Even those who are not dog-lovers would find beauty in the hills surrounding ADANA, in spring.
In the May sunshine, amid verdant scenery, flowing streams, spring flowers and birds of prey, soaring on warm thermals, there is a bleak, rugged beauty.
For we ADANA volunteers, that beauty is only enhanced by our hairiest friends.
Through spring, each of the dogs will get long brushes to help lose their winter coats, combined with a number of thorough checks for ticks. It is not easy, searching for ticks on the larger, thicker-haired mastins (some of whom could have goats and it would be tough to find them all) but fortunately, mastins tend to be predisposed to this kind of attention, none more so than Kujo.
Kujo is as calm and gentle as he is large and beautiful. He is slightly timid, when meeting new people but it doesn’t last long; he’s a sucker for an ear scratch.
When out walking, he is oblivious of other dogs and people, and only concerned with all the interesting sniffs to be snuffled. I imagine him to have a rich, deep bark, but I have to imagine, as nobody knows, for sure.
Kujo loves to be brushed, slowly liquifying, while shedding enough hair to make two new dogs and a mammoth.
Meanwhile, the never-ending processes of rehabilitation and socialisation roll on, among those dogs who need it. To that end, May was a triumph.
Only last winter, Cotton seemed almost institutionalised. One of the longest-term ADANA residents and in a pen housing three timid dogs, he was the least confident of all.
A nonetheless, sweet and happy little scruff, Cotton would readily approach those few he trusted, for affection and treats, but would not walk 100 metres from the shelter.
In January, as I took Cotton’s BFF, Panther, for a walk (for more on Panther, see previous article ‘The Lonely Boys’ HERE), my friend took Cotton for a brief sniff about …except that, emboldened by his best buddy, Cotton suddenly walked.
We were ten minutes down the hill, before he remembered how nervous he was and demanded to walk back, which, of course, made us wonder how much further he might walk, with both of his pen-mates around him.
The third of the trio is Samantha, the group alpha, a gold coloured and smooth-haired mastin, more closely resembling an enormous labrador. Samantha is a meander-thol, never taking five consecutive steps, in the same direction. When you’re as beautiful as she is, you get to decide, and Sammy knows it.
Alongside the two of them, Cotton walked and smiled, happy to be out with his pack, and we walked and smiled with him, as he took increasingly longer treks, through late winter and early spring.
These days, he seems to love his walks; nose down, tail up and ever alert to where the next treat might come from.
As three of us took them out, in the May sunshine, another friend happened to be walking Zeus, officially ADANA’s most gentle and giant oaf.
In only around six months, Zeus has gone from utterly fearful of a lead, through walking perfectly, on a lead, to no longer needing a lead.
The four dogs quickly bonded, with Zeus and Cotton almost immediately developing their very own bro-mance, while he and Panther played and he and Samantha flirted.
Now with three friends, Cotton is happier than ever, to walk, and the trio has become a quartet, as Zeus, Cotton, Panther and Samantha all now share a pen. They seem pleased.
Also welcoming a new friend to their pen were London and Clancy. Following Harlequin’s adoption (see April story) Zack, a young and handsome mastin, has filled the vacancy.
It was some months ago that we received reports of nine abandoned mastin puppies. Eight were quickly rounded up but upsettingly, the ninth couldn’t be caught and seemed to simply vanish. They turned out to be a dream litter, calm and gentle, to a pup, and over the following five or six months, all eight were found homes.
And then, just before the last of the eight was adopted, the missing puppy, Zack, was brought in, super-timid, with no social-skills and unwilling to be walked, or even approached.
In a few, short weeks, much has changed for Zack. While still a little timid, he is becoming ever more friendly towards dogs and affectionate towards people, as we begin to see the beautiful nature that had his brothers and sisters so quickly homed.
His lead manners are already close to perfect and he walks, calmly and attentively, right at your side.
While much changes at ADANA, through the seasons, there are of course, those things that remain largely the same, and the largest of all is Lucky.
He has recently developed the habit of parking himself squarely across the path of anyone who happens to be walking him, knowing he’ll get scratches and strokes, as a result.
Following lengthy meetings with Lucky’s legal representatives, we are obliged to acknowledge that it is reasonable to believe that this might be his way of inviting affection, and absolutely does not constitute conclusive evidence of ‘demanding cuddles with menaces’. ç
If you would like to donate, volunteer or offer an abandoned dog a home, find more information on the ADANA facebook page HERE
- Shaggy dog stories: Diary of a volunteer at ADANA animal shelter in Estepona on Spain’s Costa del Sol
- The Lonely Boys: Shaggy dog stories from Adana animal shelter in Estepona on Spain’s Costa del Sol