DANIEL 'SLOTH' UNWIN
“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”
A true testament to the life and death of my beloved husband Sloth Unwin. I was lucky enough to meet my soulmate in 2008 and we shared so many joys and passions, one of which is helping dogs in need. This passion led our beloved path literally to the doorstep of Islay Dog Rescue sometime in 2012 when we picked up a couple of boisterous Jack Russells from doggy death row and drove them all the way to Scotland to start their new lives. We were welcomed with open arms by Lorraine and got to meet the terrier army! We thought this was a one off, but fate conspired for our paths to cross again Xmas 2012 when two dogs that Islay wanted to help from our local pound could not be moved to Scotland until after Xmas, and we were worried their time would be up. We took the two pups in (so we had 8 dogs for Xmas that year!) and when the snows melted we shipped them both up to Scotland... and so a lasting friendship was born!
Sloth and I were lucky enough to assist with a number of lost souls on their way to their Scottish sanctuary. We've lost count of exactly how many, but a few stole our hearts along the way and are never to be forgotten - Ziggy, Angel, Tipple, Dotty, Billy, Baxter, Memphis, to name but a few. All different, all full of life and love, and all being given a second (sometimes 3rd or 4th!) chance at life thanks to the love and generosity of Richard and Lorraine. Sloth and I had the perfect life, utterly devoted to each other, the dogs, and living in a perpetual fug of dog hair and mud! We were the happiest couple I have ever known - living the dream Fastforward to November 2016 and our world came crashing down when Sloth received his cancer diagnosis. In February 2017 my life ended when he died in my arms. The crushing pain and the loss I felt was helped by our own pack of 5 furry angels (3 courtesy of Islay!) and to this day they give me a reason to get out of bed every day. I miss Sloth every single minute of every day, but his legacy lives on and I must continue in his name.
Selfless to the end Sloth asked that any donations following his death be made to Islay. I was absolutely humbled by the amazing generosity and love shown to Sloth by his friends and colleagues honouring his last wishes when the final total donated was £1,300 which I rounded up to £1,500. I can hear him now - 'Well ,what the f*** is my dead body going to do with a grands-worth of lilies FFS, give it to the dogs!') There was also a £10,000 legacy donation that Sloth asked to be transferred from his life insurance policy - even in the face of adversity his love for dogs never waned. I wanted to share just a small portion of that love here.
Sloth was the best of men. A good, gentle, kind and loving soul. He was compassion and care personified, and there is a gaping hole in my heart that can barely be consoled by the happy memories of the loving life we led. At least his legacy has helped some more lost souls along the way. Rest in peace my beloved - I am counting the breaths until I can be with you again.
Sloth Unwin. Forever 42 xxx
Several months ago one of our adopters, Heather Slater, contacted us to say her mother had passed away and she had a few items that we could perhaps use to raffle. She met up with Lorraine and over lunch Heather told Lorraine about her mum. Anna was a true animal lover. Heather's earliest memory regarding animals was that even as a toddler she shared her home with 15 cats, a boxer, a terrier cross and numerous hens! Anna loved horses and rode whenever she could. When Heather was 5 she got her first pony. As she grew up the house was always filled with animals ranging from an Old English Sheepdog, a German Shepherd, a Great Dane - the list seemed endless. In latter years Anna shared her home with a collie x lab, Paddy, whom she had adopted from The Dogs Trust and Ivy, a yorkie she adopted from the SSPCA - along with Jack, the siamese cat. Ivy doted on Anna but did make everybody elses life a little difficult!!
Always a hard worker, Anna never retired until she was 70 and everybody who met her enjoyed her wit and dry sense of humour. It was a lovely lunch and the love Anna had for her animals was very apparent throughout the conversation.
Anyway, after lunch Heather and Lorraine made their way to the car park where Heather completely filled Lorraine's car - a few items?!?!?! My goodness!! We used most of the items and held on online auction - raising over £400. Wow, to us that is a lot of money. "Thank you" and "we are grateful" didn't begin to scratch the surface.
Heather contacted us again once all her mother's business had been settled and made a substantial donation which we used to clear our very large, outstanding vets bill. On top of that we will have, in spring, a lovely bench with a brass plaque on it, in memory of Anna Sloan - a woman who may just have, according to Heather, loved her animals more than anything else :-) Thank you so much and God bless.
What seems like a long time ago, we received a dog into rescue called Albert. Albert came to us from a high-kill pound in the Sunderland area and although he spent 8 months with us he was never adopted. People would pass by his kennel and declare him "too ugly". We thought we would just have Albert here forever.
Then, we had the chance to feature a "dog of the week" in the Cumnock Chronicle and the Ayrshire Post. What better chance for Albert than this?? Surely there must be somebody out there who could love Albert and see the good in him that we saw every day??And there was!
We were approached by two of the nicest people we have had the pleasure to meet, Jim and Nan Mackie from Patna. They had fallen in love with Albert straight away. Jim had always wanted a deer hound but felt that Albert would make a good compromise.
Albert went to live with Jim and Nan on a trial basis first and he did put them through their paces!! However, they did their best to outwit him and understand him because they just adored him. After a month or so, they adopted him and changed his name to Jet.
It was very obvious to us (Richard and Lorraine) that Jet was adored and received the best of care - even after Jet tripped Nan up and broke her arm!! Nan and Jim were a lovely couple and it was our pleasure to know them. It was obvious to anybody who knew them how much they adored each other. They came and supported the rescue at fund raisers and last Christmas made a donation from money Jim had saved up by cutting other people's grass (even though he had a full time job!)
Nan contacted me and said Jim would be over the moon if I could feature Jet on the "happily rehomed" page. I said I would and planned to do so (with the others I have to feature) over the Easter school holidays. Time got away from me and it was a job I never did. How I regret that now and if there was something I could do to rectify that I would.
Tragically, Jim died suddenly on Monday 15th April, leaving behind Nan and Jet. Nan told us that, for the first time ever, Jet lay and slept across Jim's lap the day before. It makes sense to her now, Jet must have known his dad was unwell.
The days ahead will be dark and challenging for Nan, but she has Jet and he will be her salvation.
The world has lost a good guy. Please rest in peace Jim.
Janet lived and worked in Scotland for many years, latterly working in Air Traffic control at Prestwick and living nearby in Troon. She was the loving owner of three very lucky dogs - Jasper (a black Labrador/retriever), Tamas (a Hungarian Viszla), and her last dog was Della, a black, long coated and very gentle Retriever/Collie Cross.
Janet and Della were a familiar sight on the golf course in Troon - Janet chatted to everyone while Della ambled along at her own leisurely pace! They made many good friends amongst the local dog walking community, including Robert and Cathie Slater. Robert would often walk Della when Janet was at work and his and Cathie's house became her second home.
When Janet became ill in 2010, they were always there to help with Della and before she died in October 2011, it was a great relief for Janet to know that Robert and Cathie wanted to look after her permanently when the time came. Della has been very lucky to have such a loving second home for the past four years until her sad but peaceful death in October.
It will be a lovely tribute to both Janet and Della to be remembered at Islay Dog Rescue where other dogs in need of a helping hand are found caring new families - thank you!