40 Years of Service at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home
On 25 November 2021, Fifi Smith retired as the Home’s longest-serving member of staff, having worked on our Seafield site for 40 years. Here she describes some of her incredible highlights of the last four decades, from a chance vacancy in our kennel team thanks to a member of royalty, to a very special occasion in the Home’s paddock.
Before I worked for the Home I worked at the Dick Vet at Summerhall Square on a youth opportunity scheme for six months. I really enjoyed it but unfortunately they couldn’t keep me on as they weren’t taking staff on. The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home used the Dick Vet to do animal procedures so nearly every day we were taking animals to them. My boss Olive Smith Spoke to the van driver and said if any jobs came up she knew of someone that would be interested – A Fiona Young.
So the message soon passed on the manager of the Home. Thankfully a job came up in one of the kennels – one of the Kennel Staff, Audrey Cameron, went to work for Princess Antoinette of Monaco. She came to judge a dog show and the manager invited her to the Home. She took two dogs and a kennel maid back with her.
So I got the a phone call from the Manager, Mr Connell, to go for an interview and he was pleased with my reference from Olive. And I got the job.
I started on 12 October 1981 at the age of 17. All the staff helped me to settle in and through time they started to call me Fifi. I first worked on the stray dogs. It was very rewarding seeing the dogs going to their forever homes, especially if they were very insecure and nervous and you had worked on their to build up their confidence. I got on really well with all the staff and have made lifetime friends.
I moved on to the boarding dogs, which I really enjoyed and then started to help on the stray and boarding cats. I learned a lot from the senior cattery assistant, Glynis. Angela was working on the boarding cats when she went on maternity leave 14 years ago. I worked on the boarding cats permanently and discovered this was my forever part of the job. I loved getting to know all the cats and their owners and made good friendships with them.
I met my husband Iain here, who as Assistant Senior Kennelman an became ‘hardy man’. We became very good friends and slowly and surely love blossomed. We got married on 22 August 2004 in the big paddock, with all our friends and family helping us to celebrate our special day. It was great to have all the staff there. David Ewing, our manager, was our best man. We had a big reception in a marquee in the yard. The was the most exciting day for me at the Home. I became Fiona smith and a fantastic day was had by all. Iain was offered the flat at the Home 19 years ago. I moved in 18 years ago.
I have enjoyed my time at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and have learned a lot from our vet Bridget over the years and Wendy our Kennel Manager has been fantastic also. If we are not sure about anything she is always there to help us out and is very supportive.
Angela and I are the best of friends. She worked on the cats when Glynis or I were off on holiday, and after Glynis left 23 years ago, she went on the cat permanently. We work really well together and help each other out. We are called the Dream Team. It is nice to work with your best friend.