So many of the dogs and cats that come in to the refuges are scared, perhaps not just because of what they have come from, but because they have been dumped in a strange and noisy place with nothing and noone that is familiar to them.
Although they do their best, some of the refuges don’t have enough staff or volunteers to do more than feed, clean up and cuddle the dogs and cats, so the animals’ interaction with people can be limited to just a few minutes a day. Even where it appears that there are a good number of volunteers, some of the bigger, stronger dogs do not get their fair share of attention because they can be difficult to handle. (We need more men!)
Someone complained they could never get hold of anyone at a refuge to ask about a dog, which is a fair point. They had this response which really made me think about what the staff and volunteers are dealing with, the things we don’t see:
“Our refuge is run by the lady who established it. Until recently she has had very little help. She still has no-one to help some days with feeding and cleaning. We don’t do walking – yet – as not enough hands on deck. She’s just back from her well earned month’s rest with her family in Spain. I am imagining a day in her life ………… up at 6am to feed x no. of dogs in her home (every room but a bedroom and the lounge), garage and courtyard … then clean – maybe … having been got up in the middle of the night by the gendarmes due to an incident involving a dog biting, required to make expert statement and take dog…. off to refuge 9am to find someone on doorstep with abandoned dog needing vet visit …. hasty visit to vets (meanwhile x no. dogs inside actual refuge awaiting food and agitated because they can hear people outside …. back from vet – dog kept in …. fight broke out in one run due to agititation – injured dog in kennels ….. volunteer fails to arrive as child ill so off school – desperately tries to feed x no dogs – cleaning will have to wait … off for 2nd visit of day to vet with injured dog … back to refuge – some pens cleaned and watered but dogs requiring medication take priority … unscheduled visitor arrives – wants to ‘see’ dogs in refuge spends ages ahhing and oohing – leaves without a dog ….pompiers call – dog abandoned on main road …. another unscheduled visitor “desolée s’il vous plait revenir demain matin” …. off to get abandoned dog … foster family in trouble and want to return a dog ….. must clean remaining pens as have inspection tomorrow ….have I eaten today? ….. oh was that the phone…………………………………….. If only we had the resources for someone to answer the phone! Actually, what am I saying, if only we had a phone – ‘the’ phone is her own mobile and landline.”
I still get upset when I read that. A few hours of our time can make a huge difference to the animals and to the running of a refuge. In the instance above, probably life changing.
The reason for today’s post is that one of our volunteers posted about this dog on our facebook page:
“Working with a terrified grey ghost weimaraner yesterday at Bergerac SPA, and the tutelage of Sally, really brought home to me the difference we volunteers can make for these unfortunate dogs. Misty as I now call him was so scared he wouldnt even stand up in his pen. I had to lift and carry him out into the yard where he still lay cowering on the ground. But after only 10 mins of TLC his confidence began to grow and he started to take a few tentative steps and take an interest in his surroundings. At once you could see what a magnificent dog Misty is and how with a little bit more encouragement he will make a wonderful pet and companion. Its only 2hrs a week I volunteer, could you spare the time and see such wonderful transformations. If so there is a friendly team waiting to support you on this amazing journey of making a difference.”
She made a massive difference to this dog’s day, and probably to his chances of finding a new home. We all know about him now, and so do you. Do you know anyone who has room for one (or more) of our recycled dogs and cats? Do you have a few hours to spend walking or cuddling some of them? We need you. They need you more!