Posts Tagged ‘Dogs Trust’

Meet Millie and Jake – Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs

For the last three years, Michael has enjoyed the lovely job of photographing the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs Millie and Jake, whom The Mighty Pooch also now sponsors. Both long-term residents at the centre, Millie and Jake are wonderful dogs who had a tough start in life.


Jake (left) and Millie Photograph by The Mighty Pooch

Jake (left) and Millie
Photograph by The Mighty Pooch

Jake is a tan-coloured beagle cross who was born in March 2009. Aged just one, he came to live at Dogs Trust Leeds in March 2010, where he enjoys paddling in the pond and playing with his squeaky toys. He’s also quite the drooler, which could be down to his love of food! Although Jake has been with Dogs Trust since 2010, it is possible that he could find an adoptive home, should the right people come along. He’s certainly a happy chappy with a lot of sunshine in his doggy smile.

Millie is a Heinz 57 – she is her own unique breed. She was born in October 2000 and, aged two, she arrived at Dogs Trust in September 2002. Millie’s favourite things are her toys, grub and trips out in the car. She is mistrustful, however, of strangers, and dislikes those she doesn’t know. Luckily, she has some wonderful carers who she allows in for cuddles – and plenty of canine chums to play with at the centre. She’s a refined lady who offers her paw for treats and, at 12 years old, she still enjoys a walk and a chew on a big stick.

Dogs Trust vows never to destroy a healthy dog – and that’s why they have their sponsorship scheme, as they explain: “For those dogs finding it difficult to be rehomed, whether it’s due to behavioural or medical issues they may have, supporters are able to sponsor them whilst they are in our care. Sponsorship goes towards food, medical care and training for all the dogs in our care. It also covers the costs of running the rehoming centres, ensuring our dogs stay safe and warm until we can reach our ultimate goal of finding each dog a loving home.”

If you want to find out more, or sponsor Jake or Millie yourself, head to for more information.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Oscar the dog teaches children new tricks

From the moment Laura-Jane Muscroft saw Oscar, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen cross, she fell in love. Today, four years on, Oscar is her right-hand man, accompanying her to primary schools to educate  young children how to care for dogs. Here, Dogs Trust’s Laura-Jane (LJ) talks guessing games, converting petrified youngsters into dog lovers and Oscar’s comedy moments.


LJ with Oscar (right) and new puppy Polly

LJ with Oscar (right) and new puppy Polly

Four years ago, Oscar arrived at Dogs Trust from Ireland, where he’d been rescued from a puppy farm along with his brother and sister. LJ, who’d been working at Dogs Trust for two years at the time, took one look at Oscar and had to take him home. These days, LJ and Oscar tour schools to educate the next generation of dog owners how to care for and understand their four-legged friends.

“When Oscar and I go into primary schools,” explains LJ, “we want to get the message across about responsible dog ownership and how to stay safe around dogs in the community. For the younger year groups, I do a workshop called Oscar’s Bag of Needs. This bag has everything Oscar needs to stay happy and healthy. The children love guessing games, so this is great for getting them really engaged.”

Children who guess correctly what Oscar needs – water, dog food, veterinary treatment, toys, walks, etc. – are invited to the front of the class to demonstrate that particular need. For example, they listen to his heart beat to represent veterinary treatment, give him a brush to demonstrate grooming and fill up his water bowl to hydrate him. “We even have some pretend poo to pick up!” laughs LJ.

Millie, seen here, is a resident at Dogs Trust Leeds and has been living at the centre for most of her life

Millie, seen here, is a resident at Dogs Trust Leeds and has been living at the centre for most of her life

In sessions with older children, LJ shows them a DVD called It’s A Dog’s Life, before asking them to role play at being rehomers and match certain dogs with the best home for them, explaining why they have chosen their answers. “In one school, I put It’s A Dog’s Life on and Oscar sat up in his bed, turned round and watched the entire DVD from start to finish. The children thought this was great!” adds LJ.

At the end of each session, the children are taught how to stay safe, with tips like never running away from a dog or stroking a dog without permission. This advice seems to go down well with the children, as LJ explains, “I had just finished my workshop at one school and the children went out to play on the grass. I was swapping Oscar’s lead and he spotted the children playing football, so he ran onto the grass and started to play with them. All the teachers were laughing, as the children stood still and did the ‘X factor’, where they cross their arms and stand still if there is a dog running around the park – this is one of the things I teach them to do in the safety part of the workshop, so it showed they had listened.”

While Dogs Trust is well known for rescuing and rehoming dogs who have experienced neglect or maltreatment, the education side of the charity plays a key role in preventing poor welfare of dogs in the future. By educating the dog owners of tomorrow, the charity hopes to prevent many dogs from experiencing cruelty or neglect – and feedback has been great. “The feedback I have had has been unbelievable. The children have been so engaged throughout the sessions, which is brilliant. We want the children to go home and tell their parents what they have learnt, and explain how to care for dogs correctly and how to stay safe. After all, they are the dog owners of the future!”

On occasion, LJ gets to see an immediate effect on the children she teaches, which is very gratifying, “I went to one school where a girl was petrified of dogs. She couldn’t go near them. After a one-hour workshop, however, she loved Oscar to pieces. She was stroking him, playing with his ball and even walked past everyone in the corridor holding onto his lead to take him down to reception. It was as if something had just clicked! Oscar has a very calming influence on children.”

LJ is also a passionate advocate of adopting rescue dogs. She has nine dogs herself – plus horses – and the latest addition to her canine family is Polly, a Cockapoo who is around 19 weeks old. LJ was taking one of her school groups around the Dogs Trust centre for a VIP tour when Polly arrived looking for a new home. “We walked through to the puppy section and there she was – I couldn’t say no!”

When it comes to rehoming a rescue dog, LJ recommends you do lots of research into the different breeds to find out their energy levels, temperament and characteristics. You should also consider the age of the dog as, with puppies, you need to be around most of the time at the start to properly train them. She also advises that you think with your head and not your heart, and don’t get carried away. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your dog’s behaviour issues. If you adopt a dog from Dogs Trust, you get free behaviour advice for life,” she says. “When you find the right dog, it’s the best feeling ever to know you have just rehomed a rescue dog.”

If you work for a primary school that may be interested in one of LJ’s free educational workshops on responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs, contact her at More information can be found on the Dogs Trust website.

Remember: A Dog Is For Life.

Laura-Jayne’s key to responsible dog ownership

A Dog Is For Life

A Dog Is For Life

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

2. Freedom from discomfort

3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour

5. Freedom from fear and distress

6. And lots and lots of LOVE

Coming up on the blog on Friday – meet the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs. They’re gorgeous.

Words: Aislinn Kelly


Photographs copyright of The Mighty Pooch Dog Photographers.

Rescue animals can become more optimistic, with rescue centres playing a vital role

A study by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London has found that female goats who had been subjected to poor welfare in the past were “more optimistic” than well-treated females once they had begun a new life at a rescue centre.


Nine rescued goats were observed in a spatial awareness test that aimed to discover whether the poor welfare the goats had experienced had impacted on their mental health, by comparing their behaviour against that of nine well-treated goats.

Elvis, seen here, is a sponsor dog at Dogs Trust who will be hoping to find a new home in the future Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

Co-author of the study, Dr Elodie Briefer, said, “We found that female goats that had been previously neglected were the most optimistic of all the tested animals. They were more optimistic than well-treated females, but also the poorly treated males. This suggests that females may be better at recovering from neglect when released from stress, and might have implications for animal sanctuaries in how they tailor the care they provide for the different sexes.”

Dr Briefer continued, “Mood can have a huge influence on how the brain processes information. In humans, for example, it’s well known that people in positive moods have an optimistic outlook on life, which means they are more resilient to stress. In the same way, measures of optimism and pessimism can provide indicators for an understanding of animal welfare.”

As the goats were monitored while seeking out food – which the rescued goats were “more optimistic” about finding, in that they went to greater lengths to obtain it than the goats who had been well treated – The Mighty Pooch wonders if actually the findings show that rescued animals have developed a more pronounced survival instinct than those who have been well looked after all their lives. However, what the findings do seem to show is that many neglected animals can begin to recover once they are given good care and this is a positive endorsement for rescue centres, such as Dogs Trust and Radar Rescue, who are hoping to reverse the effects of neglect and maltreatment on animals.

Dr Alan McElligott, also from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, concluded, “The study shows that animal rescue centres, such as Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, where we collected our data, can provide a vital role in reversing long-term neglect once the animals receive excellent care.”

This week on The Mighty Pooch Blog – on Wednesday we’ll feature an exclusive interview with Dogs Trust’s Laura-Jane Muscroft, who visits schools to teach children about responsible dog ownership, and we’ll meet the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs on Friday.

Words: Aislinn Kelly


Wrapping up a hectic April on The Mighty Pooch blog

The sun finally made an appearance this month, bringing with it glorious daffodils, crocus and, right outside our house, some beautiful blossom. We’ve had a busy month at The Mighty Pooch HQ with photoshoots and we also managed to get away for the weekend with the pooch to Crake Trees Manor in Cumbria, where we spent three nights in a shepherd’s hut and managed to photograph the resident dogs while we were there.


The gorgeous view from the shepherd's hut at Crake Trees Manor

The gorgeous view from the shepherd’s hut at Crake Trees Manor

In Cool Canine Kit we checked out some bulldog-inspired pieces for dog lovers’ interiors, plus the hottest dog-inspired arm candy for spring summer ‘13. After much research, we also picked out our top 5 dog-inspired gifts for guys who love their four-legged friends and aren’t afraid to show it!

We visited the guys at Dogs Trust Leeds to photograph sponsor dogs, Millie, Jake and Elvis, three gorgeous dogs who were down on their luck till the wonderful folks at Dogs Trust came along to take care of them. Now they are the faces of the charity – and what lovely little faces they are. If you fancy sponsoring one of them, head to for more info. Take it from us – it feels good.

We also checked out GPS collars after we found a wandering dog – let us know if you use one and what you think – and learnt something interesting about the sniffing powers of detection dogs. And we chatted to Nicole Welch, a 17-year-old with a huge ambition to open her own dog-friendly café in London.

Dexter the boxer - one of our pic of the shoot stars

Dexter the boxer – one of our pic of the shoot stars

Dexter the boxer and Lucy the spaniel were our pic of the shoot stars this month. And finally, in Crazy Dog Lady, we shared with you super Sam the dachshund’s incredible thieving ways. We’re still searching for that cape!

Phew, I don’t know how we fitted all that in.

And so May is upon us, bringing more Crazy Dog Lady shenanigans to The Mighty Pooch blog – are the clever things Bruce does really clever or just a coincidence? We’ll have more Cool Canine Kit, plus we’ll meet the Dogs Trust sponsor dogs in pic of the shoot, and lots more! So please stay tuned – and get in touch if you’ve anything to share with us or would like to be featured as a Pooch Profile.

Have a great month!

Aislinn Kelly

A dog is for life …

Today will be Michael’s third time at Dogs Trust Leeds, photographing wonderful sponsor dogs Elvis, Jake and Millie. These dogs are on the sponsor dog scheme because they have behavioural problems that make it difficult for them to find a new home. They can also be nervous of strangers, so Michael has to take great care when taking their photographs not to frighten or upset them.

DT jpeg


We’d like to share a mission statement from Dogs Trust with you, as these gorgeous dogs need all the help they can get from sponsors and volunteers. If you think you can help, please visit the website for more information.

“Our mission at Dogs Trust is to bring about the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction. We care for around 16,000 dogs at our 18 rehoming centres across the UK, which is a figure we are extremely proud of. You’re probably already familiar with our popular slogan: ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®’.

Millie at her photoshoot last year at Dogs Trust Leeds

Millie at her photoshoot last year at Dogs Trust Leeds

“Because we never destroy a healthy dog, this is where our dog sponsorship scheme steps in. For those dogs finding it difficult to be rehomed, whether it’s due to behavioural or medical issues they may have, supporters are able to sponsor them whilst they are in our care. Sponsorship goes towards food, medical care and training for all the dogs in our care. It also covers the costs of running the rehoming centres, ensuring our dogs stay safe and warm until we can reach our ultimate goal of finding each dog a loving home.

“It does take our long-term residents longer to find their forever home, but we’ve had many success stories as a result of sponsorship. One example is Smudge, a Collie cross who lived at our Glasgow Centre for seven years. He recently found a home and, due to the support of his sponsors, we were able to work closely with Smudge over those seven years to find him the home he deserved.

“If you would like to help us to continue our work through sponsorship, please visit our website for more information.” For all things related to Dogs Trust Leeds click here.

As pet parents of an abandoned dog, we know only too well the incredible love a rescue dog can give. Personally, we will only ever adopt, as for us it’s not about the breed, the age or the pedigree of the dog. It’s about enjoying the company of these wonderful creatures while also knowing that you have made a real difference to that dog’s life. There’s nothing like it.

Words: Aislinn Kelly and Dogs Trust

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