Me and My Pet - Annie Graham and Noah
PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 December 2017
This is Noah, my most recent four-legged friend. He's a one-year-old saluki lurcher cross and is utterly adorable.
When I heard myself telling Lara King from Radio Humberside that ‘I volunteer in the kennels’ when she visited Hull Animal Welfare Trust (HAWT) this summer, it took me by surprise. That might sound odd but, until relatively recently, I didn’t even know I liked dogs!
It started when I began walking with a friend who has two beautiful German shepherds. That was it; I was hooked and have never looked back.
A few years ago, I re-evaluated my life and realised I wanted to become more involved with my local community. I knew what a nice time my friend’s lovely dogs had and then I thought about all the dogs that didn’t have such a good time; abused, abandoned, and unwanted. So, I signed up as a volunteer with HAWT, my local animal rescue centre.
Although I began as a dog-walker, a chance conversation with another volunteer saw me switch to kennel-cleaning duties, working alongside inspirational volunteers who are always happy to give help and advice to others.
It was at this point that I started developing closer bonds with the dogs, providing hands-on support in their rehabilitation and re-homing.
Sadly, some dogs don’t cope well in kennels, behaving in a way that makes it difficult to find them a new home. To address this, some are given temporary foster homes so they become comfortable with regular human company.
That was my next step: one that has proved both rewarding and heartbreaking. Rewarding because it’s so wonderful to see the dogs relax and develop confidence in a home environment. Heartbreaking because, when they go on to new, permanent homes, they inevitably take a little piece of my heart with them.
The dogs I foster have usually been in the kennels for some time and are finding the environment difficult. While they might be the most challenging to rehabilitate, they also provide the greatest satisfaction when they are finally re-homed.
Noah is my sixth dog; a handsome boy who came to HAWT as a stray with a broken leg. He is the gentlest, most affectionate creature and truly deserves a loving home and a happy life. Although he’s had to endure many trips to the vet in the last six weeks, I suspect he’s not too bothered because, big softie that he is, he loves all the attention heaped on him by the team of admiring nurses.
Once he’s fully recovered and gets his new home, my own home will be sadder and emptier without him. It’s a strange feeling that you never really get used to, but I know that before long I will meet my next foster companion.
I do wonder if, one day, I won’t be able to say goodbye and my rescue dog will become my forever dog.
HAWT, based in South Cave, East Yorkshire, is open to the public from 11am to 2pm, 365 days a year. It’s a charity run via fundraising and donations, and is always looking for volunteers to help in a variety of roles, providing care for dogs, cats and rabbits. For details, visit hullanimalwelfare.co.uk