On Tuesday 27th June, Alf, Lottie, Taneya and Alex, took a trip out of London as they embarked on a volunteering day at Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre, Basildon. It was a great day where we learnt a lot about the charity, the Basildon Centre and of course, dogs!
We arrived for 10am and after a strong coffee session, we began with a presentation from Nickie, the volunteer co-ordinator at Basildon. Each rehoming centre has its own mini-team which consists of trainers, vets, a volunteer co-ordinator, rehoming assessors, press officers and then streams of volunteers who do everything from kennel cleaning and dog walking to laundry and path co-ordination (more on that later).
During the presentation, we learned a lot about the organisation and some of the projects they run. They work a lot with the wider society and other charitable organisations, two of which are:
The Hope Project – helping dogs whose owners are homeless or in a house crisis
The Freedom Project – providing temporary foster care to dogs belonging to families fleeing domestic violence
Following this, we had a chat with Gary, one of the dog trainers. He talked us through the different signs of aggression, how they go about reintroducing dogs, types of illnesses dogs can pass to humans and how being in a kennel can impact a dog.
Top 3 facts:
- If a dog is rehomed from the centre, an owner can bring it back. Basildon only have a 14% return rate!
- The centre is 100% open with anyone adopting a dog, every nip, bite or growl is recorded and passed on.
- A lot of dogs are brought in from Ireland as it is easier to re-home them over here.
Next, was a tour of the grounds. They had two main kennel blocks, an area for new arrivals and the sponsor dogs (the ones we do the marketing for!). The dogs go out for 2 hours max a day, meaning they are in a cage for 22 hours each day. As you can imagine it’s little frustrating for them, and they get very excited at the prospect of heading out.
On the tour we looked at the food/walking/behaviour boards. They indicated the type of food to feed the dogs, their behaviours and things to look out for, the dogs they had beef with etc. To quote Alf, ‘It was like a stocks and shares board of the dog world’. Dog walking was conducted with military precision.
After lunch we walked a few of the dogs in our pairs, Alf and Alex ended up with a dog who wanted to walk for miles whereas Lottie and Taneya’s dog wanted to go in because of the rain. We build some snufflerugs (door mats with bits of material attached, food was buried within the layers for the dogs to find) and created enrichment boxes (cardboard boxes with paper cuttings and treats – for the dogs to rip apart). We also learnt that Alf is an expert at folding laundry.
It was a fascinating day and we look forward to another volunteering day soon.