Spreadsheets or Puppy Poo
Continuing my series of blogs on what the arrival at the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre (DBARC) of pregnant puppy farm dog Lara (now called Clara) and her puppies has involved, here volunteer Anne Barlow recounts one day in the life of DBARC.
For more experiences, read If Only Every Puppy Had This Love.
A couple of months ago I saw a post from DBARC’s manager, Janet. Volunteers were needed for an exceptionally busy Friday coming up. After a few messages to make sure I’d be a help, not hindrance, I got to spend a memorable day at DBARC volunteering. Perhaps my eagerness surprised Janet when I appeared by the gates bright and early at 7.30am but my car boot full of goodies ensured I gained swift access.
Arriving in the staff room I got my first insight into the sheer hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers. Clara’s puppies had been born just 6 days earlier. A number of dogs had also come in that needed time spent with them and assessment. Some of the team had been sleeping in the staff room in between feeding the puppies. For one not known for her domestic keenness, it was odd how happy I was to give the staff room a once over and stack the dishwasher. I also learnt one of the most important feeding issues of the day: Janet has her coffee white with milk in first .
Assistant manager Julie showed me how to clean out the rabbits. I soon met Jamie who comes every week to do this, he’s a part time chef. He’s one of the many regular volunteers of DBARC and I’m scared of naming any, for fear of leaving a vital pair of hands out. People with day jobs that come and roll up their sleeves because they want to make a difference. Humbling and happening at rescue centres across the world; volunteers provide the infrastructure of successful rescue without asking for, or expecting a penny in return.
It’s eye opening how often the washing machine is put on, the phone rings, or the staff radio each other to check in on animals as it’s all a fast moving process. Donna reminded me to peg out the washing as tumble dryers cost money to run (every penny really does count to a rescue). The new intake of dogs had been advertised and the general public, all hopeful, began arriving. Successful rehoming involves many carefully coordinated steps, beginining with the initial vetting process, everything from social meets, bringing other dogs to meet potential new family members and the all important home checks. Aside from the exceptional demands of hand rearing Clara’s puppies, the morning was a typical Friday. There was a constant flow of people with donations, everything from dog beds and food, to shredded paper for the smaller animals.
As well as all the small animals and cats needing care, the dogs required exercising. Bumbling about cleaning, sorting, washing stuff I was happy, but when Janet asked me to help feed the puppies I was thrilled. Back at the day job I’d left spreadsheets for this ? Wow!
I’ve always had adult rescue dogs, so with little exposure to such tiny, vulnerable creatures, I took seriously my briefing from Julie and gave it my best shot. I had a proud moment getting one of the puppies to poo.
I learnt how to make up feeds and get ready for the next meal – less than an hour away; sorted through piles of donated dog coats, and set aside a big bunch to take home for washing and to get ready to sell in Barkwrights, DBARC’s onsite shop. The late afternoon puppy feed and a final clear up completed my day.
Clara had been at the vets, a very poorly mum. Janet got the call and raced off to collect her. She couldn’t go back to the puppies due to the medication in her system; Clara looked sad and exhausted stood in the kennel. Seeing her now, a few weeks later and recently adopted into a brilliant family and flourishing she’s a different dog indeed from that day at DBARC.
As the evening lights went on, Julie and her daughters were arriving back for the evening feed. There’d be several more weeks of round the clock care for the puppies and Clara. As Janet and Donna were planning for the day ahead, and in Janet’s case, a night of puppy feeding, my good friend and volunteer Janet, Merlin’s mum was on the phone to trying to get donations of puppy milk from a contact, (she succeeded). So many animals settled down for the night with full tummies and perhaps for the first time ever, free of fear, and a soft bed.
The day left me reflective, impressed, inspired (oh and a bit smelly due to puppy wee). This was just one day as a DBARC volunteer. Could I do this day in day out? Honestly, I am not sure I could, but thank goodness that so many amazing and dedicated staff and volunteers do. They’re out their shovelling snow and enduring freezing winter days; working hard to keep animals cool in the heat of the summer and making a difference every single day in so many ways for the animals.
So to all who volunteer, to all donors, crafters, charity runners, walkers, climbers, artists, writers, educators, cake makers, and all of you who volunteer the precious gift of time or help in any way, I absolutely take my hat off to you, you quite simply rock!