By Helen Sweeney.
Meg Mathews, a dog lover, ambassador and animal rights activist has always had a dog as a companion in her life. Together with her dogs, Meg has served the local community and championed national animal rights causes.
Having recently lost her beloved Oscar, a ten-year-old Boston Terrier, Meg now lives with Ziggy, a three-year-old wire-haired Hungarian Vizsla – a beautiful, gentle, loving dog.
Oscar was one of our community dogs. He was a wonderful dog, loved by everyone who knew him and always camera-ready. He brought a sense of joy and was the first to commit to local causes, including popping in to visit the elderly and sick, meeting and greeting with children, walking in the park, championing the Foodbank and St Mary’s Youth Centre, hosting the bi-annual dog show on Regent’s Park Road and being an ambassador of PupAid. With his quirky ways – notably biting noses – Oscar is missed but not forgotten.
Meg bought Oscar at eight weeks old from what she thought was a loving home, but was actually a puppy farm. Oscar came with serious health issues. He was treated at the Beaumont Animal Hospital and had life-saving surgery, but was left with long-term complications. Appalled, angry and determined, Meg made it her mission to be vocal, to educate potential owners about the cruel trade and to make sure that people only buy from reputable breeders and help rescue dogs.
Meg joined forces with vet and founder of PupAid, Marc Abraham. Meg was appointed the Patron of PupAid, which is an annual event to raise awareness about the puppy farming trade in the UK. Meg was one of PupAid’s staunchest supporters from the early days, providing a bigger platform and more awareness by bringing PupAid from Brighton to Primrose Hill in 2013. Oscar was the face of many campaigns. With animal rights a priority, she relentlessly campaigned for Lucy’s Law, new government legislation passed in March 2019 that bans the selling of puppies and kittens by third parties, and puts an end to the horrendous practice of puppy farming.
To help cope with the grief of losing Oscar, Meg and Ziggy took up running together in the park, signing up to the NHS ‘Couch to 5k’ app, a nine-week programme for non-runners with the end goal of being able to run for 30 minutes and complete 5 km (see below).
Over the years you may have seen Paul in the park or walking around the village with his gentle giant dogs. Paul is known throughout the dog community for his kindness, compassion and brilliance with the big dogs. He has rescued dogs from the most horrendous heart-breaking conditions, taking in the dogs that no one wants and giving them a good life. After losing Lou-lou and Frankie, he rescued Boo and Milo.
Boo is a cross between a Neopolitan Mastiff and Great Dane and came from Rescue Remedies in Gatwick when she was 12 weeks old. She was born at the rescue centre as her mother had been taken there pregnant. Paul had the pick of the litter. Boo’s two brothers were stunning, but Boo was the runt. She was scared of her shadow from day one, which is how she came to be named. Paul didn’t realise at the time that the reason Boo was so timid because she was in pain, and X-rays revealed that she needed both hips replacing. The cost of this is £16,000 and pet insurance doesn’t cover the operation.
Desperate and determined to let Boo live the rest of her life pain-free, Paul has set up a Facebook fundraising page. He says, “Those of you who know me are aware I would never ask for anything for myself, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for these dogs that I rescue, and unfortunately I just don’t have 16 grand. And help would be greatly appreciated.”
Paul is a coach at Thai Boxing in Islington, where he intends to compete in a sponsored ‘sparathon’. His aim is to spar 30 rounds non-stop with 30 different fighters, with all funds raised going to Boo’s appeal.
Since the appeal started, Paul has raised £3,266 of the £16,000 needed. Boo has started her treatment; her first hip replacement was a success and the second is scheduled for when funding is secured.
Jane Seal, with her beloved Nancy, aged 10, celebrate 50 years in Primrose Hill, loved and valued by the community. Jane is a dog lover, a great neighbour, a library volunteer, a yoga master, a carpenter and bricklayer. She is always busy with something and is an inspiration to us all.
Savills is known for selling houses; however, Savills in Primrose Hill is also supporting grassroots community initiatives, including partnering with St Mary’s Youth Centre and raising over £1,800 from the Summer Festival and Dog Show. The money paid for a five-day residential trip for young people. The Reverend Prebendary Marjorie Brown said, “St Mary’s Church and the youth work project we host are delighted to be supported by Savills and the Primrose Hill Festival and Dog Show. It is great that our outreach work to vulnerable people is so much valued by our wonderful local community.”