Puppies, Pinot and Prizes
Artist Sara Abbott manages to convey a dog’s personality in her portraits like few ever do, so it stands to reason that she instantly saw the needs of London’s street dogs. DOTS was a great fit for her.
“I knew when I met Michelle and saw the work she was doing that I must help her,” said Sara, and help she did, setting up an online raffle where donors to her justgiving.com page can win a portrait of their own dog. Sara set a target of £1000, but the amazing response showed her that she could aim a little higher and it was doubled to £2000. At the time of writing that looks like it will be met – that’s a whole lot of care for these deserving dogs!
Sara visited the DOTS Sunday station and got stuck into some chalk drawing on the pavement. “I need more practice at this!” says Sara. “The winner of the online raffle will have a 60 x 60cm oil on canvas portrait of their dog – that’s something I’m a bit more practiced at.”
As an extra boost to the fundraising, Sara held the ‘Puppies, Pinot and Prizes’ event at The Berkeley in Berkhamsted. This time a separate raffle raised a further £360 for the dogs. Friends old and new attended, all keen to help, including the lovely Natasha Stonebridge who assisted Sara and baked some very special dog treats. Loyal supporter, vet, and Pup Aid campaigner, Marc Abraham also turned out for us, despite having two flat tyres en route. Now that’s dedication!
The online raffle runs until August 9th, 2017. Thank you so much Sara, for everything you’ve done. We love working with you!
Donate at Sara’s fundraising page
Visit Sara’s website.
The 100 km Challenge
On July 1st, 2017, supporter Paula Cairey, and her friends Helen and Charlotte Vale, set out to complete the Cotswold Way Challenge, a gruelling 100km – that’s more than 62 miles in old money – to raise money for DOTS. They aimed to raise £500 but at the point of writing had reached an amazing £1320!
Their experience was a tough one and best told in Paula’s own words, so here’s what she had to say:
The story of me, Hels and Char – a few blisters – a LOT of hills and DEMONS – oh lots of DEMONS.
As a lot of you know, I just took part in my last 100km challenge and boy, what a corker to finish on. This was on The Cotswold Way and such a beautiful part of the country. Apparently. As if you really give a damn after 50km, when its 3am and it all hurts, and each 1km is taking a lifetime to complete!
I have to say that this 100km was the hardest I have yet done, taking a very very tough 29 hours (28.57 to be precise, Helen!) That is about 4 hours longer than previous 100km events. I think any first timer would probably not have finished it. We were getting horror stories at the rest stops about the condition of participants, and poor old St Johns Ambulance had their work cut out repairing feet. That said, I am in awe of Charlotte (the Runner) Vale who completed this with us on her FIRST (and probably last) 100km challenge.
We were in absolutely fine fettle up to the 50km point, the fastest time we had ever had to a 50km and considering the terrain so far, with so many quite challenging hills, we were super pleased. After a quick cheese baguette (GF, natch), and NO poppets (a different challenge story!) this was now the earliest time we had ever left a half way point (by the way, the “we” in this is Helen Vale, my bestest walking/training buddy who
is was a 100km addict too). We had already been warned that we were due to get to the steepest hill just after this stop, but fully fuelled and with fresh socks, off we went as very happy chappies.
Okay – let’s now fast forward to the next rest stop at 64km, a mere 14km on, so how on god’s earth did it take 4 hours to do 14km! 17 minute average per km, surely a baby can crawl a kilometre quicker than that? It was brutal – the terrain was kicking our butts. We were broken, shocked, hurting, blisters, I mean blisters (wtf?) – haven’t had one of those since my first ever challenge on London to Brighton. What the hell happened? But, there was pick’n’mix here so after a sugar fix and more fresh socks, and a lovely cup of tea, on we go. No one talking about the bit where it says, “72km steep climb starts – 76km steep climb finished”. Ha ha – gotta be a joke right? Actually it turned out to be slightly better than anticipated. What they failed to say was that 75km to 76km was gonna be the stuff of nightmares: soooo steep, awful underfoot and just plain cruel. In fact cruel became the word of the challenge.
I think we were broken at 64km. We were in bits at the next stop (79km); not entirely sure what has just happened but guess what, “sausages”. Sausages and ketchup make everything okay, right? Just not the blisters which now had to be cut open because they hurt too much, and the Compeed – I had to use Compeed and I HATE Compeed – and the final straw…the lambs wool I have been carrying around with me for two years, that I haven’t had to use, was well and truly coming into play now; I was packing it around my blisters to help with the pounding.
But then reality bites. The next stage is 14.5km long, more than we have just done, and we set out to another “steep climb”. Now, Action Challenge’s set up is amazing and they have markers at every km. The problem is, it makes you realise how slow and painful it’s getting. You kinda hope that a marker is missing but then you see it and it’s like, “Really? 16 mins to do that km?” Sometimes it works in your favour. At 85 we’ve just about given up mentally and physically, it’s just about one foot in front of the other, but this km is brutal. Where is the 86km marker? Then we see the marker coming up and yay! It’s 88km! 87km was missing, thank goodness. Hels had already said,”If the next marker is 87km I AM DONE!!”. Now at this stage we are beginning to think that finishing this might actually not be possible. We have a big discussion about it and at one point we agree that stopping at the next stop (93.5km) is what we should probably do. This now raises my demons. I’ve pulled out of one challenge before and I’ve never truly got over it, but I have already written the “I pulled out at 93.5km” blog in my mind! But then I think, “NO, how’s that gonna look for my climb prospects in April next year? That makes me a quitter, I just can’t, I’m gonna finish this F***er if it kills me.” Decision made, I am happier, I can suck up the pain and continue in the one-foot-at-a-time manner.
We have mini breaks on the night time and morning sections as it’s just too tough. A little 5min sit down on a log, quick bite, quick foot massage and away we go. This however doesn’t sit so well with Char (the Runner). A runner’s mentality is to “get it done”. She’s found it more painful to stop so trots on a bit by herself. We catch her up at 89km where she’s catching a quick break waiting for us. She has seen many others go by, all of whom stopped with her for a bit – all having their own horror stories of this particular challenge – and who simply stopped because this point was at the foot of yet another (yes you’ve got it) “steep climb”!
We get to 93.5km rest stop. It’s very quiet. I overhear a conversation, “So I told Jane, she can stuff it – I’m staying here, you’re on your own.” I can sympathise! But we are all decided, we are going to complete this, and after the lovely Action Challenge bloke got us all a hot sweet tea, we fixed our feet, kitted ourselves out with yet more fresh socks and off we trotted, well…hobbled really. Final section 7km (oh by the way this 100km challenge was actually 100.5km, just to be even more annoying).
The last section can be described in one word only: PAIN. I don’t really have too much to say about this bit except it’s extremely emotional on so many levels: the physical pain, dealing with the demons that just want you to stop, and then the finish, the supporters, the relief, and the realisation that you’ve done it after all you’ve been through.
It is done. 100km Challenges – thank you and Good Night.
If you’ve enjoyed my pain, then send some relief by donating to my FURfriends at DOTS. £5 buys a lot of dog food guys….
We have enjoyed such amazing support for this cause, especially from one Company who gave us an amazing £500.
Thanks so much to The Inform Team – that was unbelievably generous.
Well what can we say? These women are absolute heroes, and champions for the street dogs! Thank you so much Paula, Charlotte and Helen!
FEELING THE PUG LOVE
I’m quite a new admirer and follower of DOTS on London as it’s just recently that this fabulous support network has appeared on my radar. I’m not quite sure how I first came across their wonderful work but I’m a big fan of movements such as “Doing Something for Nothing”, “Random Acts of Kindness” and “Paying it Forward”. These are all legitimate hashtags on current social media sites promoting positivity. I’m a real advocate of celebrating diversity and enjoying the differences we all hold. I feel we are now learning that tolerating differences is actually just putting up with people and that celebrating these differences is what really makes us truly inclusive.
I love it that children in primary schools are now gaining an understanding as to how we can all create a lovely ripple of kindness making the world we all share a better place. As a child, I was always given the strong message that we “reap what we sow” and “what goes around, comes around”, but it’s so much nicer to pay it forward, without seeking reward or recognition for what we do but enjoy it for the love we share. It’s good to feel that each and every day we can make a positive difference to the lives of others and although seen by many as purely altruistic, helping others is said to improve health, happiness and longevity. So, it really is quite wonderful that such kindness shown to others is of enormous benefit to us all.
I firstly gave a donation to DOTS London online, and then decided that I could do a little more to support, raise awareness and inspire others to think about what these fantastic people do. I am acutely aware of the Human Animal Bond and feel that those living on the streets have the most loyal and trustworthy companions they could ever wish for in their dogs. I genuinely believe that it may well be their dogs that make life worth living.
I have been working, voluntarily, with my little Therapy Dog, Doug, for the last six and a half years through the UK charity Pets As Therapy. We share our time together in schools (on a READ2DOGS scheme), a pupil referral unit (for children with behavioural and emotional challenges), Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton (supporting the mental health of adults feeling lonely or isolated), a hostel for vulnerable families between permanent homes, a care home for the elderly and a hospice for those with life limiting conditions. Last year, Doug received “TV Super Vet” Professor Noel Fitzpatrick’s Super Dogs Live “Most Heroic Hound Award” for his work supporting positive mental health and emotional well-being. If my dog is helping us all to recognise that we need to look after our mental health and emotional well-being, in order to be physically well, that makes me feel very proud.
Doug has quite a following on social media and one of his young friends inspired me to have a bit of fun! Friend Alfie asked me if I would recognise Doug in a line up of 20 Pugs! So, I put together a grid of Doug and 19 other Pugs and put it up on instagram as a quiz. I personally wanted to donate further to DOTS London anyway and thought it would be fun if I could get others to feel as if they had contributed too without having to dig deep into their own pockets. My heart sinks for those being asked for money when things are already tight. There is a wonderful saying that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. So so true! Anyway, I said that I would donate £10 for everyone who saw themselves on the grid and another £1 for every correct recognition of someone else! We raised £242 and had such a lot of fun without any of our friends feeling compromised. It was a lovely way for me to donate whilst giving others some fun too.
And then we won an instagram prize of £100 from a picture posted during London in Bloom for The Chelsea Flower Show. The voucher was to be spent in the Duke of York Square. And I thought, what better way to spend it than at Partridges of Chelsea on dog food for DOTS London! Partridges were delighted to contribute further to such a worthy cause by adding more to my stash! Partidges cater for those at The Big Sleep Out so we know how they empathise enormously with the challenged faced by those living on the streets of London.
Through our social media following, we often meet with other dogs and their owners. DOTS London highlighted that their friends needed new accessories for their dogs due to their belongings often being stolen. I thought this was another way that we could ask others to contribute without compromising them financially. Asking friends to donate outgrown or unwanted collars, coats, leads, etc has inspired new interest in Dots London and has generated donations that I can now pass on.
This October, Doug and I are both going to be part of The Big Sleep Out. I have done this before and it was awful. Sleeping (?) outside, overnight, in a cardboard box, in a car park, in the wind and rain, with people banging on my box at 3am was scary. I was way out of my comfort zone – especially after my box collapsed due to heavy rain. I was cold, wet, scared and lonely. But, I knew I was going home to a hot shower, warm dry clothes and a cooked breakfast. How many people on the street ever have that comfortable finish to a cold wet night? None. So, this time I felt I would like to do The Big Sleep Out with Doug. Not only will we help raise funds to support those living on the streets but we will help raise awareness of how vulnerable they and their dogs both are. I will be sharing our journey with our friends on social media and hope that our empathetic following will support us in our quest.
If you’d like to see what we’re up to, you can visit our website for links to our social media – www.dougthepugtherapydog.com
I’m delighted to have come across the work of DOTS London. I admire all those involved in the care and support of those less fortunate than ourselves. Through the work Doug and I share together I have become ever more cognisant of the fact that none of us are beyond finding ourselves without a permanent home. We may think we are but that is just simply not true.
DOTS London, we wish you well. May your days be good and kind.
Big licks and Pug hugs –
Doug the Pug Therapy Dog & Cate Archer
Anneke Kuipers is a very special DOTS supporter who had been growing her hair since, well, forever! She’d made a promise to herself not to cut it “until at least after I’ve got married”. Then she came across our work and decided she wanted to help. At the same time, she knew that donated hair could make a hugely morale-raising wig for a young cancer or alopecia patient (Anneke worked with Little Princesses).
Chopping off her hair from below her waist to her shoulders has helped Anneke raise £457 so far and we are beyond grateful for her kindness. She said,”It feels surreal, but knowing my hair will be doing so much good beats everything!”.
Thank you Anneke!
If you’d like to support Anneke’s generosity you can do so here.