Dunedin Canmore hostel is home to me, my dog …and our 10 newborn puppies

A homeless woman who was provided with accommodation for her and her pet dog by Dunedin Canmore was later sharing the home with a few more tiny residents.

Natasha Robins was delighted when Dunedin Canmore gave her and her pet dog a roof over their heads.

But little did she know that only a few weeks later there would be a lot more than just her and Harper to house.

Natasha, who moved into Dunedin Harbour after becoming homeless, said: “I knew there was something up as Harper wasn’t eating much so I took her to the vet. I was shocked when the vet said she was pregnant.”

Days later Natasha and Harper were sharing their room with 10 newborn puppies.

Dunedin Harbour, which gives homeless people accommodation and specialised support, took Natasha and Harper in three months ago.

Natasha said: “Harper is my best friend; she helps me through the tough times. I was told by the council I’d have to give her up to get somewhere to live and I said I’d rather live in a cardboard box than be parted from her. They then put me in touch with Dunedin Harbour as they take in animals too.

“One of my fears was what would happen with my living situation with Harper having puppies. But it never even came up. They just moved me to a bigger room so there would be more space for the puppies. The help we’ve had is just incredible.

“It’s been a remarkable experience and not one I’ll forget in a hurry.

“Staff have even taken turns bottle feeding the pups. I am so thankful for all the support.”

Dunedin Harbour, which is part of Dunedin Canmore, is one of a small number of hostels in Edinburgh which lets people bring their pets with them when they move in.

As well as being cared for by Natasha and Dunedin Harbour staff, the puppies have had support from All4Paws, a pop-up clinic run by student vets that offers free veterinary care to the pets of people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

Dunedin Canmore homeless services manager, Kevin Brodie, said: “Natasha didn’t want to contemplate being parted from Harper and we were very happy to accommodate them.

“We are proud to support our residents and their pets. Looking after a pet is great for people’s physical and mental health. It gives people a routine and something to care for.”

All4Paws are working with Natasha and Dunedin Harbour to find forever homes for the puppies in time for Christmas. Natasha will continue to be supported by Dunedin Canmore with a view to getting her own tenancy in the near future.

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