Dogs Trust:

It has been 40 years since ca­nine char­ity The Dogs Trust launched its most fa­mous cam­paign – yet the mes­sage re­mains as per­ti­nent to­day as it did all those years ago

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Rachel Buller

A dog is not just for Christ­mas – the story be­hind the slo­gan

Adog is for life, not just for Christ­mas – it’s a slo­gan that has be­come em­bed­ded in the English lan­guage.

Yet, four decades later, The Dogs Trust cam­paign has never been more im­por­tant.

Ev­ery Jan­uary, res­cue cen­tres sees a huge rise in the num­ber of dogs ar­riv­ing to be re-homed.

“There is such a temp­ta­tion to buy a puppy as a Christ­mas present. Our slo­gan was launched 40 years ago and we are still find­ing that it isn’t get­ting through,” says Paige Lang­ton, sup­porter re­la­tions of­fi­cer for The Dogs Trust cen­tre at Snet­ter­ton.

“A dog is a life-time com­mit­ment. You need to do your re­search thor­oughly; which breed is suit­able for your fam­ily, your en­vi­ron­ment, your life­style. At this time of year it is of­ten an im­pulse buy and peo­ple make rash de­ci­sions. Come Jan­uary we are at our busiest. We find peo­ple have had a few weeks with the dog by then and sud­denly re­al­ity kicks in.”

Paige says she would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to con­sider re­hom­ing a dog rather than buy­ing a puppy.

But she says The Dogs Trust doesn’t al­low any of its dogs to go to a new home for Christ­mas for the same rea­sons as she wouldn’t ad­vise any­one to get a puppy.

“What peo­ple need to un­der­stand is that it re­ally is not the best time to get a new dog – whether a puppy or an older dog. There are peo­ple com­ing and go­ing, lots of noise, lit­tle rou­tine, lots of things around to eat and chew and it is not a calm en­vi­ron­ment to in­tro­duce any dog into.

“We would still love you to come in and see if you can find your per­fect dog. If you find one you love, we will book it for you and do all the checks and it will be yours. Come in, get to know it and take it for walks – you just can’t take it home for Christ­mas and we will keep it with us un­til Jan­uary.”

The Dogs Trust has re-homed 406 dogs al­ready this year at Snet­ter­ton and can look af­ter up to 70 dogs at a time.

The cen­tre looks af­ter dogs of all ages and breeds but while some, in par­tic­u­lar pup­pies and small dogs, get adopted quickly, there are many who aren’t so lucky.

“The av­er­age stay for most dogs is around four to six weeks. But we have some dogs we call our long-ter­m­ers who, for what­ever rea­son, can’t be re-homed. We work with all our dogs to en­sure they can make good progress and over­come their is­sues and ac­tu­ally we have a lot of longter­m­ers who do even­tu­ally get a home – of­ten we are just wait­ing for the per­fect per­son to come along.”

The Trust takes dogs from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, other res­cue cen­tres and char­i­ties but around 50% come from mem­bers of the pub­lic.

The Dogs Trust has re­homed 406 dogs al­ready this year at Snet­ter­ton and can look af­ter up to 70 dogs at a time

“We don’t judge. Some­times it is ab­so­lutely aw­ful as own­ers are dev­as­tated,” says Paige. “They re­ally don’t want to have to give their dogs up but cir­cum­stances mean they don’t have any other choice; but they are do­ing the right thing bring­ing their dogs to us.

“Dogs also come in as part of our Ca­nine Care Card scheme. If the owner passes away, if they have reg­is­tered with the scheme it means we will take their dog au­to­mat­i­cally and hope­fully find them an­other lov­ing home.”

The cen­tre has in­cred­i­ble fa­cil­i­ties, with in­door and out­door play ar­eas full of en­rich­ment toys and ac­tiv­i­ties and plenty of dif­fer­ent sights, smells and sounds.

This helps dogs stay men­tally and phys­i­cally ac­tive and gives them the best chance of set­tling some­where new.

The cen­tre also has its own mini flat set-up which, says Paige, can re­ally help dogs with cer­tain be­havioural is­sues who are not used to a home en­vi­ron­ment.

“We wanted to cre­ate some­thing to help repli­cate what a dog might ex­pe­ri­ence in a home, the noises and move­ments they might have to deal with, even sim­ple things like the ket­tle or tele­vi­sion or even the door­bell. It can help us work with them and get over cer­tain be­hav­iours and anx­i­eties.”

Paige says there is an­other great way to help the char­ity and that is to be­come a fos­ter carer.

“They are vi­tal for the work we do here, pro­vid­ing short-term care for dogs in most need. It could be a dog who has come to us from the Ca­nine Care Card who has been with one owner in a cosy home for 10 years and can’t cope with the ken­nel en­vi­ron­ment, or per­haps a very young puppy or a dog that has had surgery and needs re­cu­per­a­tion. Peo­ple of­ten as­sume they won’t qual­ify be­cause maybe they have chil­dren, or dogs al­ready, but we con­sider all sorts of peo­ple and are al­ways look­ing for more.” dogstrust.org.uk

ABOVE:Dogs en­joy­ing en­rich­ment at The Dogs Trust at Snet­ter­tonTOP LEFT:The Dogs Trust at Snet­ter­ton

LEFT:Moose the lurcher en­joys the agility course at The Dogs Trust at Snet­ter­ton

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