It’s not the first time that I volunteered to help dogs. I was a board member at The Dutch Young Dogs for two years, an organisation that helps young creatives to become a better creative. Those were young dogs. This time at Muttville, I was the young dog, helping out older dogs. A bunch of funny, furry grandpa’s and grandmas.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a senior dog shelter, since I’ve never been to a place like that before. On my first day the sweet people and volunteers from Muttville welcomed me. And the dogs of course. It was pretty calm inside. They were not barking very loud or jumping against me like dogs normally do. That’s because most of these dogs already had a ‘life’ behind them.
A life that was about to end for a lot of them. Most of their former owners have died or been given up on them because they are (too) old. Muttville rescues them and creates better lives through foster, adoption and hospice. During my internship I’ve helped them out with a lot of things. From cleaning up dog-shit to helping the vet for a dog’s medical check-up.
In the morning they send me back outside pretty quickly. For a good cause, because two of the Mutt’s needed to go and get some fresh air. We’ve walked around the area and let them do their thingy. Or big thingies.
When I got back, a new dog just came in; Pinto. A little Chihuahua. The poor little guy was shaking and scared as fuck. One of the thankful tasks that the Muttville volunteers do is giving the old dogs some good old love. Since I was one of them now, I got to take care of Pinto. When I took him into my arms he was shaking and his heartbeat was pumping more than 200 BPM.
I spend the whole day holding my new little friend. Every hour his heartbeat lowered down and he started to relax. After 5 hours he was feeling so much better and he started to lick my arm. What a little Backpacker Intern love can do!
In the evening I was dropped at Sherri Franklin’s house. Sherri founded Muttville and she is an amazing and inspiring person. She lives together with dogs as well. 12 in total, when I was her guest. Quite funny because when I was eating my diner, all 12 of them were staring at me, following every bite I took. After diner I treated my roomies with some well-deserved cookies.
The next day I helped out Muttville’s vet. Every dog gets a fully medical check-up. They check their blood, urine, fur, skin and basically their whole body. This little handicapped fella – who is ironically called ‘Scooter’ – couldn’t walk on his back paws. He was dragging them with him. You would expect that he doesn’t feel anything there anymore. But after our medical check we noticed that he still has feeling in both of his legs. That means that there is still a little opportunity for him to get better. Isn’t that great?!
After cleaning some more dog shit and pee I started to work on an article for Muttville’s website. They asked me to write a piece on ‘What It’s Like To Be Rescued By Muttville’. That’s basically what they’ve done for me, since I was a poor backpacker without food and a place to stay. The result will be published soon.
Dear friends at Muttville, I am very impressed by the hard work you guys do, every day. My perspective about senior dogs has definitely changed. Like everybody else they deserve to live an awesome life until their final day. I wish you all the best and do let me know when my buddy Pinto has a new owner.