Our work can be summed up in a few words - Rescuing and rehoming Border Collies and collie crosses thoughout the UK, but of course there's much more to that simple phrase.
On average we have between 25 and 30 dogs at our centre and unfortunately always have a waiting list for dogs needing our help. The calls can come from other rescues who may be finding it difficult to home a collie in their area, to those rescues who take in strays and may have anything from one to ten collies needing help quickly. And of course individual owners contact us who for a vast array of reasons can no longer care for their collie.
Wherever the call comes from we may have to go into a 'serious think' mode. Priority is given to any dog in stray kennels as their very existance may be under threat if we cannot offer a place.
Details of dogs from their own homes are recorded. We try to prioritise, often giving a little advice so the situation can be 'managed'. We also have to try and have a space or two for emergencies or any dog we have homed who may need to be returned.
When a dog arrives from its own home we ask the owner to complete a questionnaire, this helps us to understand the dog and the way its owners have lived with it. This can be a very upsetting time for all. Many tears may be shed and sometimes guilt and anger are very evident.
Wherever the dog has come from we can soon tell how much interaction the dog can cope with and staff will then begin to build an assessment of the dog. Areas that may need input are identified, hopefully to help the dog overcome its problems, although not all dogs have problems. The assessment is an ongoing process but can only ever be an assessment and not a guarantee.
Prospective collie owner complete our online adoption form which is trying to establish lifestyle, level of experience and what they hope the dog will be capable of. This will hopefully allow us to identify those dogs which should best meet the new owners hopes and needs.
Once the 'match' is made, we get down to the paperwork. New owners are asked to read and sign a contract agreeing several points. Our dogs leave us micro chipped, vaccinated wherever possible, with four weeks free insurance or an insurance voucher and also a pack of useful information including vaccination and worming records. The rehoming fee we request includes the Trusts promise to try to help with any difficulties and to always take dogs back if the need arises. Follow up calls are usually made within a couple of weeks and previous owners are informed that their dog has a new home.
We are often asked if we have a non-destruction policy. The answer is yes and no. No time limits are placed on the dogs who come to us. Some will be here for months; they may be very traumatised and need time to adjust. Some dogs need a very special home and special people who want "a project" don't come along very often. Dogs would be put to sleep on the vets advice if they have severe untreatable medical problems or if they are considered dangerous. There are hefty fines for knowingly passing on a dangerous dog and we all like to sleep with a clear conscience. Occasionally a dog arrives who cannot be helped even after months of trying. We jump through a lot of hoops before we take the decision to euthanase. We hate to fail but have to remember that we were not responsible for getting the dog into the state it was in. However, very few dogs are dangerous and many can be managed with sensible calm handling.
In 2023 Trustee Ben Wilkes recorded a presentation for an online Border Collie seminar. It's brief version of a talk he gives to groups and organisations about our work (if you know of a group that would be interested in the talk, please contact him at the centre) and you can watch the presentation here