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The New Normal for JFD

Posted on Aug 9, 2020

Following an extremely motivational team meeting yesterday, prior to welcoming our sorely missed furloughed staff back at the end of the month, there are some considerable changes happening to the way things are to be run at the centre.

Very soon into lockdown we began to notice remarkable changes in some of our most troubled and long-stay dogs. Without going into to many individual cases, these dogs became calmer, less stressed and much more content. This in turn made them more trusting and allowed us to sit within their personal space giving them the chance in turn to trust and get to know us better and the extra time we had available to us, by not dealing with an influx of visitors and dog walkers each morning, meant that we too could dedicate ourselves more to these needy souls. Because of this, some quite remarkable progress was made leading to some previously mistrusting and troubled dogs getting adopted.

We have therefore decided that our 9-11 ‘open house’ visiting policy for potential adopters is to end along with our voluntary dog-walking/kennel cleaning scheme. We know this will be hugely disappointing to our team of volunteers but the well-being and happiness of our dogs is of paramount importance to us. We are also acutely aware that Covid-19 has not gone away and as well as protecting staff and visiting potential adopters we are mindful that social distancing will work better for us as well as the dogs. Please note that a handful of dog walkers, dedicated to our special needs, long-term and resident dogs still remain with us. These dog walkers can adapt to any challenges they may encounter and are also willing and capable of handling the larger-breed dogs who benefit greatly from the one to one dog walking/training routine.

So, moving forward, how will potential adopters manage to meet the dogs?

We have now started a process of featuring our dogs on FB one at a time. This, as a trial, began last week when we featured Binxy and Ella. This feature resulted in several enquires for Binxy, who as a result is now reserved and an influx of interest in Ella, who will have an introduction to her potential new mum and dad on Sunday. The meet and greet for Ella has taken longer to arrange not only because of the amount of enquires she’s had, but also due to her complex and troubled nature which demands a more specialist and experienced home. A process of elimination has been ongoing since her feature with all applicants being outstanding, but eventually priority was given to the couple who already have dogs, as we feel Ella will thrive in a home with company of her own kind. Ella has a 2nd couple (who also have dogs), waiting in the wings should her meeting on Sunday not go in her favour. If all goes to plan it will mean both Ella and Binxy were matched to their adopters before they even met one another and of course without the stress of many strangers peering into their kennels before the right person, with the right set of circumstances came along. Watch this space!

A series of open days/fundraising events are in the pipeline, when circumstances allow, which will give our huge amount of supporters the opportunity to visit the centre not just to see the dogs but to meet and chat with our team, as the last thing we wish to do is to alienate ourselves completely! Of course these events will cause the dogs a considerable amount of stress but this disruption will happen for 4/5 hours, 6-8 days per year as opposed to over 360 days a year.


Throughout lockdown, because no visitors whatsoever were allowed, we decided to bring Holly, Charlie & Nino out of their private living quarters, that have always been dedicated to them as they clearly found the constant stream of visitors highly distressing. Being in the main wing where most of the hustle and bustle of staff members (or their pack members as they must clearly see us) happens, has made life much more interesting and exciting for them and most mornings Holly is allowed time-out of her kennel, to oversee kennel cleaning duties, then at 9am if no visitors are expected, she is promoted to reception and is put in charge of the front desk. She has on occasion been known to rearrange our paperwork in the fashion she sees fit, but it’s all in a days work and she’s enjoying every minute! After nine years of being at JFD she has regularly began doing something she’s never done before. She literally rewards us with a smile from ear to ear, especially when she greets her auntie Lottie who has a particular soft spot for her ‘Holly Bobs’! She has also been invited to Auntie Lottie’s house for sleep-overs occasionally which she thoroughly enjoys and takes in her stride.

These are drastic changes to the way things have been run over the last 23yrs but we have never had an alternative comparison , until lockdown was forced upon us, to compare our routine too and we truly did not appreciate the stress we were causing the dogs.

Please try to understand and bear with us as we work our way through this new regime, it is uncharted territory for us all, but it is being done for the love of our dogs that we all care so passionately about.