Shelter 13 – Gondomar, Spain.
My first shelter in Spain and what a place! It’s in a beautiful forest with around 20 dogs. Nice kennels, cosy beds etc and a big play area.
There are 3 shifts of volunteers per day, and around 3 to 4 people per shift! It’s A LOT and very impressive. Quite often even more people turn up. Yay! ?
The dogs get walked outside and it’s lovely, or they go for a run in the play area. It means they’re out …of their kennels 3 times a day and fed twice.
Day one I did 2 shifts. Great people, lovely dogs, lots of walking, lots of Spanish learnt. Result! ?
Day two, hmmmm, not so great. Four volunteers who ALL decided to pretty much ignore me??? ?
I only stayed for an hour, then left virtually in tears. I’ve been ignored at shelters before, but not on this scale. The only reasons I could think were:
1. My Northern face particularly offended them?
Or 2. They didn’t like English people?
I felt awful and didn’t want to return. Being on my own and new in Spain I suddenly thought the whole country hated me?
I messaged my lovely contact at the shelter and fortunately, with so many shifts and volunteers, it’s actually easy to work with different people. And Spanish people DO like English people! Phew! ?
But, just in case, I had a word with myself.
1. Always try your best and don’t quit early! You’re there to work! And if no-one is instructing you, at least stay until the end. It’s about the dogs, not you! Do your time girl.
2. Wear protective armour and good luck charms! For me these were my Patas hoodie, my necklace, and the paw bracelets my mum made. All gifts from people I care about.
3. Learn as much Spanish as possible. I studied into the night and definitely nailed some useful phrases and words.
So day 3 I went, armour on, phrases memorised, ready to work the full shift!
Luckily everyone was very sweet and this stayed true until I finished my week at the shelter.
I actually met some wonderful people, of all ages, and the dogs are really lucky to be in such caring hands. ?
The area seems quite dog friendly too, with lots of people walking them along the streets, on the beach, and sitting in cafes. I guess this is why attracting volunteers is easy.
It also ended up being a great week because I was back dog walking again. And watching Reece meet all the dogs was wonderful. He still impresses me every day. ?
So, after a slight hiccup, I did the job, met some truly wonderful people, and learnt A LOT of Spanish in a short time.
I put the extra work and effort in, and found my protective armour!
Sometimes it’s through the hardest times we learn and grow the most.
And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a special outfit that makes you feel invincible either – NOT invisible! ?
Never quit! ?