• Day 56: down to earth with a….scoop

    Oct 26th

    two of the rescue puppies that would have been left for dead if CARE had not picked them up from the side of the road

    When you think of helping animals what do you imagine? Freeing a whale from a net? Rescuing bunnies from laboratories?

    Within an hour of arriving at the Corfu dog shelter  I had fallen the very large distance from the high of Carol’s gleeming villa onto the hard, unforgiving floor of  a Greek dog sanctuary. In one hand I had a shovel, in the other a brush and I was standing in the 30 degree heat staring into a bucket of crap.  I was cleaning out the poo from the rescue dogs’ pens. I wanted to wipe my forehead, but then again I didn’t want shit on my face. Who does?

    The reality of helping dogs that need it most. This was exactly the shit I needed.

    I was pleased by this. This experience was deeply earthing. quite literally. I lifted up the lid of the cess pit, looked deep into the ground and emptied the bucket.

    When I was a child I had small plastic figurine model of the Incredible Hulk. I spent a fair amount of time making him fly around my room, watching him flexing his plastic muscles, getting him to lift heavy things or even rescue imaginary girls. But never once did Mr Hulk have to stop to take a poo. Our imaginations don’t match reality. Things are always clean and easy. Of course they aren’t.

    Cheryl, the so called ‘retired’ lady that works 24/7 rescuing pooches from harm. Woof woof to her

    Cheryl is the woman that runs this place and is the day to day operations manager for CARE whilst Carol, the founder, is in the UK. Cheryl is a Brit with blonde hair, a kind smile and a straightforward manner, who, like many of the people I have met in the animal welfare world is the sort of pragmatic person that just gets on with it. She loves dogs but she doesn’t go soppy . She is supposedly ‘retired’  but nevertheless rescues dogs almost 24 hours a day from anywhere in the North of Corfu and keeps them in a relatively small but impressively run sanctuary that extends out of her back garden. She looks after them until she can find them a home abroad. She cleans the shit up before breakfast.

    Like Carol, Cheryl is a Brit who has fallen for the sun and beauty of Corfu but can’t turn away from the ugly side either.

    I sense she is burdened by a weight of compassion that impresses me but worries me too.

    Cheryl gives basic treatment to all dogs as soon as they come in. She rescued three dogs not long ago who were dumped outside MacDonalds. Only the dog called ‘Flurry’ survived. The other two, called ‘Mac’ and ‘Donald’ didn’t make it.

    If I learn to care as much as she does will I be stuck with a brush and bucket when I want to retire? Or will I be like Trevor Weeks from WRAS, working 90 hours a week for a minimal pay? A friend of mine at college went off to become a nurse because she felt compassion. While I got a job in children’s TV and got paid to dress up as a furry white monster, her first job involved cleaning old people’s backsides. I felt I had made a better decision.

    The basic dog pens that form part of the rescue centre. Dogs get fed, watered, walked and cared for before they find a new home abroad.


    This little dog had to be rescued after being attacked by another dog. A wound left like this can be fatal.

    Carol is not a vet but over many years working with them has acquired significant skills

    But while I sweep the floor and scoop the poop I feel a part of me withering away – the part of me that wants comfort, wants reward, wants to be liked, wants to be paid, wants to buy a nice armchair from the design shop in Upper Street, dress up as a furry monster and sit in it smoking a pipe. That part of me, could I suspect, also be dumped into this big bucket too.

    This puppy was found with its mother who was covered in afterbirth and dirt lying in the bushes with no food.

    The good news is that these dogs have found Cheryl and Cheryl has CARE and most of them will have new lives. They have some happiness here.


    Sleep at last

    Within a few hours Cheryl tells me we have to go a short journey to a rather plain hotel where tourists had complained about a dog that was chained 24 hours a day to a tree.



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    4 Responses to “Day 56: down to earth with a….scoop”

    1. Hello! I landed in your blog while I was searching how to teach my own doggy tricks. Lol I’m glad I found it and I think what you’re dong is great! It’s very inspirational and I look forward to seeing your journey this coming year!

    2. thank you Eileen, much appreciated! Keep reading…and spread the word if you can

    3. I am sure what you are doing is Karma yoga. If you do it without attachment to reward then you will reap the true benefits. Like trevor, just the knowledge that you are making a huge difference to every life you save must be better than smoking a pipe and healther too ; ). Rewards don’t always come in the shape of pipes and upper street armchairs though I understand what you are saying, and I would say you can have both if you want to – get a balance of your needs and the need to serve. You blog reminded me, I once discovered a mewing kitten in Kos whilst walking back to the hotel. It was too young to have crawled to where it was, I figured, so I started looking around to see where it had come from, if there were others, and to my horror i found a clear plastic bag full of kittens. As I opened the bag and let the air in they started to ressurect themselves back to life, from almost giving up and not moving. It was a miracle, but at the same time, a nightmare, that we had saved these kittens with no mother and no one cared. We asked at the hotel if there was a vet or anyone to help and the answer was no, we didn’t know where to turn or what to do and after floods of tears, decided we would leave them in the village square for someone else to take responsibility and feel the guilt of finding them to do something more responsible than stuff them in a bag… it was the hardest thing to do, but we had not got the heart to drown them and put them out of their misery. It’s a cruel life for a cat in Greece and may be they were best left in the bag for all the suffering they may have gone on to endure if they survived, but there is something instinctive about the will to survive and to protect creatures that need it. If you belive in buddhism, all their little souls will be thanking and watch over/ protect you some day. When you give you attract giving – whether it be with love – possibly the most precious gift there is in life : ) Take care and good luck in your altruistic endeavours x

    4. Thank you Juliana. I just read your comment and it really struck home. Doing something without attachment to reward, that indeed is a difficult thing to do. Thanks for reading and thanks for caring also – I can understand your predicament with the cats, I really can. take good care and stay reading, it means a lot, best, Martin

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