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A close up of a black dog with a big shiny nose, walking on Hastings seafront

Taking Poppy for a walk is one of the highlights of Esme’s week

Meet Poppy

Have you ever wanted to take a dog for a walk, but not take it home with you? Now’s your chance! Esme Needham introduces us to Poppy the dog and shares the joys of being a Cinnamon Trust volunteer.

00poppy-picPoppy is not exactly an excitable dog. She likes walking at a leisurely pace, her nose to the ground. She isn’t one of those ball-chasing, jumping-in-the-air sort of dogs you see around – she’s quieter, more restrained. But taking her for a walk is one of the highlights of my week.

She’s not my dog, though. Poppy has been registered with the Cinnamon Trust, which enables people who could not otherwise walk their dogs to have them walked by volunteers. According to its website, it is ‘the only specialist national charity which seeks to relieve the anxieties, problems, and sometimes injustices, faced by elderly and terminally ill people and their pets, thereby saving a great deal of human sadness and animal suffering.’

When I was seven, my mum and I (you have to be sixteen before you can walk a dog on your own) volunteered to walk a little terrier called Lucky for a woman who lived near us. She had just come out of hospital and was unable to walk him herself. At the time I didn’t know many people with dogs, so the idea of walking one was very exciting. For his part, Lucky loved walks so much that when the door opened he would leap right out at you.

Poppy doesn’t do a lot of leaping (at nine years old, she’s too serious and thoughtful for such things), but I like to think she enjoys walks. We take her to the beach and the park, and once we took her out in her little dog-coat when it was snowing heavily. She seemed a little confused.

The Cinnamon Trust was founded in 1985 by Mrs Averil Jarvis, who named it after her beloved corgi, Cinnamon, who passed away just as she was beginning work on the project. Its primary objective is to ‘respect and preserve the treasured relationship between owners and their pets.’ And that’s exactly what it does, not only for the owners who can stay safe in that knowledge that their much-loved pets are getting regular exercise and care, but also for the volunteers, many of whom are unable to have a pet of their own.

As well as co-ordinating the volunteer dog-walkers, The Cinnamon Trust runs a fostering service for pets whose owners are in hospital, and looks after pets whose owners have died or can’t keep them. Owners who no longer live with their pets can have visits arranged, or if this isn’t possible, then they can receive photos and letters to help keep in touch with their cherished and so important furry friends. The Cinnamon Trust also runs two ‘home-from-home’ sanctuaries and helps 32,142 people from all over the country every year with 41,342 animals.

Walking a dog – and knowing you are helping its owner to keep their pet happy and healthy – is a wonderful experience, and one which I think many people, particularly those who could not otherwise have a pet, would find rewarding.

Currently, the Trust is looking for people in the Hastings area who would like to volunteer their time to help walk a dog for elderly residents of the locality, as many days a week as they would like to. Walking a dog continues to be something I enjoy and look forward to, and I would encourage others to consider it too.

If you would like a chat about volunteering or to request a registration form please call Tressa Herriott at the Cinnamon Trust during office hours 01736 758707 or send an email to  appeals@cinnamon.org.uk or check out the website for more details www.cinnamon.org.uk.

Posted 17:12 Friday, Mar 30, 2018 In: Hastings People

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