Shelter 20 – 21.07.2018 – O Amigo Fiel, Bombarral, Portugal
Time and time again we see I have no clue about dogs! I have some sketchy vision about them running around having fun at shelters. And like a child, I want everything NOW! If Helena, the President, had known this before I wonder if she would still have said ‘yes’ to me coming?
There’s no mains water at the shelter. A container on site is filled twice a week, but water must be used sparingly. The pressure from the connected hoses equates to the dribble of a toddler, so cleaning is a nightmare. Some of the kennels aren’t great either – very old brickwork, dark and dingy. Like run down prison cells, I imagined finger nails stuck to the walls from desperate inmates clawing to break free.
The dichotomy is that these 50 or so dogs are well loved. Whilst it’s only really Helena and Teresa caring for them, they do get walks, cuddles, brushes and off lead time outside. Time outside is risky because there are no fences. It’s in the countryside, but next to a road (and dump yard of course).
Helena, the angel, indulged my whims of letting the dogs out together. I wanted to see more of them playing and running free. She liked to see it too, but was afraid of the consequences. I found if I said ‘por favor’ and wore a pleading face, she usually said ‘ok’.
The result throughout the week was a couple of scraps and a couple of dogs running down the road. They were easily caught, but Helena’s stress barometer went off the charts! I felt bad and decided not to act like such a demanding brat in future!
In the short time she’s been President, Helena has made some great improvements and genuinely wants what’s best for the dogs. I’ve pledged to help her as much as I can in future. Hopefully it will make up for me stressing her out so much. ?
She told me that years ago she was bitten by one of the dogs, a black shepherd mix. It was with another shy, black dog who hid at the back of their dark cell. I have no interest in being bitten, so avoided them. On my second to last day Teresa asked if I wanted to walk the shy one? Apparently you had to carry her down the corridor to outside. I wasn’t keen, but said ok.
This frail little mite was Chiquinha. I could feel her shaking until we were outside. Once out she started walking and was very pleased to meet Daisy and Reece. She kept lying in submission which resulted in her getting covered in burrs. After our walk Teresa spent over 10 minutes cutting them out. Chiquinha shook the whole time, but showed zero signs of aggression. I was impressed, so asked Helena about her. She didn’t know much. Chiquinha was already there when she started eight years before. A shy little spaniel living in a shelter for over eight years? Sorry, but wtf??? In the UK she would have been adopted Day 1! Her little white socks would never have touched the concrete floor of a shelter. I couldn’t get over the travesty. ?
Long story short, she’s in foster with me. ? Easy peasy lemon squeezy girl – clean in the house, quiet, good in the car, great with dogs and people, walks nicely on the lead, isn’t aggressive. She’s just lovely and I can’t bring myself to take her back to the shelter, so if you’re interested, please get in touch.
Helena is a woman I grew fond of immediately and would help in a heartbeat. I don’t think she realises just how amazing she is though. I’d like to help turn her vision of a great shelter into reality. She, like Chiquinha, deserves that chance of a better future.
Sometimes we overlook the shy ones, but we shouldn’t. If we believe in them, they start to believe in themselves and great things can happen. With shyness often comes great kindness. We certainly need more of that in the world.