Saving Castaways: By Sally Gutteridge
Wandering through social media when I’m supposed to be working is a hazard of the job. Yet sometimes it provides exactly the inspiration I need to get back to work, those times are well worth it and today was one of them.
A video popped up, as they do, so I clicked as I do. Within a few minutes I was in tears, yet so impressed that I needed to keep watching. I was, for the first time, witnessing the project known as “Saving Castaways”.
The video was focussed on one dog, a puppy mill victim called Esther. A chocolate Labrador who during the first scene was so terrified that she hugged the ground as she walked, well crawled, towards her new life. Even the ladies helping her were crying.
As her tale unfolded and with no idea where it was going I watched open mouthed as I found out the entire story and what it is that Saving Castaways actually does. The program makes the most of the age old relationship between dog and human, in the best possible way.
Prison inmates are given a dog or dogs to rehabilitate whilst behind the walls. What a wonderful, innovative and absolutely genius idea this is.
Many unwanted dogs have been hurt by people, both physically and psychologically, whilst the spaces for unwanted animals are scarce. Particularly those spaces that have the time and patience to help a hurt dog trust again.
Watching the bond between the dogs from the shelter with the people that society often judges and usually forgets was heart-warming. To see Esther with her handler, so confident and happy, looking like a completely different dog, is quite inspirational.
When the dogs are ready, rehabilitated within the system where they do their own fair share of rehabilitation, they go on to a very different life to the one they lived so far. Some become therapy dogs, pets, working dogs and even service dogs.
What a difficult thing to deal with for the humans in the program!
Anyone that has ever said goodbye to a dog will agree, it’s so very difficult to do.
The final shot in the video was Esther’s trainer and friend, left behind looking a bit like a lost kid, whilst she went on to her new home into her second chance at life. Wonderful yet sad all at once.