This was disheartening. I'd always wanted a pet and working full time was the only way of financially affording to look after a pet properly. I was stuck and didn't dare to approach an organisation for fear that I'd be shot down with the bullet of "unsuitability". It was my aunt who called SARA for the first time asking if I could go for a chat. They were local and she felt would have time to listen to my circumstances and help me to make the right decision. She also assured me that, in 2012 (as it was then), most modern couples worked and that meant that we were responsible people with a steady income who could care for a pet. It did seem to make sense.
One of our first walks with Caesar at SARA
I found SARA (Saltburn animal rescue association) less than a mile from my home, hiding on a farm up a small track that I'd driven past a hundred times and never so much as glanced at. I was nervous when I got there and worried that I might be shot down. The only confidence that I felt was that I had things in place for while I was at work should I be allowed to adopt; my dad had agreed to spend time at the house or take the dog to his own home and, if that didn't work out, I could hire a dog walker. Did that still make me unsuitable?
SARA helped me to create a care plan for Caesar and, later, when he wasn't reacting well to it, adapt it. They did a home check but, beforehand, explained to me it's purpose; to ensure that I wasn't hoarding millions of dogs/pets and that I lived in a home that was big enough for a dog. They laughed when I recounted internet posts that I had read about the horrors of being asked millions of questions. They even loaned me a crate to get started with helping Caesar feel comfortable while I was away. The seemed assured that my heart was in the right place and that I would look after this dog to the best of my ability whether I be employed full time or not.
The support from SARA didn't end when we walked through the gates with Caesar though. Weeks after, I was still in contact with the centre as they battled to help me settle him in; they introduced me to a dog trainer and offered me some one-to-one sessions, they counselled me on the phone for hours after Caesar had had a mishap. And, they invited me to bring him back to the centre for them to check out. I still visit SARA now and again and the first question they ask when I get there is "how are Caesar and Gemma?" The form that I signed on their adoption told me that, if anything should happen to me, Caesar and Gemma will have a place in their care until the next caring owner comes along. This is the kind of reassurance that a new owner needs - the stabalisers on a brand new bike, if you like. And it's something that can only be offered by a caring adoption centre.
Most importantly, a trip to the centre proved that SARA knew their dogs. They genuinely cared for Caesar, I could tell that as soon as they brought him for me to look at. This care was extended to the rest of the dogs who they would casually and warmly chat about in the offices. The and cats lived on a farm surrounded by greenery and a lovely forest path; if I was a homeless animal, I am hard pushed to imagine somewhere better to be temporarily homed.
But, perhaps the biggest reason for my loving this rescue is that they saved both Caesar and Gemma from the pound. Volunteers kept Caesar from being taken when there was no kennel space and staff brought Gemma from the pound to be cared for at the farm. They then had her checked over by vets and began to investigate her weight loss. In order to make her more adoptable as an old, scrawny looking lady with a lot of missing teeth; they offered the little dog a pension plan to cover and age-related or pre-existing medical conditions. Since, I've seen this happen on numerous occasions. Gemma would have sat at the pound until she could no longer because she was scrawny, ill looking and old, SARA gave her more than a second chance.
And, goodness know what would have happened had Caesar ended up there; an entire male who couldn't help himself from bouncing off the walls. Who's hands would he have ended up in? That being said, Caesar ended up in my hands; and SARA have been there all of the way.
Today is the last day to make a donation to SARA. I wanted to celebrate all of the wonderful people who took part in the advent calendar project and who have donated so far. If you can find it in your heart to give a few pounds to SARA in the name of 'Saving Caesar' please donate here:
And, for more information about this wonderful centre, click here.