Therapaws

My relationship with The Mayhew Animal Home started over 3 years ago when they saved our rescue dog Nacho from the bottom of a bin bag.Traveller pups 007

Since then I’ve become a big supporter of theirs as not only do they do fantastic work for animals, they are also more than just an animal home. They do a lot of work in the community to improve not just animal welfare but also include helping the homeless and working on animal phobias with a variety of people.

Today though I want to focus on one of their projects that is very close to my heart – Therapaws.

Doreen with Sky

Doreen with Sky

This important scheme was set up to give residents in local care homes, residential establishments and community day centres a chance to have contact with the furry residents from the Mayhew. These ‘therapy’ visits provide a chance for the residents to interact with the animals where usually they don’t have the chance. Many residents suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s and often recount past stories of animals they have personally had or worked with. With touch being one of the last senses to be affected by these conditions the animals provide a welcome release.

This video explains all about the scheme…

Apart from the residents having a memorable experience, the animals from the Mayhew get valuable socialisation time away from the home. Kittens are given time and space to have an explore in completely new environments and playtime (obviously in a suitable and safe space), dogs are given lots of contact and (dependant on their size) hugs, and rabbits are often just stroked until they fall asleep!

Wonderful Husky Sky

We love Sky!

This scheme is a winner all round for the residents and the animals, and from a volunteers perspective it’s an incredible experience.

This project that the Mayhew has set up is making a remarkable difference and impact on the local community and has gone on to receive a lot of attention. It will hopefully be adding more homes to its growing database so even more people can enjoy these once abandoned or neglected animals.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the scheme or just want to learn more click here

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Dogs Trust Honours Awards 2013

Nacho and I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Dogs Trust Honours Awards this week. Held at the exclusive Home House in London’s Portland Square, the awards celebrated some of the bravest dogs in the country.

On a balmy (and pretty sweaty) afternoon in the capital, celebrity favourite Adrain Chiles presented the awards to the seven lucky winners, whittled down from the hundreds of entrants. There was not a dry eye in the house as videos showing each winners story were shown to the crowd, who included dog lovers Arlene Phillips and Donna Air.

One of my favourite awards was for the Hero Service Dog. This went to the beautiful Newfoundland Atrayu (and yes Nacho was a bit scared). Atrayu, is a constant companion for seven year-old Tolemey who suffers from Leukaemia. He helps him swim and provides constant relief and friendship. Truly a best friend to this very brave boy.

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Another favourite was Daisy the Bullmastiff, who won the ‘Dogged Devotion’ award. Daisy joined the marshall family after Tracey’s seven year-old son Jack recently lost his battle with brain cancer. She has helped Tracey with her grief and is one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever met – she was so chilled she later went to sleep in the garden, whilst other dogs like Nacho were way too excited!

After the awards Home House opened up their garden to the guests providing us with a chance to meet all the fellow guests. We had the pleasure of meeting Basil the Boston – a very handsome little fellow who works with his Mum for doggy blog Barkarama (definitely worth a look).

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Basil and Nacho were well looked after on their day out – they were treated to delicious doggy treats including popcorn and some yummy looking cupcakes. Im not complaining though as they also had yummy mini lemon meringue pies for us humans!

The day was a wonderful way of celebrating the brave dogs in the UK but also the fantastic work that the Dogs Trust do. Thanks to Marc for the invite!

To read about the other awards including those run by the Daily Mirror please click here

Doggy Sunday does tennis

Gaucho in Hampstead held one of its famous ‘Doggy Sunday’ events this weekend and it proved to be another success. These monthly events have taken the restaurant by storm and are a regular fixture on Sniffy’s calendar. Each one raises money for a different doggy charity – last month it was Sniffy’s fave The Mayhew, and this month Battersea Dogs and Cats home. Falling on the same day as the Wimbledon final meant that this months theme was tennis and Gaucho don’t do things by halves…

The tennis themed entrance

The tennis themed entrance

Watching the final

Watching the final

One of Nacho’s favourites friends Baxter, head of Baxter’s Boutique in Wokingham, was there showing off his latest fashions including this clever UV doggy t-shirt.

The handsome Baxter

Dogs enjoyed a Gaucho lunch complete with empanada’s (yes they really are spoilt!) and always bring home with them a ‘Doggy done Goody’ bag complete with all kinds of tasty treats. The brainchild of these events is Gaucho Hampstead’s managing partner Jorge Coelho, a wonderful man who is passionate about raising funds for local animal charities. Through these monthly lunches, local residents have had a chance to find out more about their local rescue centres, raise money and have the opportunity to meet lots of doggy people. The atmosphere is always friendly and unlike most glamorous restaurants, everyone talks to each other (and we always have a lot of fun). I think our lunch lasted 6 hours the last time we were there!

Nacho loves Doggy Sundays!

Nacho loves Doggy Sundays!

Sniffy’s will be sampling some of our products at future doggy sundays so do come along with your furry pals and see what all the fuss is about! If you fancy booing a table at the next Doggy Sunday then contact Jorge: jorge.coelho@gauchorestaurants.com for a table. Be sure to say hello to Sniffy’s! Thanks again to Dogstar photo for their amazing photos – do check the rest out on their facebook page.

Nowzad – Part 2

Its easy just to think of Afghanistan as a war torn wasteland – a land which people see on the news and forget about. Another day, another bomb. For Pen Farthing its not an option of turning over the channel and ignoring whats going on. He lives and breathes Afghanistan. Not from a Royal Marine’s point of view anymore, but from a man trying to make a difference.

Pen Farthing where it all started.

Pen Farthing where it all started.

He is the man behind Nowzad – the only recognised animal shelter in the land. But its not just about the animals, its about giving the people of Afghanistan hope and something to care about again. Thats why Pen Farthing couldnt walk away – and why Peter Egan went to join him.

We caught up with Peter after his trip, which had obviously had an impact on him, “The team that Pen has working for him are incredible and clearly love both the animals and their jobs. A great export from Great Britain is animal welfare; wherever you go in the world you will find Brits trying to solve issues to do with animal cruelty.”

Here is Pen Farthing doing just that…

Peter continues, “Pen is another of those great eccentric British animal lovers trying to make a difference.  I have great admiration for him as I do for Jill Robinson, who does such great work for bears, dogs and cats in China. I feel blessed to know and be able to offer them my support”.

Here Peter is doing exactly that, when he meets Jo – a very special rescue, that would most certainly have died without Nowzad.

As Peter’s trip was coming to an end he was told of the news that Nowzad could be in trouble. The lease on the land they use is ending and they need to move by September otherwise the vital role they play in Afghanistan will not be able to continue. Peter explains,

One of the many Nowzad rescues

One of the many Nowzad rescues

 “Its very sad that they have to move – its a perfect site for them. Its not the shelter that has to move,   but the site which offers accommodation to Louise Hastie who is the general manager when Pen is away fundraising, and is the site for their clinic and emergency shelter. If Nowzad isnt supoorted there will not be an animal charity in Afghanistan.

nowzad3

The Magnificent 7 – 7 pups that came from a base.

Pen is extending his work into the community and introducing animal welfare and husbandry to working animals. It is vital that he continues to share the importance of animal welfare to the local community, and how rewarding a reciprocal relationship between man and animals is.

They deserve as much help as they can get and need our support now.”

Pen farthing and Nowzad have been doing great things in Afghanistan for a number of years but to continue they need to raise £100,000.

You can donate here

Many thanks to Peter Egan for the interview, South West London TV for the videos, and to Wetnose Animal Aid for organising such an important trip.

Special thanks to Pen Farthing and all at Nowzad for giving the animals and people of Afghanistan hope.

Animals Asia and the floods

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of the award winning film “Cages of Shame’. This short film is the story of bear bile farming in China, the mission to save ten bears and close down a bear farm. It shows the very essence of Animals Asia and how much they care.

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Whilst the film is not an easy watch, it highlights the amazing work that a dedicated team of people do to save one of man’s most beautiful creatures.

The film made a lasting impression on me – seeing people put their heart and soul into such a worthwhile cause made me want to do more.

The film also dramatically changed the way I view China. China has, and always will be a country that fascinates me. I spent much time travelling there and am no happier than when Im reading a chinese book (in translation Im afraid). However their view on animals was something I found hard to take – informed by things Id read, some things I’d seen and word of mouth.

However seeing the Chinese people going out of their way in this film was heartening and actually shows how wrong I was. The people want change and Animals Asia are helping them to do this.

Im guessing if you’re reading this post you’re interested in Animals Asia or at least want to find out more. Well now is the perfect time as they need our help more than ever.

Floods have recently devastated the sanctuary in China to such an extent that if the money isnt raised in time to rebuild parts of the sanctuary they could really be in trouble. With over a month of the rainy season remaining, urgent repairs are needed.

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson commented: “The team reacted quickly to rapidly changing circumstances  as the river rose during the heaviest of rains and the release of water from the dam upstream.  Our longstanding flooding protocols proved up to the task and were implemented superbly by the team in the most extreme of conditions. Now we need to repair the riverbank urgently and further strengthen it so that, as weather patterns continue to change, we can be proactive in the ongoing prevention of future floods.”

Jill continues, “Our staff excelled in keeping the bears safe, dry and blissfully unaware in their beds throughout the ordeal.  Floods such as this are rare, but with weather patterns changing globally and here in China, we must ensure that urgent repairs and reinforcements guarantee the safety of staff and animals, and the future of the sanctuary itself.”

To donate to help with the repairs and save wonderful bears like Misty and Rain below then click here

Warning – these bears are incredibly cute!

Animals Asia dont just save these amazing bears, they also save dogs and have implemented a programme in China, similar to Pets as therapy here in the UK. Sniffy’s are very excited to be going out to see the work they do in the near future!

Pup Idol – All Dogs Matter

The sun was shining in leafy hampstead on Saturday for the 4th Pup Idol event for the charity All Dogs Matter. They do amazing work saving strays from the pound and helping the dogs of North London find homes.

The Spaniards Inn played host to an array of dogs and their owners all competing for the coveted titles of Mr hampstead / best dressed and cutest puppy (amongst others).

One of the winners of the veteran dogs. Blind but very happy with such a waggy tail

One of the winners of the veteran dogs – Blind due to Glaucoma but very happy nonetheless

Winner of Mr Hampstead

Mr hampstead: Percy

The winner of the hotly contested Mr hampstead was Percy, owned by Angela and Martin Humphery. A win that is absolutely deserved for eight year old Percy. Percy is a rescued greyhound from Spain and only last year would have found the atmosphere of an event like this very distressing. You can find out more about Percy here

We also caught up with one of our favourite competitors, and probably one of Sniffy’s smallest fans, the gorgeous Chanel, pictured here with her owner.

Chanel

We were delighted to be able to give owners some of our tasty treats as they arrived to register for each category and also to the winners in their goody bags. Nom Nom!

One of the winners with their goody bag

One of the winners with their goody bag

The judging team, who had the difficulty of choosing between all the gorgeous doggies (how do they do it?) was made up of some of our favourite doggy people including Marc Abraham, Peter Egan and Michelle Collins.

3 of the lovely judges

3 of the lovely judges

In between judging, Sniffy’s favourite Peter Egan (and proud patron of All Dogs Matter) told us all about his recent trip to Afghanistan – a special mission to one of our favourite charities Nowzad. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about this very exciting trip!

We were also delighted to meet Coronation Street regular Michelle Collins. Michelle is not only gorgeous, she is also a massive supporter of All Dogs Matter. Her dog Humphrey (pictured living the high life!) was rescued by the charity.

Michelle and Humphrey

Michelle and Humphrey

After Marc Abraham finished getting some pooch kisses, we got some time to chat to him. Marc is a lovely guy and a big fan of rescue dogs – he is a supporter of All Dogs Matter amongst others. He is also the founder of Pupaid – an annual celebrity judged dog show in Primrose Hill highlighting the horrors of puppy farming in the UK. A petition has been launched to stop this awful practice which you can sign here. Pupaid is set to be huge event in September and one we are very proud to support and be attending.

Pooch smooch

Pooch smooch

Although the day was incredibly fun and well organised, we must remember that we were all there to raise funds for All Dogs Matter to continue their vital work. Work such as saving puppies like this tiny little one below – found dumped in a graveyard and covered in a skin disease. He is now on the road to recovery and looking for a new home; somewhere he can enjoy the start in life he deserves.

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

Thanks to everyone at All Dogs Matter and The Spaniards for a fantastic day – see you all next year!

Thanks also to Dogstar Photos for the brilliant images above – visit their website to see morewww.dogstarphoto.co.uk