Volunteering Diary – Dogs of Winter and Love at First Sight

Not very long ago I became a volunteer for the local animal shelter, to walk the dogs. Going there when the time allows, is not a full time job, but is a full time commitment in my heart and mind.

Even if the nature of the job is pretty simple, it can get complicated quite rapidly. You take a dog from the shelter for a walk, you have that special connection, and then you have to take him back there, and say ‘see you later’. That’s very hard for me, and saying goodbye is almost impossible and very heartbreaking, even if you know the dogs are well taken care of, by their caregivers. You just can’t help but wonder how they’re doing and if they’re happy.

Snowy

A Beautiful Walk With Precious Snowy

My second dog, after the first contact with Sharky, was Snowy, a precious 11 year old American Bulldog, deaf but amazingly sweet. Going for a very slow and relaxed walk, we had a nice time in the wild landscape. A long walk and a few cookies are good even for an older pup, and her mood improved quite a lot before going back to the shelter.

I always said you don’t adopt a dog. You have the feeling that you do, when in fact you get adopted by the dog. The dog chooses you, but he will let you think you did all the work ūüôā

Taking a dog back to the shelter becomes extra hard when you get adopted by that one special pup.

Sam

Walking My Favorite Pup, Sam

Sam, an amazing 2 year old Rottweiler adopted me from the first moment we met. Having a weakness for the breed, when I realized I have to walk a Rottweiler called Sam, I couldn’t help it but have a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day ūüėÄ

Me and Sam created a deep connection and friendship. I guess I’ve finally learned the meaning of love at first sight! When we met again, his face and reaction said it all. Also, saying goodbye wasn’t easy, as he just wouldn’t want to leave my sight and go back in the kennel.

Sam left paw prints all over my heart and is very hard to know he doesn’t have the loving family he deserves and needs. Even if adoption is not an option for me right now, I went back a few more times to spend some time with him. I hope he’ll soon be surrounded by a loving family, like he deserves it.

Donnie

Having fun with precious Donnie

Next on my list of favorites is Donnie, an amazing border collie, full of life and very well behaved. Always paying attention to the human, and eager to please, a walk with such an amazing dog, can’t get any better. I’m always amazed to see dogs so well trained, in the shelters. Most of the dogs shouldn’t be there in first place!

noordjes

A very nice walk, with sweet Noordjes

Just like Donnie’s, is also Noordjes case, a surprise Cocker Spaniel and Labrador mix, as I was pretty sure she’s only a puppy, when in fact she’s around 4 years old. Very lovable, well trained, and also full of life, the little fur ball really made my day, with a very energetic and lovely walk, in the dunes.

Such a pity people buy adorable puppies, without thinking of the adult dog, and they end up throwing them in a shelter, when they realize the adult dog is now what they were looking for… I wish more people would think much longer about the commitment, before deciding to buy a puppy. No dog should end up in shelters, because people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into! It’s a situation which can be so easily avoided, by doing some research prior to the adoption…

Before my first walk with a shelter dog, I was 100% sure this experience is all about giving, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, giving gives back more than you would ever think is possible. The love of a dog definitely makes us hole! And if during walking dogs we also end up with new friends, life just can’t get any better!

To never know the love of a dog is to miss the best thing life has to give

friends

Nothing better than a day spent with good friends and silly Doefes


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Volunteering for the Local Animal Shelter – Foster Mommy for a Day

To everyone who knows me this is no news: I love dogs! Always did and always will. They are amazing companions, and nothing can replace their friendship and the well known happy wagging tail.

I think we all have some extra love to spare, so why not share it?

A few days ago I found out about a local shelter, so I emailed them asking if I can volunteer and help out with the dogs. I couldn’t be happier when they said yes, so today I went there to meet my first furry baby.

sharky

Sharky going for a walk

My adoptive baby for today was Sharky, a 9 years old, very shy but sweet Sharpei.

Sitting in a small space¬†all day isn’t fun, so a long walk through the woods definitely improved his mood, and mine. It’s nice to have the love and trust of a dog, even if only for a short while.

I must say I impressed most of all with the number of people volunteering on a daily basis to walk the dogs. Either students or retired people, they go see the dogs and improve their life for a few hours. They are quite lucky pups to get some daily exercise and love, from so many locals!

doefes found a home

Doefes goes to a new loving home

At first you believe it’s all about giving, but I got back more today than I wished for. Besides making Sharky’s life a little better, I made¬†a new friend, who adopted one of the dogs from the shelter, named Doefes. I’m very happy for them, and I hope more dogs will share a similar¬†wonderful experience of finding a good loving home.

Now that the holidays season is fast approaching, if you consider adding a new furry member to your family, please consider adoption from the local shelter. So many loving dogs are in need of a good home, that it’s worth trying that first, before going to a breeder. The dogs will very much appreciate it, and I’m sure there’s a dog out there waiting for you!

Also, please remember that a dog is not only for Christmas, but forever. It’s a 15 years or longer commitment, so please do not adopt if you believe that’s too long for you. Seeing so many pets in shelters, is a very depressing view…


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Volunteering – Working for a good cause

We all have a cause we believe it’s worth fighting for: either¬†related to wildlife conservation, environment¬†or human rights.¬†Regardless of which one of the above is closest to your heart, you’ve probably found yourself, at least once, doing something to improve the situation. Personally, I was involved in all of the above, at a certain point in my life.

After working as a volunteer, on and off, for a few¬†international organizations and NGOs, I can’t help it but¬†to look back on all the work they do, and ask myself, how much is it actually done. How much power do they have to make a change?

Some might think things move faster if you work at an international scale. Others believe what actually helps is working locally, at a smaller scale. Because the opinions are divided, so are the type of entities which make it happen: international organizations and local NGOs.

What all of them have in common, is the way in which they get to the final goal. Paperwork first, approvals, persuading, negotiating, and in the end, actually doing something. This makes the entire process difficult, and sometimes, when they can legally proceed to improve the situation, it’s too late. If you are an NGO, or any type of organization or agency, you have to obey some rules and regulations, and only when all the conditions are met, you can achieve something. You just can’t go around it. International organizations seem to have a lot of power, but keep in mind that they have to deal with Governments and politics, which slows them down considerably, or even block them from achieving the goal. What is also common, is that not all the people working at a high level are actually interested in the cause, but they are in it for the material benefits. Sad, but a reality of the society we live in…

So, what actually works? What does the trick when is needed?

The answer is quite surprising: YOU. Private individuals achieve more than any authorized entity does and ever will. You are the supreme force. You can go out there, and make a difference. There’s nothing we can’t do, as a community, as a society. Working together is what makes it happen.

And by going out there, I don’t mean ‘Liking’ a picture on Facebook, or ‘Sharing’ it. Don’t get me wrong, this can also be effective when it comes to pet adoptions (I got a dog I’ve never met, adopted on another continent, only through¬†sharing posts with the right people), but in most cases, raising awareness only, doesn’t do the trick. When it comes to a certain individual or situation, more is better. If it’s something you can do, just go out there and do it!

This is how your Likes from Facebook help end hunger and assist the needy

Previously working with refugees, I can tell you for sure nothing is more useless to them, than a person sitting in front of a computer, and clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook. Fleeing the country with only the clothes they are wearing, and a huge emotional luggage, they need help integrating in the new community, food, clothes, education, legal assistance.

An animal waiting in a shelter to be adopted¬†doesn’t care either about you pitting him on a social network. All he needs is a home, food, medical care and lots of love, and these must come soon, before time runs out, and he will be euthanized.

Complaining about pollution and change in climate, won’t help¬†either if you don’t actively get involved, to improve the situation. You can and should¬†use only what you need, and save as much as possible on resources. And yes, it all starts with you. Complaining about other’s attitude, but you not changing yours, won’t do the trick.

During the years I’ve met people who go for what they think is right, and I was amazed by how much things chance, compared to the situation in which you have to wait for other people to make the decisions for you. These special individuals who put the cause they fight for, above themselves, are the ones who get to the goal.

Best part is that we all have this in us, we can all dedicate ourselves to helping others. All we have to do is open our eyes and hearts and get involved. Find a cause you really care about, get informed, and get busy changing things. Even if you can’t help all the animals or people in need in the world, you can completely change the world for that person or animal. And that’s what makes all the difference.

someanynoeverybody

We all have a skill which others might use, or which can benefit an animal or the environment. If what you know how to do best is plant trees, do it. If you have some clothes you can donate to someone in need, do it. If you can switch off the light or use less water, do it. If we all do a little bit, that bit becomes a lot. It might seem like nothing much, but if we all choose to don’t do it, because nobody else does it, then we’ll destroy this planet completely, one day at a time, and for now, we only have one Earth, so we can’t afford such a situation.

Remember that it all starts with you, with one person, always, before it reaches global scale!¬†Don’t wait for others to do it, thinking somebody else will take care of this, as things might not ever get done. And maybe, that somebody, who can go out there and achieve something, is … YOU!