Blind date for dogs: Marina Fiddler from Madra Dog Rescue with Pete the Vet on Ireland AM

To watch the video clip from TV3, click on the link at the foot of this page

Dog rescue charity MADRA is running a ‘Doggy Blind Date’ programme in Galway city. The canine matchmaking initiative will be the first of its kind in the country and the charity aims to find some lucky humans their new best friend while also highlighting the importance of choosing the right dog for your lifestyle. The MADRA team chose three families to participate in the matchmaking scheme.

The Doggy Blind Date process is being filmed by a student documentary team from start to finish to create awareness of the thousands of rescue dogs that are available for adoption across the country, and to highlight some of the common pitfalls people make when choosing a dog.

Marina Fiddler, the co-founder of MADRA, has taken on the role of canine matchmaker, a role she has been fulfilling for over eleven years since the charity was established in 2005. Marina and the charity’s team of volunteers and staff have successfully matched thousands of dogs with their lucky owners over the years, but this scheme is a new way of doing things. The three chosen families met with the canine matchmaker to discuss their lifestyle and what they are looking for in a dog. A home check was carried out to ensure that their home environment is suitable for a four-legged friend, with adequate fencing and a cosy indoor space for the dog to sleep at night.

Marina explained why a high quality matchmaking service is so important.

“Over one-third of the 850 dogs we rescued last year were surrendered directly by their owners, with the remainder coming from local authority pounds. There are a variety of reasons why people give up their dog, but the most common mistake people make is not choosing the right dog in the first place, or not thinking about the long-term commitment that comes with dog ownership. Sometimes people come to us with a very clear idea of the type or breed of dog that they are interested in, or they may have seen a dog on our Facebook page or website, but they often leave with a very different dog after a lesson in matchmaking. We want people to look at what’s on the inside, not just the outside, in the same way people should look for a human companion. We all know that looks aren’t everything. I guess you could say that I’m playing Canine Cupid”

In this Ireland AM clip from TV3,  Marina talks about the Rush family from Galway, who were looking for a medium sized dog. They wanted one with low energy, middle aged, good with cats and good with children. They have a cat called Garfield, and although they know he’ll be a bit miffed, they don’t want him to be harassed by the new arrival. So, equipped with this brief, Marina found three dogs which ticked all the boxes

  • Lucky, a male Bichon Frise aged 6
  • Picky, a male Jack Russell aged 6
  • A female black and tan terrier called Kiki, aged 18 month

​All three dogs had been obtained from the Galway pound – they had either been found wandering or had been surrendered.
Marina road tested them to see if they fitted in with the family’s requirements (especially their compatibility with cats) and she then took them
over to the Rush family to see which​ dog the​ family connected with. ​She left each dog there, alone with the family and the cat, for 15 minutes each
She then took all three dogs away while they made their decision, and they then phoned her later on after a family consultation. The selected dog will go to them for a week, and if all goes well, they will make it permanent.

This process was carried out with three different families, and the t​hree successful matches will be announced at the Adoption Day which is happening in Renmore in Galway on Sunday 19th February. This is an open day for the public. There will be 20 or 30 dogs there that day, so it’s like a show case for Madra. Each dog will have a handler and an info sheet for each dog, so if anyone is thinking about getting a dog, this is a good chance to see what’s out there. Many people will meet the dog of their dreams at the Adoption Day, and after appropriate checks, you can adopt a dog there on the day. Every homing from Madra is a matchmaking of sorts, but this special Valentine themed method, with three custom-matched dogs to choose from, is a gold star service that is not done for everyone. By the way, everyone who adopts a dog from Madra is asked to pay a €150 recommended donation, and for this, the dog is neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed and de-flead, as well as being matched to your precise needs.

To visit Madra’s website, see here.

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