My Day as a Kennel Assistant

23/12/2016

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home's new Marketing & Communications Officer, Julie Thomson, spent a day shadowing our kennel team to find out more about their work. In our latest blog, she talks us through her day, offering insights on the fantastic work they do. 

I recently joined Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home as Marketing & Communications Officer. In order to be able to promote the Home’s work effectively, it is essential that I fully understand the extent of it, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a day shadowing the kennel team. On Wednesday I donned my wellies and headed into the kennels for an insightful day with some very lovely dogs (and even lovelier staff).

Our day started at 8am when I was greeted by a chorus of dogs looking for their breakfast. The first order of business was to move the dogs out of their kennels, into the outdoor pens, to allow them to use the toilet. Once this was done, the deep clean began. All kennels were de-pooped, disinfected and hosed down, and any soiled bedding removed for cleaning or disposal. Working in the office I see donations of towels, sheets, duvets and other bedding coming in on a daily basis. Having worked in the kennel I now understand just how appreciated this flow of donations is. Even the most house-trained of animals can suffer from the kennel environment and require its bedding changed daily.

Tess the Bulldog

Tess is one of the many beautiful dogs at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home looking for a home. 

Once the cleaning was finished it was time for the fun part – breakfast! I was shown how to make up feeds for all the dogs and work out who needed medication. The Home uses Royal Canin dog food and I learnt that this was because it was a high quality feed suitable for dogs in this environment. It is important that the dogs have a stable diet to avoid stomach upset. Some very happy dogs practiced their best sitting as we distributed the bowls of food to each kennel.

Kennel Assistant Kieran is popular at breakfast time.

Once fed and watered it was time to start walks. The Home has a number of enclosed green spaces where the dogs can safely be let off the lead for a good stretch of their legs and a bit of ball play. We took each of the dogs out, giving them some important exercise and one-on-one time. Each dog was then weighed to monitor their weight gain or loss.

Regular exercise is important for dogs living in a kennel environment.

Dog weight check

A daily weight check ensures that the dogs are not losing or gaining too much weight.

After a well-earned lunch break for the staff, it was back to cleaning again, with any soiled kennels washed down and the dogs let out to the pens for some fresh air. This was also a chance for some ‘cuddle time’ with Django, who currently has a cruciate injury and therefore is not allowed on walks. Throughout the afternoon we received visits from people looking to rehome a dog. In many cases this was their second or third visit, and I learnt just how important it was to match the right dog to the right home. The kennel staff discussed how many of the dogs had previously been rehomed but things hadn’t worked out and they had ended up back in the Home. This often happens when a well-meaning family take on dog only to discover they cannot commit the time necessary for training or give it the attention it needs. From what I saw on Wednesday, the Home’s staff do their very best to equip potential adopters with all the necessary information, but as anyone who has adopted a dog will know – there are definitely things that you can only learn through the experience.

Cuddle time!

I left work on Wednesday with sore limbs and a huge appreciation for the work of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home kennel staff. I was struck in particular by the great conditions in which the dogs are kept, and the love they are given while under our care. There is no doubt that the kennel environment can be very stressful for them, and that forever homes are needed to nurture their mental state and on-going training. However, it was not the grim environment I may have imagined before starting work here. The commitment of every member of the team to the welfare of the dogs and cats is exceptional and I look forward to supporting their efforts in finding much-needed homes for these fantastic animals.

To find out more about volunteering as a kennel assistant, and other ways to help the Home, please visit www.edch.org.uk/support-us/volunteering.

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