A dedicated doggie foster carer who has helped care for more than 30 rescue dogs has rekindled her love for painting. She says it’s all down to the four-legged friends she has brought into her home.
Jo Heather from Salisbury started fostering dogs through Dogs Trust Salisbury's Home From Home scheme and has hand painted a picture of every dog that has come into her home. Collies, terriers, puppies and oldies, she has captured the likeness of every one whilst they sleep.
Jo said, "I studied Fine Art a few years ago but life got in the way and I had not picked up a paint brush for some time. But once I started fostering, our doggy visitors inspired me to revive my love of painting. I have always been inspired by nature, wildlife and animals, so I like to use the time to sit quietly during an evening, a tired dog curled up by my side and draw and paint. "
“As my daughters were growing up, we would often visit the centre with donations and were always in awe of those who worked there and the valuable role Dogs Trust played. During one visit two years ago, we saw a poster highlighting the need for foster homes and thought that might be a way to get involved and play a positive part in a dog’s life.
After a visit from the Home from Home coordinator, Emma Sainsbury, our minds were made up. She explained the support we would receive from Dogs Trust and the type of dogs who benefit from being in a foster home. It is so rewarding to see a dog starting to trust, to learn to play again or start to enjoy walks after being nervous of the outdoors. We have attended various Dog School classes that have helped with our understanding of dogs, but above all we just open our home and enjoy offering a safe space, full of care and kindness. We have had wonderful dogs of all ages and we are always so happy to see them find their forever homes.”
Emma Sainsbury said, “We are incredibly lucky to have a fantastic network of foster carers like Jo. The Home From Home scheme is there to help our doggies whilst they wait to be adopted, but it’s also so heartwarming to see how the dogs can help their foster carers discover things about themselves too. We believe a dog is for life and our fantastic fosterers really do show our dogs the meaning behind this statement, giving them a safe, loving environment to enjoy whilst they wait for their new families. For anyone who is a dog lover but dog-less and who wants a four-legged friend in their life but can’t commit to having a dog long-term, fostering could be the perfect solution.” See dogstrust.org.uk for more information.
To highlight the crisis that that nature is facing and the loss of over 40 million wild birds from the UK in just half a century, The RSPB is releasing a specially-created track of birdsong titled ‘Let Nature Sing’. The single contains some of the most recognisable birdsongs that we used to enjoy but which now are on their way to disappearing forever. A compilation of beautiful sound recordings of birds with powerful conservation stories include the Cuckoo, Curlew, Nightingale, Crane and Turtle Dove who form part of the dawn chorus choir.
The track is designed to help reconnect the nation with nature, helping people find a moment to relax and promote a feeling of tranquillity, as birdsong has been proven to aid mental health and promote feelings of wellbeing. The single uses entirely new sound recordings by an RSPB birdsong expert, recorded on nature reserves and other places around the UK.
The single will be available to pre-order on all major platforms from 5 April and on general release 26 April reaching a crescendo for International Dawn Chorus Day on 5 May. More information can be found and the track downloaded at www.rspb.org.uk/letnaturesing
Martin Harper, RSPB Director of Conservation said: “Nature is falling silent; over the last 50 years we’ve lost a quarter of the birds that used to sing and soar in our skies. We’re losing our connection with nature so we’re using music to put it back on the agenda by releasing a track of pure uninterrupted birdsong. Children today grow up with much less birdsong in the soundtrack to their lives. We’re asking people to show their support and concern for nature by downloading the single and enjoying the benefits that birdsong brings into our lives, but also helping to get nature noticed.”
Although the track is not designed to raise funds and the download price is the minimum permitted under chart rules; any proceeds raised will go to help the charity’s 200 UK nature reserves, where a home for the birds featured on the single is created and protected for future generations to enjoy.
Photos: Kevin Sawford ,Craig Churchill ,David Tipling ,Richard Brooks (rspb-images.com)
Filmed across Battersea's three centres in London, Old Windsor, and Brands Hatch, animal lover and Battersea Ambassador Paul O’Grady was star - along with the lovely canines - of a TV series ‘For the Love of Dogs’. Paul met some of the many Battersea dogs looking for help, love and new homes.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. Website