Meet the dog-loving volunteer who works every Christmas Day to help dogs in need
While most of us will be spending Christmas Day opening presents and enjoying time with loved ones, a dog-loving volunteer, who also celebrates his birthday on 25th December, will be trading turkey for dog toys to help care for the 120 homeless hounds at Dogs Trust Kenilworth.
Paul Bennett, 50, from Balsall Common began volunteering in 2009 after he was made redundant and popped into the rehoming centre to enquire about volunteering so he could stay active. He now volunteers every weekend with his partner and helps out with everything from walking, feeding and socialising the dogs, as well as being one of the meet and greet hosts at the Rehoming Centre and helping out at events such as the annual Fun Day.
In the lead up to Christmas Day, Paul makes more than 150 doggy Christmas crackers by hand and fills them with tasty treats ready to hand out to the dogs on the big day. Other duties include cleaning the kennels, preparing a festive feast, and walking the dogs – with lots of fuss and cuddles thrown in.
On working Christmas Day, Paul said:
“Christmas is all about coming together with loved ones to celebrate, but for those dogs who don’t yet have a home, I wanted to bring a little bit of joy to their day and make sure they are included in the celebrations.
"Throughout the year we all work so hard to give the dogs the best possible time whilst they wait for their forever homes and I feel it's especially important to do that over Christmas.
"The dogs don't know it's Christmas and we can't offer them their own sofa or a roaring fire to relax in front of, we will be making sure they all feel special and don't miss out on any of the fun!"
Once Paul is finished with his volunteering duties, he heads home to spend the rest of the day with his partner, his cat Foggy and guinea pigs Nigel and Thor, to celebrate the festivities and his birthday by enjoying a festive meal and exchanging gifts.
Paul continues: “For me, just spending a few hours on Christmas Day at the Rehoming Centre gives me a warm feeling. I’m lucky to have a nice warm home to go home to, so it’s only fair that we can give the dogs the best Christmas possible whilst they wait for theirs.”
Dogs Trust Kenilworth has almost 200 volunteers and a total of 80 of them will be helping out over the festive period to ensure the dogs are happy and enjoy the festivities.
Marie Charley, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Dogs Trust Kenilworth, says: "Like Paul, our volunteers are all amazing and without them, our centre simply couldn’t run as smoothly as it does. One volunteer taking a dog for a walk frees up a member of staff to give another dog that bit more TLC that they might need, especially when they have first arrived, or a little bit of extra training or playtime. Our volunteers are a vital part of the team and we want to say a huge thank you to every single one of them for the invaluable contribution they make, all year round, but especially at Christmas.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Dogs Trust Kenilworth, or would like to rehome a dog, please call 0300 303 0292.