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The Faces Behind Vizslamentés UK

By January 28, 2015Vizsla Rescue

It is time to put some faces to the names for you and meet the team behind our organisation.

Judit Whelan is well known in the worldwide Vizsla community, she is our link to the Hungarian organisation – as well as her huge role in VM UK she is a key member of the VM Hu and proud of the her current title as the team member who sends and receives the most emails in the entire organisation!

The day to day management of VM UK is handled by Sarah Hirst and Jo Maitland, the list includes – accounts, fundraising, admin, communications and support for the new applications to adopt and the on-going job of supporting and mentoring the ever growing family of existing adopters.

We are a very small team but we couldn’t do what we do without the backing of a wonderful group of supporters who help us with homechecking potential adopters, meeting transport, mentoring adopters and fundraising on our behalf. We will introduce you to some of the volunteers and the roles they undertake to support us in future blogs.

So, here we are, in our own words:

Judit Whelan

Judit having a reunion cuddle with Macera (now Buda) on a visit to the UK

Judit having a reunion cuddle with Macera (now Buda) on a visit to the UK

I have had dogs all my life, but got my first vizsla Alma the smooth from my husband as a wedding anniversary present almost 8 years ago now. Alma is a one in a million dog and taught us so much about the breed. We started hunting training with her at 4 months of age as she was so hyper, nothing could tire her out and we were invited to her first shoot at only 8 months of age. Through her I made loads of friends in real life and online too.

We have 4 vizslas now, Alma the smooth, Vita and Joli are wires and Pipacs a longhaired. 3 years ago I made friends with a couple of girls who were running the Vizsla rescue group of another foundation here in Hungary. They wanted to leave and set up their own and asked me to join the team. We decided to rescue all HPR breeds, not only vizslas and a few months later from a crazy idea at 3 am in the morning I set up Vizslamentes UK Facebook page and the rest is history really.

Our family grew with a gorgeous little girl since, but one thing hasn’t changed and that is the love of vizslas and Vizslamentes. Róisín our daughter became the youngest Vizslamentes member who has been seeing off dogs to the UK since the age of 2 weeks and had a couple of rescue actions too.

We are not heroes, just normal people who have unconditional love for vizslas and crazy enough to help them anytime and anywhere.

Jo Maitland

Jo with Delilah one of her wire babies

Jo with Delilah one of her wire babies

I live on the edge of the Peak District with my husband and our 2 teenage daughters. I am lucky to work from home for my husband’s IT company, I always have toasty feet as the gingers squash themselves under my desk!

I have always felt that my own two Hungarian Wirehaired Vizslas, and the Rhodesian Ridgebacks we had before them, have had privileged lives with our family; leaving their litter mates at 8 weeks and coming to live in a home that provided for their every need from love to exercise, health and training. But I was seeing so many tales of dogs who did not have their luck – horrific stories of neglect, abuse and such sadness that I had to get involved and do what I could. I offered to help in any way needed to ensure that we could offer as many dogs amazing homes as we can manage. My 2 year anniversary approaches soon and that time has flown by, a very busy time with many changes in both the UK and Hungarian organisations, but we are strong and clear in our aims – to work as a team to raise funds for the Hungarian foundation and to support adoptions in the UK.

My happiest moments are seeing the lives of these wonderful dogs turn around in a short time – they can literally go from being chained starving in a filthy yard to stretched out on a sofa with a full belly, in total love and comfort in a matter of a few weeks and it is absolutely the best thing to see the pictures of them loving their new lives. The saddest times come when the endings are not happy and no matter what we do the dogs don’t make it – thankfully they are rare but they knock the whole team when they do happen.

But we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on. We have to….the dogs need us to do just that.

Sarah Hirst

Sarah with her longhair VM rescue Purdey

Sarah with her longhair VM rescue Purdey

My love affair with Vizslas is a recent thing compared to many. It started in 2009 when we saw a picture of an elegant, noble, stunningly beautiful dog that happened to be a Vizsla. We took time to research the breed and in 2010 were delighted to bring 8 week old Isla home. Life has never been the same and we adore our sensitive, intelligent, loving girlie.

Our second addition and my involvement with rescue began when I fell in love again. Purdey, then Panka, was a 6 month old longhaired Vizsla in a kill shelter near Budapest. Vizslamentés posted a picture of her in the shelter and asked whether anyone could offer her a home. I knew that person had to be me. Since then I have become more involved with Vizslamentés and am now part of their team in the UK.

As with all rescue work there are huge highs and huge lows. The most painful low was when we lost the impossible fight with Daisy. Daisy was found in a field with a badly broken leg. She had babesiosis and had recently given birth. She underwent a long operation where pins and rods were inserted into her leg. She underwent intensive treatment and rehabilitation but very sadly she was too ill to be saved. She was adopted by my colleague Judit and her husband Phil before she passed – a member of the Whelan family.
Thankfully the lows are far fewer than the highs and the moment when dog and new adopter meet for the first time is hard to beat. There is a sense of new beginnings and a feeling that the little bit we all do makes such a huge difference to those dogs.

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