For someone who was terrified of dogs until age five, Margaret South has done a compete turnaround.
She’s now a foster carer for palliative care dogs and those seeing out their twilight years.
Mrs South currently has six permanent residents who call her five acre Sussex Inlet property home and is a foster carer for Golden Oldies Animal Rescue.
With the summer months fast approaching, the group is looking for donations of paddling pools to help give older dogs relief from the heat.
All donations of either new or second hand paddling pools are welcomes, but the plastic clam shell pools are best for durability when it comes to the dogs’ playing in the pools. The group is hoping to receive around 50 paddling pools.
Golden Oldies Animal Rescue is dedicated to rescuing and re-homing elderly dogs who have been surrendered, mistreated or abandoned.
“I had a Great Dane who had been used as a bait dog in dog fighting to do the revving up. He had more than 300 ticks when he first came to us and half his tail had to be removed because of the damage.
Mrs South has cared for many dogs over the years and has had some heartbreaking experiences.
“I had a Great Dane who had been used as a bait dog in dog fighting to do the revving up. He had more than 300 ticks when he first came to us and half his tail had to be removed because of the damage,” she said.
“He also had both tendons on his front legs cut so he couldn’t jump up.”
A 10-month-old pup who was used for machete practice also found her way to a better home.
“When she came in a part of her brain was exposed. She’s in a lovely home now though and my best friend adopted the Great Dane,” Mrs South said.
Not all of the dogs who live with Mrs South come to her through bad treatment. Many are left alone when their elderly owner passes away.
Some, however are abandoned when they reach their golden years.
“I had one terribly sad story where there were two dogs from the same owner, one was 10.5 years old and the other was five,” she said.
“When the owners turned up to the pound they took the five-year-old and left the 10-year-old behind.”
Mrs South said backyard breeding and a lack of desexing are the two biggest issues when it comes to an oversupply of dogs in pounds.
In the Shoalhaven region, she said Staffordshire Bull Terriers particularly over-populate pounds and shelters.
“They’re not a pack dog and often people realise that too late. Like any dog, they need training when they’re young and a lot of them aren’t getting it,” she said.
“A lot of people say they're only dogs but they give you so much; loyalty, friendship and love.
In Mrs South’s current canine family is Jed, Elly May, Jethro, Ivy and Mumford.
Jed, an 11-year-old Labrador was rescued from an abusive home, Ivy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was dumped from a puppy mill after producing seven litters and Mumford, a Great Dane cross Staffy who went from cowering in the back of a pound to loving life in Sussex Inlet.
Like children, Mrs South said she has no favourites.
“They just give you so much love, all of them and they appreciate what you do,” she said.
“If my husband gets up before me for work he’ll leave me a note saying ‘the kids are fed’.”
While she loves all the dogs she fosters, Mrs South has a soft spot for the older ones.
“You know with the young ones people will take them and they’ll find a good home – 99 per cent of owners are responsible,” she said.
“But it’s the older ones who give you so much back.
“A lot of people say they're only dogs but they give you so much; loyalty, friendship and love.”
Many of the dogs Mrs South cares for are palliative care dogs. They all find a final resting place on her property, complete with their own headstone.
“They get the dignity to have a warm bed, full tummy and not take on that final walk at the pound,” Mrs South said.
Mrs South has found her niche as a foster carer for dogs but there’s two pieces of advice she said are crucial for all pet owners.
“Desex your dogs and adopt, don’t shop,” she said.
To donate a paddling pool or for more information about Golden Oldies Rescue Group call 0412 362 066 or visit http://www.goldenoldiesanimalrescue.com.au/