I saw a little advert in the English newspapers asking for old sheets and blankets that could be used by SPAP, a local dog sanctuary as bedding.
The flat in Spain had tons of stuff left in it that I would never use, so off the the charity stand at the El Cisne market. I thought the stuff was OK for the dogs but the lovely people on the stand sorted out what was saleable and within 5 minutes, sheets, pillowcases, cushion covers had all been sold. Some bedding was ‘fit for the dogs’ so that was kept to one side.
Over here, if you are not chatting to an English person then you are pretty unlucky and as it is, the couple running the stall were English and from the Lake District. Then Maria turned up, the total ball of energy behind it all. She is Spanish but speaks wonderful English with a Lake District twist, it gets me laughing.
Anyway, enthused with her amazing energy I agreed to go dog walking to the rescue centre and boy what a load of sweethearts were there. Silly me though as I chose today to yet again try to break in a new pair of trainers!
Got to the rescue centre and unaccustomed as I am to taking orders then I was soon under the command of Captain Maria!
This was the first dog I had to take out and he looks so miserable here but I guess you would be if you knew that the walk would only last 15 minutes.
That was the first of the orders!
Yet in the heat and with no water, it kind of made sense to only keep the poor dogs out for 15 minutes.
Order number 2, always keep them on the lead!
These are not trained dogs and there is no way you’d get them back.
This poor guy has been homed here for 18 months! Well the Spanish style is those little dogs you put in baskets or hand bags – so big handsome dogs like these, have no chance.
It was a hard morning’s work and even though it was cloudy with a few spots of rain, it was warm.
By now my feet were killing me and I was still under orders to take 3 more dogs out! Maria has such energy and devotion to this dog walking that you don’t want to let her down, but my feet – hell!
Yet I reached into myself and thought that these poor dogs may only get this one walk in the next few days, could I deprive them of it. I managed two more and was about to ask for mercy when she asked me for 1 more!
So I took my shoes off, walked barefoot and took the most amazing dog out.
Maria described him as the wolf looking one, in the secure pens as they will fight any other dog they come in contact with. Also they are intelligent as each of the dogs in the secure area have found the way to open the pens, so they are double locked.
My feet were giving in and I dreaded this huge dog as I had no strength left to fight or try to control him.
Order 3, if you see another dog being walked, cross to the other side of the road. Now that rule made total sense.
This dog was as gentle as a new born lamb. He was scared of the noise the metal collar made so I shortened the lead so it would not rattle and he walked calmly by my side. If my feet had held up then I could have walked this beautiful beast for hours, taking great pride in his stance and amazing eyes.
Order 1 now makes perfect sense as it means you get to give more of the dogs a sense of freedom and not just perhaps the one you fall for!
They say that dogs only think in the ‘now’. Perhaps you can test that next time you bring your dog back from a walk. Give them water and then go back to the lead, does your dog react with a yes please or a sorry I’ve had a walk today and now I must wash my hair/ finish this paperwork/watch TV!
Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from living in the now, especially if it is good for you. My now with the dogs was over and I had to give in with the walking but Captain Maria had not finished with me yet. There was a heart wrenching sight to meet me as she took me to the cat pen!
Maria, buys the food, the litter, brings papers, toys, and anything else she can for the cats. It looks as though her twice weekly visits are the only ones they get as the trays were piled high with rubbish.
There were trays of dried food down but opening a tin of cat food meant you had 5 heads in it at once, except for a Ginger who sat there till the scrum was over and I served him a dish just for himself!
The mother in a cage had 5 kittens though 4 of them are so weak I doubt they will survive and yet there is a little grey one who took the huge walk along the pen to come to me and was then nudged by ‘Mum’ towards the cat food to give him strength. I have strong hopes for him.
We had to be off site by 1pm, volunteer time is over then, so I had no time to stop and give a cuddle or a fuss to any of the cats. That hurt.
The website looks really good and professional, the reality is a bit more heart breaking than that. They won’t put an animal down unless they have too and that means those pets that are not fashionable or wanted can stay there a long time. The cats are neutered and spade to help keep the numbers down.
Exhausted and happy that I’ve found something that gives back – even if I have to take orders, its worth it. Those trainers are going in the bin or perhaps after a clean up they can go on sale on the charity stand in the hope they find a new owner that fits them!
Check out the site and if you can think of anyway I can get more help to them, I’d love to know.