A day in the life of Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre

I took a trip down to Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre last weekend with the idea of documenting a day in the life of the centre. It can be a very busy place – especially in the winter when they had more than 70 hedgehogs at the peak – but even with a mere 20 in (as was the case during my visit) there is still loads to do!

Liz was in charge of the centre on the day of my visit. She was supported by three dedicated volunteers with other team members popping in with donations and deliveries throughout the day.  Ghost the cat also kept popping in and out – for attention mainly it would seem – which he got by the bucket load.

Each of the occupied cages needs cleaning and the bedding refreshed every day. Sometimes medication needs to be given to help the patients ward off infections or to restore their water levels. One of the hedgehogs needed a foot spa because of its infected foot.  Another had some ticks which required removal.  One needed some cream on his nose where a strimmer had nipped the tip of it.  A faecal sample needed to be taken and analysed from another.

There are a couple of incubators for the really sick hedgehogs. Unfortunately one of those was Simeon, who didn’t survive the duration of my visit – he was very poorly indeed – but the volunteers did their best to keep him warm, safe and comfortable in the final hours of his life.  Rest in peace, Simeon.

One hedgehog was admitted when I was there – another victim of a strimmer with a rather large head wound and some missing prickles. There were admission forms to fill in, weights to be established and an assessment to be carried out.  Thankfully Joseph seems to be recovering, fingers crossed for this little one.

After my visit, I decided that I needed to see a hedgehog being released back into the environment… This is such an important part of the work of the centre.  I met Martin at the Butterfly Park in New Ferry where a group of volunteers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest residents.  New Ferry Butterfly Park is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust urban nature reserve developed on a former railway coal yard, goods yard and water softening plant. Once Martin had established the best place for the feeding station and shelter, Potter and Cat Woman were moved from their travel crates into their new home.  Their enthusiasm for their new found freedom wasn’t exactly mind-blowing – although we did see the nose of Cat Woman tentatively peeking out of the house just before it got too dark to see any more.  These two have definitely landed on their feet with their release location – what a great place for them.

This experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work of the centre and my already great fondness for these prickly creatures has only increased. Although we all agreed nature can be cruel when we said goodbye to Simeon, the success stories of those hedgehogs like Potter and Cat Woman really demonstrate the benefit that the Hedgehog Centre brings.

Photographing rescue animals with Wirral Animal Sanctuary

I love my little days shooting for Wirral Animal Sanctuary and last Saturday it was a pleasure as always… I love being able to see first-hand the success stories that result from the work that the charity does.  I had four visitors – full of their own individuality and personality.

Here are my favourite pictures of each of my guests. I dare you not to say “awwww” at least once.

The first to come was Benji – still just a puppy. Benji is a Bichon Frise/Maltese cross that had to be rescued rather rapidly.  Thankfully his new family made some quick preparations and were ready to receive him at incredibly short notice.  He has totally landed on his feet and is such a curious guy.

Phoebe, the ferret, was hand reared by the charity and spends a lot of her time accompanying the volunteers to the events.  She is a beautiful caramel colour and loves playing and people.

Mishka – oh Mishka.  I’ve kind of lost track of how many times I’ve photographed Mishka but I always look forward to my kisses. But apparently my face needed a good clean this time.  Mishka is Corrie (the Wirral Animal Sanctuary Rescue Co-ordinator’s) dog and likes hanging out at the events and the shops and is a very good ambassador for the charity.

And finally along came Hattie.  Hattie is a lovely boxer dog who eventually took a liking to a striped squeaky monkey but what she wanted was simple really – just to be close to and in the attention of her new master. How lovely.

Best of Dog Days Coffee Morning

After the success of this summer’s Dog Days photo shoots, we held another event a few weeks ago with a bit of a twist. It was Dog Days in the same format as the summer one but with a Coffee Morning attached!  So you bring along your dog for a picture and eat some cake at the same time.  What could be better than that…?

Each of the dogs that came helped to make the event a success on two fronts: financially for Wirral Animal Sanctuary and creatively for me by presenting me a great opportunity to capture the personalities of these unique dogs. As always there was a certain amount of chaos associated with each of our visitors…

With this in mind, here is a Best of Dog Days tribute to the dogs from the most recent Dog Days event.  Thanks to all those who came along, brought their furry family to visit, ate cake and supported the great work of Wirral Animal Sanctuary.  If you want to check out more of the pictures from the event, have a look here:  www.flyingcanadianphotography.com/Animals/Animal-Galleries/Dog-Days

Biggest poser – Zak

 

Zak arrived at Melrose Hall full of his excitement and very keen to have his picture taken. After being slightly worried about the flashes, a big red squeaky rubber tongue seemed to calm his nerves.  And why wouldn’t it, I say!

Most crazy – Harvey and Kali

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You know when there is a springer spaniel involved (Harvey) everything is going to get a little crazy. Throw into the mix a collie (Kali) along with her slight obsession to be next to, play with, jump on (etc etc) said Springer and craziness is taken to a new level.

Best yoga pose – Skye

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When Skye demonstrated a down dog yoga pose directly in front of me, her family told me that this is her way of saying that she liked me. Well I was rather fond of you too, Skye!  Skye is also going to make a great Ms December in the Wirral Animal Sanctuary calendar in 2018.

Biggest fluff – Scruffy

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Disguised underneath all that lovely black fluff was a little skinny puppy body.  I could have cuddled Scruffy all day.

Best on two legs – Bella

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Bella showed us plenty of her belly when she came in for her session.  She loved getting up on two legs and I couldn’t resist giving her a tickle.  She also loved giving out a few sneaky kisses.

Best dancer – Minnie

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Minnie had some great moves – I wish I’d had some music for her when she came in.  She had a great spin and also loved  dance with her front legs.

Best love tap – Rossi

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After jumping over the top of me (well – I suppose I was in the way really), Rossi pawed my head in an effort to encourage me to play. Sorry I couldn’t oblige, Rossi – I had very important work to do to make sure I got a good picture of you and your ears….

Best heavyweight team – Gomez and Otis

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Weighing in at 12 stone, Gomez was the largest dog I’ve photographed. And the slightly smaller Otis wasn’t far behind in size.  Despite challenging the natural limitations of our studio space, they were both gentle giants and are welcome to come back for a cuddle/flop anytime.

Wirral Animal Sanctuary Hedgehog Rescue Centre

The Wirral Animal Sanctuary Hedgehog Rescue Centre is moving into its second month of operations and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind first month for them. The Centre has enjoyed an overwhelming response to its call for new volunteers, publicity from several local media outlets (including the Liverpool Echo, Wirral Globe, BBC Radio Merseyside) and of course the demands of their first patients.

In the first month it has treated hedgehogs suffering from a range of illnesses with the intent of their eventual release back into the wild. When I went around to take some pictures last week, there were 8 hospitalised hedgehogs all waiting for the day when they are well enough to go back into the wild where they were found. The one exception to this is Eric as he was found at the side of a busy road… Lucky Eric is going to be released into a garden alongside a lady hedgehog. Well done Eric.

Before their pictures, the hogs were all snuggled up comfortably under a big pile of torn up newspaper. They came out of their cages in little balls and after some coaxing (aka stroking by Corrie) they stretched out and were actually very photogenic and obliging when it came to being in front of the camera.

The Centre is in need of cages, food, cleaning supplies, medicines and just funding generally so if you can help at all please click on one of the links below.

http://amzn.eu/5fAdRAg

https://www.justgiving.com/wirralanimalsanctuary

https://www.gofundme.com/save-wirral-hedgehogs

If you’d like to volunteer there is a recruitment day at the centre on 18 February 2017.

If you come across a hedgehog in distress, the phone number to the rescue centre is 07539 524755. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/washogsrescue/

Chaos

Unlike the last Wirral Animal Sanctuary photoshoot, there wasn’t actually an animal called Chaos on this occasion – although one of the dogs was called Luna (short for Lunatic apparently). But despite their being no chaos, the afternoon was the usual hilarity of animals behaving in their most unpredictable ways.

Luna is a lovely, very bouncy husky, akita cross who was very excited about pretty much everything. I couldn’t help but like her despite the fact that she threw up within inches of me … Close call! Pip had a few snacks including sneaking a Dorito straight from the bowl (!) while keeping an eye on Steph at all times. Jackson, possibly the most photogenic dog ever, got right into position when he arrived – I felt like he was wondering what was taking me so long to get going! The ferrets Jack and Jill wiggled and jiggled in their harnesses when it was their turn to be in the spotlight moving so quickly I couldn’t quite keep up – although there was one moment when they both looked at me at the same time. Snap!

Sophie and Ellie brought the feline element to the afternoon but although representing the same species, their characters couldn’t have been more different. Ellie was a sweet and playful kitten very interested in the laser pointer and her mouse. Sophie is the most laid back cat I’ve ever seen – she was happy to be held, sit where she was put and was just generally so laid back that she was horizontal.

I am so pleased I had the privilege to photograph these lovely creatures and here are my results. Hopefully they help to find Luna, Jack and Jill and Ellie the homes they deserve.