TRUE vs TOWIE: Woman’s best friend

The Dogs Trust rehoming centre near Basildon does some important work to support and train the dogs

The Dogs Trust rehoming centre near Basildon does some important work to support and train the dogs in its care. - Credit: Archant

Penny Fordham compares the True (The Real Unexplored Essex) with TOWIE

I am an animal lover through and through. My parent’s brought myself, my brother and my sister up to believe that animals are just as valid living beings as humans and should be treated with the same level of love, care and respect. I’m an advocate for pets being the bringers of an unconditional love that us homosapians seem to have lost to some degree somewhere along the line and I see my cats and my mum’s dogs playing together and think, ‘no prejudice although they are so different’.

Around a year or so ago I heard that the Dogs Trust had bought a site neighbouring the A127 at Basildon/Wickford and were going to open a rehoming centre. Being fairly local, I was very excited.

I made contact with Dogs Trust Essex and asked if there was anything I could do to help and I’m absolutely delighted to now have an ongoing relationship with them, visiting every few weeks and choosing a Dog of the Month to feature on my blog. I spend a few hours on site, meet any dogs that are being overlooked, spend some time with them and really get a feel for their personality before I write about them. Thus far, I have fallen head over heels in love with every single canine I’ve met — no surprise there.

If I am honest, the first time I visited them I was a little worried about what I was going to see. I expected to see kennel after kennel of lonely, miserable dogs suffering from the rejection of finding themselves homeless. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong; the dogs are happy, healthy and seem to be having a brilliant time!

Unless there is an issue with socialisation, all dogs are kennelled with at least one other so they have company and somebody to play with. They are taken for walks and have outside areas with agility climbing frames and paddling pools for when the weather is hot. The kennels themselves are fronted with glass (Dogs Trust don’t believe in having bars as it is too prison-like) and they are given a selection of beds so they can pick and choose which they sleep on — one particular kennel I visited had a double mattress and a three-seater sofa in it, as that was the preference of the two dogs housed there. Incredible!

It is particularly heart-warming to see how much effort is put in by every single member of staff to ensure the dogs are happy and feel at home. On my most recent visit I spent some time with a staff member who was on ‘puppy duty’ (he acknowledged he may well have the best job in Essex). I was amazed to see that the puppies he was looking after, although both just 10 weeks old and without the best start to their lives, had mastered several commands and were ‘potty trained’. I definitely didn’t expect that kind of attention and focus in a rehoming centre.

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A key point of the Dogs Trust mantra is that they never put a healthy dog down. Even if it has been damaged emotionally and mentally by its past, instead of ending its life, as long as it is healthy, it becomes a Sponsor Dog. This means it is moved into the residential area of the site and lives there, essentially becoming a pet of the staff and receiving all the love and attention it could need, all the while being able to socialise with all the other Sponsor Dogs.

For an animal lover like me, to be involved with Dogs Trust Essex is a huge privilege. They’ve opened my eyes and shown me aspects of their rehoming process I had no idea existed and it truly warms my heart.

For regular updates on my Dogs Trust Essex Dog of the Month, you can visit If you want to find out more about Dogs Trust Essex visit or call 01268 535050.

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Twitter: @lilliesandlove