October 29, 2013

Love + Patience = Transformation = A Happy Dog

When I first discovered A.C.E. I was overwhelmed by the love and passion expressed in Fabienne's Diary and the amazing work being done. I was drawn to Fabienne and El Refugio as to a magnet. It was a year or more before I was able to go over and join in as a volunteer. In the meantime I decided to sponsor a dog.

I pored over the 'Dogs for Adoption' trying to choose just one from so many darlings. After some long time I had a shortlist of about 50!  I looked again and again. But one dog had stood out for me because he looked so scared, so terrified. As though he was saying 'Please, please don't hit me.' I don't know his history, no one does, but judging by the poor fellow's expression it must have been horrible.

When I finally got out to La Cala a year or maybe eighteen months later I was dying to see 'my' Enzio. However, the very first day I set foot in the Refugio was the day after the night of the terrible storm. The place was in chaos, knee deep in mud in places and in full blown crisis. The dogs were traumatised, all the bedding, the towels, the medicine, the food had been ruined. People rallied round. Staff, volunteers, friends, well wishers, the local radio station, Team Holland and Team Belgium. Everyone did their bit.

It was a couple of days before things calmed down a little and I felt able to ask someone to point out 'my' dog. It was indeed Fabienne who introduced us. My first impression was that he was so small. I had expected quite a big dog and he was small and so delicate. And still so very, very frightened. He wouldn't come near me.  At the end of ten days, by dint of sitting somewhere a metre or so away, keeping very still and talking to him he gradually began to tolerate my presence, but touching wasn't an option.

On my second visit he was still there but this time, instead of running free in the area around the washhouse he was in a section, in one of the cages.  One day when we were walking the dogs I chose to take Enzio out with us. I wanted him to have this treat. I was totally unprepared for what happened. I managed to put on a collar and lead but the poor dog was absolutely petrified. He bucked and fought - I couldn't get the lead off quickly enough. It was distressing.

When a few month's later I heard he had been adopted I was overjoyed. He had been such a scared boy I had wondered it it would ever be possible. Well, it was possible. He is Vasco now and has been home for two whole years. I was going to say he's a different dog and in one sense he is - calm, happy, content. No longer terrified of his own shadow. And in another way he hasn't changed at all because the love and patience has helped bring out his true character. Dignified, funny, lively, lovely and sociable. Heartfelt thanks to Jola who adopted him and whose love, patience and care have effected this wonderful transformation.

        The 'woebegone' picture is no longer on the database, 
          but this is Enzio/Vasco as he was, at the Refugio, May 2011

Sharing my golden basket with my friend.

I like playing in the garden.

Portrait of a happy dog.

With another of my friends.

Me and the pack, chilling out.

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