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Fifteen years of Canine Concern Scotland Trust!

Long-time Committee Member Jennie Grant with Therapet “Poppy”

On 27th April, Canine Concern Scotland Trust celebrated its 15th birthday, years that have just galloped away! These have been years of which we are all very proud and in which we feel we have achieved a lot in the way of benefit to man’s best friend and equally, in many cases, man too!

From the start we were fortunate to have the help and support of The Scottish Kennel Club which we have to this day and we work with them on various aspects such as education. We are grateful for the free stand space always provided at the S.K.C. shows.

The work of the Trust is decided by the Trustees themselves, with the resultant hard labour carried out by a committee of management - all buckle down well together and the results are often quite spectacular - witness our annual Exemption Show which has quite a name here in Scotland and is eagerly awaited each year. Plus the annual Sponsored Walks which raise a goodly sum for funds, the last series making a record-breaking £4000-plus.

We have been so lucky with our patrons - though sadly two have died, Jimmy Logan and Robin Hall - they did a great deal to help the trust and were always available to lend a hand or give advice whenever needed. A good example of this was our Schools Video, made with the help of a wonderful anonymous donation for this specific purpose, in which Jimmy and his dear old Lab opened and closed the film with Robin doing the voice-over. This film has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland and lots of other places too - it is called “Children and Dogs” and is designed as a safety-first film for both child and dog, along with care of dogs and other very relevant items in today’s rather “throwaway” society. It is available on free loan to all Scottish schools and at just £7.50 to anyone interested in buying it. Has received much praise. Of course, there is nothing to equal actual visits to schools with suitable dogs, but this is only possible where we have sufficient helpers to do so, and the video provides a very good compromise here.

Over the years we have produced leaflets, posters and various ongoing programmes all of which are totally free of charge and the trust is always to the fore when matters arise in the press or media which call for a speedy response in terms of any proposed or bad publicity for dogs. In this connection the over-stated health risks are always “on the go” and at one time the Trust felt obliged to go to the Press Complaints Commission... a very nerve-wracking process and a real relief when a particular point was proved in our favour.

We are represented on the Cross-Party Group for Animal Welfare on the new Scottish Parliament by Trustee and Veterinary Surgeon George Leslie, who also organised a survey into aspects of toxocariasis which has proved very valuable.

Good work

Of course, the Therapet Scheme has been the most well-known of all our activities and we are proud to say we now have no less than eighteen representatives in Scotland from the Outer Isles to the Borders who are able to keep their bands of volunteers together with regular meetings and by placement of these in local homes and hospitals. An extract from a letter received just this week will illustrate:

I would like to thank your organisation for all the good work they do. I have recently retired as Acting Care manager with The Abbeyfield Kirkcaldy Society Ltd. I first contacted your association over six years ago. They helped us find a Therapet and this is an excellent idea for the elderly. They look forward to the visits every fortnight.

We first had Amy who is a Rottweiler and who was a big softy, then along came Cheney who is a Lurcher and is a lovely dog. Some residents who do not interact with other residents respond so well with the dogs. thank you for supplying such a service and it is a winner with our residents.”

A pilot trial scheme to a secure Unit within Levernvale Hospital is being discussed, the dogs involved will be Echo and Bonnie - two dearly loved O.E.S. Therapets owned by Trustee James Macdonald who must be singled out for special praise for all his enthusiastic work on the Trust’s behalf.

These two instances are simply the most recent. Sadly, we now have to undertake a special Disclosure programme in view of the need to be more than 100% certain of the background of all new volunteers. This makes a lot of extra work for our administrator but has to be done.

In 1998 the Trust was awarded £66,759 from The National Lottery Charities Board which enabled the purchase of top-class equipment and the opening of a small office in Campbeltown with a paid employee who certainly took a lot of work away from me…

However, since then the Trust has been to revise its terms of administration. Firstly, the employee was replaced by a part rather than full-time worker who sadly had to leave us for her own personal reasons. So we are now back her at Minard House, with my husband Nick, Treasurer and Secretary since our inception, becoming administrator as well! We still have the benefit of the highly technical equipment and generally speaking the new operation has proved a success.

Sadly we lost our very dear father, Jim Peat - a trustee from the beginning, his death a real tragedy and we miss him so much. This is only a few months ago and we are all devastated.

Another Trustee, Dr Morris Andrew, also died not long ago, he was very closely involved with the Therapet programme. such wonderful friends are impossible to replace.

I end with grateful thanks to all who have helped and continue to help with the work of the Trust. Patrons Lesley Fitz-Simons and Rosemary Long, the Trustees and members of the Committee of Management, our Area Reps and of course all our valued members friends and donors without whom we should not be able to carry on our work.

A Happy Birthday to you all!

Marjorie Henley Price
Founder and Chair of Trustees