Our regular update on what's happening in the World of Bulldog Rescue
This Blog is Tania's own personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the charity
I wonder if like me you could wish you could go back to 31 December 2019 and just start the year again? Certainly in my lifetime I've never experienced anything quite like this. Initially we were full of hope that it was nothing more than a flu problem and that we'd all get ill for a couple of days and everyone would be back to normal within the month. Wow - that was back in March - it's now May and although restrictions are easing slightly the pressure it has put everyone under is a worrying combination of anxiety, fear and simply the unknown. When people started to die people soon realised that this wasn't a bout of flu and I think for me that was probably when things started to get serious.
We were confident at the beginning, we would be OK, dogs still need help don't they? Closing the kennel to the public wasn't really a big deal for us, we work on an appointment system anyway so we'd just rule out the appointment calendar and carry on as usual, but then things got serious. A meeting was held - you know when things are serious because a meeting is held - and we inititally agreed to restrict contact with the public and issued all our volunteers with guidance as to how they should undertake a visit to someone's home. Some volunteers understandibly didn't want to have to go anywhere so we drew up a list and figured we had it covered. Then Lockdown!
In light of the fact that the majority of people are idiots and thought nothing of flocking to beauty spots in the nice weather, our government had very little choice but to lock everyone down. Never in my life time have I experienced a forced lock down and for the first week it was absolutely no problem but as we began to realise that there couldn't be any dog movement, no fund raisers and no travel the reality dawned that without those the charity could not survive. I'm not ashamed to say that there was one major wobble at that point as I could see the last 20 years of my life going down the drain.
It was time to get serious, the government introduced a Furlough scheme and looking into that we realised that the only one that could be put on the scheme was Carrie (kennel maid), to furlough the rest of us would mean that none of us could do any work (not even voluntary) and that was unrealistic as someone had to keep things moving ready for when the lockdown was lifted. So the rest of us agreed to go on reduced hours - in fact one hour a day. I was very greateful for the nice weather, it had been many many years since I was responsible for the kennel but swapping my admin hat for kennel duties was actually quite a nice change. The office phone was on for an hour each day, Georgia continued to speak to people that wanted to rehome their dogs and Lana continued to find homes for those already in the system ready for when they could start moving again. But then in the second week in I totally lost it, realising I was missing my family, my grandkids, my parents - my dad has dementia and convinced he wouldn't know who I was by the end of it still plays very heavily on my mind. I began to throw myself into the only hobby I have outside the rescue which is my garden, but was also completely aware that all those jobs I had to do in the office were not getting done. Mentally things really began to slide, mental health problems are going to be one of the worst legacies of this virus in my opinion as people suddendly found they couldn't get up. They stopped caring if their roots were showing (it was probably around that time that I shaved my hair off) and certainly for me (and those that know me will understand the significance) no make up! For me to keep up with my mental health issues I have to have routine, with no routine the rest just fell away - there just didn't seem to be a reason to get out of bed. Contact with the kids was on a screen and seeing them through a window made it worse - the near but oh so far feeling that just reminded you that you couldn't hug them even if you wanted to.
As the weeks went by it was clear no one was coping - and yet once a day the general public grabbed their one hour outside with both hands. People who never did anything outside suddendly decided it was their right, their entitlement and they were going to go out simply because they could. Dogs that had never been on long walks were now out with several members of the household at several times throughout the day and it really shocked me as to how little people understood how this affected their dogs as well.
Before long that hour a day the phone was spent talking to people who's dogs had begun to display low level aggressive behaviour. Look at this from your dog's point of view - why are you even home!!! I think this was probably worse in families with children who suddendly were there, loud and annoying and as far as your dog was concerned they simply did not cope with that - bulldogs hate change on any level and this wasn't just like a normal half term holiday - everyone was there, bickering - trying to work, trying to home school. The tention within the home certainly didn't go un-noticed by many many bulldogs. Equally there will be series of severe behaviour problems as people begin to go back to work, especially those dogs that enjoyed having their families home or have now got used to the company as these dogs will almost definately begin to suffer anxiety when they are back on their own again.
I was horrified at some of the advice - "Get a Dog" was a very real statement that was put out there, the number of people who suddendly wanted to adopt or in particular foster whilst they were home - and as nice as it was for them to offer - where does that leave the individual dog when your life goes back to normal? Thankfully dogs coming in was not an issue for us and the ones we had were OK to stay where they were and initially I was pleasently suprised at the number of dog owners who understood that when you can't get rid of your dog - you don't want to - I'd like to see that attitude carried over to the "New Normal" please.
But as the weeks went along the rehome request began to build again, people were getting fed up with waiting. Another meeting was held (gotta love a meeting) and we decided that in line with guidelines that had been released by DEFRA we would start taking emergencies and reopen the home from home service on the understanding that the dogs wouldn't move until the travel regulations were fully lifted.
There are massive restrictions as to what we can and can't do but if nothing else it meant we could have our jobs back!
So the dreaded "Risk Assessment" - although there's only myself and Carrie here we had to put measures in place to ensure we didn't infect each other. Full PPE arrived, a porta loo, walkie talkies and strict social distancing, it's actually quite horrible to be working alongside someone you can't go near. Diary entries now generated a "Letter of Authority to Travel". There were guidelines circulated as to how to deal with a new arrival and although at present we are still not letting any of the dogs go to their new homes we are hoping there will be some revised DEFRA guidance in the next few days which could allow some less restricted movement.
So I am now back at my desk and Carrie is back with her babies (they love her more than me - she has a pocket full of gravy bones) - and even though both of us are not totally on full hours, it's a worry trying to work out when and if this will ever end? People I love have gone through some heart breaking situations alone, people have lost their dogs, family members and people they respect. Not being able to be with them in their final hours and minutes is soul destroying and again - mentally people may not ever fully recover from what they have had to cope with alone. The worry about finances and how to pay the bills is a huge reality for so many that going back to a risky environment is some peoples only option if they are going to get things paid that month.
The media has had a huge role to play in the negative aspect of all of this. So much emphasis has been put on preventing people from getting it at all, when in reality we are all going to get it sooner or later - it's the need to stagger the affected people which is important. Reporting on the deaths rather than the number of people that have recovered makes the whole situation appear much darker than it actually is and I honestly think that more should be made of the fact that this is simply to protect the NHS - it isn't a guarantee that you personally, will never suffer the Corona Virus - because at some point in your life you almost definately will!
Our Supporters though have been absolutely amazing - on line events, virual fund raisers and some very generous donations has seen us through what is hopefully the worse and as much as we all want to get back to normal - do we? What will be the new normal? Still working all the hours of the day and stressing about stuff, or will there be a more relaxed attitude to work and family? That I guess, remains to be seen and of course this is just my own personal take on the events of the last few months. In reality the entire year is written off - so maybe - just maybe we could go back to midnight on 31 December 2019 and this time around do things slightly differently?
Tania Holmes 19 May 2020
So that's another Crufts over and done with, just like Christmas - weeks worth of build up and then Poof! gone in puff of smoke.
We have come to terms with the Media frenzy that has become the norm, the usual round of Press "Born To Suffer" headlines about all flat faced breeds. The close scrutiny from the activists, the moment when you find out if the Best Of Breed passed it's vet check - and sadly this year some infighting to complete the package. Of course this year we also had the threat of coronavirus on top of the miles and miles of motorway, the increadibly early start and the recovery which takes longer and longer every year. But when it's all said and done, when the NEC closes it's doors to Crufts for the final time on the Sunday, when the facebook frenzy about who should have won and how bad the judging was - there's a side that only fellow rescues will understand ........ the fall out that is the Breed that went Best In Show!!!!
Every year I sit there worrying, knowing full well that the chances are pretty remote but it's not totally unheard of - not since 1952 has a bulldog taken the podium - Noways Chuckles. In the 70s a Bulldog did go Reserve Best In Show but for some reason no one ever seem to take notice of the runner up. We knew that this year there was no hope - the bulldog didn't pass it's vet check due to a skin problem so never made it through to the group - in fairness the less said about that the better - but the breed that did win was The Dachshund
According to their Breed Council
"Dachshunds are a very popular breed with six different varieties: Standard and Miniature sizes, in 3 coats, Smooth, Long and Wire. Maisie, the Standard Wire-Haired Dachshund that won Crufts, may be the first time that many members of the public will have seen this particular variety. Their registrations have increased steadily over time, with 861 being registered by the Kennel Club in 2019. We are aware that a sudden increase in popularity of any breed can lead to an increase in the numbers being bred irresponsibly and without any thought for their health and welfare."
However, as with our breed - the Fad Colour breeding has taken a hold on the little Dachshund- white dogs, merle dogs - all become increasingly popular creating yet another storm for their serious breeders and Health Committee alike so it was nice to see the following published by the Dachshund breed council
The article states
"The Dachshund Breed Council’s advice is the same when considering buying a puppy of any variety: that buyers should do their research and make sure that they contact a breeder who places health, welfare and temperament at the top of their agenda when breeding."
In the meantime, we are sitting back and breathing yet another sigh of releif as the Bulldog didn't go Best In Show for another year .....
February being a short month always catches us out, especially as we have to prepare for Crufts in the first week of March. But February waits for no man and it flew by in it's usual 100 mile an hour pace
Something we have noticed this month is the sudden increase of dogs that are people aggressive, we saw a slight surge back in 2003 which led us to do some research into the condition "Idiopathic Rage" but recently we've noticed another increase. So much so that we've had to bring in a far more stringent Temperament Test for every single dog we are asked to help as opposed to the old method of putting them through a full assessment only if we considered there to be a risk. What has our breed been redcued to, the greeders constantly trying to create that next big seller with deformities and fad colours have put the problem back at the forefront on a breed that should be nothing but gentle, if not slightly stubborn.
We are trying very hard to encourage anyone looking for a puppy to go through show breeders. Yes I know you don't necessarily want a show dog - but you need the show breeders ethics and not the "make a quick buck" attitude of the others. Remember there is no such thing as a Pet Breeder!!!! Pet Breeders are back yard breeders and in some cases simply Puppy Farms Please please try and find a breeder who has at least health tested the parents, preferably using the Bulldog Breed Council system. The Breed Council have worked really hard over recent years to encourage all show breeders to health test - now all we need to do is educate the public to only buy from these breeders. Remember you can see litters available from health tested parents here: Litters for Sale
So here's the breakdown for February
HELP US PAY OUR VET BILL: https://www.gofundme.com/f/can-you-help-fund-bulldog-rescue
DOG'S HELPED TO DATE: 3407
Lots is being said recently about the Breed Council and much of it has been assumption because to be fair most Bulldog Owners are totally unaware they even exist. Well they are a group of volunteers, made up of Breed Club delegates and sub committee members who act as a liason between the breed and the Kennel Club
Consulted on matters that relate to the future of a breed, the Breed Council is where items for discussion are taken so Breed Club Secreataries can take them back to their clubs. Used properly this set up of a Breed Council is the perfect place to ensure everyone that cares about a breed can make informed and sensible decisions.
Bulldog Rescue has for a long time been one of these Observers and several members of our team are on Sub Committees including our Chairman Vicky who is coordinator of the Health Committee and myself who recently joined the education committee which is efficiently led by Lorraine Watkins.
Both these Sub Committees are increadibly hard working and between them have ensured that we have the knowledge to fight the breed haters, without this group of people there would be no health testing, no education regarding the Bad Breeding practices that goes on - especially amongst the Fad Colour breeders and there would never be any improvement when it came to breed health. Vicky regularly attends Kennel Club meetings about our Bulldogs, she attends the Brachycaphalic Working Group meetings and advices regularly on PR matters relating to our breed. Along with Leiza Handey she has worked very hard to improve the breed's health BUT it can also feel like we are banging heads because there are still many many bulldog owners out there who assume that:
a) The Breed Council is only for Show people
b) The Breed Council have no powers to make a difference
c) The Breed Council is a clique of self important people who can't change nothing
Well that opinion can only survive if you let it, as Bulldog owners it's important we help to raise awareness of the Breed Council. BDR are hopefully the bridge between the Show owners and the Pet owners because it is equally important that both sets of owners unite and support the breed we all love. Every breed can have one and each one will only be as successful as the people that support it. So .....
Please also take a moment to read this document collated by Vicky Collins Natrass: What is the function of a Breed Council for any Breed? (PDF download) which not only dispells some of these myths but goes into great detail as to what it's really all about
The Bulldog Breed Council can be found Ringside at Crufts and always have a stall at Bulldog Rescue's annual Bulldog Picnic Event.
As usual we hit the ground running. The month started with it's usual backlog created by taking time off but it was nice to be back I must admit.
We filed our usual accounts with the Charity Commission and Companies house and you can of course read those HERE (PDF download) or via the Charity Commission web site at https://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends09/0001115009_AC_20190331_E_C.pdf
January is always a busy month and it feel like it's forever before we are any where near caught up from the Christmas Break, but of course the dogs keep on coming and during January we have had 30 requests to rehome a dog
One of the wonderful things that happened during January was the discovery that we had received almost 80 nominations for the PetPlan/ACDH annual Charity awards. We usually get around 4 or 5 so to get 80 was totally mind blowing. It's always a concern that because we work with such a contraversial breed I'm never really sure how that will dictate going forward when it comes to making the decision, but as I had to buy a new frock for the Manchester and Counties Bulldog Club Awards Evening - it would be nice to give that another airing before it finds itself sat in the wardrobe for the next 20 years.
The awards night was amazing and the committee of the Manchester and Counties really need to slap themselves on the back for the work they put into the night. Both myself and our Chairman Vicky received Lifetime Commitment awards which was absolutely wonderful and very much a suprise for us both
Congratulations to all the winners on the night, it was a lovely evening
So here's the breakdown for January
HELP US PAY OUR VET BILL: https://www.gofundme.com/f/can-you-help-fund-bulldog-rescue
DOGS HELPED TO DATE: 3384