Cheltenham Animal Shelter

I had a rare day off from home schooling today as Jenson was at the Cheltenham Animal Shelter for a special home ed day that I had organised for a small group of children.

They are ever such a nice bunch at the animal shelter. We arrived to a very warm welcome from staff and dogs. It was clearly breakfast time from the amount of woofing we could hear!! 

We were all shepherded around to the educational building, which I didn't even know existed. My photography business, Mouse About Town, sponsors a kennel which I set up by way of thanks after they kindly leant me all manner of animals to shoot in my photo studio when it first opened. I've been around the back to see the plaque but never realised how big the shelter is.

Drop off was at 9am but I didn't leave until gone ten as Jenson was feeling so painfully shy. There were seven children in total. To start with we all sat around a large table to do some introductions. The kids were broken down into small groups and were encouraged to chat to find out each other's names and perhaps ask if they had any pets. Jenson was not keen on this and instead buried his head in my arm. I felt a bit sad about this because Jenson had been doing so well with his confidence. 

First job was cleaning out the rabbits; Jenson was helping to clean out Shenzi. This cute little albino bunny was found in a wooded area with her babies. She was very nervous but since being at the shelter has calmed down lots and is now looking for her forever home.

Jenson was paired off with a couple of older boys and together they did a good job clearing all the old bedding. Jenson was a little reluctant to be parted from me, insisting that I come into the cage with him. It was pretty cramped! I eventually managed to make a quiet exit while Jenson was preoccupied with his cleaning duties. I would have loved to have stayed all day, (to take photos of his experience!) but I felt he would come out of his shell more without knowing he had me to fall back on. 

Turns out I was right. Pick up was at 3pm and I was greeted with a beaming little boy whose smile I swear could have streatched to the moon and back. What a difference to the shy, withdrawn little boy I left this morning. He was so thrilled to see me and so excited to tell me what he had been up to. It reminded me a little of how he used to greet me at school pick up. I guess there are some things we miss about school. 

First thing he showed me was a little basket he had made. It was an old plant pot decorated with glitter and a little pipe cleaner for a handle. Apparently everyone had planted there's up with soil and a seed but he had declined, choosing instead to collect some special objects such as a red leaf and helicopter bud. I was really pleased to see he had the confidence to tell the member of staff his idea and follow it through when everyone else was doing something else. It would have been easy for him to go with the majority but the fact that he didn't I thought showed good initiative, self confidence and a good belief in his own ideas.

He couldn't contain his enthusiasm and excitement as he skipped through the car park holding my hand shouting, "YAY, YAY, YAY YOU'RE THE BEST MUMMY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!! YOU'RE THE BEST GIRL IN THE UNIVERSE!!!" He does make me chuckle sometimes. I wish I had recorded him because describing it really doesn't do it justice. 

Once in the car he carried on screaming and shouting excitedly but also started to share with me a little about what he had been up to. Apparently he had done some dog training, dog walking and held some kittens. He went on to say how he had felt shy to start with but by the end he felt really happy. He went on to talk about Bunny and Clown and how they had needed a special tea party to help one another get to know each other and that's how he had felt about today. I think he feels like this most of the time around new people; he just needs some getting to know time first. The fact he was able to project his own feelings onto Bunny and Clown the day we went to Bourton-on-the-Water is really quite impressive. The fact he is able to tell me about his feelings makes me feel confident about the path we are taking. For Jenson at least, he does need more time than others and time is what I have plenty of to give.