Stan and Vi are unlikely names for a pair of German shepherds but that’s also part of the charm. It’s also one of the reasons why Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is celebrating 150 years of helping abandoned pets.
Even more unlikely, the names are in honour of Stan and Vi Button, bakers from Epsom, Surrey. “Their bread and cakes were legendary and queues would snake down the pavement” says Battersea chief executive Claire Horton. “They were so successful that they left more than £2million, of which we received an eighth”.
The Buttons loved German shepherds and asked that the next two to come through the Home’s doors should be named after them. The Home exists on donations and gets 72 per cent of its money from gifts in Wills.
“We keep a book in reception which goes back to the first recorded gift in 1895, from a lady named Mrs Margaret Hough, for £100, which would be worth about £30,000 today,” says Claire.
The gifts reflect the country’s love of dogs. One lady has asked Battersea to act as her executor when she dies, leaving the Home her entire estate. She asked that the home look after any dog she owned when she died, and to take a dog to her funeral s the animals that meant so much to her in life could say their final farewell.
Perhaps the most appropriate gift of all came last year when Fifties singing star Lita Roza, who sang How much is that doggie in the window, left the Home £25,450 when she died at the age of 82. “She had a number of Battersea dogs over the years and we’re working with her estate to see how we can use the song,” says Claire.