WHEN I first walked into ADANA, I knew the risks. Not that I was likely to be in any danger, in the traditional sense, but I was fairly confident that I would fall in love, that day; hopelessly in love, probably more than once. My fears turned out to be well-founded.
The first dog I walked, was Coco, a sweet and well behaved mastin cross, who has since been homed. I was fortunate to walk Coco, a number of times, including her very last walk, at ADANA. As we arrived back at the compound, one day, there was a family waiting to meet her. Half an hour later, she trotted calmly away, with the daughter of the family and hopped into their car. It’s a bitter-sweet moment, achieving the aim of ADANA by giving a dog a ‘forever home’, while also knowing you might never see them, again. I was prepared for it but did not expect the pang I experienced for her pen-mate, Lucky.
On that first ADANA day, while I walked Coco, my friend, a regular volunteer, walked Lucky, a large, boisterous and characterful mastin-german shepherd cross. It was Lucky I fell in love with and now, he was alone, in his pen, in no way able to understand that his friend had just won the lottery, only aware that she’d gone.
Lucky is not the easiest. Not long after I met him, I tried to persuade him to sit for a treat. He hit me around chest height, knocking the treat out of my hand, before gleefully gobbling it up and getting back to task in hand, which was jumping on me. Not that there is a single bad bone in Lucky; he is simply big, exuberant and playful. While his body is that of a mastin, his head resembles that of a german shepherd, rather too small for his body and with eyes, slightly too close together, for the whole ensemble. He is a kooky guy, both in his physical appearance and his personality.
These days, he has mellowed, a little, but he’s still that guy, affectionate, playful and gorgeous, in his own, goofy way, but Lucky is one of ADANA’s lonely boys. There are a few; usually large dogs, who are just a little odd, perhaps a little excitable, perhaps a little old or timid, and who, somehow, are always overlooked and rarely even considered for adoption. It was these lonely boys, that I found myself loving, most of all.
I didn’t have to wait long, to meet the second. Next, on that first ADANA day, I walked Stella (since homed, and as I later found out, Coco’s sister) while my friend walked Panther, a sleek, magnificent pointer-cross.
It was quite a recent development, at the time, that Panther could be walked, at all, so timid and anxious had he been. He has since advanced in (literal) leaps and bounds but his underlying timidity still disguises his gentle and affectionate nature, to the point that he is rarely viewed by potential adopters. It does not take long for Panther to trust, but the fact that it takes time, at all, usually eliminates him, even if he is considered, to begin with. Having earned his trust, I now know a gentle, well-socialised, affectionate and, above all, magnificent dog.
Concluding the story of my first ADANA day, was Campeon, a calm, friendly and somewhat rotund mastin-cross, who plodded beside me, occasionally flashing his trademark, goofy grin. Trotting along with him was his constant companion, Princesita, a very timid mineto podenco; the little princess and her champion.
When fire threatened ADANA, last year, and the centre was evacuated, I fostered Campeon and Princesita, just for a week (it would be unthinkable to separate them) and got to know them, a little. Already house-trained and instantly assuming they were allowed neither upstairs, nor in the kitchen, they could not possibly have been easier. She revelled in the comfort, while he flopped down, in the coolest place he could find, occasionally arriving in front of me, with that big, goofy grin, if for instance, I had a sausage roll. Seeing the two of them capering around the room, when I came down the stairs, each morning, is something that will stay with me forever. Imagine being happy to hear your alarm go off, on a Wednesday morning!
For retirees, with even only a little garden, for him to flop down and her to sniff around (never once allowing him out of her line of sight) these two would be rewarding and easily manageable …but he’s getting old and over-weight and she’s timid. There is always a seemingly easier option, so at ADANA they stay.
I still volunteer at ADANA, each week (I can no longer imagine not doing so) and walk these lonely boys and several others; Wolfy, the amiable, cuddly scruff who, at 8 years old, is not often considered, or Apollo, utterly gorgeous but just too big and over-excited, to cite just two.
The puppies and the smaller dogs come and go, regularly, as the months pass by, and I feel only gratitude to those who have been able to provide a forever-home to those dogs but my heart still melts for the lonely boys …and yes, if someone were to adopt them, and I were not able to see them, anymore, I would probably shed more than just the odd tear, but it would be worth it.
If you would like to donate, volunteer or offer an abandoned dog a home, find more information on the ADANA facebook page HERE
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