January 2020, finally the day had come... I was about to start to work as a volunteer for Ace for 3 weeks, Since years I wanted to do that, but somehow always something else came up. As as freelancer I had the possibility to take time of when I wanted, but it was difficult to find a spot. I was not welcome at some organisations, but via social media I received a response from Ace: You are more than welcome with us...
And I felt that, from the first day when Veerle showed me around the refugio until the last day. Minus 2 days I was there everyday to help and I cannot express what an unforgettable and great experience it was. There is lot to tell, but I will try to keep it short (which is a challenge for me)
I was very impressed, the amount of dogs and the diversity in dogs, the many backgrounds and reasons why they are in the refugio. But also, how much needs to be done to run a refugio and organization like this one. There are so many things that need to be taken into account and that people have to think about. every employee and volunteer contributes to that.
On the second day I said that it was hard on me, so many dogs who need some attention, the constant barking and begging eyes looking at you/ You could see and feel the pain and sadness, it truly touched me in my heart. Employee Wendy told me: Don't be sad, this ia a place of love and hope. I realised that she was right and I kept that in mind to contribute to that lovely mindset.
My tasks were cleaning the cages, which is done with a lot of meticulousness, twice a day, feeding, handing out treats, observing how they behave and 'signaling peculiarties. Often I was the one who took care of the cat hotel. 6 lovely cats who also need care and attention. Besides that there are lots of other tasks: filling the food containers on all sections, cleaning up and tidying up the general spaces, do loads and loads of laundry, washing the dogs who will fly home the next day, moving dogs from one section to another...
My favorite was the playing and cuddling with the dogs... Luckily there was plenty of time to do so and I was given that time. What I will remember the most is the love that you will get from almost all digs, big or small, young or old. all so thankful for the attention that you give them. For some it took some more time to trust me, but how special when it starts to show and I could pet them after a while or even play with them. I felt so happy everyday thanks to all the love I felt. It might be good that there are so many dogs, otherwise I would have taken them all back home.
It was heartwarming to see how sweet and good the staff and volunteers were for the animals, a cuddle and a kiss, saying goodbye when the day ended, or go outside to the field when there was a possibility, so that they could run free. They are wel taken care of and you feel that everybody has good intentions, employees, volunteers, students, bets, in front of and behind the scenes.
Another nice thing was to see that so many lucky ones could go to new homes, they all deserve it. When I told my family and friends what I was going to do, they all were convinced that I would come home with a dog. I said I was not so sure about that but I guess I also knew better. The second day already I was sold... Maya (now Vida) was the lucky one and flew back home with me to come live with me and my other dog Zara. But there was another dog that I really wanted to adopt. I felt bad leaving all of them behind, but especially her: Khaleesi. A pup of 4/5 months old. a true black beauty but with some health issues which are now being examined. She is so incredibly sweet and adorable, I had to do something to help her so I adopted her virtually.
I have so much respect for Fabienne, who started all this 20 years ago and for the whole team, who are there together for the dogs and cats, giving them a chance on a beautiful new life.
It was great and I will definately return to that place of hope and love.
Thank you to everybody who support Ace, who adopted and again to everybody for this amazing experience!