They say life begins at 40. Well mine really began when I gave up “normal” life and started rescuing doggies.
When I was young I imagined, like most girls I guess, that I would grow up, get married, have a couple of kids, a career etc. Maybe get a dog- (probably a Labrador as I had an andrex puppy teddy from birth). How wrong I was ….and how glad I am (in the most part).
One day I found a starving staffie on the end of a chain, being bred from for beer money, while searching the neighbour’s gardens for the source of a harrowing crying. This day/dog changed my life unrecognisably. The most beautiful little olive-eyed girl, the one I didn’t get to save, and my one regret. That day changed my life forever. Little did I know then that there would be no marriage, no “normal life”, holidays, kids, the usual – it would become a vocation – to spend my life trying to save those of the most in need.
It has been more depressing, upsetting, incomprehensible and indescribable than could have ever imagined. I can say it’s a success, as we have rescued over 1000 dogs and all kinds of other animals in just 5 years, but the “enlightenment” that comes with being involved in rescue changes you. As you become educated about the atrocities, people’s cruelty, their capabilities and the scale of the problems the dogs face, life will never be normal. Basically, it changed what was something I chose to do to something I cannot now choose not to.
I don’t want fancy clothes, a beautiful car, I want to save lives and not to have to say no to those who won’t make it. I don’t care that my hair is always a mess and ill never have the beautiful manicured nails I used to have. My priorities have changed and seem completely alien to family, friends and many onlookers. We don’t have time to watch TV, but I’m quite happy being blissfully unaware of what’s going on sometimes. Mentally coping with some of these realities leaves little space for worry about much else. We don’t see friends or family and we can’t go visiting but it’s one of the sacrifices of living this amazing life.
My worry is time, creating a legacy to ensure we set up something amazing that will continue to grow, save lives, change attitudes, make as much of a difference as possible because these dogs’ lives depend on it. Much as a parent worries about their children, should anything happen to them, my concern is for these guys if anything happens to us. I don’t want to sound morbid and yet my brain works differently these days. These guys live in the moment and I envy them that. They move on from their past experiences and don’t hold on to the horrific thing’s humans have done to them. They learn to trust and always want to love. I wish I could be more dog. Our responsibility for each is for the rest of their lives once we agree to take them. We have many who will live out their days here and we must make sure their lives are lived as fully as possible. It’s a big weight sometimes but one we wouldn’t change.
What we do is a drop in the ocean really but what we set out to do is revolutionary. We have pioneered the first free running rescue, we’ve transformed our house and land into a dogs playground and we’ve proved that it not only works but it works brilliantly.
We want it to be copied and replicated everywhere – kennels should be a thing of the past. We want to generate a huge demand for rescue dogs – replacing the buying of fashionable crossbreeds with getting a unique one in a million dog from us instead. We call it the rescue revolution. The dream continues to grow day by day.
But by far our biggest success is you guys. The amount you care, share, follow, support, donate and comment send messages of support is incredible. Long after people have adopted from us they still follow what we do. You recommend us to people, you’ve recommended us to your workplaces, done runs, walks, dog shows for us. We couldn’t do this without YOU – YOU guys have saved me too.
It’s very easy to lose faith in humanity, to only see all the selfishness, greed, the real bad side of people but with all you lot do for us/the dogs we are reminded every day that there are also some incredibly amazing people out there. We have met some inspiring and remarkable people. Kelly, Euan, Ian, our amazing team, to mention a few and the list could go on and on – but seriously – we will never forget what these people have done for us and how much they’ve gone over and above. They will never know truly what they mean to us and how special they really are in shaping our view on life. It’s very important to be surrounded by good people to keep a balance and a handle on things sometimes.
A massive thank you, to my long-suffering parents John & Margaret. Without their support, understanding and life savings this rescue would never have even started. They often question my choices when they see the exhaustion (and state of the house) but they know from seeing me with the staffie (Lucky) in the beginning, this is what I was meant to do. They face another Christmas at the rescue surrounded by dogs and more (or they don’t get to see us) but I secretly think they wish they lived with 40 dogs too ;).
Finally, a huge apology to Lou, who has to deal with the enormity of the stresses here and my ever-increasing drive to get things done, setting huge sometimes seemingly unachievable targets etc. She must wonder what she signed up for. Anyway – Plan C will be on the way before the year is out no doubt – the next big rescue….