Today is the big day I go to see my future babies. The sun is out. It is a beautiful day and I am so excited and looking forward to seeing, bonding and bringing back my babies with me, I could barely eat breakfast.
By noon I took the car with the driver and picked up my neighbour who was one of the founders of the shelter ESMA (Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals). She will be showing us how to get there and introducing me to the people there. The trip is over an hour from where I live and the roads, once we reached the outskirts of town were very badly paved as the shelter is in a semi rural area. The road was a narrow, two-way bumpy road bordering a narrow water channel. There were many trucks and those pesky Toktoks flitting everywhere and making the drive there rather hazardous. But all that did not faze me, I was going there to bring my babies home.
We finally got there and the driver parked the car and we got out and rang the bell next to a small wooden door painted light blue. The moment the bell was rung a cacophony of barking was heard and someone shooing them away to try to open the door for us. A couple of bolts were drawn then the door was opened wide enough for us to slip in sideways, while a large number of little noses peeked around us at the outside, but none of the dogs ventured out.
Our reception was extraordinary. I have never been poked and sniffed, had my hands licked and my legs pawed as those first few minutes on entering the shelter. There were dogs of every size, breed and colour everywhere. We could not take a step forward without stumbling over a few dogs, so to get in a few steps we had to gently nudge them forward. They were so excited to see us, so happy to be petted, it was overwhelming.
The shelter is divided into areas with each area having its own door, then a second door into the following area and so on. So there were a large number of dogs in each area, but every time we crossed from one area to another some dogs would get through, both ways. So the population seems to be fluid and all the dogs roamed everywhere.
We were shown to an area where there were little rooms with barred doors housing dogs with special circumstances. That is where I found my babies. They were housed together in one of those rooms and I went in with them and sat with them a bit.
The male Golden Retriever was slightly damp after being given a shower. It seems my poor baby had suffered a great deal after being turned out into the street and part of his problem was s bad case of mange. Today he looked quite cured with his hair sprouting back. But my poor baby is so thin it kills me. I want to get him back as soon as possible to start feeding him up and putting some flesh on his bones.
The female GS mix is much smaller in size and has the most beautiful brown eyes. She is in a better condition than her partner, not as skinny, and with a shiny coat. But she is very scared and the only way I could pet her without her cringing out of reach was with my palm held facing up and at an angle lower than her head. She must have suffered some abuse.
Five minutes after sitting inside their room with them they started feeling less threatened then started coming over when called. When I started calling the male Sweetheart he responded, so I think his previous name must have sounded something like that. He started leaning against me, stropping himself against my legs, and ultimately stood on his hind legs and gave me a hug. I fell in love like a ton of bricks. The GS mix captured my heart by stopping her cringing and she started licking my fingers whenever I stretched out my hand to her. After a few minutes more my neighbour and I left the little room and went in search of the lady in charge of the shelter to finalise the details of my taking my babies home with me.
That was when she gave me the disappointing news that the female was scheduled to be spayed tomorrow and that I would not be able to take them back with me today. They will both have to stay until she is fully recovered, so it looks like I won’t be getting them before next Thursday. I was extremely disappointed, I was so looking forward to bringing them home with me. But never mind, one more week will not kill me.
ESMA is doing such a great job of sheltering stray dogs and cats, not only are they taking them in, feeding them, cleaning them and medically treating them, but they are also working hard at getting them adopted and in placing them in forever homes. Some of these poor creatures are very badly maimed. I don’t know how many dogs I saw today who could not walk properly. A large number of them have had back injuries that left their hind legs paralysed. These dogs are top priority dogs for adoption abroad where certain contraptions are tailored to their needs whereby they can be mobile. The only problem is that help is needed to find what is called a “travel parent”. Anyone who is travelling abroad, especially to the USA, Canada, France, Brussels or Munich could become a travel parent to a dog being sent abroad for adoption. All they have to do is agree to have the dog’s ticket stamped on their own and to collect it along with their luggage at their destination. All expenses, the delivery of the dog, all paperwork and vaccines are taken care of by ESMA, all the travel parent needs to do is meet the ESMA representative at the Cairo airport to be with him when checking in the dog, then meet the adopting parent at the destination to hand over the dog. All the needed documentation will be given to the travel parent to hand over to the adopting parent at the destination. This is such an important part of helping those poor maimed creatures that volunteers are greatly appreciated. Next time any one of you is travelling abroad to any of those destinations, please keep this in mind. You will be saving a living creature from a life of misery, transporting it to a forever home and loving adoptive parents.
Talking with the lady who runs the shelter I discovered that though the shelter was originally built to house 250 dogs they now have over 500. They are very imaginative in the ways they are dealing with this over population. One of their main problems is to ensure that these dogs have shelter from the cold. So large plastic barrels are now being used as housing. With a blanket inside, a barrel becomes a cosy house for a dog at night. Another idea is to convert large water tanks into rooms for these poor dogs. This gave me the idea to donate my two water tanks that I had bought at the beginning of this year when my water was cut off. These might help. Anything that can help in making life more tolerable for these poor creatures is highly appreciated.
We spent nearly two hours at the shelter, and while there I saw a group of school children come in as volunteers to walk some of the dogs. Every Friday two groups come in, the first to walk the disabled dogs, and the second to walk some of the others. This gives the dogs the human contact and attention they crave, while giving the humans a chance to do something good for these poor creatures.
On the way back home I was rather depressed, first for not bringing my babies home right away, and second because of all the work that needs to be done for this overwhelming number of dogs in need. The day turned cold and overcast and was very much in tune with my mood. By the time I reached home it was raining and I was relieved to find my babies in their houses, warm and safe after being fed.
The contrast between their lot and that of the dogs at the shelter depressed me even more. If ever I could do anything to help place these dogs in loving, caring homes, I would do it. These, more than any puppies, need to be taken in, nurtured and loved. If ever any of you wants a dog, please, please go pick one up from one of these shelters. These are beautiful dogs, some are purebred who just need to be loved and cared for.
I am now looking forward to having my two babies with me next week.
11 December 2015