It’s been a ruff year - sorry, a rough year - for dogs like Dotty.
She’s eight years old and was found abandoned on the streets of Solihull several months ago, covered in lumps which needed operating on, and blind in one eye.
But she’s on the mend now, and so affectionate she knocked me over twice in her zeal to get some love. It's difficult to imagine how anybody could leave her to fend for herself.
She’s one of around 150 dogs currently being looked after at Birmingham Dogs Home.
And that’s not a cheap business.
It costs the centre, on average, £700 a day per dog - including expensive medical bills, running costs, staffing and food.
This year is more difficult than most. Their income has been decimated thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the country into two national lockdowns and extended local restrictions. They estimate they’ve lost £30,000 in fundraising income alone.
“The events and activities, they just haven’t happened so our fundraising has been massively effected this year,” chief executive Giles Webber told me.
“It’s really making a big difference to us which is worrying for the charity.
“So we’re simply trying to ensure that we deliver our lovely service that we do for our dogs and for our supporters and those that are adopting - which of course is activity that is continuing.”
They’re restricted on home visits, of course, and have been unable to accept visitors on-site for much of the year - but have taken activity online, conducting Zoom interviews with prospective new owners.
Rupert is another dog for whom 2020 got off to a bad start.
Another stray, he was rescued from the streets of Coventry with an ear infection, and almost completely bald. Vets believe he may have alopecia, and are running tests.
He’s not able to be rehomed just yet, so will be spending Christmas at the centre itself.
And the staff work hard to make sure it’s special.
Just over half of the usual workforce will show up as normal on Christmas morning, to ensure every dog gets their daily walk - as well as a present or two, and a traditional festive feast.
This is how staff at Birmingham Dogs Home will be making Christmas special for the dogs that find themselves there:
“They get a proper Christmas Dinner,” canine carer Chris Ryan said.
“There’s basic meal at the bottom of the dish, there’s pre-cooked chicken which has gone cold obviously, there’s some cooked sausages, some parsnip, some other vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding of course.
“I do think it’s important that they get a Christmas meal, just so it changes their day up a bit. It’s special for us and it’s special for them.”
To help fund the meal - as well helping fill a bit of the hole in funding left by the pandemic - the centre has now launched a new fundraising campaign, with the slogan (you guessed it): It’s Been A Ruff Year.
There’s dedicated merchandise for sale, and they’re also organising a virtual dog walk for Boxing Day, amidst other online efforts to bring in donations.
As for Dotty, it won’t take long for someone to fall in love with her (I know I have!)
Staff are hoping she’s one of the lucky ones who’ll manage to find a loving new home in time for Christmas.
Video report by Charlotte Cross: