One of the major reasons that GDS need a proper centre is to establish a desperately needed volunteer programme. With the amount of dogs we have and the care and socialization they require, we would welcome as many hands as we could get. However, it is just not feasible under our present circumstances for too many reasons to enumerate. The volunteers that we post on our Facebook page have been with us from the beginning, know the routines and have accepted being largely ignored for hours at a time to work on their own, being peed, pooped and vomited on, near starved and made to sleep with mice and eternal night howling. However, until the funds are raised to build our center, we would like to share the musings of Julie Watkinson — we look forward to the day when she can provide an up-to-date GDS Volunteer Booklet for our centre.
GDS Volunteer Instruction Booklet
Here I am, the woman most likely to have a bottle of anti-bac hand gel (actually probably more than one) in my handbag, the woman who will not go to public loos at all if they smell bad and the woman with 'poo pouri' in every toilet in the house (yes really, you spray it and it stops your poos smelling). GDS was a real challenge and I thought I might explain a little, in the hope that it might prepare future volunteers and give others a taste of life on the finca!
Firstly, try this… I can happily say that I am able to block my nose off internally, I thought everyone could but apparently they can't. Very useful at GDS, I didn't sniff much for the whole week! I have no idea if Tina and Sam smell of roses or wet dogs (althought I suspect
the latter). So if you can't do it you might want to practice, that or take a peg as cleaning those babies is STINKY work, not to mention if Tina ropes you into a 'poo to the dump' run… wooaahh!
Be prepared for the fact there is never enough time, you get up early to get organised but you don't as there is always something urgent to attend to. Most days I was, sensibly, not showered when starting the cleaning (which takes easily three hours and that is just the smaller finca) but then the ten mins allocated to a shower got eaten up by an emergency and I ended up at the vets or chemist or charity shop, looking slightly deranged (no make up and more of a hair don't than a hair do — especially after I lost a contact in the dog kennel — that was one time I decided NOT to search!) and smelling less than fresh. Its all about the pressure of time, I actually realised one day in the late afternoon that I hadn't even cleaned my teeth! How Tina remains so gorgeous I have NO idea but will share that she sometimes sleeps in her clothes…
Wellies are a must, I thought I was clever when I took old crocs forgetting that 'things' can seep in through the holes, spent half an hour one morning thinking I had wee between my toes only to discover it was something worse… much worse. (I know, I know but when you are feeding the dogs there is no opportunity in their minds for you to fanny off and wash your feet). I was also there when it was raining and crocs on wet tiles = hard fall and big bruise on bum, crocs on muddy ground = hard fall and mud splashed everywhere (not to mention very startled galgos!). Needless to say, two pairs of crocs abandoned in Murcia. When walking around the finca you are walking in all sorts and even though you try to sluice your shoes it doesn't always work. On an accountant visit with Tina, I was horrified to smell my own feet, I stuck them right under my chair but not sure that helped!
All GDS puppies have a hundred claws on each paw — true fact.
Think about clothing, old obviously, I had that one sorted (take old stuff and bin it) or so I thought. You get very dirty but also need to cover up all flesh as those galgos are loving and keen to be loved but have HUGE paws with about 100 claws on each foot, which I believe puppies have specially sharpened by their mums. Walking into the puppy pen with eight of them vying for attention was akin to a new form of torture! Oh, and anything even slightly 'floaty' is fair game to a galgo puppy, shred, shred, shred. Talking about clothing, never assume that because you are in the middle of nowhere, you can take a chance. Sam and I were rushing to go to the vet and I was still in cleaning clothes, I daringly whipped my things off in the middle of the quiet countryside, not a sound to be heard… as I exposed my somewhat less than supermodel body… four cars, a truck load of workmen, the next door farmer and a bl**dy tractor appeared, I am thinking it took them most of the morning to recover from the shock!
A head torch is a great idea as the finca is in the middle of nowhere, at night there are often things you want to go and check on but juggling a torch whilst getting through gates and doors with galgos on both sides is not easy, nay virtually impossible. Head torch might look geeky but it can't be dropped in dog wee and I am certainly getting one for my next visit.
What else??? Let me think. Chocolate to eat when you miss breakfast (and lunch) and possibly dinner, independent spirit, a desire to work super hard, extra supplies of admiration (a normal quota is definitely not enough ...), endless supplies of strokes, cuddles, tickles and love. What a marvellous experience but not one for the faint-hearted! Good luck to all who walk the GDS path and to those who decide it is a step too far — buy an Alibar hat (find Alibar Dog Knits on facebook) or do a monthly sponsorship, put your pup on 16 dogs a day, buy a wrist band or simply just keep them in your thoughts, it is all just as important as the high profile stuff. — JULIE WATKINSON