A brief history

About usClaudine Benstead and Jane Nettleton founded Spirit of the Dog in 2004 when they became increasingly concerned about a pattern emerging with clients at their dog training school. They realised that some dogs are being unfairly labelled as ‘naughty’ or even ‘aggressive’ due to a breakdown in communication between both dog and owner. The problems start small, but in some cases they escalate to the point where owners feel that their only option is a final trip to the vets.

The organisation was started with 2 main aims:

  • To prevent dogs being surrendered to rescue by giving owners a place to go for training and behavioural advice, offering low cost one to one sessions to local people who are considering rehoming their dogs because of training struggles. They aimed to one day take this further and provide information about dog body language and welfare for their local community as a whole to create a world where dogs are understood, a mission we continue to work towards today.

  • To give dogs who have nowhere to go an alternative to the vet’s table- shelter, sanctuary and rehabilitation.

The long term goal is to obtain our own premises for a purpose built rehabilitation centre, and in the meantime we ensure the highest standards of care and all of the help they could ever need whilst in kennels where we board them.

We are a group of dog lovers who want to stop the needless destruction of dogs with, what many describe as ‘behavioral problems’. We believe with the right home, the right owner, and the right training ANY dog can be a balanced, happy and valuable part of a family.

Where are we based?

We are now operating throughout Essex. Until 2018 Spirit of the Dog has been mainly foster based and working in the local communities around Tendering and Little Clacton where the charity founders lived; since their retirement our base has moved to Burnham on Crouch and our dogs reside in local foster homes and boarding kennels.

Life in kennels

Our kenneled dogs are ones who are in training or waiting for the perfect foster offer. Whilst in rehabilitation they have day trips out, daily countryside walks, lots of playtime in the exercise field and all of the love and care they need to get ready for family life. Our Facebook page documents their activities and gives updates on their progress and the costs involved in the work we do. We take the welfare of our dogs very seriously: quality of life over quantity of dogs is key, especially as many of them need lots of extra help and support.

Who runs the Spirit of the Dog?

Our organisation is small at present and made up entirely of volunteers. We have:

  • Our Chairwoman and Canine Care Coordinator Jenna
  • Our Trustee Maria who also runs our sister group Dengie Lost Dog Search and Rescue
  • Our Treasurer Nikki
  • With the help of countless dedicated volunteers who cover every role from professional dog trainers to administrators

Click here to go to learn more about our team members

Objectives of the Charity

  • To prevent cruelty and suffering inflicted upon dogs through appropriate direct action and public education surrounding humane behavior towards animals, including, but not limited to: appropriate care, kind and effective training methods, and ensure treatment is provided for those in need of care and attention by reason of sickness, maltreatment, poor circumstances or ill usage.
  • To provide knowledge of matters pertaining to safety around dogs with children and legal responsibilities surrounding dog ownership.
  • To uphold a duty of care to, and the best possible quality of life for every dog registered to us and rehomed by us, ensuring rescue back up for life for each one.


Our aim is to raise enough funds to cover the amount needed to continue our daily work, and one day bigger plans to help even more dogs and families in our local community. For details on upcoming fundraisers and what you can do to help click here.

We are constantly fundraising to be able to give the dogs the best quality of life whilst they are with us being rehabilitated and getting ready for a fresh start in a new home. For more information please read here.

Social Media

You can join our free mailing list to receive our newsletter online, and receive details of our next fundraising events. Please e-mail us at info@spiritofthedog.org.uk or use the link at the top of the page.

For more help with training your own dog and information on ways to help us, our fundraising events, and dogs that need homes please keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Our Facebook page is the most up-to-date source of updates.

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