Rescue volunteer log

Discussion in 'Labrador Rescue' started by snowbunny, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Well, there were just too many hours in my day that I had to twiddle my thumbs, so I decided to fill a couple of them with helping out at my local rescue shelter.

    I have to admit to being rather apprehensive before I visited. I've seen pictures and heard stories from Spanish rescues, and I'm well aware of how grim they can be. But, I thought, if I can offer a little help for just one or two dogs, a couple of hours a week, then it has to be worth it.

    Yesterday, we popped along to find the place, but today was the first day of actually doing anything. I've decided that, for now, I'm going to limit my involvement to walking dogs and doing a bit of basic training with them. I know how easy it is to be sucked into these organisations, and you feel you can't say no, so I have to be quite hard and say what I'm prepared to do, and not.

    The rescue itself is small; there are 34 dogs there at present, plus three lots of puppies. I think this is a perfect size to be able to get to know the dogs and their personalities, so I can hopefully help some of them become more adoptable. They are separated into spacious kennels, by age and who they get along best with. Most of the kennels have a large area under cover, with a den inside for sleeping, and gates which are open onto large uncovered runs. In the middle is a small courtyard area, and the dogs are let out, according to who gets on with who, for playing together. It is as clean as you could expect; the kennels are cleaned out and washed down twice a day; even those where the dogs don't toilet in the kennels, the floors are soaked to cool the concrete. The courtyard area is a constant battle of man vs poo with that many dogs using it, so they just keep picking up throughout the day. The kennels with the pups are cleaned more regularly.

    Would I want my dogs living there? No. But I think, for Spain, it's as good as you could possibly expect.

    All the dogs seem healthy enough. A few are underweight, but none are terrifyingly so.

    I was ready to grab a couple and take them out for a walk, but, sadly, that wasn't to be, as the rescue itself has no collars and leads! Obviously, you can't go walking rescue dogs around the campo with no leads, so that will have to wait for another day, once I've bought a couple in different sizes.

    So, J and I simply spent about 90 minutes getting to know the dogs. We had pouches full of kibble and ham and we were very popular for it! I fell in love at least ten times. Some, like Mammy (what looks like a Spanish Mastiff cross, and the mother of 9 young pups), and Tito (a rough-coated something-or-other; I'm so useless at Spanish breeds!) were there all the time, bugging us for cuddles and food. Just gorgeous, happy dogs. Others, we had to win their confidence; Timi the timid Spanish pastoral dog who wouldn't leave his den, and Atilla the very elderly bitsa, who hid in the corner, but eventually crept closer and closer as J tossed him bits of ham, until he was eating from his hand. The one who I think is going to be my little project is Negreta, a tall black bitch with the most AMAZING ears, who was so nervous, but eventually started to approach.

    I'm keeping things simple for now. It's hard to do anything approaching training in that sort of environment; the confident dogs push in front of the anxious ones you're trying to work with. Amazingly, there was no bickering of any sort about the food, so I managed to get a little bit of a system in the end. I shut myself in the kennel with Negreta and her kennel-mate, Conchita, who was a touch nervous and serious, but so desperately wanted to be loved, you could tell. My focus with them all is a simple hand touch. That has to be important, right? Not only is it a very simple game that is perfect for starting the learning process, it's surely got to make a dog more adoptable, if they will approach an open hand. And, oh my, the little lights I saw appearing in the eyes of these dogs as they realised that, if they moved towards my hand, they got a treat!

    One thing I noticed was how these dogs don't sit down. It's quite peculiar. Put a treat above a dog's head, and they'll sit, right? Not these, not a one. I wasn't seriously trying, just dipping my toe in the water, but it was something they all had in common. I'm guessing that they are all on edge just enough that they want to stay prepared for flight, until they're locked back up in their kennels and can relax.

    And, oh, the poor necks of some of these dogs. Mammy especially, and another sweet little thing (I'm guessing a Podenco cross) called Laila, I think, both had awful scarring around their necks where they had obviously been chained up. Heartbreaking, and yet these dogs are so loving and trusting.

    I found it so rewarding - essentially, we spent ninety minutes just playing with some lovely dogs, so that's not exactly hard work, but it meant the world to them. Yes, they need people to feed them and clean them and attend to all the basic needs, but they also need people to spend time with them, to communicate with them, and that's one thing I'm more than happy to do.

    We'll be going back again in a few days; I hope to make it something I do twice a week. I came home and told my crowd just how lucky they are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  2. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Just amazing! Sounds like a really interesting and rewarding experience for all concerned, especially the lucky dogs! I have always been struck by the resilience of the overseas dogs we have fostered. I imagine it's abuse more than neglect that reinforces unwanted behaviours perhaps? :)
     
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  3. JenBainbridge

    JenBainbridge Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    What a lovely thing to do, Fiona! Although more and more I'm beginning to think you're a time traveler with the amount you fit in each day :D

    I hope you make a difference to those dogs lives! I wouldn't be able to do it, I'd end up with taking them all home because it would upset me too much :(
     
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  4. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Marvellous!

    I bet your crowd gave you third degree sniffs when you got home!

    .
     
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  5. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog Forum Supporter

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    I'm really looking forward to reading this thread. You'll do a world of good, learn a lot and teach us a lot through your experience too.

    And I already want to take Mammy home and I'm not even the one who met her. :heart:
     
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  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    She is amazing! So pretty and funny. The waggiest tail in the world and quite happy to shove her whole head in your treat pouch and swallow half the contents in one mouthful :D
     
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  7. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    This is just heartwarming Fiona x
     
  8. kateincornwall

    kateincornwall Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Good for you Fiona , these dogs so deserve a little special time , with interaction . I`m a life long fan of rescue dogs ( just in case you hadn't noticed !! ) working with them is tough , but so very rewarding x
     
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  9. selina27

    selina27 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Well done to you, a great thing to do.
     
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  10. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I really don't know; they don't have histories for any of the dogs, I don't think. Most are either feral dog picked up by the dog warden, or else ones who have been abandoned. I think it was Mammy who was tied up outside the rescue gate with her basket of puppies. At least the owner cared enough to do the very minimum for them.
    There are dogs there with dog aggression; a big Podenco called Nano, who is very nervous, and wouldn't come up to us or take tossed treats at all, can't be out with many of the other male dogs. Poor old Atilla doesn't leave his kennel, because he gets beaten up by lots of the others. He has the lovely Tito as his kennel-mate, though, so he does get some company. There are two "Pit bulls", the bitch is lovely, but the dog (who looks suspiciously like a Staffy to me, but there you go), is apparently aggressive towards people, especially men. They called him bipolar, as he wags his tail and then attacks. Looking at him through the gate, you can see that, even though he is wagging, he's very tense, and his eyes are hard. So, I'm afraid I will be giving that one a miss. Not that I don't feel terribly sad for him, but I just don't have the experience and it would be foolish to put myself in a position of potential danger.

    I'm glad I have my three already, and they need my time, otherwise I'm pretty sure I'd have brought home at least three of them today! Atilla, the old boy, I'd love to give him a comfortable bed to live out his last days. Negreta, she reminds me of Willow in lots of ways. Tito and Mammy, of course, and little Kayla, who I've not even mentioned. And Laila. Then there was a gorgeous Bodeguero (cross, I think), who I didn't get to spend any time with, but seemed like such a gorgeous chap. Errr... yeah. I need a bigger house :D

    That's just it. Looking around at some of the other volunteers doing the hard labour, I did feel a bit guilty, but these dogs so need to have some good human interactions, too. I think my time is far better spent in that way than in cleaning up poo!

    I'll get some pictures on my next trip and we can play "guess that breed" :)
     
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  11. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog Forum Supporter

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    Gosh, Fi... you need something like a kennel building on your land...?? :rolleyes:

    Naw, scratch that, they'd all end up in (or next to) your bed anyway. :p
     
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  12. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    An amazing thing to do Fiona :) xx Giving these lovely dogs a kind look, touch, cuddle just anything positive and loving is far more important to them than a walk.

    I really look forward to reading your log as I'm so touched by all rescue dogss :) xxx
     
  13. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Oh, Helen, I think you'd be in heaven/hell in the rescue here! So many lovely dogs to cuddle, but you'd want to take them all home :)
     
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  14. Karen

    Karen Moderator

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    Good on you, Fiona. Really moved to read your post.
     
  15. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    You're right Fiona that's exactly how I would feel. But I'm sure the benefits would lift your heart when you get results that could change a dogs life for the better even if it's a tiny bit. To see them rehomed to a forever home would be a magical experience. I would however be in great danger of dog napping :) xx
     
  16. Granca

    Granca Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    That sounds amazing, but a dangerous move. I can't imagine you not taking one (or two, or three) home soon! Looking forward to seeing some photos. Carry on with the good work!
     
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  17. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Hehe, it's lucky I have W&S - they wouldn't take kindly to another dog joining the family, I don't think :)
    One day, I'd like to do some fostering, but today is not that day!
     
  18. Cath

    Cath Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    What a wonderful thing for you to do for these poor dogs Fiona. You're a Star :star:
     
  19. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I returned this morning for another visit. I want to start working individually with a few of the dogs. A couple really speak to me and I think I could help them a lot. others will be more of a challenge, but hopefully I can do a little.

    We took the camera, so you get to put a face to some of the names. They're not the most artistic shots in the world, but most of the dogs were very nervous of the camera, so we had to be careful about not upsetting them.


    These are two feral puppies that were brought in. I don't know their names, but they are probably about 16 weeks of age. Sadly, I think they are beyond my skills for the time I have to spend with them; they are so timid, and, if they were to learn to trust anyone, it could only happen in an environment where they had a lot of time with that person, not in an undermanned rescue centre. They don't even interact with the couple who are living on site and who feed them every day. Given the chance, they would return to a feral life in a heartbeat and, if I'm perfectly honest, they would probably be happier that way.

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    The first two dogs I worked with today were Conchita (brown) and Negreta (black). The other day, Negreta was able to happily do some hand targeting with me, but today was very anxious and only got as far as taking a bit of food from my hand after about ten or fifteen minutes. These girls have both been in the shelter for a while and are institutionalised.

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    Conchita has such sad eyes. She's an older girl, and so sweet. She's timid, but gets the idea of hand targeting.

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    The photos don't capture it, but she is such a Dobby! The exact snout and ears.

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    Negreta has the most amazing ears! I'm guessing there is some Podenco in there. She reminds me a lot of Willow, and I really hope I can help this girl out of her shell. I've seen tiny glimmers, so I have some hope, but she will be a tough one.

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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  20. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Next up, Timi the Timid. Well, I have to say, he is definitely starting to come out of his shell. Will take food from my hand without a problem. He won't compete if there's a piece of food on the floor, even with his kennel mate, Tito, who is half his size. He has a very gentle demeanour and I think, if I can keep building his self confidence, will make a great dog for an older person.

    DSC_8571.JPG

    Oh, Tito. This boy melts my heart! He is SO affectionate and just adores contact. We didn't get any decent pictures, as there's a bitch in season in one of the other kennels, so when out in the compound, he was only interested in her. All these pictures were taken once I went into the kennel with him. He does that adorable thing of putting the top of his head against my chest. This boy so needs a sofa to fall asleep on. He will make someone - anyone - the most amazing companion. I know if this was the sort of shelter to get passing trade, he'd be snapped up in an instant. He's bright, too, and caught on quickly to the idea of the event marker. I think he'd be happy slobbing out all day, but would also make a great little agility dog if someone put the time in.

    DSC_8586.JPG DSC_8585.JPG DSC_8593.JPG
     
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