IN MY mission to get out and about a bit more as a family this year, this weekend's mission was a visit to the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre on Harvil Road in Harefield. Our family pets have always been from rescue centres, and if I think back to how bleak and depressing Battersea Dogs Home was 20 years ago, my choice of outing seems a bit strange.
Im sure Battersea is amazing now but I wonder how it compares to the modern, shiny and fully purpose built building and expansive grounds that the Dogs Trust now occupies in Harefield.
You can pop in and visit the dogs waiting to be rehomed, as well as see their three resident 'sponsor dogs' who live there permanently.
There are over 150 dogs at Harefield and the ones that are ready to be rehomed are kept in glass front kennels with under-floor heating, plenty of toys and beds laden with blankets all donated by local residents.
There are six exercise paddocks, a sensory garden and a four acre field that you can walk around if you volunteer as a dog walker with the trust.
Each kennel gives you the life story - or as much as is known about the dog - along with his likes, dislikes and a suggested age rating of children for the dog to be placed with.
There was a mixture of relatively new dogs and some poor pooches who had been there for many months waiting for their forever home.
Our family dog, Barnie, who came from the Dogs Trust, had arrived there as a puppy and had been adopted and returned twice before my parents adopted him three years ago.
Hes exuberant, vocal, loyal and extremely affectionate, and we have no idea why his previous owners took him back.
At least hes in a secure and loving home now plus he spends half his week at our house where my 10 year old son Alex treats him as human sharing food, a bed and the sofa!
Its free to visit but please dont go empty handed: they welcome dogs toys, blankets and dont forget to buy a book and bring a book for their special library section by the entrance to the kennels.
You can make a donation as you leave the rehoming centre and its well worth grabbing a coffee and cake in the tea rooms too. You could easily miss them, so just turn right as you come out of the centre and youll see it. Youll get a great cup of coffee and some delicious cake in there.
DID you see in the news last week the latest figures showing that the cost of raising a child has risen to a staggering £218,000? Here we are experiencing the biggest economic squeeze and cuts in 60 years and the cost of bringing up a child has gone up 55 per cent in less than 10 years!
Childcare, education and food are the largest chunk of the costs and many families are struggling to keep their heads above water.
With that in mind I was so surprised to read that the Government has decided to withdraw the centralised emergency loan which acts as a vital safeguard for many vulnerable families.
Something seems very wrong when costs are rocketing and the powers that be hit societies most vulnerable where it hurts.