Megan Edwards has been volunteering for Lucky's for the past year and visited Lucky's in September 2019. Read all about her experience below:
I boarded the plane really not knowing what to expect when I got there. I’d heard a lot about Lucky's and the couple that run it,but until you see it for yourself you can’t really picture it right in your mind.
We landed, the airport was clean well built and fully manned. A false sense of security; which I quickly realised as we stepped out of the doors. The further you get away from the capital the buildings rapidly declined in state and the streets slowly filled up with animals roaming the streets just trying to find somewhere to sleep.
Puppies ran out from the forests in front of the cars and its hurts your heart knowing you have to drive past. With the parvo virus that hit Lucky's just before our arrival we couldn’t gamble with their lives. It was the lesser of two evils.
We arrived at a gate and boarded walls of Lucky's and when they opened I knew I made the right decision.
We were greeted by Nelly and Bobby and quickly another ten as we left the car and entered the home. Everyone was calling their greetings from the dark. It felt like home.
It was 4 in the morning and we knew we had to say our good nights. Sunrise wasn’t far away and I slept lightly, too excited to meet the whole pack in the morning.
We got about 2-3 hours sleep and threw ourselves out of bed. I’ve never been happier to leave my cosy mattress and pillow behind.
The house is small. Essentially 3 rooms; kitchen/diner, bathroom & bedroom. What more do you need? I filled a travel mug with my first brew and opened the front door to 11 extremely wiggly bottoms. Breakfast was upon us.
We filled bowls, enough for everyone and worked our way through the different enclosures placing our bowls and watching over to make sure each dog had their food and no one tried to make a pass at someone else’s. While we were in there we tidied the messes and filled the water bowls.
It was quick to see who was confident and who held on to their past when it came to new humans. I found myself suddenly wanting to be their best friends and I knew others would need more time to come around. Luckily patience is my middle name and she comes armed with a bumbag of the tastiest treats.
After everyone was fed and cleaned and humans had had theirs we set about health checking the individuals, it was clear to see; with the season and the environment fleas were at an all time high despite all normal methods of prevention. Some dogs fared worse than others with more sensitive skin and it was clear what our most important task would be for that week. Bathing. Good job it was a hot day 😂
We set about one enclosure at a time, everyone had a groom; ears and eyes were cleaned, coats were cut and enclosures were dug out top to bottom and disinfected with all the good stuff to eradicate any fleas.
With 40 dogs it’s not surprising we barely made a dent the first day. We worked from sunrise until well into the night as Catalina called us in for dinner. I say work; the hours flew by in minutes, but my god that was the best shower I’ve ever had before bed.
I slept like a log, I barely looked at my phone except to say goodnight to my little girl the night before and as soon as my eyes flew open I didn’t even want to roll over and attempt to snooze.
Up, coffee, out.
Another beautiful day another chorus of good mornings from all the boys and girls. Feed, clean, feed, clean feed, clean. A few more were braver today, our third meal time together and hey that’s the chick with the yummy surprise in her pockets. I had more happy heads thrust into me on my way round. Happy doesn’t even begin to describe it.
There were 4 dogs in particular I knew didn’t want to be my friend. No matter what I had in my pockets. I don’t take well to rejection 😂 after all was done on the breakfast rounds I set myself up in their enclosure. Not surprisingly they had something to say about that.
I sat quietly and ignored them and would toss out treats, out of both our reaches so they would have to come into no mans land to claim their prizes and I watched the trees and surroundings not wanting to make them feel anxious with any eye contact or body movement. This was acceptable. We’d found a peace, so did this for a few minutes and left to crack on with the other jobs (there’s always something to do at Luckys!)
I would return as much as I could for those few minutes to keep up that routine and almost every time the barking subsided more quickly and the treats were eaten faster. Progress?
Maybe one of the hardest parts of the day was dividing your time and attention equally so everyone gets as much socialisation and human interaction as possible.
Once you are in an enclosure it’s so hard to tear yourself away to move on to the next. Each one was like its own mini world. Different personalities different dynamics between the dogs and always someone to play with and cuddle.
So many jobs so little time, I wondered how Catalina and Patrick didn’t find this lifestyle overwhelming. There was now four of us working and again the hours melted away and it was gone midnight before we turned in with full stomachs and even fuller hearts.
Today was the day. We rattled through the basics, as we had de-gunged all of the enclosures to the nth degree, morning routine was becoming so quick to cover; you know everyone’s usual toilet spots and you start to preempt the other humans and work better as a team.
Today we were moving onto lead and collar training. It was quick to gauge by previous adopters and fosters that one of the most common training issues people were having was some dogs being fearful out on walks. Understandable when many have never seen a collar before they travel let alone a lead and are then expected to walk by someone they don’t really know being attached by the neck? Heck no. We were here we had more than enough man power to cover task and this is why volunteering is so important. These ‘extras’ we could do because all the basics were covered so much faster left room for the quality of life these dogs were having to improve.
Putting collars on puppies for the first time in their lives is one for the memory bank. Wanting to make the experience as fun as possible and watching these mini bucking broncos was hilarious. Even most of the adults partook without too much upset and the older ones that were more confident even got taken outside the perimeter to stretch their legs and have a good old walk.
Things we take for granted doing with our pets at home. To these guys was a privilege and to me getting to be the one to experience it with them...just unbeatable.
I kept popping in and out of the scared packs enclosures as often as possible and keeping up our treat games. I kept dropping them closer and closer to my feet and they kept inching their ways in to get them.
Progress all round. Surely it couldn’t get any better. But trust me...it does
Up, coffee, out.
Catalina’s bought a barrel... one thing for it; these flea bags are getting it today.
Bath, wash, rinse, dry. NEXT bath,wash, rinse on repeat and if I say so myself we freaking smashed it. Everyone was bathed everyone had a Scalibor collar on and everyone’s enclosures was retreated for fleas. On form today.
We were spending more and more time socialising the dogs going into different enclosures and doing different things with them whether is was playing, grooming obedience, revisiting collars and leads for those who were scared etc; we FaceTimed a lot of future adopters so they could see how their beautiful rescues were getting on and of course I kept popping in to see my angry bitches.
And bugger me. Molly ate out of my hand.
A little while later Emma decided she too was going to eat from my hand and at 1 point further into the night (I think this was close to my three hour mark-I told you patience and a bag of treats!) Molly, Maya and Emma had all come up and were eating from my hand and wandering in and around me. Sadly the 4th girl Firi did not have any anything to do with me she kept herself hidden away and never even gave me a peak. Unless a treat was thrown close enough to her that she didn’t have to come an inch closer.
I sound crazy but honestly one of the best feelings I have had. And it settled into my heart, definitely not a crier but I knew leaving the next day was going to be difficult.
Well it came. The bubble had to be popped. Luckily the flight was late in the evening so we had one last day to wander amongst the pack and do our last few jobs before handing the reigns back over to Catalina & Patrick.
There was many a puppy pile on that day. The local vet nurse came to test some of the older dogs travelling for 4dx and we used the time to get as many pictures and videos of the dogs still looking for their forever homes. Now I can match their names to their faces and their faces to their personalities, it’s lit a fire to find everyone of them a home that perfectly matches them. My scared girls aren’t ready for that big step yet but one day they will be.
Seeing these guys for myself and feeling this experience for what it was. I can honestly say I’m humbled. We take for granted what we have back home. Intellectually we understand that not everyone has what we do, but living in it and seeing it for yourself; personally I welcomed the detox from TV, social media, heck even a mirror. It was a quiet, calm life and if one day I can live this way and do what these two beautiful humans are doing for these animals. Well in my eyes I’ll of made it. ❤🐾
If Meg's story has touched your heart and you are interested in volunteering at Lucky's, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org