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Senior Pet Project: Herbert’s Winning Grin

When Michael had to say goodbye to his dog at the end of a divorce, he walked into the Home in December 2019 hoping to find an older dog to share his life with. As he had a look in the kennels, he noticed 10-year-old Herbert, who had been at the Home for six months. Michael had seen Herbert in a video on our website and knew he’d had a rough past. He was brought in with anxiety and some health issues, but after a few treatments and some TLC in foster care, Herbert brought out his “big ol’ grin”, which got Michael hooked.

After seeing how much the staff at the Home loved Herbert, Michael signed the adoption papers and brought him home.

The first month was a bit rough, as it took Herbert a bit of time to settle into a new home and a new routine.Then sometime in week four, things settled down. Michael said, “Herbert clearly realised that this wasn’t another foster home – this was home. He sat down next to me on the couch, put his head in my lap, and fell fast asleep. And ever since then, he’s been the sweetest, happiest, and most obedient dog in the world.” 

Today Hebert is a happy doggo who loves to sleep – on the balcony in the sun, in his bed, under the desk while Michael works, on the couch while watching TV – everywhere. He loves his walks and will go for five or six per day if he gets the chance. In fact, his walks have been keeping Michael sane while self isolating. Herbert also likes chasing balls, but Michael admits he’s not very good at the ‘giving the ball back’ bit.

Best of all, despite his past, Herbert loves people: “He wants to be best friends with every since person he meets, and the absolute highlight of his day is a scratch behind the ears from someone we’ve met out walking.”

We asked Michael what he loves most about Herbert and he told us: “Everything – from his happy grin, to the way he snorts and snores and chase bunnies in his sleep, the way he huffs like a grumpy old man when he doesn’t get his way, his sad eyes and droopy face, his sweet good nature, and the way he makes me feel both unconditionally loved and like I’ve given a sad old dog the loving home that he always wanted… Oh, maybe not everything. He farts like a trooper, but I forgive him for that because otherwise he’s just perfect.”

Thanks to the generous support of our community and those that donate to the Senior Pet Project, we were able to provide Herbert with the treatment and care he so justly deserved before he was adopted. If you’d like to contribute to the Senior Pet Project, you can donate here.

Big Dogs in Small Spaces

Let’s face it – in Sydney, the cost of living means we often have to sacrifice square meterage for a simple roof. You might have to let go of your three-seater sofa or the dream of a grassy backyard, but there’s one thing you shouldn’t have to sacrifice – your dog.

It’s commonly believed that you can’t keep big dogs in small apartments, but the truth is, when it comes to housing for your big boy (or girl), size doesn’t always matter.

So, what does matter? SDCH Team Leader Hannah Turner tells us there are a number of other factors you need to consider when deciding on a dog’s living arrangements. These include:

  • the dog’s temperament
  • opportunities for exercise
  • your ability to maintain a routine
  • the landlord or apartment rules.


The specific needs of your dog are often dependent his/her temperament. A puppy full of energy and a belly full of barks isn’t going to fare as well in an apartment as an elderly greyhound who likes to nap. When deciding whether a dog can live in a small apartment, consider:

  • the dog’s tendency to bark. If the barks for long periods of time, consider whether you can train them to minimise barking. Loud dogs tend to irritate neighbours, and may encourage a complaint.
  • the dog’s energy levels. Energy levels vary from dog to dog. This can be impacted by the dog’s age, health, breed and more. In an apartment, you ideally need a dog who is happy to rest or nap quietly when you’re not available. Dog’s high in energy may become destructive when left alone or become unfit and/or stressed in small spaces.
  • the dog’s attitude towards other dogs and people. If you run into a neighbour or another dog in the hall, is your dog going to stay calm? Is it going to be friendly? Your neighbours may have allergies, or may not like interacting with dogs. Similarly, your dog needs to be friendly with other dogs, so everyone in your apartment building feels safe.


Even the laziest of dogs needs exercise to stay happy and healthy. The amount of exercise a dog needs will depend on its age, health and individual preference. We recommend talking to your vet to get advice tailored to your dog. Once you have this information, ask yourself – can I commit to providing enough exercise every day?

Exercise doesn’t always mean you need to take your dog on a set number of walks each day. While your dog should walk regularly, there are other ways to exercise them throughout the day. These include:

  • swimming
  • playing fetch up and down the stairs
  • a home-made obstacle course
  • hide and seek (with treats)
  • tug of war
  • toys such as puzzles and kongs
  • training new skills or tricks such as fetching household objects or tidying up their toys.

If you can’t commit to providing enough exercise, you can consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a doggie daycare.


Routine can make life a lot easier for a dog, especially in an apartment. If you’re considering keeping a big dog in a small apartment, think about whether you can set regular times for potty breaks, feeding, walking and playing. If you have an unpredictable lifestyle and like to meet up with friends after work, or go on impromptu dinner dates, keeping a dog in your apartment might not be wise.

There are solutions, however, if you can’t always be available at the same times every day. You could hire a dog walker or take your dog to a doggie day care. If you work full time and can’t take your dog outside for potty breaks, you can get a dog litter box.


Some landlords and apartment complexes have restrictions on dog sizes or breeds. Before you house a big dog in an apartment, make sure to get approval from your landlord or complex manager.

With all that said, having a big dog can be a very rewarding experiencing. There’s more to cuddle, they often make great running partners, and if you live in a small apartment, they’ll encourage you to venture outside more often.

At Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, we have many large dogs that are often overlooked because of their size. Before you rule them out, we invite you to have a chat to our knowledgeable staff who can help you to find the ideal dog for your living arrangements and lifestyle. It may just be your apartment is better suited to a large, loveable American Staffy rather than a pint-sized Maltese.

Interested in finding a dog who would be happy in your apartment? Check out our lovely Jimmy.

From Thin to Thriving: Peewee’s Story

You couldn’t tell now, but one-year-old Peewee came into the Home in mid-March timid and severely underweight. It appeared the sweet boy had a rough childhood, displaying battle scars on his head. When approached, he used to flatten himself to the kennel floor, but the SDCH team have gotten him back on his feet.

To help him gain weight, our vet team put together a special meal plan to help him gradually and safety gain weight. He was given a combination of Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d and Hill’s Science Diet Puppy in small portions several times a day. The puppy food is high in calories and nutritional value, and i/d is great for supporting digestive health, so together, they have been helping Peewee gradually gain weight and feel healthy.

SDCH staff and his foster carers have been spending lots of quality time with Peewee, so today, he’s wags his tail when approached and loves his walks. His foster carer Thomas said he’s a wonderful companion for him and his partner.

“Peewee is a very sweet and tender little boy with so much love to give,” he said.

“We see him getting more confident and affectionate each day. We just love waking up to his wagging tail and wet nose in our faces in every morning. During the day, he’s a very calm little couch potato who is just starting to enjoy a nice chewy toy. Peewee loves a good long walk, especially when we get to meet other local doggies. He’s extremely friendly with other dogs, and would perfectly suit someone with another dog.”

Since being up for adoption, Peewee has received many enquiries and applications, so we’re optimistic he will find his forever home soon.*

*Update: Peewee found his forever home on Easter Saturday!

Senior Pet Project: Lorna Finds Love

Ten-year-old Lorna came into the Home in early March looking like she’d had a rough life on the streets. With matted fur and severe dental disease, it was clear to our veterinary team she was in a lot pain.

As soon as she came into our care, Lorna was given urgent dental treatment. With rotting roots, missing teeth and puss filling her cavities, the team had to remove her remaining teeth – a procedure lasting three hours. They also gave her a major clip, shaving her matted fur short to remove knots and maintain comfort levels while she recovered from her surgery.

Lorna was quick to recover and showed no signs of pain in her post-surgery check-up. She was very affectionate with the veterinary team and accepted headrubs with pleasure. SDCH Veterinary Nurse Caroline said Lorna was an excellent patient.

“She has a much improved quality of life now,” she said.

“She’s a really sweet cat. Everyone who comes across her loves her.”

A short 19 days after Lorna’s arrival, Lorna found her forever home with Venessa, where she can live out her senior years without pain or worry.

Venessa told us: “She settled in really well… She loves to come and snuggle at night and wake me up with a head butt in the morning. She is really quiet around people she is not familiar with, but when she spends a bit of time with them she can be quite playful… Everyone loves Lorna. [It’s] really worth giving [senior pets] a home. They might have their certain habits or timidness, but when they come out of their shell… it is so rewarding.”

Thanks to the generous support of our community and those that donate to the Senior Pet Project, we are able to provide Lorna and the other seniors, who have often been neglected, with the treatment and care they so justly deserve in their twilight years. If you’d like to contribute, you can donate here.

Covid-19: Temporary Changes at the Home

Around the world, COVID-19 is a huge threat to us all. The pandemic has ground the world to a halt, but every day, council rangers continue to arrive at the Home with Sydney’s lost and abandoned pets. While our work reuniting lost pets with owners and rehoming abandoned pets continues, we’ve had to make some changes to the way we operate to protect the health and safety of everyone who enters the Home including staff, volunteers and visitors. We will keep this page updated as changes occur.

Procedures and safety protocols now in place are as follows:

Reclaiming lost pets

To maintain social distancing requirements and ensure our staff, volunteers and visitors stay healthy, we are limiting the number of people coming to the shelter at any given time.  Reuniting lost pets with their owners however remains a priority for us.

If you need to reclaim your lost pet, please call the shelter team on 9587 9611.  Our team members will talk you through the documentation needed and relevant council statutory requirements to reclaim your pet as well as organising a time for the reunion.


One of the most significant changes is that adoptions are now organised by appointment only. Sadly, in the current environment, we are unable to welcome members of the community dropping in to view the pets in our care.

If you are interested in adopting a pet from Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, our current process is as follows:

  1. Go to our website:
  2. Select the pet you think will suit your lifestyle and family
  3. Email the shelter at to request an application form (please note: the name of the pet and the Animal ID can be found on the pet’s profile page)
  4. Upon receipt of your request, an application will be sent and/or a member of the shelter team will call you for a more comprehensive chat. The staff will advise you if there are any special requirements or steps involved in adopting your particular animal.
  5. If the adoption proceeds:
    • you will be emailed the relevant paperwork to be filled out and emailed back before you pick up the animal
    • payment will be made via credit/debit card over the phone or by non-contact payment at the shelter for cash payments
    • the staff will book a time for you to pick up your new family member.

We realise this process is a bit different, but we are here to help you with your new pet as you settle them in. All adoptions come with a three week trial period so you will have time to get to know your animal’s personality at home before finalising the adoption.

We are currently experiencing a significant increase in phone and email traffic and are working with a reduced number of team members, so please be patient as we get to your adoption enquiries.

Foster Care Program

Please note: it may be a several weeks before you receive a response to your foster application.

Information and applications for our foster care program can be found here:

With self-quarantining in place, we have benefited from an influx of people looking to foster our shelter pets. We are deeply grateful for the support of our foster carers and applicants, but given our limited resources, please be aware it may take us several weeks to respond to your application.

We appreciate your patience and encourage you to get in touch with other local animal rescue group to enquire about foster opportunities.

Volunteer Program

Please note: it may be a several weeks before you receive a response to your volunteer application.

Information and applications for our volunteer program can be found here.

With social distancing laws in place, there have been a few changes at our site in Carlton to ensure the health and safety of everyone who enters the Home. We are deeply grateful for the support of our Volunteers and applicants, however, given these changes, please be aware it may take us several weeks to respond to your volunteer application.

We appreciate your patience and encourage you to get in touch with other local animal rescue group to enquire about foster opportunities.

General enquiries

For other enquiries, please email us at We are receiving an influx of enquiries, so please be aware it may be a little while before you receive a response. We appreciate your patience during this time.

We need your support!

We are dealing with an immediate loss of income with fundraising events being cancelled due to social distancing laws. We urgently need your support to help meet the shortfalls from our cancelled events and activities. If you are able to support us during this time and are in a position to donate, please consider contributing to our Crisis Appeal.


Updated 17 July 2020

Senior Pet Project: Harley’s Happy Ending

Harley (previously Celine) came into the Home in December 2019 as a stray with lots of aches and pains. As an older girl of 14 years, she had a few health issues, so the SDCH team started her treatment right away.

Harley was desexed, had seven teeth and some breast tissue removed and underwent hernia surgery. The team also did some investigative procedures, discovering she has end-stage kidney disease, worsening tracheal collapse and degenerative joint disease in her front legs. While these issues mean Harley has problems with frequent urination, breathing and arthritic pain, she can still enjoy a good quality of life with proper care and health management.

Harley was put up for adoption as a palliative care patient, meaning her new owners would need to provide her with medicine to help manage her disease symptoms. After a total of 62 days at the Home, Harley found her perfect match, Rebecca. After Rebecca lost her dog of 15 years, she started volunteering at SDCH, fostering animals including Harley.

Rebecca said her and her partner fell in love with Harley’s sweet personality.

“We felt we could give Harley a good home for her ageing years,” she said.

“She brings us lots of love and keeps us entertained… She is lots of fun, she loves attention and walks. She will also chase a ball and play games. She is a great companion for me.”

Having a senior dog doesn’t come without its challenges, but Rebecca said having Harley works well with her lifestyle and is very rewarding.

“She needs a bit more care than a standard adult dog with medicine, being careful on the stars, exercise and entertainment, but she is well trained and loves people and other dogs,” she said.

“Mostly she naps all day so she is good for our busy lifestyle, and she’s happy to just tag along to whatever we are doing.”

Harley still had a few issues such as frequent urination, but with a bit of TLC, she’s become a much happier and healthier dog than the one that arrived at SDCH.

“I got Harley just after surgery and she had a few residual issues… but once we gave her the love she needed, all those issues were resolved as I think she was less anxious and happy… She improved leaps and bounds with a bit of love and attention!”

Harley’s been a very busy girl in her new home, shaping up her own Instagram account @harley_in_the_hills – make sure to check it out!

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