Dogs for Good relies on the extraordinary efforts of all its volunteer fundraiser groups. These are the people that can be found out and about in all weathers, raising awareness and vital funds by attending and putting on events including craft fairs, dog shows, festival attendances, local supermarket collections and giving talks to schools and community groups.
The restrictions that came about as a result of Covid-19 meant that many fundraising events had to be cancelled but despite the difficulties, a dedicated group of Warwickshire and Coventry volunteers still managed to raise over seven thousand pounds.
The Dogs for Good Warwickshire fundraising group was established nearly 30 years ago and two years ago it was extended to include Coventry. The group has now raised a phenomenal £282,110 since inception and in the last year, it has raised a total of £7,633.
Some members started meeting on video calls to find new ways to raise funds and they came up with some novel ideas.
They ran online competitions on their Facebook page including ‘Name the Puppy’, a children’s drawing contest, and are currently creating a ‘Spot the Ball’ competition.
Last October, the group held a socially-distanced ‘doggie breakfast’ at the Yew Tree pub in Avon Dassett, Warwickshire. One member sold her own homemade moisturising lotion for dog’s paws and a local antiques dealer helped them to get a good price for some collectible antique teddy bears and jewellery that had been donated to the group.
The group also held a bucket collection in Leamington Spa between lockdowns last September and a few members did the 2.6 Challenge to raise money for Dogs for Good when the London Marathon was cancelled.
In addition, Anna Prosser from Avon Dassett has delivered at least five virtual talks to groups as far away as Cockermouth in Cumbria.
Chair of the group, Beryl Rounsley (77), heard a talk about Dogs for Good over 30 years ago at her Gateway Ladies Club meeting and was so impressed that she always remembered it and later became a volunteer puppy socialiser. She and her husband Dave are now socialising their 18th puppy!
Beryl says: “The pandemic threw our fundraising plans up in the air and it took us a while to find our feet but now we’ve got used to meetings on Zoom and doing virtual talks so we can keep spreading the word about Dogs for Good.
“We want to raise as much money as possible so they can continue with their wonderful work and others can benefit from these amazing dogs.”
Caring runs deep within Beryl and Dave’s hearts and the couple not only have two grown-up children but also took on the role of emergency foster carers for over 100 children including a long-term placement for a young boy with a severe disability. When Beryl’s caring duties reduced she spent the time she had spare getting more involved with the Dogs for Good fundraising group.
Beryl said: “Puppy socialising introduced me to Dogs for Good but at that time I was too busy to get very involved in fundraising.
“When we didn’t have any children to look after any more, I realised I could do more to help Dogs for Good.
“Having the puppies over the years has been so rewarding and we have all benefitted, especially our foster children.
“We cared for many troubled teenagers and I remember one young man who found it difficult to share his feelings with us and was self- harming. I often found him with his arm around a dog, just letting go of his emotions.
“The puppies were a real comfort to all the children we fostered, they provided them with non-judgemental companionship and unlimited cuddles.
“I’m always so proud of our puppies when they go on to qualify as assistance dogs and to know they will transform someone’s life.”
Warwickshire is the historical heartland of Dogs for Good as that’s where its founder, Frances Hay, lived and where, in 1988, she set the charity up. Disabled herself, Frances was a lifelong animal lover and dog owner. She recognised that the strong bond she enjoyed with her own dogs helped in many ways to maintain her independence and also, that her dog was able to carry out small but vitally important tasks for her such as picking up dropped items.
Christopher Newns, Frances Hay’s brother, said: “Frances started the charity with her dog Kim and an idea. There was no money and everything was done by volunteers.
“As the charity has developed more and more volunteers have helped and they form a crucial part of our success, without them we just could not do what we do. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all volunteers, no matter if their contribution is large or small.”
Dogs for Good’s Volunteer Coordinator, Liz Stone says: “We have volunteers who go out in all sorts of weathers to fundraise for us, people who transport dogs or resources by driving for us and of course, the volunteers who socialise puppies or board dogs in training and other Dogs for Good dogs, providing them with a loving home. Quite simply, we wouldn’t be able to do our work without them.
Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1st June to 7th June 2021.