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Back in August we were lucky to join one of Dogs Trust Education Teams to experience how Dogs Trust are helping shape the dog owners of the future (click here if you missed it!) But what about the part of Dogs Trust which is most well known? Their Rehoming Centres, of which there are 20 dotted around the UK. Soooo there was only one thing for it; I decided to go and find out how abandoned dogs find their forever homes and to do so, I was kindly invited to one of Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres in Basildon, Essex. Come and join me today while we meet some of their residents looking for homes and find out what goes on behind the scenes at a Rehoming Centre!



I arrived at the Centre with the eagerness of a puppy at playtime; not ironic actually, as it’s a myth puppies are only available if you buy them, when in fact many are often found at Rehoming Centres (if that’s what you’re looking for!) In fact, as I found out, Dogs Trust cater for expectant doggy mums or those particularly traumatised by kennel situations by staying in specially allocated quiet areas on site, although many are lucky to take advantage of fantastic fosterers via their Home from Home Scheme. Charities such as Dogs Trust are eager for many more fosterers though. If you don’t want the commitment of a full time dog, then becoming a fosterer is a brilliant way of integrating with dogs without the long term commitment. It also often helps these dogs to find new homes faster, as being in a home environment often brings out the best in a dog (and we all know why, it’s because home is where a dog belongs). Let’s see how Dogs Trust help dogs find their homes…


When I arrived I was warmly welcomed by Maria, who kindly showed me around and introduced me to some of the gorgeous residents looking for their forever homes (and boy oh boy were they gorgeous, with some heartfelt stories to match!) As we walked, the first thing which struck me was how clean, bright and quiet everything was! Where were the metal cages and repetitive barking often associated with rehoming centres??!! If you’re like me, you may think rehoming centres could potentially be slightly depressing, when in fact I felt the opposite! This should actually be viewed as a haven; the starting point for these dogs to truly find happiness. As you can see, Dogs Trust have worked hard (thanks to incredible donations) to make the surroundings comfortable for the dogs as well as providing lovely beds, underfloor heating, sniffing holes, warm blankets and plenty of toys, but there was a key thing I also immediately felt; it was also comfortable to be there as a visitor. You may ask why does this matter, but bear with me.


Many people may have a preconceived idea about rehoming centres, in that you’ll come along and see dogs behind bars, barking and feeling stressed, which in turn may deter more people from adopting a dog; not because they don’t want to, but perhaps they don’t want to be in an environment they assume may be upsetting. By creating a welcoming environment for dogs AND people alike, I feel Dogs Trust are actually helping change misconceptions about rehoming centres. This will ultimately encourage more people to walk into rehoming centres, without that dreaded sinking stomach feeling, and in turn hopefully rehome a dog. Well done!! ADOPT DON’T SHOP!!! Callie the Terrier Cross (Top Left) and Juliet the Shar-Pei (Bottom Right) are still looking for their new homes by the way…!!!


As we walked past the clear glass stalls filled with beautiful eyes staring back at us, I noticed a pattern emerging. Most of these stalls have two dogs inside rather than one. Is this due to overcrowding?? You’d think this may be the case given the number of dogs being abandoned every year (over 100,000 between 2014 – 2015) and the fact Dogs Trust NEVER put a healthy dog down. In fact Dogs Trust have found pairing some dogs whilst at Rehoming Centres can help them settle into, let’s face it, often an unusual and frightening time in their lives. This obviously isn’t appropriate for all dogs, but when a dog arrives they are reviewed on their own in a quieter part of the rehoming centre by a behaviourist / Dogs Trust team, where it is then decided the most appropriate course of action for the dog (e.g.paired with another, kept in a quieter part of the centre, kept as a Sponsor dog or even fostered). It is this level of detail which shows Dogs Trust establish the individual needs of each and every dog; ultimately ensuring each dog is given the best possible chance of finding a home as soon as the right individual, couple or family comes along!


Whilst it’s great to see the dogs looking snug in their beds, how do they get their exercise?! Well this is what I experienced during the afternoon, as I was lucky enough to be able to accompany several dogs on one of their three walkies/playtime fun, which they receive everyday, rain or shine (we experienced all weather conditions when I was there!) I was seriously impressed each dog was given this level of time, which is completed by the hardworking members of staff as well as the many volunteers Dogs Trust rely upon, so if you’d like to offer your time, I know many dogs who would appreciate it up and down the country!

Dogs Trust Basildon have fabulous areas for the dogs to run and explore during their stay. During their time out and about, they will either walk on lead (usually with a canine friend) which includes grass areas and gravel, so they experience different textures and lots of places to sniff, or be within one of several allocated ‘dog exercise areas’ which means they can run around freely and either play with a ball, jump on some of the various wooden obstacles or just run around and sniff!! All the while the dogs have the opportunity to interact with their handler and obtain some special cuddles (and maybe even a few treats!!) It was very special to see these dogs enjoying themselves, having fun and even interacting. Many of these dogs are strays, so their history is unknown, but Dogs Trust work hard with each dog to help start to break down any barriers.

Join us for Part Two, which focuses on how Dogs Trust help to break down those barriers; the types of dogs becoming common in rehoming centres (not necessarily ones you may think) and two particularly special residents I’d like the opportunity to share with you. In the meantime, enjoy some more photos of some beautiful Dogs Trust dogs who have been lucky enough to find their very own homes.image

Sarah, Ted & Millie xxx







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