High in the Besparmak Mountains, Cyprus, is Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It's a rescue centre very dear to H&H Publisher, Jude, as it's where she met and adopted Immie, the resident H&H hound, 14 years ago.
The centre is run for the most part by hard-working volunteers, and we would like to take a moment to salute those dedicated people who make the lives of Cyprus' stray dogs and cats a lot brighter.
Over the next few months, we'll be getting to know some of these volunteers as they take us through a typical day working with the animals in their care. This month, we're joining Puppy Carer Patricia as she goes about her day ...
"My day starts, not with the puppies, but with a little ritual involving Timmy, a dog who has been with us since 2009. Timmy can only be described as eccentric, and he likes to start his day with a plastic bottle in his mouth. So, on arrival, I have in my bag one plastic bottle to throw to Timmy to catch and run around with. My first job is completed and as you can see, Timmy is very happy with a bottle held firmly in his teeth!
"On to the puppies. This involves clearing poo – and lots of it! We have over 20 puppies in the older
puppy area, and it never fails to amaze me how so few puppies can produce so much poo overnight. We also have about 12-15 smaller puppies in ER7, and they, too, are very messy – on the floor, in their beds – they really are a mucky lot! So it is a quick hose-down to clear the floor ready for the puppies’ breakfast. I also make a quick check of the pups to make sure they are all okay and haven’t got into any scrapes overnight.
"The older pups have their breakfast first. Balancing 15 large bowls of food with 20+ pups jostling for
position is no mean feat. I have never yet gone flying, but there’s always a first time. The food is demolished in less than a minute and then I feed the pups in ER7. They too polish off their breakfast quickly and all the bowls/trays are cleared.
"Next is a more thorough clean of the puppy areas. The floors are disinfected and the beds cleared of
dirty bedding and cleaned. If any pups are in cages, they are moved into a clean one while I clean the dirty ones. The puppies' drinking water is also replaced.
"This all sounds quite straightforward, and would be, except for one thing ... The puppies! They like to
help – or rather, they like to get in the way. They particularly like to chew the hose if it is laid on the floor for a second, and the floor scraper is one big game to some of them.
"Here I am being supervised by two of the older pups. So, where are the others? Well, they have taken
a shine to the person taking the photo, and are trying to swing on the camera strap – and anything else they can get hold of!! It’s a pity I didn’t have a camera as well!
"Now, this is what they are usually like – all clamouring for a bit of love and attention. All they really want
is a loving home and someone to take good care of them.
"By now it's around 10am, and time for a quick tea break. A holidaying family have arrived and are
taking some dogs for a walk. Sid and Salt from Pine Walk have just been out and now it’s the turn of Mitch, Cecille and Missy in ER3. "My next job is to clean the ER block, which consists of six kennels. The ER block holds smaller dogs and others than are recovering from illness or injury. Again, the floors and beds are cleaned and the drinking water changed.
"One of the residents of ER block is Beedy, a Cyprus terrier who was already at the centre when I first
started back in 2008. Beedy was a bit of an ankle-biter all those years ago, but he's a bit more sedate these days, probably because he doesn’t have too many teeth left!
"On to the Sandpit – so named because that's what was there before the kennel was built. The
residents here are two sets of sisters – Ellis and Elena, and Emmy and Elisa. "As I walk towards the Sandpit, the other nearby dogs start barking, because they know what is going to happen next. Ellis is an escape artist and always tries to get through the gate as I open it. She doesn’t always succeed the first time, but she then just waits until I go back out again, and this time she is always too quick for me. She charges up the lane and back again, and then, because it’s too hot, waits for me to pick her up and put her back in.
"A quick clear-up near Shannon, a grey terrier who lives under the tree, and then it’s off to the
Cornerhouse. "The current residents are a French Bulldog who was abandoned at the centre, Cinders, a little white & tan dog, and a small black sausage dog who has a skin condition. Cinders and the sausage dog are both very friendly, and they just love to be picked up and made a fuss of. The French Bulldog is rather sad ... probably wondering why his owner didn’t want him anymore and left him at the rescue centre.
"Another visitor has arrived and taken two compound dogs for a walk – Samson and Wotsit. He is
looking for a dog to home and takes a shine to Bindy – a small husky cross who has been with us since the end of 2013. He goes away to think about it and kindly leaves a generous donation. About 30 minutes later he is back, having decided to take Bindy today. What excellent news! After the new owner has gone through the homing paperwork with Joanna, it’s time to say Goodbye to Bindy – she is such a lucky girl! "It is getting near to lunchtime, so I go back to the puppy area for another clear-up before the afternoon feed. I give the puppies clear instructions: no more pooing before dinner. Do they listen? No, they do not!
"Before I stop for lunch, it’s time for a cuddle with the smaller puppies in ER7 and as you can see, they
all clamber for their turn to be picked up!
"After a quick bite to eat, I like to take a walk round the compounds and say hello to all the dogs. It’s
become part of my routine. The same dogs wait for me every time I go around – Mini, Galaxy, Gloria, and Geri, plus about 100 others! Some are not so interested in my visit, they look up, think to themselves “Oh, it’s her again,” and go back to sleep.
"By now it’s 2 o’clock and time for the afternoon feeds. The larger puppies are first to be fed, followed by
the pups in ER7. If any pups do not eat or are too slow I take them inside and give them a separate feed.
"The dogs in ER block are fed next, followed by the Sandpit (Ellis doesn’t try to escape this time!) and
then the Cornerhouse. Afterwards all the feeding bowls are collected and taken inside for washing.
"My last job of the day is, yes you’ve guessed it, clearing up poo. A final scrub of the floors, clean
bedding is put down and the water bowls are topped up. The puppies are still trying to help, some of them particularly like to catch the water from the hose! Finally, they start to settle down for the night and curl up in their beds. So it’s 'goodnight, puppies,' from me, and see you next Sunday. Time to go home and have a much needed shower!"