Our Miniature Ink II exhibition (which opens today, Wednesday 23 September) is being held in collaboration with Atomica Gallery to raise funds for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. So we thought we’d chat to Sailor Jerry Ambassador UK, EmmaLi Stenhouse about her adopted pooch…
Can you tell us a bit about what you do for Sailor Jerry?
I am the UK ambassador for Sailor Jerry, which basically means I get to do all the good stuff like sorting all their events and sponsorships, educating bartenders and customers all around the country, and getting people to hear about us by trying our rum. I get to travel a lot and meet good people! I’ve been doing this for six years now and I’ve made a lot of great friends. Because Sailor Jerry (Normal Collins) was a tattoo artist, we have a lot of history within that culture, so I’m lucky enough to be involved in things like the London Tattoo Convention, and we do a lot of in-store tattoo shop events and sponsorships. I guess I consider my role to be about telling Norman Collins’ story, doing my best to support the industry that he loved and inspired, celebrating great art, artists and tattoos, and bringing in all the rum!
Did you enjoy last year’s Miniature Ink?
Last year’s Miniature Ink was great! I worked on the bar all night and don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard! It was great that it was so busy! The best part about getting there early to set up was having the opportunity to go round and see all the artwork whilte it was still quiet! I fell in love with about 10 different pieces, although stupidly didn’t act quick enough to buy any! I loved the fact that everyone had the same size canvas, and the same brief set out, and yet they were all so unique and interesting. I knew a few of the artists featured, and it was nice seeing their style and personalities condensed onto a postcard, and I also discovered new artists and went home with a list of names I wanted to look up!
EmmaLi with Lola
What is your connection to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home?
My sister has worked at Battersea Dogs & Cats home for the past eight years. She’s fostered a few dogs over the years, the ones who are a little too sensitive or unwell for the kennels. After meeting some of the dogs and hearing a few of their stories – both the horror stories and happy endings – it has made me a huge advocate for rescuing dogs and can’t imagine going anywhere else now.
Are you pleased we’re fundraising for them for Miniature Ink II?
I was so happy when I found out your chosen charity this year was Battersea Dogs & Cats Home! There are so many charities to choose from, it’s always such a tough call, but after seeing first hand all the great work they do and the many happy endings and wagging tails there, it’s totally worth it!
Can you tell us a little bit about your own adopted dog?
My boyfriend and I bought a house last year, and we always said as soon as we were settled in, we’d get a second dog. We are both massive dog lovers, and he already had a male rottweiler called Syrus when we got together seven years ago, which I was more than happy to adopt and I consider him my own! He’s nearly 10 years old, and although seems happy and healthy still, we always knew we wanted to get another before the time came that it would feel like a replacement! It was still a tough decision as he is absolutely perfect and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog – we didn’t want to disrupt him or make him feel left out so our priority was finding him a mate that he was happy with.
EmmaLi with Lola
I stumbled upon this picture of the sweetest looking rottie Misty (who we have since renamed Lola) , and I sent the link to my boyfriend, saying “can we?”, only half joking… he called me back a few minutes later. It was more about finding the right dog, not necessarily a specific breed, but as soon as we both saw her picture we kinda knew she was special. I called my sister and we arranged an appointment to go visit the next day. We arrived and went straight into the interview process. They ask you about your home, your experience with dogs and what kind of breeds you’re considering, and then tell you if they have anything they think might be suitable. It’s important to remember that most of the dogs they see in rescue centres have already had a bit of a past, and maybe a bit of emotional baggage, so it’s extra important to make sure they match the right dogs to the right people who can give them the care and love they need! We told them we’d spotted a lovely rottweiler, and they said she could be a good match for us, but she currently had kennel cough, which is like flu to dogs. She was on treatment and would be fine soon, but it meant she might be contagious still and meeting her could put our boy Syrus at risk of catching it from our clothes.
Syrus and Lola bonding
She arrived and was pretty timid, but excited to meet people and be out of her kennel. We stayed seated and gave her a chance to pluck up the courage to come over to say hi to us first. She was just lovely! They explained that she was a nervous dog, and probably always would be, but she had a heart of gold and with the right family who could give her the attention and love she needed she would be a lovely pet.
We went back up to Battersea the following day, but we still hadn’t introduced her to Syrus yet, which was going to be a deal breaker. It was a risk exposing him to the kennel cough but we knew what signs to look out for and to take him straight to the vets if he showed any symptoms, so we had to bite the bullet and let them meet. We went to a big room and Misty (now Lola) was brought in, she ran over excitedly and gave him a good sniff. The rest was history! We did all the paperwork, bought her a new bed, and she came home with us that night!
Lola on her first day at her new home
Why is it important to take in dogs from homes?
There are so many dogs that, for various reasons, don’t get the lives they deserve. All dogs have the potential to be loveable family pets, but sadly some idiots don’t treat them right, raise them to be aggressive, neglect them and sometimes worse. Dogs are loyal and love even the worst owners, and they live to please you. If you treat them right they will be the best asset to your family you can imagine. Just walking around the kennels or cattery is enough to make you see the difference you can make to one of these animals lives, and how rewarding it can be. Without people re-homing them they have no future – and it’s heartbreaking. The amount of joy I get from knowing we gave Lola a chance she wouldn’t have had otherwise, makes it all worth while and I wouldn’t change her for the world.
Lola hiding in the bushes during her first week in her new home
How long have you had her and how you getting on with her?
We changed her name to Lola when we first got her, Misty didn’t suit her and we wanted to give her the fresh start she deserved. She settled in pretty quick, but I’d be lying if i said there weren’t teething problems! Firstly she acquired a taste for shoes… no shoe was safe. She also had no bladder control and completely ruined the wooden floor in our hallway. Most mornings I’d come down to a few surprises! We persevered though and with lots of positive reinforcement, consistent training and rules, and just accepting that she was still coming to terms with life indoors we eventually saw improvements! Lots of long walks and play time kept her worn out and she stopped the chewing when she finally settled in, lost some of that anxiety and realised she was home now. She has been with us a year now and is just the sweetest, kindest most loving dog you’ve ever met. She is so much more than we ever dreamed of, and a million miles away from that nervous skittish little thing we first met. She’s blossomed with our help and I’m so proud of her and of us to have made such a positive change in her life. I’d recommend it to anyone!