Inside Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

In a special collaboration with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Jigsaw Junior has created two designs – a jumper and pyjama set – with an exclusive puppy illustration, hand-drawn by our in-house artist. We speak to Laura Alwen at Battersea to understand a week in the life of a Re-homing & Welfare Assistant…

17th August 2017

MONDAY

I’ll admit, a Monday morning at Battersea Dogs Home isn’t like most Mondays at the office. Today, I arrived at 8am to make sure everything was in order in the kennels. Then, after breakfast time, I look after the dogs in whatever way we see fit that day. This morning, my colleague and I took Sid (a Mastiff) and Roxy (a Staffordshire bull terrier mix) down to the big garden on site to allow them to let off some steam (usually in the mud…)

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After lunch, I was on re-homing. This involved taking photos of the dogs so we can show potential owners. Making them sit nicely for their pictures is harder said than done but treats usually help!
The afternoon consisted of interviewing some families for re-homing. If successful, we start to match-make to see if we have any suitable dogs for them. It’s a really rewarding part of the job. Last week, a nine-week old puppy called Bea was re-homed to a family with young children.

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TUESDAY

Today, I looked after a really nervous Staffie called Priscilla who had caught kennel cough (a bit like the equivalent of a cold for humans). She was very shy and hid in her bed so I sat in with her for a while and let her come over to me in her own time. We slowly made friends with the help of some treats. Within no time, she was trying to sit on my lap.

Later on, we had a severely underweight dog, Stewart, arrive, who we believed had been purposely locked in a room and starved. He was rushed to our clinic where they put him on medication straight away. He was put onto a special feeding plan to gain weight. It’s important we do this at a steady pace and not make him more ill by over-eating.

The day ended with more re-homing. We had three dogs go to new homes – the new owners seemed delighted, and so did the dogs!

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WEDNESDAY

Today consisted of working in the kennels all day. The first thing to do was to check all the dogs and then clean their rooms. I also helped with Gretta, a dog who we’ve put on a specific training plan as she is currently fearful of strangers. Two on-site workers (‘strangers’) sat in a room and we brought her in to see how she reacted. She was nervous at first but when they started offering her treats and a tennis ball to play with, she became very friendly. A positive result!

THURSDAY

This morning we had three new Staffies arrive with us from the warden kennels. To make their transition as smooth as possible, I helped to set up their new kennels with blankets, water bowls and toys. I spent most of the afternoon helping them adjust to their new home. It was a rewarding day seeing how much happier they were by the end. Our nervous Staffie Priscilla was also re-homed today. A lovely family came in to meet her and they instantly fell in love.

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FRIDAY

Today, I spent time assessing Stewart, the underweight dog who arrived Tuesday. This involved formal handling, which means assessing his eyes, ears and mouth, and also playing with him to see how he engages with us. We did ‘rough and tumble’ games with him, which made him a bit confused – he ran alongside us looking a bit puzzled! I continued Stewart’s assessment after my break by letting him meet two of the other dogs. We introduced him to our Rottweiler boy Doughnut (who is as dopey as him name suggests) and Lizzie, a Spring Spaniel, who had come into us after being used for breeding. Stewart got on well with both dogs (even trying to kiss Doughnut on the face!), which meant that he passed his assessment and was ready to be put forward for re-homing.

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The week ended with a farewell to one of our workers. To honour her leaving, we went for a walk in Battersea Park, bringing along lots of friendly dogs that all get along. The dogs love seeing a new environment with different smells so a fun time was had by all.

I ended the week back in the kennels, shutting down the block and spending some time with the dogs. It’s nice for the dogs to feel like their kennel can be an enjoyable place.

For every piece sold featuring our exclusive puppy illustration, £5 will go towards Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in support of their work and the thousands of cats and dogs they care for every year.

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