The Stars Aligned for GSRE
Allison and my dream had always been for GSRE to have its own home, kennels where we could take in the more difficult dogs for rehabilitation, for the potential young workers with the high drive, and somewhere to keep our sanctuary dogs well cared for and loved. The plan always was that we would continue to use the commercial kennels around the country to keep our geographical spread and availability. It was always a question of raising enough funds to start the dream, where would we have the kennels based, and who would run them?
In the Summer of 2022, we were approached by Vigil German Shepherd Dog Rescue, one of the longest standing breed specific charities in England. They were struggling to find kennels for their dogs due to the pandemic, they therefore had reduced numbers of volunteers, and the Trustees felt it was time to move on with their personal lives and pass their legacy on. Vigil had accumulated a substantial amount in their ‘pot’ over the years and wanted to pass this on to another GSD charity that had the same objectives, and who would be able to offer Rescue Back Up to all of their dogs adopted over the years along with continuing to support any of their dogs with who required long term medical back up. We told them our dream and the Trustees decided GSRE was the perfect charity to hand their legacy on to.
Move on to 2023, and we were advised that Jan and Chris who owned and ran the kennels where we boarded some of our dogs, were retiring due to age and health reasons and the kennels were going to be sold. Cornwall kennels has always been where we send our sanctuary dogs due to its quiet nature and minimal footfall of people. It meant the dogs had their kennel mum and dad and a routine and lifestyle that suited many of their needs. Most of these dogs have behaviour issues which meant they would never be ‘safe’ living in a home as they would probably get themselves into trouble. GSRE has always believed that if a dog is happy living in a kennel environment and if all their needs are being met, there should be no reason to euthanise these dogs and that cost should not be a factor.
What better opportunity for GSRE. Kennels we knew, kennels where we already had 18 of our dogs based, so we advised Jan and Chris that GSRE would be in a position to purchase the kennels thanks to Vigil. They readily accepted as there only concern had been what would happen to the sanctuary dogs as the reality was that if we had to relocate them, we would have been in a position of making some difficult decisions relating to some of the more challenging dogs. The timing of money coming in and going out also matched perfectly and the Trustees of Vigil were also very excited at the opportunity.
The question now was who would run the kennels? With the time scale we were working to it was impractical for any of the Trustees to uproot their lives and make the move, so we needed someone we could trust, someone we knew believed in our objectives and someone who we knew would love and care for the dogs whilst giving them the training and rehabilitation they would require. Our solution was pretty simple in the end and so we welcome Dave Wardell on board.
As most of you will know, we struck up a great relationship with Dave and of course Fabulous Finn, when we first heard his story and then as a charity supported all of their efforts to bring in Finn’s Law, allowing judges to sentence more harshly for injuring a service animal for up to 5 years imprisonment rather than the pathetic sentencing previously which was based on criminal damage of property! We also had the honour of Fabulous Finn being the charity Patron until his sad passing in July.
Despite Dave and Finn’s wonderful work, fully supported by Gemma and the girls and thousands of people from around the world, Dave experienced an excessive amount of ‘trolling’ and negativity from within the police and externally from those who believed it was all being done for status and monetary gains. Anyone who truly knows Dave knows this could not be further from the truth. Being disillusioned with the Police, and having set up Fabulous Finn Dog Training, Dave had mentioned to us previously that his dream would be to have some land where he could set up a few kennels and focus on training, using his experience and qualifications from within the Police Dog Section and that he had personally achieved.
We put the offer to Dave as to if he would like to change his life and maybe start his dream, and he quickly joined our excitement in what the future could bring for GSRE and the GSD breed that so need our help. Dave has now officially left the Police and is now on site at the kennels where he is beginning to bond and work with the dogs already there, and we are already looking at ways to improve the facilities we already have to make the property as effective as possible for the long- term future.
There is a lot of work that will need doing in terms of sprucing up, some fencing requirements, some internal updates within the kennels which will benefit both the dogs and their carer’s, and there are also plans to introduce an outside training paddock alongside the covered training barn. Obviously, everything will take time and planning, and being a member of the ADCH we will be taking their advice on certain matters to ensure we are meeting the standards, as one day we hope these standards will be those required to be a licensed rescue which will be introduced in years to come as has already happened in Scotland.
Volunteers will be encouraged to participate at the kennels in all manners of activities, and there are many ideas already floating around for fundraising once we are fully set up. For this reason, we have set up a Facebook Group specifically for the kennels:
On here you can find a photo album giving you a tour of the kennels, and information on all of the dogs currently at the kennels. It will be used to promote the charity locally, to promote the dogs, and will update GSRE’s main Facebook Group on the dogs arriving and departing, and of course updates will be given as and when we start making changes and improvements to our new home.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible dedication and support of our many volunteers and supporters who helped get us to a position where we could achieve the GSRE dream, so thank you to each and every one of you, however small or large your input, because as we have always said, every penny and every minute really does count. And lastly a massive thank you to our Patron, Fabulous Finn for introducing us to your Dad and making him an important part of the charity’s journey. We know you are smiling down on all of us and will be watching over GSRE’s new home with pride.