Christmas is a bloody awful time for dogs in Ireland as the whole rescue system grinds to a halt.
The rest of the year, it works like this: a stalwart band of volunteers, come rain or shine, go round the pounds, taking photos and posting on the internet descriptions of the dogs in danger. The UK rescues monitor the Irish rescue boards and make offers on dogs they think they can help. The Irish volunteers then get those dogs out of the pound and into foster homes and kennels, where the dogs are vaccinated and usually neutered.
The dogs that don't get offers and are not reclaimed are put to sleep and many thousands of young and healthy dogs die needlessly in Ireland every year. It is not usually out of meanness on the pound's part (although there certainly are awful pounds, with 100 per cent euthanasia records, that volunteers can't reach); it's often because they have to make room for the next raft of strays and surrenders coming in.
For the lucky dogs that get offers from UK rescues, there's a 10-day wait until they can travel to the UK on one of several transporters who tirelessly take the overnight ferry to Holyhead or Pembroke - a pretty grim journey at times. The UK rescues meet the transporters at various drop-off points, often at the crack of dawn at motorway service stations. It must look very suspicious, but of course for the lucky dogs it's the start of what will hopefully be a wonderful new life.
But at this time of year there's a problem: the transporters stop mid-December and don't start again until January, which means that there's a mad push now to get as many dogs as possible out of the pounds, foster homes and kennels. That way, there's still some small chance of survival for the dogs coming into the pounds over Christmas.
All of which is a very long way round of saying that I have offered on as many dogs as I can in the past couple of weeks. As a result, I have black retriever x's like Echo (top), Danny (right) and Henry (below) coming out of my ears - and nowhere for some of them to go.
They are all lovely. They all deserve a chance. And we could really do with some help. If you could offer a temporary refuge to one of them, you really will be helping to save a life. A donation towards kennelling costs (our only option if we can't find enough foster homes) would also be a huge help (and it's very easy and totally safe to donate via the PayPal button on the bottom left of our home page, here).
The Black Retriever X Rescue website is now getting an astonishing 6000 hits a month so I know there's a lot of you out there.
Thank you to all those who have supported us in the past year, particularly those of you who have opened your hearts and homes to one of our wonderful black retrievers. Very special dogs. Very special people.