You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, they say – perhaps because an old dog already knows all the tricks.
But an old dogs’ home? Battersea Dogs’ Home, which celebrates its 150th anniversary tomorrow (June 3) has been adapting to its charges’ needs throughout its history – including admitting man’s best friends’ jealous rivals, cats, in 1883.
Founded in 1860 by Mary Tealby, it was originally called Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs, it was moved south of the river to Battersea in 1871 .
It is thought the reason for the move to South London was due to complaints from the neighbours in a crowded North London street – you could say it was hounded out.
Battersea was on the outskirts of London at the time, and the home took in around 850 dogs a month. On 3 June 1871, the first ever committee meeting took place at the new site.
In an article from The Graphic, published in December 1871, the Battersea premises had “sixteen spacious pens, or stalls, eight on each side of a central avenue […]. There is an extensive exercise ground, a kitchen where the dogs’ food is prepared, and an infirmary.
“On the occasion of our visit the 200 inmates appeared in excellent health, only four of them being in the infirmary.
“The oldest inhabitant of the home had been there two months.”
There is no mention of a spot where bones could be buried or lamp-posts used for their proper purpose.
Trainers weren’t invented for another 90 years, so a supply to chew on was not necessary.
A contemporary tip for how to stop your old dog from smelling has stood the test of time though: cover its nose.
Fast forward 150 years – without paws – the now world-famous animal rescue centre has recently undergone major changes and now has some of the best facilities in the world to care for thousands of dogs and cats that come in every year.
The Battersea London centre has a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, modern cattery and kennels, as well as office space for support staff. A new hydrotherapy suite has just opened for bookings for members of the public and their dogs.
The rehoming kennels, behind a new reception area, are being improved for when the charity is ready to welcome back regular visitors.
For more information and details on how to book a hydrotherapy session with one of Battersea’s expert hydrotherapists and veterinary physiotherapists, please click here.
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