March 18, 2018

A Volunteer's story

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My story

Almost 11 years ago we happened to be in contact with "Spanish Dogs in Need". We did not know at the time that there were organizations that were saving dogs abroad and then offering them for adoption here.

After a telephone appointment a lady came along with a questionnaire and after a nice conversation we signed our first adoption contract. Fetching Inca, then Fluffy, was a new but nice experience.

Jenny started to get more involved in the organization and became more interested and a year later we decided to adopt a second dog. Meanwhile, there was also our desire to visit the refugio, but because of her fear of flying,  Jenny kept putting it off. Because I gradually became involved in the whole story, we decided that I would leave for a visit to Mijas.

The whole experience and the conviction of several volunteers prompted me to do more and that's how I became a home visitor. After several appointments when I went along with experienced people, my first solo home visit on my own feet came in January 2012. Because it was still new, Jenny and I decided to do it together.

We visited a family where an older dog was already present and they were looking for a playmate for him. The choice fell on a pup from a litter of 4. The conversation was a little nervous but cool and everything was as desired as far as we were concerned. We took ourselves off to a corridor to call our chef, Nancy to report back.  The candidates were happy with the contract. The first visit was a success and we got the taste for more.

Soon a new opportunity followed and very quickly we had an appointment almost every week. Our own 'refugio' at home also grew and because of this I went more on my own. Every time it was exciting to see where or with whom you ended up. A home visit with a young couple who live together or a conversation with older people who have had a dog for years and are asking for a different approach. It is difficult to write a scenario in advance or to make a prediction about how the visit will end. Every visit is different, every situation is different. Very often you must also hear what is not spoken.

For me, after over 120 home visits, it is still not a routine, I always leave with a little healthy tension and keep eyes and ears open. Sometimes after a few minutes you feel that everything is right and another time it really takes time for you to be convinced. You must never lose sight of the fate of the dog. Many dogs have a hard time starting again here, so we must try to avoid it going wrong the first time. It has also happened to me that the adoption does not work out, even though I thought it was okay, but I try to draw lessons in those cases.

It still gives me a good feeling when I leave the adopters with a signed contract and the people bursting with happiness. The advice I always try to give to beginners who visit me is mainly to stay yourself and conduct the conversation in your own way. The standard questionnaire is a tool, not a document to read word by word.

Do a little research before you leave: read the story of the dog on the site (I print them and take them with me). If you are visiting a dog breed that you do not know anything about, find out if there is anything "special" to mention. People who choose a Galgo just because he looks beautiful often know too little about the breed itself. I also always look at Google maps where I go. Is there a park or forest nearby, a dog meadow or just possibilities for nice walks ...

After six years I still do it with full conviction and I still look forward to the emails from Nancy asking "could you do this home visit?"It is fun every time you see the adopters back with their pet on the SHIN-day or at another event and also knowing that they are also happy to see me again. The appreciation and fine stories still make it worthwhile for me.

Thanks Jan Van immerseel for your beautiful story and for all the work that you and your wife, Jenny, do for the dogs ... 👍
That it may inspire people to become volunteers

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