Wednesday 24 June 2015

"We're having a baby!" ....."What will you do with the dog?"

A volunteer shares their experience of having two dogs and bringing a new baby into their home....

"I've had this written for a few weeks and just hadn't gotten around to finishing it but in light of what happened in the UK recently I feel it is time to share my positive experience."

In Summer 2013, I found out we were expecting our first baby. We were so happy to start a family and when we started to share the good news with friends & family I found it hard to believe the amount of times we were asked "What are you going to do with the dogs?"

We have two dogs: a 7 year old Westie called Casper and a 5 year old Labradoodle named Ralph. Everyone immediately looks at Ralph, he's big, he's bouncy, he's not aware of his own size and I know they think we are mad. But Ralph is extremely good natured, he's just a giant teddy bear. In a way, it was more Casper I was worried about. Westies wouldn’t be known to be the “greatest” dogs around children but he is a gentle soul who just loves his food, a walk and a comfy spot on the couch.

So what did we do? Get rid of them? No, they are part of our family. We've had Ralph since he was a pup and we adopted Casper from Last Hope in 2013 after we fostered him and found we couldn't part with him. 

I've volunteered with Last Hope for a few years and have seen so many dogs rehomed because a new baby is coming. Before the baby is even there, people have decided you can't have both so without giving their beloved dog a chance he is shipped out of his home. I’ve seen the confused looks on their faces. Where is my family? Why am I here? Alone. 

I wanted to be proactive, so in preparation for the new arrival along with all the usual stuff we decided to get some help from a dog behaviourist. He came to the house and helped us set rules and showed us where we were going wrong. Never have I seen these two dogs so well behaved. It was well worth the money to get myself and my husband on the same page with their training and give us a good place to start. So after he left it was up to us to keep up the training. If you don't it will immediately go back to how it was. 

Our son arrived in April 2014. We did all the things we read about; my husband brought home a babygrow from the hospital for the dogs to get used to the new scent. When I came home with the baby, I went in first to meet the dogs as they hadn’t seen me in a few days and so were excited. When they had calmed down we brought in baby Jack.

We kept them at a distance for a couple of weeks. At first, I only let them in the same room if someone else was there with me, just in case. Ralph was very keen to find out who this new being in the house was. Casper on the other hand had no interest whatsoever. He was happy that when the baby was asleep in the crib he could sit up beside me on the couch like always. We let them smell Jack, he got a few licks on the head and things settled down and we found our new normal. 

Some fluffy baby toys were lost to the dogs. They quickly tried to claim any squeaky toys lying around, so we stopped buying those. We discovered how much dogs love dirty nappies and yes, it is as disgusting as it sounds. We felt like crying when Jack was woken by them barking after taking a long time to settle him. But we saw huge smiles and laughter when the dogs came over to him. He clicks his tongue to call them and in his own little language tells them what to do.

Babies develop so quickly in the first year that every few months we had new challenges. When Jack began to crawl he could get nearer the dogs without us being in total control. Standing and walking, two huge milestones for him but now he was easily knocked over if the dogs brushed against him as they walked by. We learned and so did Jack. He learned to balance against the furniture when the dogs passed by and now is pretty steady on his feet so a slight bump doesn't cause him any trouble. He does get an occasional knock but he's quick to his feet again. 

One year on, and we have a happy little toddler who adores our dogs and is animal crazy. We've made new rules, some we've forgotten about, others we've stuck to. It's been a learning curve, we've made mistakes. Our dogs sometimes don't get their walk. The baby has eaten a dog nut ...or three. But challenges arise in every household with a newborn, it just so happens that these were part of ours.

Enjoy sharing your love of animals with your children. It's amazing to see them interact. Jack might only be a little over a year old but it's clear he loves the dogs and other animals he meets in relative's homes. He likes throwing the ball for them, rubbing their belly and giving them a treat. He shares Ralph’s love of water and they splash in buckets and puddles together. I feel as he gets older he will just love his two buddies more and more. 

What we have learned that may be helpful to others? 

Be patient. Our dogs were curious. The safety of our baby was our priority. We took it slowly and we found a balance. We didn't need to banish the dogs to the garden but they did need to spend more time out there than they had. When we could we had everyone in together. We let the dogs get close but not too close.

 Exercise is importantTired dogs are quiet dogs. I admit this is something we still struggle with. If one of us is working or not home its hard bringing a baby and two dogs for a walk on your own, especially if the weather isn't great. Some mornings I get up half an hour early and get in their walk before work. I can manage them with the buggy when its quiet out but I also bought a baby sling so we could still walk them in our usual spots like the Hill of Tara and places you could never bring a buggy. In the early days ask friends and family to help when they visit. 

Always supervise. It's always said but it really is so important, especially when food is around. This is something we are careful about. The temptation is too high for the dogs with food in the mix and they very quickly learned to look for food from him. I put the dogs in the garden or the hall at meal times until jack is finished and then he gets a giggle out of giving them some leftovers. If he is toddling around with food in his hand again they go to another room or outside if I can't keep a close eye on them. He likes to share but there is always a risk of one of them snapping something from him and you need to be watching to prevent this. Or they may snap at him if he tried to take food away from them so when the dogs are being fed it's important not to let him annoy them. 

    Learn about their body language. Sometimes the dogs are happy to sit there while Jack pets them. But if one of them moves away to be alone, I dont let Jack go after him. I see it as the dogs way of saying "ok I've had enough" and I dont want to test their patience.

But most of all we learned it can work. Like many of the other Last Hope volunteers we know having a baby does not necessarily mean you cannot have a pet. Like any big change in life it takes some work and time to adjust. At times it has been difficult but giving children the chance to grow up with a pet, to teach them how to treat animals with kindness and to love them is a gift we are happy to be able to give our son. 

Pets & Children

For advice on Babywearing - choosing a sling and safety guidelines

With Thanks to

To see animals currently looking for their forever homes visit 

Thursday 16 January 2014

Pets Are For Life, Not Till Your Lifestyle Changes

January is always a dreary month and sadly it has been no different for us here at Last Hope. It's the 14th of January 2014 and as I write this blog we have been asked to take in 10 dogs and 2 cats since the New Year rang in. 31 dogs have found themselves in Meath Dog Pound over the same period. Our foster homes and kennels are now full with dogs. These 10 dogs & 2 cats have not been found straying. They have not been dumped or rescued from pounds or bad situations. They have been surrendered. So on top of emergency cases we are trying our best to deal with each one. It is like a January clear out of unwanted pets. And like us, the first question you might be asking is why? Why are people getting rid of a pet that has been loyal to them for a number of years? Why do they suddenly not have the time to take care of them? Why are our facilities and rescues across the country filling up with unwanted pets this month? Here are the 3 most common reasons that we hear ALL the time.

No.3. "I'm emigrating"
So we know times are hard, and people have lost jobs and some have no other choice. They can't find family or friends to take their beloved pet and so they turn to us for help, their last hope to find someone to care for the pet they have to leave behind. It's tough, we don't like seeing it, we have seen owners shed tears as they leave their pet behind, and the confused expression on the dogs face as it watches it's owner walk away and leave it in this strange place. It is a difficult time for our volunteers and has brought tears to our eyes. But if this is the situation you find yourself in, do not leave it till the week before you leave to contact rescues looking for help. Rehoming animals takes time and you did not decide to move to Australia yesterday and leave in a weeks time. You have probably planned this trip for months in advance so please do your pet some justice and give them every chance of finding a good home before you leave. Trust us, you will feel much better leaving them with a loving family than dropping them at a rescue centre not knowing how long they will be there before someone adopts them. Last year we got a call from a distraught lady needing help finding new homes for her two dogs as she was emigrating, "When do you leave?" we asked. "June 2014" she replied. Our jaws nearly hit the floor, but for the right reasons. No one ever gives us this much notice. It took three months but we found wonderful homes for both dogs, she was able to visit the homes they were going to, meet their new families and though it was still hard to say goodbye she knew they were in safe hands before she left.

No.2 "I'm moving house and can't bring our pet"
A surprising one, but sadly this seems to be a pretty common reason to get rid of a pet. "Landlords won't accept us if we bring our pet." We hear it all the time. We usually get a call from someone saying they are moving house and can't bring the family dog and please please please can we help. Again we understand circumstances can't be helped sometimes, you've tried every way of getting a place that you can bring beloved Benjii with you but, alas, no, you haven't found anywhere and rather than everyone living on the street cuddling the family dog for warmth you look for help. "When are you moving?" we ask and the usual reply without even batting an eyelid is "next week!". This puts rescues under so much pressure, our volunteers are animal lovers and we do our best to help, but cases like this give us very little chance. They put huge strain on the limited resources we have. The best thing you can do is if you begin to find yourself in this situation is to contact rescues as early as possible, give them a chance to advertise your dog while you are still able to look after it and try to work with them giving them a date you think you are going to need help with a space for him. Make sure your pet is neutered, if not get it done, no excuses and always visit the home where your pet will be going. Genuine people have no problems with this and it helps ensure your pet does not end up in the wrong hands. Never advertise a pet as free to a good home - it will not end up in a good home.

And the No1 reason we hear to rehome a pet...

"We're having a baby and we don't have time for our dog/cat/hamster anymore" 
This is the one reason we find hardest to hear from people wanting to surrender a pet. In our experience it is mostly in relation to dogs, but we have also had cats surrendered for the same reason. It is difficult to stomach this reason considering the cases we come across of animals who are in a desperate state and would only love to be in a safe place, to live with a family who may not have endless hours to spend with them at certain stages of life but who would love and take care of them. This dog or cat that you got as a cute puppy/kitten, have had it for well over a year, maybe even four or five years, and has been your four legged baby ever since. To them you are their whole world, and now a new baby has arrived and their world has been turned upside down. You don't have as much time for them, they aren't behaving like they used to and your patience is at an all time low. So what is the solution? Easiest & quickest way to get back to normal? Get rid of the dog or cat. "Its the best thing for them." We disagree. The best thing for your pet is to keep it in the home it has known for the last few years. Make the adjustments to include them in family life. There may be a couple of months where you feel they aren't getting the attention they deserve but routines do settle back down. We are a charity, we are here to help, we try not to judge as everyone's circumstances are different, people may not have family & friends to turn to for help, they might be a single parent family and it has all become too much to cope with. But in general having to rehome a pet because of a new baby is largely avoidable and there is plenty people can do in advance to make the addition of a new baby and the changes it brings to your pets routine as easy as possible.

Back To Training School

There are tonnes of articles & videos online about this. You can speak to a professional trainer and might even benefit from some training and socialisation classes. Here are some of the best tips we have found.

Preparation is Key 
With a few months to go, think about what will be different when the new baby arrives and start to introduce these changes so your dog has time to adjust.
  • Your dog may have the run of the house at the minute and you might decide when the baby comes they can't go upstairs any longer or need to stay in the kitchen more. You need to start setting these boundaries. One good rule is to not allow the dog into the baby's room. They may sit at the door while you are busy getting it ready but setting boundaries will help them understand what belongs to the baby, does not belong to them.
  • Your dog may be allowed to curl up on the couch all day but with a new baby you don't want them all over the furniture. It is still OK to let them up to sit beside you but you can train them to only jump up on the sofa or bed when they are invited to do so. 
  • Is your dog a house dog? Do you want them to spend some time out in the garden during the day without getting stressed and barking to come back in? Items like Kong toys are great for keeping your dog occupied for a couple of hours, make sure their kennel is in good condition and will be a nice place for them to snooze. Start with short periods and slowly build it up to an hour or two. We are most certainly not saying the answer is to lock your dog outside all day.
  • Perfecting basic commands like sit, down, stay & leave are hugely beneficial with a new baby around the house. You don't want them picking up items belonging to the baby, but if they do you may not be in a position to jump up from where you are to take away what they have, so being able to use commands will be a very useful tool. Dogs really enjoy training, and mental stimulation can really tire them out.
  •  Does your dog get overly excited with visitors, teach them to be calm and patient, because no doubt you will be having plenty of visitors once baby arrives. 
  • Closer to the due date you may have the pram or crib in the house, allow your dog to get used to the pram and establish a boundary around the crib, bouncer etc.
  • Lead work, if you are having trouble walking the dog, now is the perfect time to address this. You should aim to have them walk on a loose lead, at YOUR pace. This will be so helpful when you are pushing a buggy and are able to bring your dog along with you. 
Start a couple of months before baby is due and introduce these changes gradually and it will make things so much easier when you are sleep deprived and trying to look after the new addition. Even if your baby has already arrived, it is not too late to make these changes you might just require some extra patience.

Baby has arrived! 
An exciting time for all the family, so how is it best to introduce your new baby to the household pet?

  • While Mammy & baby are still in hospital, get your partner to bring home a bib, baby grow or blanket, something with baby's smell, to allow the dog to get used to the scent. You've heard of people doing this before, easy peasy ! or is it? Dogs will be curious and want to have a sniff but how do you go about this the right way? Introduce the item but only allow the dog to sniff it from a distance. They are not allowed to touch it, slobber all over it, or run off with it. This item belongs to you and so too does everything that smells like the baby, so as you introduce it set the boundaries from the beginning. 
  • When you are bringing the baby home, you need to take control of the introduction. Start by taking the dog for a long walk - maybe ask a relative or friend to do this while you are on your way home - burn off all their excess energy. When they return to the house keep everything as calm as possible, make them wait at the door till they are at ease. Mammy has probably been away for a few days and the dog will want to say hello so allow him to do this while she is not holding the baby. They will immediately smell the new baby and know there is something different, if you have already introduced the scent it will be familiar. Whoever is holding the baby should remain relaxed & calm and again allow them to sniff the baby from a distance. Establish boundaries in a calm fashion, no pulling and dragging and shouting at them, you will frighten them & the baby. Strong body language and an assertive voice will do the trick. Over time when you feel comfortable you can allow them to get closer to the baby.
  • Don't forget to keep up their routine. For a calm house they still need to be walked daily to burn some energy. If you are finding it hard to squeeze this in, in the beginning ask a family member or friend to help. "We had loads of offers of help with the baby in the early weeks, but never thought to ask someone to take our dog out for half an hour, we thought everyone just wanted to help with the baby, but it's something that would really make things easier at home in those first weeks" Even a 15 or 20 minute walk will greatly help in the early days till you can get a handle on things. Reinforce the training you have been doing. Stay calm, your dog will mirror your emotions and energy. "The dog is digging holes in the garden, barking all the time, stealing things. He never used to do this before." Your dog has not decided to be extra bold just to annoy you, they simply require some of your attention, and for their daily routine to be as consistent as possible. 
As the baby grows 
Children and pets can be life long friends and form strong bonds. There are studies to show children that grow up with a pet have stronger immune systems than those who don't. So as your child gets older and begins to explore your home, make sure to teach them how to interact with animals respectfully. 
  • Always supervise your child around animals. 
  • Don't let children pull at a dogs or cats ears or tail. The same way you don't allow them to pull at your own hair and ear rings. The calmest dog if provoked enough can snap and the easiest going cat can swipe out if annoyed. Teach them how to gently pet the dog or cat, same as you try to do when small children meet each other. Gently, gently.
  • Reward your dog for good behaviour. Dogs aim to please and many people forget to praise them when they are behaving well and the only way the dog gets attention is when they are being shouted at for bad behaviour.
  • Create a quiet space your dog can go to away from the baby if they begin to feel uneasy. Don't allow a child to chase the dog into his area. This can appear to be comical but your dog is trying to do what is best by removing himself from the situation and is becoming more stressed with your child following him.

It is not a good time to get a new pet while you are expecting a baby. It takes time for them to settle into a new environment and to establish routines and with a baby arriving soon after it can be chaotic. In the end it is the pet who loses out. So be sensible and wait until you are settled with the new baby, or your child is a bit older and can help with looking after the pet. 

Your baby's safety is your priority and if you have put in the training and consulted a professional, but you still feel your pet cannot adjust, it then may be time to consider looking for a new home for them. The new family will benefit from the training you have put in with your dog. Be honest and tell any potential new owners the issues you have had, you don't want to put anyone else's family in danger. 

Pets Will Adapt to Change in Routines
But the bottom line is, pets can adjust, you can ease them into it and after the craziness of the new babies arrival, things will settle down and you can have many happy years together with a house full of children and your loyal family pet. Give them the best chance to prove it can work, don't listen to other peoples negative comments and immediately jump to the final conclusion that they have to go, because quite simply, they don't.

Last Hope is Expecting! 
Here at Last Hope there is a busy year ahead for our volunteers, some more than others with lots of new babies expected in 2014 and not our usual furry 4 legged variety :) We have asked our volunteers to keep us up to date on how they are getting on with preparations for their new arrivals and to see how they get on with introductions to their pets. Between four volunteers there are seven dogs and eight cats in the households, so we look forward to hearing all about it and we will be sharing their experiences on this blog, so don't forget to check back with us.

Helpful Links
Here are some interesting articles and websites with training techniques & tips, but there are plenty more out there. 

Cesar Milan


Huffington Post

Trainers Recommended by Last Hope
We have worked with these trainers so know from first hand experience how good they are.

Brian Rosney is an excellent dog behaviourist, who has worked closely with Last Hope Charity and helped us get some of the more difficult dogs ready for rehoming. He has literally worked miracles for us

Lydia Finnegan - Obedience & socialisation classes for dogs in the Navan area

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Fred's Story

On a cold January morning, Last Hope received a call about three puppies in an abandoned house in Kells. When our volunteers arrived to collect them, they found two pups who were later named Fred and Wilma, but there was no sign of pup number three. Fred and Wilma were vet checked and sent to a foster home for their Last Hope treatment.
Fred & Wilma
About a week later, we received a call about the third pup. Our hearts broke when she was handed over. Bella was skin and bone and had a damaged eye. This poor little girl had been through a terrible ordeal. Bella was taken in and went to a separate foster family as she needed some extra TLC. We thought Bella would lose her eye, but thankfully, she made a full recovery.
Bella when she arrived to Last Hope
The Last Hope family showered the three puppies with love and cuddles to make up for their tough start in life and they made lots of new friends with other dogs, cats & everyone they met. Fred, Bella and Wilma are Staffy-crosses – a loveable breed and perfect family dog. Just like any other dog that is cared for correctly, they are loveable, loyal and happy.
As one staffy owner put it many years ago – “The biggest muscle in a staffy is its heart”.
Fred & Wilma
Fred was a mature head on young shoulders who just loved company. After a few trial runs that didn't work out, Fred went on trial to a farm; they were looking for an older dog but we asked if they would give Fred a chance, and there he found his perfect home.

“When I first decided I wanted a dog I was sure it would have to be an adult - I didn't even consider a pup. I've had dogs in the past but never a puppy,” said Fred’s new owner, Frances Tighe. “I assumed that a puppy meant boundless energy and plenty of mess. For my lifestyle I wanted a friendly independent dog that was first and foremost chilled out! I'm not a fan of hyper, high maintenance pooches, so when Rachel first mentioned Fred, I thought no way. ‘He's so not a puppy puppy,’ Rachel had said to me, but secretly I had my doubts. He's a puppy and a bull breed and they’re hard work right? Wrong!”
During the two-week trial, Frances came to realise that she had given a home to the most laid-back pup in town. “It's ridiculous - I swear one of these days he's going to start speaking to me in a Jamaican accent,” she said.
“Fred spends most of the day sleeping in various positions (some quite humorous). He likes a walk, but nothing too hectic - he's more of a stroller then a power walker (like myself). He treats the car like a moving sofa, which is handy because he's never happier than when he’s cuddling up on the sofa for the evening. He’s a serious cuddle monster and he snores loudly.

“Don't get me wrong, we've had our moments; one incident regarding a bag of flour, and Fred isn't shy about flatulence. Over the past three months we've learned a lot about each other and we've both adjusted. Fred is my little dude and honestly, I prefer him to most people I know! He needed to know I'd be there and he'd be safe, and in return, I share my home with a devoted and loving friend. Put simply - we're happy.”
Bella & Wilma have been in the care of Last Hope since they were very young. They have been loved and have shown much love to us in return and we hope they can find a wonderful forever home and get their happy ending just like Fred. They've grown into beautiful dogs.

Bella can be a little shy at first but she loves cuddles and gets on great with dogs, cats & children.

Wilma loves life's little comforts and is happy to chill out. She is good with children & ignores cats. She takes a little time to get to know other dogs but once she does she gets on great with them and we are working on her socialisation. She loves a run and has good recall.
If you can offer one of these girls a home please email us

Monday 23 September 2013

Friday, 20th of September

And so to the last day of this blog, we hope it has given you a better insight to what we do on a daily basis and how our charity works. 

World Animal Week takes place from 4th of October to the 10th, and our next in-store Petmania day will be on the 5th so we have lots planned for then. It also coincides with Positive Aging Action Week so we have plenty going on, with some exciting plans. Keep an eye on our facebook page for more details.

Why choose to volunteer with a charity like us? Working with animals can be so rewarding, seeing an animal come to us that seems to have lost all hope, giving them a second chance and seeing them change day by day, allowing us to love them is incredibly rewarding. It is an emotional rollercoaster and there are certainly difficult times when it is beyond us to help an animal and we think "is it worth the heartache?" But when we look at the overall picture, yes we can make a difference and yes we are making a difference and we pick ourselves up and keep going. The animals need us.  

So to finish off I've asked our volunteers what the best and hardest parts of working with animals is and why they volunteer with Last Hope, here is some of what they had to say

Andrea "Reasons why I volunteer - its incredibly rewarding to make a difference in one animals life and to see them and their owners when they find each other. Its also a great way to meet a whole new group of lovely friends"

Ann "The reason I continue to volunteer is I want to try and make a difference and because every animal we can help deserves to be helped all the dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc are in these situations through no fault of their own, its simply because of humans, since joining Last Hope I have found that theres a hell of a lot of really good active people who really do care and manage everyday to include animal rescue in their lives and who I know will continue to do so.
What makes me very sad is when an owner comes to the kennels to collect their dog (which does not happen very often) I see the huge immediate change in that dog, tail wagging, their eyes light up, you just see a happy happy dog. Then I look at the others and I know how they must be feeling after being dumped and left alone and nobody comes for them THAT kills me AND that is why the work we do in finding good secure homes for these dogs is so important, to give them their right to a safe and loving home where they will have the respect they deserve"

Rachel "God there's so many good & bad parts! A hard lesson to learn is that saving just one dog won't change the world, but a good lesson to learn is it will surely change the world for that one dog! 
High point for me was watching Amber the dog I rescued and adopted finally allowing my dad to pet her after almost two years! But sometimes the lowest point is, still after two years seeing the terror in her eyes when a stranger bends down to her. It's difficult not to think how awful she was treated to still think this way!"

Elaine "Why I volunteer? I'm a bit of a softie when it comes to animals, my family laugh that our two dogs are more like kids. When I see abandoned and unclaimed animals it is so hard to see the sadness and confusion in their eyes. To find those animals a wonderful home is so rewarding, I love seeing the updates from their forever homes and how happy they are and the joy they bring their new families. The volunteers are amazing and have taught me so much and I'm always amazed how much they do for so many animals in need. The hardest part is seeing neglected animals, I find it very difficult and can't and won't ever understand how people can be so cruel and cold hearted to mistreat any animal."

Bex (graphic designer) "The best part for me is being able to put my skills into something truly worthwhile. Before I could foster rabbits I didn't know that there was any way to help, so when I learnt that I could use the skills that consume my everyday life for Last Hope it made me feel wonderful. When I hear about people having found out about Last Hope due to seeing an advertisement that I've created it's a feeling like none other and I'm overjoyed by it.
When it comes to fostering bunnies, there's a whole new reward! To see an animal that has lived all it's live in a small cage or in a garden with little human contact in their day-to-day life come out of its shell is truly rewarding. There's so many little moments along the way, like their first binky and when they first run over to greet you, all this make up the best moments, every one a little better than the last. Then when you teach someone about rabbits as house animals and animals with strong personalities like dogs and cats and seeing people actually converting to this way of thinking, there's nothing better.

The hardest thing is seeing animals that have been abandoned and unwanted all around us. When we get to know these animals and see how amazing they are it's too upsetting to think that there are people out there that are so cold to give up on them, to abandon them or sentence them to a life of loneliness."

So what could you offer to an animal charity? What is it that made our volunteers reach out, make contact and give up a little of their free time to help out? Some can open their homes to take in an animal, whether it was a donkey or one of the kittens, all are loved and cared for in our foster homes. Some people can give up an hour or two to do a kennel shift once a week or every second week. Some can offer to transport animals to the vets, to our Petmania days or collect donations from the public. Some can carry out home visits in their area. Others use their skills as photographers, designers, organisers or writers to help. Some are there for advice others answer a call to shake a bucket or pack bags at our fundraisers. We are grateful to all of them, as without us working as a team, the charity would not exist and we are always happy to see new faces join the team. 

Thanks for reading this blog, we hope you enjoyed finding out a little more about us and what we do and the people who make it all happen. We are very grateful to all those that support us and allow us to continue to do what we do.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Thursday, 19th of September

Over the last year we have built a relationship with a rescue in Sweden, Friends Forever, where they select dogs in our care who they feel they can find great homes for in Sweden, typically it is medium to large dogs like springers, lurchers etc that we can find difficult to rehome here so it is a great partnership. Sweden has a good history of responsible dog ownership. Dog breeding is controlled, most dogs are pure bred and having a dog is a financial commitment people do not take lightly. It is a legal requirement for dogs to be registered and permanently identifiable, preferably by microchip, from 4 months of age and dogs being transferred to a new owner must have their details updated within 4 weeks of going to a new home. As a result of these procedures, once caught, stray dogs can be reunited with their owners with in a couple of hours, meaning they have a low stray dog population.

Friends Forever contact us when they see a dog we have in our care and think they can find suitable homes for them in Sweden. This can be a difficult process for our volunteers, as we could have a dog in foster for a couple of months and then have to wave goodbye as they are loaded on to the lorry to make the trip to Sweden, it is a very difficult thing to do. These days are always full of emotion and there are many tears but in the end we know it is giving the dogs the chance to find a wonderful home. All dogs going on this journey are microchipped and have been checked by our vets and have relevant paperwork filled in. 

This time it was Maya & Carly that were making the long journey and we were all thinking of them and their foster Mammys today as we know it is tough on everyone. Ann a volunteer who fostered Ronald, a cheeky little character, who was rehomed to Sweden on a previous occasion wished the girls all the best and said "And who knows maybe she'll meet Ronald and tell him we still love, miss and talk about him all the time and give him a big hug and tell him that we are so happy that he's happy and being loved. x" Dodo the Lurcher had also been chosen, but one of our volunteers fell in love with Dodo and he has found his forever home here in Ireland. We wish the lovely Maya & Carly a safe journey and we know Sweden can offer them great homes. We can't wait to see the updates. 

Good Luck Maya x

Dogs from a number of rescues all set for the trip Sweden
Back at the kennels, Jimmy the Beagle was off to the vets to be neutered. And two of our kittens Aero & Twix were also being dropped to the vets from the their foster home to be neutered. When Eva collected them this evening, Jimmy was happy as ever, you wouldn't think he had just had an operation, but Aero & Twix weren't so happy and were quite drowsy. It should take just take a couple of hours to be back themselves. 
Aero & Twix are looking for their forever homes
Jimmy, last weekend on a day out from the kennels with one of our volunteers

The phones were busy with reports of stray dogs, one of which we were able to reunite quickly with her owners. We were also busy trying to find room to take in two dogs at risk of being put to sleep and helping owners try to rehome two more dogs. When we get numerous calls in a day looking for help rehoming dogs it can be difficult trying to prioritise those to help first, we only have room for so many dogs but being animal lovers it is difficult not being able to help them all. 

Coco a surrender to the kennels has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few weeks and we are hoping to get her into foster now so she is ready to find her forever home as soon as possible. 

There has been some interest in a couple of our kittens so we hope to get them rehomed in the next couple of weeks and bring our cat numbers down to numbers that are more manageable for our foster homes. 

We are busy deciding which Christmas fairs to attend this year to sell some of our Christmas cards & calendars, the first on the list will be in Knightsbrook Hotel in December. We have received some lovely photos for our photography competition.

Friday 20 September 2013

Wednesday, 18th of September

Rosie the new pup had a good night and is eating soaked puppy nuts & drinking water which is always a good sign. She is making friends with the resident dogs and looks like Lillian is her new bff.

This morning we posted a fresh appeal for homes for the rescued battery hens and were delighted with the response. We quickly found homes for all the hens we had in foster and took many more calls & emails from people willing to offer homes to others which means we can help with saving some of the final 1000 hens this week. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped finding homes and rehomed these girls. 

Doris one of our volunteers has organised for our two rescued greyhounds, Jack & Trixie, to be rehomed later in the month and as soon as a place is sorted for them, they will be heading to Germany to start their new life. 

One of our volunteers had a busy afternoon;
"After school today I made the not so short drive from Dunshaughlin to Ballivor to carry out a home visit! I met a lovely couple who want to adopt an outdoor dog. Outdoor dogs can be problematic for the charity as many of our dogs have been indoor dogs before arriving to us and all our fosterers keep the dogs indoors. There are also dangers of rambling and theft if a dog is left outside alone for long periods of time. After a lengthy chat it was agreed the best thing to do would be to consider a puppy who would sleep indoors until it was older and strong enough to move outdoors. The family assured me the dog would still be stimulated and have constant companionship as it would be with them on the farm during the day! Other arrangements were discussed and I left with everyone happy. A potential great home for one of our puppies! 

I then drove back to the kennels where I talked the home visit over with chairperson of the committee Ann to make sure all had been considered. Here I met Rosie the lovely new puppy. 

Back home I typed up my home visit form and began updating my cat & dog Petmania profiles. Hopefully I will have some new ones to put in our in store folder and some rehomed animals' profiles to take out! The manager had contacted me last night to ask if we had any ideas for World Animal Week which will coincide with our adoption day! Thinking caps are on and a visit to the store is planned for tomorrow!!"

Doris carried out a home visit in Kells for a dog in a lovely home for a companion for their dog. Another two volunteers Ann and Ellen went to Trim in the hope of trapping some stray cats we have seen roaming. The plan is to trap, neuter and release these two remaining ferals as we try to prevent yet another feral cat colony. Ann and Elaine caught a mother and her 3 kittens in the same colony two weeks ago but they unfortunately tested positive for  Felv  These older cats are harder to catch however and although they came to have a look, they wouldn't go into the trap. Last week they had ventured inside but didn't go far enough to set it off. Ah well better luck next time - we'll keep trying.  Ann says "It's really just a waiting game so it was a great opportunity for two of the new volunteers to get to know each other. Aside from the all the fantastic work Last Hope do for animals, volunteering is a great way to meet like minded people." 

There is a huge problem with the number of stray cats in Ireland. The population can increase so rapidly. Rescues around the country are doing their best to get this under control but more people need to take responsibility and neuter their pet cats if we are to have any success with this. During kitten season rescues are inundated with requests to take in kittens, it is impossible to help them all as we just don't have the resources. As they say prevention is better than cure and we are running our second cat neutering scheme of the year. In conjunction with our vets, we are subsidising the cost of neutering, offering it for €20 for males & €25 for females. so if you have cats that need to be neutered now is a great time to do. For more information please have a look at our website.

Normal charity duties run along side all this and the kennel volunteers & fosterers are busy as always looking after our animals.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Tuesday, 17th of September

Sad news this morning, 2 of the rescued battery hens in foster passed away. It is heartbreaking that they were so close to a wonderful life outside the cages but never had the chance to really enjoy it. Sometimes the stress of moving these hens is more than they can take and are not strong enough to make it through to a new life. We have had some lovely updates from people who took hens and how they are getting on. Many are already laying eggs, some have not been brave enough to venture outside their new houses and others are absolutely loving their new found freedom, like little chuckles who loves being outside and foraging in the muck. Hopefully it won't be long before her feathers fill out and she is looking better.

Today saw the arrival of a pup abandoned in Bohermeen. A beautiful female, possibly lab/German Shepard cross, who the finder thought was about 7 weeks old but after seeing her we think she is only 4 - 5 weeks. We don't believe her mother would have left her at this age which would indicate she has been dumped & left to die. Hard to believe anyone could be so cruel. We have named her Rosie. Rosie was far too young to stay in the kennels so she went into foster, where Eve the eldest of the resident German Shepherds has taken on the role of Mammy and is comforting this little girl. It is amazing the love animals can show for each other immediately after meeting, a lot can be learned from them. Our biggest fear now is there is more of her litter out there and they won't survive long on their own. It will be a while before this baby is ready to be rehomed. 
When we receive an adoption application, the next step is to arrange a home visit. This is usually very informal, we get a good idea of how an animal will integrate into the families life and it gives us the chance to answer any questions a potential home might have. Home visits have been arranged for the week ahead. One took place today and they are able to offer a lovely home to one of our cats. We are so delighted they have chosen Francine, who has been in our care since January this year. Often the older cats get over-looked with so many kittens needing homes but they have so much love to give and there are huge benefits to adopting an older cat. We are thrilled for Francine and we hope she loves her new home. Good Luck Francine x

We know one guy who will miss you dearly
You may have read about the two bunnies also found dumped on the Bohermeen bog a couple of weeks ago. They were found separately and were so happy to be reunited, here is an update on their progress.

Bo and Canti, the Bog Bunnies, come inside.

Two weeks after their ordeal Bo and Canti are doing great. They are still tiny little things, probably still only babies at 12-16 weeks old. They have been happy in their sheltered hutch palace, but are fascinated with the house and the bunnies inside. So this weekend, their foster Mommy decided it was time to see how they would get on as house bunnies.

Introducing bunnies to a house environment is a great idea. They adapt really well to living indoors, and much to peoples surprise they are very very easy to litter train. They will naturally choose one corner to "do their business" and you can use a little tray, much the same as for a cat. They are curious and full of personality, and having a bunny in the house will allow them to get to know you and you them much more easily. Also, as rabbits are prey animals, having them regularly indoors will ensure that you can spot any signs of illness much more easily, as they tend to hide symptoms of sickness.

On Saturday night Bo and Canti were nestled beside their foster Mummy on the couch, happily cuddled together while she watched tv. They stayed in on Saturday night, and being such clever little bunnies, there was not one accident. Litter Tray Success!

Sunday morning, Foster Mom decided to have a lazy morning, and since her own house bunnies were also lazing about on the landing, she took Bo and Canti indoors and up to bed for a snooze. They were fascinated by this and spent time on the bed chilling out together. They are too small to jump down but given their curiosity it wont be long before they are running the whole house - up and down the stairs. They have a little while to go yet, but are doing great.

These 2 bunnies are a bundle of fun and would suit a home where they will be regularly interacted with. Preferably with access to a garden and secure run, and brought in at night time for fun and cuddles.