I am very sad to announce that John Robson, the founder of BIGGSD, passed away peacefully on the 20th December 2022 after a long battle with Parkinsons Disease and other degenerative problems.
John dedicated his adult life to helping dogs of all breeds but GSD’s were his favourite. He had the vision of starting a virtual online rescue, hence the BIGGSD Forum was born in 2005. Since then, BIGGSD has grown and progressed and although not a rescue as such, has helped countless dogs find their loving forever homes by working with GSD rescues throughout the UK and Ireland (and Europe) and also given GSD owners the chance to post their dogs who, for whatever reason, found themselves in the unfortunate position of needing to re-home their GSD.
John’s enthusiasm for helping GSD’s was tireless. He set up German Shepherd Rescue Surrey where he fostered many dogs at his home, sometimes having up to 8 dogs at any one time. If there was ever an urgent foster required due to a dog at risk of euthanasia, or lack of rescue kennel space, John would jump in and help. He would also take in dogs who had undergone surgery and needed a quiet home to recuperate. He would travel miles to collect a dog who was due to go into rescue kennels; no job was too much. He also set up 4 Facebook pages which, to date, have received hundreds of posts of GSD’s needing urgent kennel space or homes.
He worked closely with many GSD Rescues including Garbo’s GSD Rescue, Mutts in Distress, German Shepherd Rescue Southern and Vigil when they were operating from Treetops at Guildford. Here he spent week days and Saturdays for 20 years, setting things up and dealing with the more difficult dogs being brought into rescue and also walking the kennelled dogs. Twice a year he would travel to Mutts in Distress Fun Days in Bishops Stortford, bringing his foster dogs with him. He would attend dog events all over the country promoting GSD rescues’ work.
John also took in and re-homed many beautiful GSD’s from Ireland, where they had no chance of being re-homed and euthanasia would have been their destiny.
John set up the BIGGSD walks on Sundays, which are still running now. Photos of the walks can be viewed by clicking ‘Weekly Walks’ on the top navigation bar.
Many of you will have personal recollections of John… of how he helped with getting a dog out of a difficult situation, with accomplices (sometimes ignoring the law!) or finding the right GSD for a person. I am sure lots of people will have memories of their encounters with him, as he was, truly unforgettable!
His work and energy started to lessen as his physical condition deteriorated but mentally, his thoughts continued to concentrate on helping and rehoming dogs.
Over the last two years, things proved very difficult for John. He eventually gave up driving and was restricted to using a wheelchair. His days of rushing out and saving a dog… gone. With the onset of Parkinson’s, he was confined to the house but used the PC daily and took phone calls from people wanting to re-home their GSD or looking to adopt a dog. This continued until he was unable to hold a mouse. After two serious falls at home and with his condition worsening, he conceded to going into a care home where he spent the last year of his life.
John was an absolute character; he cared little for authority if it came to saving a dog. His favourite saying was ‘there’s a home out there for every dog’ and that’s what he strived to achieve.
Please say a prayer for John who is now at peace and no doubt joined by the many dogs he saved, now passed.
The dog rescue world has lost a great character, irreplaceable and a good friend to many.
RIP John. You are a legend and will be greatly missed.
In respect of John, BIGGSD will continue to run as he wanted us to – helping GSDs in need.