the fresh air. Walking would help me keep fit. I took my parents dog out for walks whilst I was off work and ventured out into the forest or down to the beach. The fresh air cleared my head and made me sleep well at night.

I got myself a job within walking distance to home, only part time, with no weekend or bank holiday working. Result. This has given me time to do some research into qualifications and how to set up a small business. I applied for a start up business loan which got approved and subsequently paid for my qualifications. See #16 Complete to find out more about those.

Next task was to think of a business name! I like play on words and alliteration. I had to be careful not to steal or copy a name of a business already working within the area. So this is where Tails & Trails of Totton came from. I now needed a logo for stationary and websites etc. I asked my sister in law Ness to help me out.

logo

Ness is a fashion designer by trade, she designs clothing for Tog 24 and gets to visit Hong Kong a lot. Check out the website here https://www.tog24.com/
However she also designs stationary. For her wedding she managed to design her own wedding invites etc. and then got asked by friends to do theirs. She got herself into her local papers too. Go visit her stationary website http://www.beautiful-ink.co.uk/

As you can tell I’m a fan of orange. Personally I don’t think the colour I used enough. But anyway I chose this simple design as its straight to the point. So I started to set up my Facebook Page and Instagram Account – you know the most important things first. I then got myself some uniform to wear around my local area whenever I was working.

uniform

And so I started to advertise to my friends and family. Luckily I already had a dog that I walked every Friday which I had been visiting for the past year. Showing the bank managers I had a steady but obviously low income.

I decided to advertise my business over the summer holidays and hope for the best. I managed to get 3 new customers. Result. I looked after a 3 month old puppy called Arnold a puggle called Brutus and had a week long stay with a Heinz variety called Benji.

Kernow; my Friday friend
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Arnold; the cutest puppy I’ve seen
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Brutus
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Benji
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I feel I am well on my way to building up a client base and have no doubts it will take me a while until I can dive deep into my venture and work with the dogs full time. I have a few more goals within my business to achieve as well so will keep you up to date.

In the mean time go follow my Instagram account totton_tails_trails for more pictures of my clients or even give my page a like on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/tottontailsandtrails/