Rescue centre boss to bow-wow out

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The manager of the oldest animal rescue centre in Edinburgh is set to retire next week after 41 years of service.

David Ewing has worked at the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on Seafield Road East since he was 17 years old – and even met his wife there when she arrived as a new recruit shortly after he landed the job.

The 57-year-old began his career in 1974 as a “kennel junior”, toiling his way through the messy tasks that no-one else wanted to do and fetching messages on his bicycle on behalf of more senior members of staff.

At the age of 18 he met his wife, Val, and in a whirlwind romance the two were engaged within a year and married by the age of 20. The couple would later have a son, Christopher.

Working his way up through the ranks, David quickly became head kennelman and moved into the flat attached to the rescue centre reserved for staff in his position.

Then, in 2000, the centre’s manager retired – leaving David as the natural heir for the position of top dog.

Since then he has overseen the centre through a variety of changes, and has even brushed elbows with the rich and famous.

On one particularly memorable occasion, comedy legend Ronnie Corbett pulled up to the home in a Rolls-Royce after finding an abandoned collie by the side of the road during a visit to Edinburgh.

The TV star delivered the dog to the home with a fine silk scarf wrapped around its neck, having clearly treated the pup to the high life during its short time with him – and even made sure to plug the centre’s latest fundraising drive when he appeared on Terry Wogan’s chat show a couple of days later.

But despite all the good times and the fond memories, David insisted he was certain it was time for him to move on.

He said: “I’ll miss it – it’s been my entire life. There’s quite a few poignant things about it. I met my wife here. Most people get a dog or a cat, but I got my wife.

“The one thing about this particular job is you never know from one day to the next what’s going to happen. It kind of keeps everything fresh.

“It’s been a long history, and lots of things have happened down here over the years. And it’s been fun, I have to say, but I just decided it’s time for me to move on. I’ll miss
the animals, but I’ll also miss the contact with my staff. Many of them have been with me for 20 or 30 years.”

But just because he’s taking early retirement doesn’t mean David has any plans to slow down.

In fact, the determined grandad, who has been a martial arts instructor for the past 26 years, has plans to renew his focus on the sport and is even set to accompany a squad of seven youngsters to Japan later this year to compete in the world championships.