What’s keeping me busy?
When I adopted Susie-Belle 10 years ago I never imagined I’d ever be doing what I am now. Running a charity in her memory. A charity which is entirely reliant on volunteers and the generosity of many. The responsibility feels large some days. But every day, it’s an incredible privilege to have the trust and support of people to do the right, and best thing. And, for the charity to be in a position to help those who most need it.
In the newsletter I sent out on Friday, I wrote that the time I spent last week doing Schnauzerfest tasks was almost a full time job. I wrote it flippantly at the end of what was a busy week both with Schnauzerfest and other things. But chatting yesterday to Michel we did a tot up of how I’d spent my time last week. My flippant comment wasn’t far off the truth.
I then went back another couple of weeks, seeing where time had gone, what jobs had been done, or not been got around to. I’m a note taker and jotter, list maker and planner and it wasn’t hard to find where the hours had gone. `Schnauzerfest has had large chunks of me recently, more than usual. And ‘usual’ is usually a good whack of each week.
It’s all about the dogs
Far more importantly than counting my time, is the number of dogs that Schnauzerfest is engaged with helping. This is why time seems to be speeding up. There’s a lot to do! There are a lot of dogs Schnauzerfest donors are currently helping. More than we have so far put out news on. More than we have ever helped in a similar time period. Just to give an idea, in the last few weeks alone, veterinary bills for over 15 dogs in 9 different rescues have received help.
Each dog and rescue that receives a Schnauzerfest Grant requires proper process. While we keep things straightforward for ourselves and rescues, there is still a procedure for each case that we follow. This gives accountability and assurance to donors that their money is safely going where they think it is.
Every dog helped is a wonderful testament to every drop of support the charity receives. We are a charity that wants to put the support it gets out there far and wide, wherever and whenever it is needed. Schnauzerfest is never going to sit on any laurels, (or piles of reserves). There are so many good rescues which are seriously struggling and Schnauzerfest being in a position to help is something our supporters can justly be very proud of making happen.
Since the start of November we’ve received 16 requests for help from people wanting to surrender their dogs. Now, Schnauzerfest is not a rehoming organisation, we’re not a breed rescue in any traditional sense. The charity has a simple purpose – to pay veterinary bills. We don’t rehome. To do that properly and ethically it requires a set up that Schnauzerfest doesn’t have, or want to have. Our mission is different. But people approach us for advice and help to rehome their dogs. This we will do by liaising with good rescues who can assist and provide all the knowledge and expertise required to rehome the dogs properly.
Or, sometimes, the advice given means the owners decide against rehoming. An email that came in whilst I was drafting this was exactly this outcome. A family received advice from us and a rescue we put them in touch with, and are working on a plan of action to keep their dog.
This evolving side of Schnauzerfest’s work is particularly time consuming. It can also be all of these on any single day: frustrating, inspiring, disheartening, upsetting, uplifting, sad, rewarding, heartbreaking and much, much more. Thankfully we have an excellent volunteer who helps me with this growing part of Schnauzerfest’s place in the world of rescue. Keeping dogs off the selling sites and adopted through reputable avenues of rescue is a strong motivation for us offering this help.
Hands on rescue work is tough. Speaking with some who have been doing it for years, decades in some cases, these are the toughest times they’ve known. A combination of the pandemic, ‘lockdown puppies’, social changes and attitidues, the uncontrolled puppy market and other factors are all having a big impact.
I’ve got great admiration for many who spend years doing their best to help the animals, whether they’re volunteers or paid. But I am not naive. In earlier times when I knew little about what happens in rescue, the rose tinted specs blinded me. As time has gone by, my experiences have changed some of my thinking and I now know things are not always as they seem.
Schnauzerfest’ vision is clear. It has a clear purpose and place, one that Susie-Belle first led me into. I’ve always known where my boundaries are. What I can and can’t do. Where my strengths are, and more importantly my weaknesses. While the boundaries get snagged some days, they get firmed up regularly. I want to be here for the long term. I am very thankful for the excellent support from many that Schnauzerfest has. Without it, the charity wouldn’t function.