Can you share a bit about your personal connection to pugs and how it influenced your decision to work with the charity?
I was diagnosed with MS when I was 32 and they told me I would be dead by 50 but here I am at 66. I have been in and out of a wheelchair since the day I was diagnosed but I have never given in. I always exercise everyday. I have also rescued dogs and horses all my life and I am sure that this is what has kept me going . If I made a list of all that’s wrong with me now there would be no room left to take about dogs so I would rather talk about them and my drawings.
I have been an artist forever but the MS makes it impossible for me to keep my arms up for long periods and my hands don’t always do as I like so I started drawing instead. Three years ago I decided to use my drawings to raise money for Bichon care and support and it took off quickly. They have kept me very busy. So far I have raised over £10,000 for them and a few hundred for Blue Cross.
After losing my last dog my dear Ellie “a lovely poodle “ I went through breast cancer and decided I couldn’t have another dog. However, in September last year while looking through Facebook I saw “Daphne“ and after reading her write-up I decided it was a match made in heaven and just had to apply for her. I knew I could provide the best home for her and thank goodness PDWRA’s Jane, who was managing Daphne’s rehoming, agreed!
After reading all about pug welfare and all about PDWRA I decided I needed to help in some way so I decided to spread my time between both rescues and try to now, raise money for you too! I am hoping that I can keep going as long as possible and I have a lovely long list of commissions at the moment.
To contact Shirley or see her work within our Facebook Fundraising group, please go to: PDWRA Mega Auction For Pugs In Need | Facebook
Pugs are the most amazing incredible little dogs I have ever had and I have rescued a lot of other dogs. From Bichon, poodles, spaniels, jack Russell’s and a Chinese crested. The thing my dogs have always had in common is they are usually old and they usually have some sort of problem. I take the misfits, the ones that are hard to home and make sure they have the best rest of their lives. I have always cared for them with everything I have because a lot of them only have a short time left and I wanted them to know that they are still loved. I think if I had been able bodied I would have ended up with a house full over the years lol!
All in all I can honestly say Daphne is amazing and I love her so much. She is so funny and never stops making noise. Living alone, that’s great for me because I always know someone is there.
Can you describe a typical day when you’re working to support PDWRA?
I’m up at 6am, exercise, shower and then off to park at 7.30am. Daphne rides there on my scooter as I have a special crate in between my legs where she is safe and warm. We have an amazing time walking with friends and we get home about 8.30am.
After drying, brushing, washing ears and face, Daphne is ready for breakfast. After that she cuddles up beside me while I do paperwork “ adding people to the list of drawings to do, packing up drawings to send in the post and selecting photos of the days’ drawing“. Once I have selected photos I then set up my lap easel and start to draw normal with an audiobook on in background. Daphne is always beside me and I finish about midday then it’s time for our lunch, to play games and normally by 1.30pm we are both exhausted!
We nap until about 3pm then it’s off for a walk around the block with me in my wheelchair of course. Daphne and I eat dinner about 4pm then we play some more and then settle down for the night. Because of my condition I can only spend about 4 hours a day on drawings so I try and make the most of my time.
What keeps you motivated and committed to continuing your work with charities?
I have always worked for charities, I have worked for Make a Wish when I was in my thirties and I have always raised money for different charities. I also do collections at Christmas for the homeless, my friends donate food. My motivation is to give. I have always found it hard to receive but get so much joy in giving. I believe that even if you don’t have much you can always find something to share with others even if it’s just your time.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering getting involved with the PDWRA or volunteering for a similar cause?
in life you have two choices you can either choose to be kind or not. I believe kindness above all is the most important thing you can do in life. To share something even if it just a small amount with someone else will make your life much richer. My advice would be to give whatever you can. It doesn’t have to be money it could just be time. Whatever it is I can promise you it will make your life so much richer.