Volunteer of the Month - July 2022 - Eileen Robins
Posted by Victoria Leedham
Planning is well underway for the Late Summer Show at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s site in Buckinghamshire on Sunday 11 September. The Volunteering Team will have a stall and hope to be lucky enough to meet some potential new volunteers as great as Eileen Robins who approached us at the same event back in 2017.
Eileen, together with husband Jim, signed up for short-term dog care in the first instance however it wasn’t long at all before Eileen was also coming to site twice weekly to walk and sit with our dogs in training during downtime and breaks from their advanced sound work sessions.
Scroll forward five years and wonderful Eileen has truly become a pillar of support for the charity, her fellow volunteers, staff, and most importantly, the dogs she takes care of and trains.
Sarah Allom, High Wycombe Area Training Manager, is incredibly grateful to have Eileen on the volunteering team: “Eileen and her former trainee Delilah were staunch supporters when I started running new group work sessions at The Grange. A week did not go by without us spending a lovely hour or two working on site and then follow it up with a ten-minute vet room visit for practise.
Eileen is a dedicated volunteer, a good companion and fun to be with. She has become more and more dedicated to Hearing Dogs as time has passed, and always wants what is best for the dogs. Thanks to her I got many a good photo of my training sessions because, even when I forgot, Eileen was always there to back me up! Eileen remains a loyal attendee with her new dog in training, Sasha, and is just as dedicated as ever.”
Assistant Training Manager, Janine Hovey, agrees: “Eileen is just a fantastic volunteer puppy trainer, and I am so lucky to have had the pleasure to work with her and her two full-time dogs in training so far; Blue Roan Spaniels Delilah and now Sasha.
She gives 100% to everything and always follows any advice I give. She religiously attends classes, listens with enthusiasm and carries on the activities after class. The enrichment she provides for the dogs at home is also brilliant; she is so inventive and really thinks outside of the box for fun things to do.”
Eileen really goes the extra mile for her trainees and, even when the going gets tough, she is ready to meet the challenge. Dog Welfare Advisor Lizzie Gray explains: “Eileen is simply wonderful. Delilah came to her with various behavioural challenges. Undaunted, Eileen listened to advice on how to best progress her training, which included bringing Delilah on site for weekly handling sessions, continuing some of this work in the home and also on visits to the vets and other places like garden centres.
Most recently, Sasha has been the focus of Eileen’s special care and attention. Following her spay, Eileen came up with great ways to keep Sasha mentally stimulated and comfortable during her recovery. Dog Health Care Advisor, Lucy Searle praises Eileen’s creative and thoughtful approach to enrichment: “Eileen kept Sasha mentally stimulated by creating lots of different treat games and boredom breakers which I think really helped Sasha whilst she was on restricted exercise. Eileen is a pleasure to work with and a great asset to our volunteer family.”
Eileen and Jim support Hearing Dogs events as much as they can, and Eileen in particular is a very well-known face on site, however Dog Trainer Jessie Messer-Stalbow also recalls them stepping forward right at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 to foster an 8-week-old puppy that needed a home: “They had not looked after a pup as young as this before but they absolutely rose to the challenge, attending virtual puppy classes and getting stuck into the training even though we weren’t able to meet in person at the time.”
All in all, Eileen is a fantastic volunteer with an enormous heart that she shares with the charity and the dogs entrusted to her. She is kind and gentle, patient and understanding, and both Delilah and Sasha are a credit to the hard work, dedication and loving care she gives in abundance.
Thanks to Eileen, and others like her who give their all and volunteer tirelessly, Hearing Dogs is able to transform the lives of deaf people, helping them to live fuller, richer and safer lives with a hearing dog by their side.
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