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Desperate Houses
Desperate Houses Revisited RTÉ One, Thursday 7.00pm

Programme 3

Remi and Helena in Wicklow

Two years ago Desperate Houses went in search of a bigger challenge and a chance to spread a little holiday cheer.

ASH is an animal rescue centre that is run with a big heart and a tiny budget. Its owners are Remi and Helena Le Mahieu.

18-years-ago Remi and Helena moved to Ireland from Holland with their three young children. They settled in Kiltegan, County Wicklow.

ASH started innocently enough, members of the Irish Bloodhound Association, Remi and Helena were asked if they would provide temporary shelter for rescued Bassett hounds. Soon they were taking in all bloodhounds and looking after about ten dogs at a time. But of course things did not stop there.

Today ASH cares for over 700 dogs and 250 cats annually and Remi and Helena work, at full stretch, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

ASH are unusual because none of the animals in their care are ever put down, most are homed and those that are not, stay, long term if necessary. Today Remi and Helena have 16 permanent residents, some are old, others are in poor health, but these dogs will live comfortably with Remi and Helena for the rest of their lives.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Remi and Helena's home had taken a back seat, their priority was the care of their animals not themselves, and slowly but surely, clutter had been building up over the years. The kitchen was a prime example of that. Here the preparation of dog food and washing of dog blankets took priority. Huge bags of dog food and dog dishes took up most of the floor space. And dog blankets covered most of the counter tops. Chicken broth may be simmering on the stove but it is for the dogs, not for Remi or Helena!

Since their children are grown up and moved on Remi and Helena have a spare room downstairs. But it was full of junk. Helena was the ultimate hoarder. She refused to get rid of clothes she had had since the nineties and unused furniture that she had brought from Holland!

Two years ago Avril decided to tackle both areas. She wanted to make the spare room into an isolation and recovery room for sick dogs and to create a completely new kitchen with two very separate areas so that Remi and Helena were given the chance to mind themselves as well as they mind their dogs.

But the work at ASH did not stop just because the Desperate Houses team were around. During the three days Remi and Helena balanced the demands of de-cluttering with looking after their animal sanctuary. In the midst of it all ASH took in 11 dogs, including one, which had be taken to the local vet urgently.

Avril created separate areas so that Remi and Helena could have chill out space away from the rescued animals. But that was over two years ago! What is the rescue centre like now? Avril goes back to find out!

Avril Murphy Allen with Helena and Remi
Avril Murphy Allen with Helena and Remi
 Avril with puppy
Avril with puppy