The Reality Of Saying Goodbye To A Dog When You Work In A Rescue Shelter
For all the compassion and kindness it takes to work at a dog rescue, you must also have incredibly thick skin.
After all, the aim of the game is to see dogs paired with owners and re-homed for good.
But what about the staff who nurtured and trained these dogs for so long, only to have to suddenly say goodbye? For Helen Prestage, it's hard, but it is so, so worth it.
"The moment the dog finds its forever home is actually the most rewarding part of our job and the most amazing feeling," she told 10 daily.
We know they’re starting a new life in a loving home with wonderful new owners. What could be better than that?
Helen is a Pet Advisor at a British dog rescue centre called Wood Green, and is set to appear on the new series 'The Dog House'.
The show steps inside the kennel and tells the heartwarming tales of matching rescue dogs with their perfect parents. This is Helen's favourite part of the job, but of course, it's not always easy.
"You definitely get attached to the dogs you are looking after, especially those who come from difficult backgrounds and are very nervous," she said.
"We spend a lot of time training and building their confidence before we try to find them a new home."
Naturally, there has been the odd occasion where Helen has given into those puppy dog eyes. She regularly fosters dogs from the centre and has adopted two as well, "a Collie cross called Susie and a mongrel called Amber."
Helen jokingly calls herself a "failed fosterer." After fostering many dogs to help out the rescue centre, there was one she simply couldn't give back.
"I’ve had them for eight years now. Susie had three homes before she came to us and Amber was hit by a car at nine-months-old and handed into Wood Green as a very nervous stray. We fostered her first, then kept her."
Helen and her family have brought a number of foster dogs into their home, and over her many years at the rescue, it's gradually becoming easier to say goodbye.
She said, "I think that urge to take every dog home has given way to the huge satisfaction I feel when I find those dogs great new homes."
Finding the perfect dog is a lot like finding your soul mate. In fact, sometimes they're one in the same. It's all about understanding how you click, and how well suited you are to the other's life.
"When we match prospective owners to their ideal dog, we have lots of things to consider such as the dog’s needs, the owner’s lifestyle and the environment where the dog will live," said Helen.
But there is that spark you just can’t put your finger on.
Many prospective owners come in thinking the dog's appearance is the most important factor, but quickly learn that its all about personality.
"Although some bonds grow over time, people usually feel an instant connection within the first few minutes of meeting a dog. As you will find out, opposites don’t often attract!"
The Pet Advisor cannot stress enough the importance of making informed, considered decisions when adopting a pet.
She said that too many times she's witnessed people rush into things, and said that sadly this "often results in more heartache and long term issues for both the dog and the new owner."
First and foremost, you must have the time to dedicate to your dog. Especially while they settle in. Any dog needs tender loving care, and this only multiplies when the dog is a rescue.
"They are a huge commitment and need regular walks, company, training and socialisation," Helen said.
Rescue dogs sometimes come with behavioural issues which need careful management or prolonged training.
Working in a dog rescue centre, Helen sees dogs abandoned and struck out every day.
But for every misplaced dog is the perfect pet parent waiting to be matched with them And getting to watch that firsthand makes it all worth it.
Featured image: Supplied
The Dog House Premieres On Saturday, May 16 At 7pm. Only On 10 And WIN Network.