Sunday, December 12, 2010

Forget Gucci, think poochie: Meet Battersea's lonely hounds club


Finding the perfect owners for dogs at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (which this year is celebrating its 150th anniversary) is just like running a dating agency, with computer profiling used to matchmake happy-ever-after relationships. As Christmas approaches – a time we all like to share with someone special – ten looking-for-love pooches tell us why they’ve got the (bow) wow factor

NAME: Charlie
SEX: Male
AGE: 10
BEST FEATURE: My coat-button eyes, dark as rock pools and shiny as precious jewels (poetic, eh?).
I LIKE: I still love playing with toys, even though I’m getting on a bit.
I DON'T LIKE: Sharing attention with other dogs (no offence).

ABOUT ME: I’m a feather-tailed shih-tzu and, like a lot of small dogs, I know what I want and how to stand up for myself — which means I sometimes bark a bit too excitedly, especially when visitors turn up. I think I may be getting grumpy in my old age — who isn’t? — and I like to be left in peace when I eat. But for the right person, I’d make the perfect loving lapdog.

WLTM: Someone who can offer me a comfortable retirement. It could be a single person or a couple (no children, please), with a big garden to toddle around in, and who will take me for healthy walks and then let me flop down in front of a pub fire. Bliss!

NAME: Bazzle
SEX: Male
AGE: 2+
BEST FEATURE: I’ve got a lovely smile when I’m happy (yes, dogs can smile).
I LIKE: Tormenting crows when I go for a walk in the park (doesn’t everybody?).
I DON'T LIKE: Being sprayed with water. Ugh!

ABOUT ME: I’m a staffordshire bull terrier cross — which means I’ve got mixed parentage, not that I’m angry. I can be a bit shy at first — in fact, people sometimes think I’m being aloof — but when I bond with the right person I love to snuggle up and wrap my paws around them. I’ve got a sturdy, athletic body (think Wayne Rooney), although I can be lazy and find it difficult to get up in the morning.

WLTM: Although I’m still young, I like the quiet life, so I’d prefer to be with one person, or maybe an older couple, rather than a busy household. I’d love to live in the country, going for long walks then curling up to snooze for the rest of the day.

NAME: Snowball
SEX: Female
AGE: 6
BEST FEATURE: Need you ask, dahling? My gorgeous white coat, of course.
I LIKE: Being groomed (well, I can hardly send my fabulous fur to the dry cleaners).
I DON'T LIKE: Being ignored.

ABOUT ME: With my Siberian heritage, ice-cool beauty and peerless pedigree (I’m a samoyed, by the way), you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Out of my league’. But sometimes the best-looking girl in the room is just waiting to be asked. Beneath my glamorous exterior, I’m playful, affectionate and very sociable, even with children and other dogs. I’m a real chatterbox, so anyone who takes me on will have to consider their neighbours.

WLTM: A big family who can shower me with cuddles and find time for the beauty regime I need to keep me looking my best. I love the bustle of urban living, so a home in the city would be perfect. What did you think — do I look like the kind of girl who’d hide her assets in the back of beyond?

NAME: Tarzan
SEX: Male
AGE:: 1+
BEST FEATURE: My pointy, Spock-like ears — quirky, but cool.
I LIKE: Playing football, kissing the people I love.
I DON'T LIKE: Lawnmowers, which I bark at enthusiastically — well, somebody needs to show them who’s boss.

ABOUT ME: I wasn’t brought up in the jungle and I don’t swing through the trees — so spare me the jokes, please. I’m a cuddly, confident and affectionate mongrel, an overgrown puppy really, who doesn’t always realise his own strength (sorry!). In fact, my size is one of the reasons my owner let me go (plus, ahem, a spot of bother with the female dog who lived next door — hey, I’m a regular guy).

WLTM: Me Tarzan, could you be my Jane? Although I’m a big softie, I’m sturdy and can be a bit stubborn, so I need someone who can handle that, perhaps a family already experienced with dogs. I need training, but I’m intelligent and a quick learner, especially for anyone who makes a big fuss of me.

NAMES: Missile and Lightning
SEX: Female (Missile) and male (Lightning)
AGE: 8
BEST FEATURE: Our finely tuned athletic bods.
WE LIKE: Each other.
WE DON'T LIKE: Stairs and shiny floors, which make us slither around like novice ice skaters.

ABOUT US: We’re sister and brother greyhounds who spent our lives in racing kennels, although, frankly, we never made much of an impact on the track. We’re each other’s best friend, even curling up together at night. Don’t think that we have to charge around all the time chasing imaginary hares. We enjoy our walks and the occasional opportunity to put on a burst of speed, but we’ll let you into a secret: what greyhounds like most is snoozing.

WLTM: A family with a big house in the country, with cosy beds and comfortable sofas. It doesn’t have to be Downton Abbey (as if), but with our long limbs we take up quite a bit of space — and we really do want to stay together.

NAME: Olivia
SEX: Female
AGE: 3
BEST FEATURE: My left eye (it’s the only one I’ve got!).
I LIKE: People, carrots and apples — I lick the first and snaffle the other two.
I DON'T LIKE: Barking dogs, so kennels are like living with the neighbours from hell.

ABOUT ME: I’m a cheeky staffordshire bull terrier who arrived at Battersea with a badly injured eye, which had to be removed. That doesn’t stop me from getting the most out of life, although when it comes to playing ball I don’t always see where it’s gone! I’m a sporty girl — I run 5km a day with the person who looks after me — affectionate, very obedient, and a good traveller, on trains, buses or in cars.

WLTM: I’ve been in a foster home for some time, but I really want a permanent family, perhaps with older children who are experienced with dogs. I promise I’ll only have eyes (well, eye) for them.

NAME: BooBoo
SEX: Male
AGE: 2+
BEST FEATURE: My tiger-stripe markings. Grrr!
I LIKE: Meeting new people.
I DON'T LIKE: Being on my own.

ABOUT ME: Heard the expression ‘hangdog’? Well, that’s me, with my furrowed brow and worried-looking face. I’d prefer to describe myself as distinguished and imperious, which is typical of my breed, a Japanese akita cross. I’m full of confidence — in fact, I’ve sometimes been accused of being a bit superior — and admit I can be stubborn. But I’m inquisitive, friendly and very playful when I’ve got my toys out.

WLTM: Someone who understands my personality, so ideally a couple who have had previous experience of a dog like me and can be there whenever I need them. I’m not a city slicker, so I’m dreaming of a home out of town.

NAME: Gracie
SEX: Female
AGE: 6-12 months
BEST FEATURE: Not for me to comment, really, but I’ve heard people say I have a pretty face.
I LIKE: Peace, quiet and long countryside rambles (I love chasing squirrels and birds).
I DON'T LIKE: The big city — too overwhelming.

ABOUT ME: I’m your girl-next-door type, the kind of sweet-natured mongrel you could introduce to your parents. I’m sensitive and shy, a bit nervous when I meet new people, but once I get to know someone I’m totally loyal, loving and generous. I can get upset by things like traffic, so I’ll need training to make sure I don’t run away and hide if I get spooked.

WLTM: Someone experienced with dogs, who can give me the time, space and guidance to help me develop my self-confidence. They might already have a dog, who will be able to teach me that the world isn’t such a scary
place. And I’m a country girl at heart, so I definitely want to be out of town.

NAME: Sandy
SEX: Female
AGE: 2+
BEST FEATURE: My soft velvet coat is like something from Chanel, or in my case chienelle.
I LIKE: I’ll do anything for a pig’s ear (unlike most girls, who’ll do anything for a silk purse).
I DON'T LIKE: Being in kennels — so noisy, too stressful!

ABOUT ME: I hate to admit it, but I think I must have been a cat in a previous life, as I love to curl up on laps and be gently stroked, not something you’d necessarily associate with a staffordshire bull terrier cross. Before finding refuge at Battersea I had a pretty tough life, which turned me into a bit of a worrier.

WLTM: I’ve been here almost a year, which makes me one of the longest on the shelf. I yearn to find love from someone who has the patience to build my self-confidence, and I dream of being whisked away to a quiet life in the country, where I’d even be happy to share house room with a cat.


NAME: Brandy
SEX: Female
AGE: 11 months
BEST FEATURE: I’ve been complimented on my trim figure.
I LIKE: Massages, relaxing baths and being groomed with a hairdryer (I know what you’re thinking: ‘Diva alert!’)
I DON'T LIKE: Nothing! I’ve even lived with a cat, for heaven’s sake.

ABOUT ME: I’m part border collie, part Australian kelpie - both sheepdogs - which means I’ve got the best characteristics of both: intelligent, easy-going, responsive, eager to please, enthusiastic. Given my background, I’ve definitely got a herding instinct - good for rounding up people at the end of parties, not so good with very young children.

WLTM: I’m a real live wire and get bored easily, so need a relationship which will provide me with lots of stimulation and activity, perhaps a family with teenagers. My first birthday is on New Year’s Eve and I’d love to celebrate it with a new significant other.

NAME: Tyson
SEX: Male
AGE: 8
BEST FEATURE: My silky blond hair, which makes me very stroke-able.
I LIKE: Having my tummy rubbed and barking at the door when visitors arrive (well, it amuses me).
I DON'T LIKE: Loud noises, especially fireworks, which seem to go off all the time these days.

ABOUT ME: I think of myself as a sociable, middle-aged gentleman. I’m a solidly-built labrador cross who’s enjoyed a pretty good life. From puppies, my brother and I lived with the same couple, but they recently had to give us up for financial reasons. So I find being in kennels bewildering and, to be honest, I’m a bit stressed out.

WLTM:I come from a stable home, so that’s what I’m looking for - a family who can give me the attention and reassurance I need (which I will repay with love and loyalty) plus plenty of exercise as, I have to admit, I could usefully lose a few pounds.

NAME: Jigsaw
SEX: Male
AGE: 6-12 months
BEST FEATURE: My waggy tail – just can’t stop it movin’!
I LIKE: Giving my soft toys a vigorous workout.
I DON'T LIKE: Standing still, walking decorously, and generally behaving sensibly.

ABOUT ME: I’m a happy, lively mongrel (no airs or graces about me, thank you very much) who is excited by everything life has to offer. Okay, it means I can be a bit over the top at times, and my manners would benefit from some polishing, but what do you expect from someone who’s young, single and carefree?

WLTM: I suppose I’ve got to grow up some time (yawn), so I need someone who’s firm but fair, with the time and experience to train me to become a responsible member of society. But they’ll need plenty of energy to keep up with me – the only slippers I’m ready for at the moment are ones I can chew.

NAME: Oscar
SEX: Male
AGE: 3 ½
BEST FEATURE: My small, but perfectly formed body.
I LIKE: Lots of attention.
I DON'T LIKE: Vacuum cleaners - big, noisy bullies - and having my nails clipped.

ABOUT ME: I’m a cute-as-can-be miniature pinscher who could fit into a Birkin bag. Not that you’d be able to keep me in there, as I’m full of energy and always raring to go. I may look fragile – and others of my breed often are – but I’m a tough little cookie. I’m well-mannered, with an impressive grasp of vocabulary, including ‘walkies’, ‘sit down’ and ‘paw’, which in my book counts as degree-level cleverness.

WLTM: My previous owners kept me home alone all day, which sent me stir crazy, so now I need someone who will be there for me. My ideal would be a singleton who has experience of dogs and lives out of town. Is that too much to ask?

Could you give a home to one of the dogs from Battersea? Call 020 7627 9234 or go to to find out more. Last year the charity cared for more than 10,000 dogs at its centres in South London, Old Windsor and Brands Hatch. Most are re-homed within 28 days, so some of those featured here may already have gone.

Sadly, some dogs do get put down, because they are banned breeds, have untreatable medical problems or such serious behavioural issues that it would be irresponsible to return them to society. But at any one time there are around 600 dogs to choose from, so there’s a good chance of finding the perfect partner. ‘It’s like a dating agency,’ says communications officer Lisa Graham. ‘We can type someone’s details into a computer and a list of suitable dogs comes up.’

About 70 per cent of the dogs are strays. The rest are brought in by owners who can no longer care for them, either because of the cost, they are moving abroad or into properties which don’t allow pets,the dogs have grown too big, or their behaviour is too demanding.

Taking on a dog is a big commitment, says Lisa: ‘Anyone who is considering it needs to think carefully about what it involves.’

Lily Allen, Kevin Spacey and Claudia Schiffer have all adopted dogs from Battersea. There’s a £95 re-homing fee.

source: dailymail

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