What it means to be a volunteer according to Harry...and a bit from Auntie Sandra...
Hello, my name is Harry and I am one of many dogs who call the Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary home. I am here because I am not good with other dogs and my issues meant that there was nowhere else for me to go. I am one of the lucky ones because even though I couldn't be 'fixed' I am accepted here....I am safe, I am loved and no one can hurt me. Here, my friends and I are protected from the world and we are allowed to live out our days in peace but it does sometimes get lonely. I have my mum Joy at the sanctuary of course and I know she loves me a lot but she is really busy helping so many like me and it's hard for her to fill our days as she would want to all on her own. We have walks and playtime and daily cuddles but we are many in number and lots of us live in kennels, so when mum told me that YOU had volunteered and were coming to play ball with me today, that you were coming to see just ME today and spend some time with just me today it made me feel so special and loved.
I waited and waited for what seemed like hours and when I saw you and you spoke to me and looked deep into my eyes I was so happy that I couldn't wag my tail fast enough! My eyes sparkled back at you and I smiled and danced on my paws when you said we could go to the paddock and play ball. Playing ball is what I love to do best and the fact that you knew that made you even more wonderful and as I ran and jumped I thought I had never been happier! For you, my hero I jumped higher and ran faster, doing my best to show you how much it meant and how my heart was full to bursting with the sheer joy of being with just you. All too soon it was over and we had to say goodbye but as I went happily back to my kennel I thought that you must have been an angel because that hour that you gave me was heaven, those 60 precious minutes were bliss and they meant so much to me. I whispered thank you in my head a thousand times as I lay down with a happy sigh.... I'm going to sleep well tonight, contented and tired and I'm going to dream of the next time you come to see me...JUST me and we get to play again....just you and I.
I know I'm just a dog and you might not believe me so this is me with Auntie Sandra, she is one of our special angels who comes and visits us and I have enlisted her help....
"I try to go to the sanctuary once a week. It started as me trying to give a bit of love and hope to some of the most frightened and abused dogs I have ever come across but it has ended up with me getting more from it than I could ever give. I love it in so many ways. The feeling you get when one of the frightened rommies makes eye contact with you, albeit only for a split second, or when they actually take a treat from your hand is very special. It might have taken weeks of sitting outside of their run talking rubbish to them, throwing treats in their direction before one of them trusts you enough to come closer, which then gives the others in the pack more confidence to trust you but it truly is the most amazing feeling. A feeling of fulfilment that is difficult to find elsewhere in this crazy, busy world. And then there is the honour of meeting some of the human fearful dogs, from a distance of course as joy gets them out and works with them, knowing that them meeting you is the first step to them recovering as best they can, to be able to lead a full life in the sanctuary, a life free from fear, a life free from hunger or cruelty is totally humbling. OK they might not have a sofa to call their own but they have love and in a very small way the time I spend there helps to show these dogs that there is hope and they have a future. It is difficult to put into words what spending a little time with these once lost souls means to them but they seem to give back so much and seeing a fearful tail un-tuck to wag with thanks makes every second worthwhile, if only I could spend time with them everyday I would. Throwing a tennis ball for Harry makes his world complete. Throwing anything plastic for Mr Beau to chew to pieces, talking to him every time I walk past his run and seeing him wagging his whole body is a delight. Daisy, so damaged turning his back on me and leaning against the run, which is his invitation for me to touch him was such a compliment I cannot tell you! The list goes on and on, these dogs are all individuals and they all repay the time you spare them in their own way. My days at the sanctuary, or mad house as Joy calls it are in fact my days of sanity and fulfilment. I would encourage anyone who truly wants to make a difference to offer some time as it really does mean so much to each and every dog you spend time with, it changes their world a little for the better with every ball thrown, every treat given and every kind word spoken. Not to mention it is a privilege to spend time with joy and watch how she cares for and never gives up on these guys and how she is always looking for a way to improve their lives. Sandra Xxx"
So you see, if you could spare 60 minutes to be a hero, take one of us for a walk, give us a cuddle or play with us it not only means the world to us, it can mean the world to you too. Please get in touch and come and see us. That 60 minutes is a small part of your week, but it is the highlight of ours.
Yours in anticipation,
Harrypants The Spaniel xx
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