WHEN people discover you are an ADANA volunteer, there are phrases that you should expect:
Quite right! Best day of the week!
“I couldn’t do that.”
You probably could.
“I’d want to bring them all home with me.”
OK, fair point. That’s a thing.
“It must be so sad.”
This one is the biggest misconception. It is almost never a sad place, and the huge majority of dogs are happy there. Some might be traumatised, on arrival, but their recovery and development, as they realise they are safe and loved, is a constant source of joy.
Probably 98% of cases aren’t sad …but that, of course, leaves 2% that are.
Jubilee arrived in spring, among a litter of six puppies, one of three with broken legs, the result of having been dumped in a bin.
Often, the sadness only manifests, once the anger has dissipated.
At the time, I got to know her sister, Hanalee, who was fostered by friends, while her leg mended. Unembittered by her early experiences of humanity, she was quite adorable, and the biggest problem was in trying to ensure she didn’t further injure the strapped leg, as she played, boisterously and happily, before suddenly running out of energy and collapsing into a short, cuddly nap.
It was no surprise to see Hanalee and the rest of the litter quickly adopted but Jubilee’s injuries were the worst of all and wouldn’t properly fix, so she remained at ADANA, in a solitary pen, so as not to aggravate them. It will be some months before further surgery can take place, as she’s growing so quickly that the bones can’t be effectively pinned.
Soft, friendly and loving of affection, Jubilee will readily jump up for a cuddle, despite her injured leg, and was very happy to take a short, hoppity walk until, in early September, the bone broke, again. It still didn’t stop her from jumping up, for cuddles.
Happily, Jubilee’s tale finishes with a wag. Just a day or two after she re-broke her leg, she was adopted. She’ll get her medical attention and has her new home and family. When this story began, it was a sad one but sometimes, the saddest stories can turn, in a day.
Welcome to ADANA.
One story unlikely to end as happily, is that of Lola, a mastin, although it was hard to tell, when we first met her.
Lola arrived in a shocking state, skeletal, weak and covered from head to toe and tail in sores and tumours. “Just put her down”, quipped her owner.
As distressing as her appearance was, her spirit still shone through, and she would happily take a short walk, enjoying the sunshine and the breeze and whatever sniffs she could find.
Because her condition was so desperate, it was necessary for her to spend an extended period in a solitary pen, which she did not enjoy. Volunteers, however, were sensitive to this, and it was common to see her outside her pen, lying in the spring sunshine – and heaven help anyone who attempted to move her before she was good and ready! Fragile and decrepit she might have been, but she has always held strong views and is very happy to share them with you.
While the tumours and some of the sores remain (despite constant attention) she is a much healthier girl, these days, and now shares a pen with Admiral, the calm and gentle mastin, and Bulé, the intelligent sharpei cross. Her opinions are no less entrenched and if you wish to clean her pen, while she is sunbathing, you will be required to clean around her. She will be insistent about that. Lola does not negotiate with terrorists.
As sad as these cases might be, neither Jubilee nor Lola seems unhappy. Each will readily accept affection and enjoy a treat. Jubilee, whether she knows or not, will soon have her new home and Lola now has her friends. Occasionally, she might be interested to go for a walk. If not, don’t worry: She’ll tell you.
Welcome to ADANA.
Often those dogs that seem most traumatised, on arrival, turn out to be the among the greatest sources of joy.
Last month, I introduced Sasha, whose owner had died, leaving him bewildered and very timid.
After only six weeks, Sasha is unrecognisable. From a flat refusal to let me approach him, we have quickly transitioned through the ‘accepting treats’ phase and the ‘ear-scratches’ phase, before rapidly advancing to the ‘joyfully hurling himself at me and thoroughly cleaning my ears’ phase. Sasha’s timidity already seems like ancient history.
Recently, as I brought Lucky back to the pen also containing Sasha and Ding, there seemed to be a fault with the latch. The door swung open, behind me, as I removed the lead from Lucky, and Sash and Ding, sensing an opportunity for adventure, were off like a shot.
Loose dogs, when walkers are bringing other dogs in and out, form an obvious problem but fortunately, another volunteer was at the entrance to the shelter. There was, however, an open pen (being cleaned, while the dogs were out) at the other end of the corridor.
There followed a period where I would succeed in catching and returning one, then the other, but the door still wasn’t properly shut, so the first, then the second would get back out and the whole thing could start, again. This continued for some time.
As I managed to get them back, for the umpteenth time, double and treble checking the door, behind me, I glanced at Lucky, who had remained, sitting in the middle of the pen throughout, happily watching the theatre. His grin broadened as we locked stares.
It may sound crazy, but I know he did something to that door …and he knows I know.
Welcome to ADANA.