Tag Archives: Spain

My Shelter Life – first on the scene

Some people think that they would not be able to cope with coming to the shelter, that it is a sad place with evidence of so much cruelty and neglect, so many dogs needing homes that it would be too much for them. However, invariably when they come with me they are surprised. What they see is volunteers who help because they love the dogs, they show this love to the dogs, they care from the bottom of their hearts and this reflects on dogs themselves and their behaviour.  Yes of course there is sadness, frustration, despair at the endless cycle of abandonment and cruelty that these volunteers never get away from because they live there. They do not walk away, they do it day after day, lifting the s**t, cleaning kennels, feeding, giving medication, playing with the dogs, rescuing from the streets and some horrendous situations, running back and forward to the vet and most of all showing the dogs love, for some this will be their first ever experience of love.

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This is Billy, he was so terrified that when taken out of the shelter he shut down with fear. At this point I am just sitting with him in an area away from the shelter, letting him smell something new. Within 4 days he was walking with his tail in the air enjoying every moment. I still have a real soft spot for Billy.

It is because of these volunteers that the atmosphere in this shelter is generally a very happy one, yes with dips when an abandonment, a terrible cruelty or neglect case pushes them over the emotional edge. They see this day in day out, however, they do not become hardened to it. Their resilience and love is an inspiration to me. I not only want to help the dogs but I want to help the people at the shelter. I consider them “mi familia espanol”, I have learned much from them and when I witness this neglect and abandonment first hand it is these people and what they do that restore my faith in the Spanish people (just for the record, Spain is top of the league tables in the whole of Europe for the number of abandoned pets every year and top also for the number of puppies born – i.e. the worst offenders in the whole of Europe).

I love to be there. Some days it reduces me to tears, however, more often than not it makes me happy, a deep down kind of happy, why? because I know that I can make a difference, maybe not to the overall situation in Spain but to individual dogs. To spend time cuddling a dog, taking it out for a walk, helping it to see the world as a better place, etc makes a whole world of difference to that one dog. I also help to find homes for them. To get to know a dog in the shelter, recommend it to a particular home and then see it happy and content lying on a soft bed in a wonderful home, well there is no feeling quite like it.

Checko - pet
I visited Checko in his wonderful home after he had been very ill. I had promised to myself that if he pulled through I would fly over to see him. He remembered me from the shelter where I had loved and walked him many times.

So, of course it is not all happy at the shelter, I have had many new experiences not all of them positive,  however, there is still a certain privilege in being involved even in a small way with helping a dog to find safety. Last Friday was such a day. I have personally rescued a number of dogs or been first on the scene to discover a newly abandoned dog. Last Friday was one of those days and for my friend Diane it was her first experience of finding an abandoned dog. This was our first sight of the little princess. As we drove down the lane to the shelter I caught sight from the corner of my eye of this frail, cowering, hopeless little bundle…

Diane stayed with her whilst I drove on down to the shelter to tell them about the new arrival waiting to be rescued. We found her, scooped her up and brought her down to the shelter. We were so lucky that the vet just happened to be there vaccinating dogs. As I watched and photographed the volunteers and the vet what struck me most of all (apart from the dreadful condition of this poor little princess) was the love, care and attention shown to her, something they do day in and day out in these situations. Immediately a dog like this arrives their life improves as the first thing they experience is love.

The little princess JoJa is still in the care of the vet. She is less than a year old and has obviously experienced nothing but suffering in her life, yet when we approached her she managed to wag her tail at the sound of a kind voice. We could learn a lot from dogs.

I filmed what I could of this experience, here is the link to the youtube video – it is not sad, but you will see in motion what I have described here rescue

Of course this was an emotional experience which generates frustration and anger in me but at the same time admiration and respect for the good people of the shelter who continue to do this in response to an endless demand. It wears them down but they keep going regardless – because they are needed and they make a difference. I have to say that not all shelters in Spain are like this one and I suspect that I could not go there every day Im in Spain to help if it was not such a positive place where the love of the volunteers rubs off on the wonderful dogs. They make a difference and I believe that the reason I love going to the shelter so much is that I feel I can make a difference also.

To be honest there are not too many photos of me without a big grin from ear to ear, my overriding feeling is that I get back much more than I can ever put in…

I hope you have enjoyed my dog blog and perhaps even inspired someone to visit their local shelter, who knows you might even fall in love and adopt 😉

Big Boots, Little Feet and something in-between

Part of Cee’s B&W photo challenge: Shoes or Feet (human or animals)

‘Big Boots’ – I was just about to return to the car after walking the dogs along the tow path of the River Lagan, Belfast when something caught my eye which didn’t quite make sense. Compelled to check it out, this is what I saw – it was so unexpected that it took me a moment to catch on that they of course were not floating as the appeared to be but were sitting on a jetty at the rivers edge and the water had lapped up around them.SONY DSCWhat made it so cool was that the water was completely still providing almost perfect reflection, that is until the kayaker who had left them there returned – only at that point did the whole scene make sense for me. Thankfully I had my camera with me and managed to snap a few.

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‘Something in between’ – A quick foot inspection whilst the baby sleeps in her arms, love this picture.

boots (7)‘Little Feet’ – these are the feet of baby Tequila, one of the day old pups we rescued with their mum from the roadside in Spain. The hand is that of the very caring vet giving her the once over and treating them for fleas. This was a fantastic, emotional, stressful and rewarding event in which to be involved. The five pups and their mum were given the best of care and I’m delighted to say that each of them has the most wonderful home in the UK. A huge team pulled together to ensure their safety and care but to be part of the rescue, care and homing of this family from start to finish is something of which I’m very proud.

boots (5)A photo the like of which I have many. These feet are those of a larger puppy and represent many hundreds who have passed through the wonderful dog shelter where I help in Spain. These are the lucky ones…

Poppies…

Part of Cee’s fun foto challenge: single flowers or bud

The word ‘single’ in this challenge has helped me to focus, I have chosen single flowers but also varieties of a single type of flower – the Poppy. Being a less wordy blog, I have simply put a caption with each image.

(Photos copyright of Jenniferwillisphotography)

 

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The ‘original’ red poppy growing wild in a Flanders’ Field. Photographed in the evening sunlight hence it is closing up for the night
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True blue flowers are rare in the natural world, but the Himalayan Blue Poppy is an exception. Precise growing conditions must be present to produce the blue color of the Himalayan blue poppy. Obviously the gardeners at Mount Stewart Co. Down have achieved those conditions as the Blue Poppies are delicate, beautiful and very blue!
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Orange Poppy. Growing wild Andalusia, Spain 
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Incredibly delicate Purple Poppy – or is it Pink? Growing wild, Andalusia, Spain
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Morning dew drop on a White Poppy. Growing wild, Andalusia, Spain

Discovering a Bearded Iris!

part of  Cee’s flower of the day: Bearded Iris

I don’t have many flowering plants in my garden at home, but I do in Spain. So today, quite by chance, I came across a bearded iris photo from Spain AND what I HOPE is also a bearded iris growing wild. I’m hoping that Cee will be able to confirm whether it is or isn’t 😉

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I’m pretty sure this is a bearded iris (not very good with plants and fauna) taken in the lovely Spanish sunlight
bearded iris
This I saw growing on the steep banks down to the Rhonda Valley, Malaga Province, Spain. Is it a wild bearded iris?Cee’s flower of the day