Welsh charity that rehomes disabled dogs fundraises for first adoption centre

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A charity that rehomes "imperfect" and disabled dogs has begun fundraising to create its first rehabilitation and adoption centre.

Wolfie's Legacy, set-up up by Gill Daghistani from Holywell in Flintshire, has found new families for more than 500 dogs since its inception in 2017.

The charity takes canines in from around the world and then Ms Daghistani personally matches them to the right new owners.

The founder was inspired by her own experience caring for a rescue dog who lost out on a chance to be rehomed because it had a degenerative disease.

Wolfie's Legacy is now looking to expand and hopes to raise £250,000 to build a first-of-its-kind adoption centre in north Wales, specifically for disabled dogs.

Ms Daghistani looked after Wolfie when he was diagnosed with a condition that meant his prospective adoptive home was no longer suitable. Credit: Wolfie's Legacy/PA Images

Ms Daghistani began the charity after she agreed to look after a rescue dog from Hungary for a few days before he could be taken to his new home in Scotland.

But when Wolfie was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, his intended home was no longer suitable. Ms Daghistani ended up caring for him until his death just under two years later.

She told the PA news agency: "When I lost him I was heartbroken, but I also thought 'What about all the other Wolfies?'

"What about the dogs that no-one ever cares about? They are just put to sleep and no-one will give them those last two years of happiness."

Determined to demonstrate the joy that comes from owning an "imperfect" dog, Ms Daghistani set-up the charity four years ago and she now plans to create a special adoption centre.

The new centre would include an onsite vet clinic, a rehab centre with hydrotherapy, a grooming salon, and boarding facilities for past and present Wolfie's Legacy dogs. The plans also detail a restaurant and glamping facilities to help raise money for the charity.

The charity is looking to raise a quarter of a million pounds to create the new site, which it is calling "a haven for disabled dogs". Credit: Wolfie's Legacy/PA

Ms Daghistani matches the dogs with the owners that are right for them and says she often rehomes disabled dogs with disabled families.

"These people come to us because they can't rehome through some of the bigger dog charities, and we can find them a dog suited to them," she said.

The Stern family rehomed Mini from Wolfie's Legacy last year, and mother-of-one Lucy was so inspired by the charity's work that she became a trustee .

She had originally been looking to rehome a senior dog but trusted Ms Dhagistani's matchmaking skills.

"Gill has this uncanny ability for matchmaking," she said.

"You might see these dogs on the Facebook page and go 'I want that dog, that dog's amazing'. And Gill will say 'That dog is amazing, but that dog is not amazing for you', and she will find the right one for you."

Despite originally being told by a vet that she should have Mini put down, the dog lives a "happy life" with them and is "best friends" with Ms Stern's two-year-old daughter, Matilda.

Ms Daghistani said it is not uncommon for vets to recommend putting a dog down as the "default" option because of an "intrinsic fear of the unknown, scepticism for 'who's paying the vet fees', and an inability to look beyond the X-rays and scans, at the life that dog could live, given a chance".

Mini the rescue dog is now "best friends" with two-year-old Matilda after finding its forever home. Credit: Wolfie's Legacy/PA Images

Another happy adoptive parent to a Wolfie's Legacy dog is Tracy Lowther from Dumfries in Scotland. She rehomed Charlie in May 2020. The five-year-old dog has a fused spine, scoliosis, and his back legs are paralysed.

He was dubbed a "problem child" because he had trust issues but is now a "local celebrity" in Ms Lowther's town.

"These little dogs have got no hope, and the charity is giving them a chance," she said.

"Adopting Charlie was the best decision I've ever made. I couldn't live without him, he's my best buddy now.

"If you're willing to put in the time and effort and regain their trust, the reward is just so wonderful."

Charlie's new owner said adopting him was "the best decision she ever made". Credit: Wolfie's Legacy/PA

The team at Wolfie's Legacy have rehabilitated and rehomed more than 500 dogs, with varying degrees of disability, from all over the world.

People looking to help the charity can donate money or volunteer to assist with things like dog walking or home check visits.