Pop group Steps started the year off at number one with their hit single Tragedy. The Euro was launched, the London Eye opened to the public, and people were worried about the Millenium Bug.
For Dogs Trust Shrewsbury, 1999 was memorable for another reason. It is the year dog-lovers Jane Davies and Rosemary Salter joined the team as volunteers.
23 years on, the dedicated duo have lost track of the number of dogs they have helped. Young and old, large and small, they’ve helped thousands of dogs and have lost count of the number of pairs of shoes they have worn out walking thousands of miles with their four-legged friends!
“I see my role as helping dogs who are nervous or lacking in confidence to overcome their fears and boost their self-esteem,” Rosemary, from Shrewsbury said. “That includes walking them on-site and sometimes off-site too, getting them used to being in a car if that is something they are wary of. That was the case with Toby, but now he can’t wait to jump in the car and go on adventures.
“I often work with dogs that are taking a little while to find their forever home and, of course, become quite attached to them. But it’s the best feeling when, after weeks or months of helping to look after a dog, I watch them go off with their new family into a happy future, knowing I’ve played a part.”
Jane, who also lives in Shrewsbury, travels to the centre several times a week and loves heading out on long walks in the countryside and to the beach with dogs that have been resident at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury longer than most.
“Some dogs stick in your mind such as Jack the lad who was a Labrador Cross who was with us for a long time and I’ve been spending lots of time with gorgeous German Shepherd Roxy who arrived with us in November last year,” Jane said. “We know that it’s good for the dogs that we volunteer as the more people that can help care for them alongside the team, the better, but it’s good for us too. We love it! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a dog that you have looked after head off with their new family. You always miss them, but you are happy for them too as that’s what it’s all about!”
Dogs Trust Shrewsbury currently has around 40 on-site volunteers helping with everything from kennel cleaning to dog walking.
“It’s incredible to think that someone could start volunteering this year and go on to notch up 23 years like Rosemary and Jane. They have been here longer than most of the staff!” said Helen Downing, Volunteer Co-ordinator. “It’s wonderful knowing that our dogs can get that extra TLC or walking time thanks to Rosemary and Jane, and all our volunteers. There’s no doubt that thanks to our volunteers, our dogs are able to settle into life here more quickly than they might otherwise do, which ultimately means it’s easier for us to find them their forever homes.”
New volunteer positions become available throughout the year. If you would like to volunteer you can keep up to date with the latest opportunities by going to www.dogstrust.org.uk and searching ‘Volunteering’.