7.45am. The rain is beating down on my windscreen as I drive to Mount Noddy to start the day at work. I admit that 'work' is a debatable phrase here. Certainly when the warm sunshine is beating down on us as we walk the dogs through the countryside, then, yes, I'm not sure the word 'work' sounds like an accurate description. But today is not one of those days.
Our morning begins with a debrief from the previous day, and a cup of tea (essential to take on kennel cleaning). Today our sweet Staff mix Corona has a trip to the vet for routine vaccinations, our long stay girl Sky is going off site for a walk on the beach with her favourite ACA, Dan, and we discuss which enrichment we could try to help our new arrival settle into his hopefully brief kennel stay. Dogs can often find staying in kennels very stressful. It can be noisy, they are surrounded by dogs they don't know, and new people they're not familiar with. We occasionally have dogs who really struggle to cope which is when we call upon our foster network so these animals are able to go into a home environment, with more one to one contact while they wait to find their forever homes.
It's breakfast time! While we are preparing breakfast our other team members takes each dog out for a toilet break and leg stretch. They will come out of their kennels multiple times during the day for walks, training and quiet time in the reception or office area. It's really important that they receive not only physical exercise, but mental stimulation too, and that's an important part of preparing each dog to go to its new family.
I'm often asked 'Don't you just want to take them all home?' My reply is always the same: not if I want to stay friends with my husband. In all honesty, this is the amazing thing about my job here at Mount Noddy: I don't need to take them home because I get to love them, take care of them, train them and help them to find a family of their very own. There is absolutely no better feeling than waving a dog goodbye as he starts his new life in a loving home. Now, I'd be lying if I told we don't get attached to our furry friends. I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say there is always one that steals a little piece of your heart. When those dogs find their forever homes its mixed feelings of loss and jubilation.
Today is one of those times. My special four legged friend here has been a young beagle named Poppy. A typical young beagle: bouncy, mischievous, cheeky, challenging, loving and smart...with a hint of stubborn. Poppy was finding kennel life challenging, so we needed to think outside the box a little, find some new ways to challenge that busy beagle brain. She became my little project, the one I spent time with whenever I could. I introduced her to scent games, find it, we gave her a job and she was fantastic at it! Now I take her out of her kennel for the last time. She's over enthusiastic and bounces up to kiss my face. Before I click on her lead I sit down with her and press my face against her soft ears one more time. Words can't describe how happy I feel about her going to her forever home, but I will miss her so very much. I walk her down to reception where her new family eagerly await. They are so excited to see her, and she them! There are lots of smiles, the Mount Noddy team give her fusses and waves goodbye. Her new person takes her lead and I watch them leave through the gate, Poppy's tail wagging as she bounces next to him.
This is why we do what we do. For this moment right here. I turn and head back towards the kennels. There are 15 other dogs still waiting for their special day'