Thursday, 9 February 2012

Nick's Experience at the Dog Shelter

Miles of beautiful beach to myself with 37 new best friends in need of a little help.  This was the essence of myexperience with the dog shelter. 
            Thereare street dogs (chuchos, chuscos, or vagabundos, depending on what country you’re in!) everywhere in Latin America, as you will soon see if you aren’talready familiar.  The fact that ashelter like this even exists in Peru is fairly incredible.  They do their best to help out injured,sick, and abandoned street dogs. Where you come in to the average shelter dog’slife is playtime!  Withoutvolunteers, the dogs can’t get out and exercise because the shelter simply doesnot have enough people to take them out every day…in fact, what the shelter does have in terms of people are Danny and Antonio.  Suffice it to say that I felt needed.
            Outsideof the shelter work (running dogs, bathing dogs, cleaning dog rooms) I also helped out with a couple of emergency cases that came up.  One was a dog wasting away in thestreet from distemper.  The vet had to put it to sleep, and that was a very rough day.  The other was a sweetheart named Canela that ended up comingto live with me for a while after being hit by a car and having surgery on a broken hip.   This side of thework was not required, it just came up and I wanted to help out, so if you’drather keep strictly to beach running, that’s fine and totally needed!  But at the same time, if you can handle the emotional ride, there a re a lot of dogs suffering out there that could usea hand.
            I mostly worked with Danny during my month at the shelter.  He’s a great guy, and very passionateabout his work.  He’ll show you around Trujillo as well if you’re up for it! He has a lot of ideas for theshelter, so if you’ve got some drive you can work together to make a lot happenthere.  While I was there mysel fand two fellow volunteers raised a small bit of money and within weeks hadhelped get running water installed at the shelter for the first time.

Danny was also very patient andhelpful as I worked to learn Spanish, as Huanchaco was my first stop in SouthAmerica. The dogs were patient with me if not terribly helpful with correcting my pronunciation! 
            In all, the only bad thing I can say about volunteering with the shelter is a guaranteed broken heart when you leave. There’s still a hole in my heart for all my furry friends in Huanchaquito.