AS a dog lover I was delighted to be invited to Cheshire Dogs’ Home to experience a day as a kennel hand.
Although slightly concerned that I may come away with as many dogs as I could squeeze into my Clio I dug out my wellies and headed down to the charity in Grappenhall.
Greeted by a cacophony of around 100 baying hounds I was a little unnerved at first but quickly got used to the noise, although I couldn’t get used to seeing their little faces behind the bars and was grateful I wasn’t near the people coming to look for a new dog as I may have been tempted to start begging on their behalf.
Instead, I spent my time working with Maz Simon and Jackie O’Brien in the recently built £500,000 special care unit, which is the UK’s first purpose-built canine maternity suite that is currently housing more than 40 puppies and their mums.
One 10-week-old jack russell puppy, Snoopy, who had been returned to the home after a family with a young baby could not cope with his snappiness, became one of my favourites.
After spending time playing with Snoopy, I then helped to clean out the pens and wash them down before an emergency broke out with one of the pregnant mums.
A four-year-old English bull terrier called Bronte went into labour and was struggling to give birth to her puppies.
She was rushed to the vets for a caesarean and delivered 10 pups but four sadly died – the remaining six are now being hand-reared after Bronte rejected them.
Shortly after Bronte left the centre, a three-year-old border collie called Ella arrived with her seven two-week-old puppies followed by news that another pregnant mum who was on her way into the home.
John Newton assistant manager at the home said: “To have this amount of pregnant mums in at once was a very rare occurrence and it’s unbelievable to have had two dogs needing a caesarean so soon after each other– Georgia the bull mastiff was the first dog I’d known to have one in the 18 years since I’ve been here.”
Maz is currently hand-raising some of the adorable bull mastiff pups, which will be ready for re-homing in a couple of weeks.
She said: “Puppies are like babies and need socialising so it’s no good getting one if you are not going to be home for long periods and I encourage them to go to puppy classes as it makes them a better dog in the long run.
“There are a lot of places where people can go to get pups but when people come here I give them advice on what having a puppy entails, especially if it’s a special breed they may not have had before or if it’s a bull breed or terrier which can be quite hard to handle.
“My main aim is always to give the pups a good home.”
Anna Widdowson manager of Cheshire Dogs’ Home added: “We get so many dogs here so the more people that come to visit us the better. If people aren’t sure about having a dog we have staff here who can advise them.”
Anyone interested in fostering or re-homing a dog can call 269500 for more information.
A day in the life of a puppy kennel hand:
8.30am - Feeding including hand feeding any puppies that are being hand reared
9am - Cleaning out the pens
11am - Veterinary nurse will administer medication
11.30am - Check dogs have enough water and puppies are ok.
12pm - Lunch 1pm - Home opens to the public.
1pm - Maintain kennels and help customers who are looking for puppies
2pm - Feed the puppies again.
2.15pm - Walk the mums.