Yesterday I was part of something magical.
Mornac SPA welcomed us for a Big Woofer Walk to celebrate the first anniversary of the original, which was held there last November.
I arrived to find an army of volunteers, including many of our regulars, but also lots of people who were joining us for the first time.
This was the third big Woofer Walk at Mornac and each time they get better. Vera, Verity and Emma all spent their afternoon helping get the dogs out of and safely back in their boxes, matching volunteers with the right dogs, which meant that the larger, more powerful dogs got a walk as well as the smaller dogs.
Lots of people brought a cake, so we had Kristine, who couldn’t walk dogs due to a broken ankle, looking after the refreshment area.
Halfway round the main walking route Jane and Sandy patiently waited in the cold and took photos of each of the dogs who were walked their way. It’s not easy getting good photos of a dog who just wants to sniff the next bush, person or dog, but they did a great job, methodically noting each dog’s name so we could pass the best photos back to the refuge to use in their promos.
Meanwhile, back in the refuge building Nicky and her able assistant Jocelyn, were busy bathing and grooming the dogs who need it the most. This wasn’t just for the Woofer Walk. They are there every Thursday if the grooming room isn’t needed by the vet.
The afternoon went like clockwork. As far as I know, there were no embarrassing incidents, no altercations between dogs (or people!) and at the end of it, every dog in the refuge had been walked. I’m not sure how many that is, but it’s something like 150 dogs, an amazing result from an amazing team of people!
What we really need now is for the enthusiasm of the walk to continue and to ripple out to more refuges, and for some of our first timers to come and walk the dogs regularly. If each of them go home and talk to their friends about the experience and about the gorgeous dogs who are unfortunate enough to be living there, we can help more of them, walking them, fostering them and the ultimate, finding them a loving home of their own.
I’ve never met a dog who doesn’t love a walk, so it may feel like such a small thing, but for them, it is the highlight of their lives. At some refuges dogs are never walked, some only infrequently where volunteers are sparce or the walking area is poor, which means they spend the rest of the time in a small box, looking out and waiting for something to happen. One refuge in the deep south didn’t have enough volunteers to walk the dogs until an English volunteer rallied others in her area to help out, and now their dogs are walked each Wednesday.
Of course there are refuges that don’t allow volunteer walkers, but please go along to your nearest one and find out. If they do, you will be welcomed and you will be giving each dog you walk, a better life.
Most of the dogs cope well with refuge life, but occasionally we have one who struggles with the environment.
Emile is one who is really unhappy. This young labrador arrived as a well-trained, gentle boy, but he is finding it more and more distressing and has not acclimatised at all. Unfortunately, perhaps because he is so afraid, he has to pee on everything peed on by any other male dog, zigzagging from one side of the path to the other, pulling and then backing up right into you for comfort. He is frightened and scared and getting harder and harder for walkers to handle. He needs to find his feet again.
Emile would benefit massively from adoption, of course, but a foster home would no doubt do wonders for him. If you can help, Emile would thank you in doggie love. He is okay with certain males, but not all. He is fine with females. A quiet, restful place where he can find his true character would be just perfect. He is five years old
Can you help?
Refuge de l’Angoumois, Les Mesniers, 16600 MORNAC
05 45 65 76 99