A dog’s life has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the winning formula at Glasgow charity Give a Dog a Bone.

A first of its kind in the city, the success behind founder Louise Russell’s dedication to relieving loneliness among older people by connecting them with animal companionship has won more than just a few fans.

In celebration of the positivity felt by everyone touched by Give a Dog a Bone, the charity has been shortlisted in not one but two categories at this year’s Scottish Charity Awards.

Among ten Glasgow charities nominated at next month’s prestigious evening, Give a Dog a Bone has been given the nod in the Pioneering Project and Celebrating Communities categories.

When first hearing about the double nomination Louise admits she was stunned.

She says: “It was like winning the lottery twice… I was just rushing out of a meeting and I seen the email. I was totally buzzing and then I thought hang on, there’s two emails... maybe they’ve sent the same one twice. And then it clicked.”

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Give a Dog a Bone is a big step away from the corporate world Louise was immersed in for nearly two decades, until five years ago.

Realising she wasn’t being true to herself, she stepped into volunteering with the desire to create something from her dining room table that would help people in her community.

She explains: “It started off as the idea to provide financial support for people over 60 to afford a rescue pet companion. It’s a win-win because the person gets a wee companion and the animal gets a home. It’s solving two of society’s problems.”

Nancy Park and Coco are just two benefactors whose lives have been transformed thanks to support received from Give a Dog a Bone in recent weeks.

With a little financial help Nancy was paired with chihuahua Coco after a visit to the SSPCA in Cardonald.

Nancy explains: “I’d been on my own for almost four years now. I lost my partner, then I lost my mother...and then I lost my wee cat. So I felt like I needed something to replace all the loss.”

Coco is the perfect companion for Nancy as they both enjoy the short walks, especially as Nancy lives with arthritis.

“It was so out the blue. I wasn’t quite ready for getting a wee dog but once I met Coco, she was adorable,” adds Nancy. “She makes me smile every day.”

Since those early days, Give a Dog a Bone has grown into one of the Glasgow’s most successful small charities, seeing over 200 people through its doors every week at its community space on Glasgow’s Southside and another in Troon.

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The safe spaces have grown in popularity out of the need older people have to connect with others in their community.

At the Shawlands venue, retired people come to meet new friends, learn new skills and mix with dogs.

Louise says: “People of any age can pop in, have a cup of tea and pet the dogs, but the language classes, mindfulness and reiki are free for the over 60s. It’s great for younger people to come in and learn more about the charity.”

Mary Bennett, who visits the space almost everyday admits she’s found a home from home surrounded by adorable dogs and new friends.

Mary says: “I became retired and I was like oh my god what am I going to do? My husband is a bit of a couch potato. I don’t have a dog, but I love dogs. I’d love my own dog... I have a cat but it’s too old now. There’s so much going on in here, it’s lovely.”

“This week I’m having some reflexology and I said to Louise how much will it be and she said, ‘Mary you don’t pay for it.’ I put a donation in of course. A nicer place you couldn’t have. They deserve to win the awards for all that they do.”


The deadline for voting for any of the Scottish Charity Awards shortlisted nominations is 5pm on Friday 17th May, with the awards taking place on Friday 14th June at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.