Please bear with us whilst we undergo some renovation work.
Oh your such a dirty one, a dirty one, when you gonna have a day off – Corona
As you may know, if you are a follower of ours, we are currently in Spain volunteering at a dog shelter. We have been here a month now and are amazed at the set up, location and team/s we have been working with.
We have tried not to write too much about the COVID-19 pandemic and Spanish lockdown. There are a few reasons for that.
1. Everyone is talking about it and people are becoming saturated by stories of what’s happening.
2. The fear in humanity is at an all time high and we didn’t want to do or say anything that would add more gasoline to the already burning fire.
3. We actually have (so far) been very lucky and are in a safe place. Would posting that we were very lucky then come across as gloating?
Are you safe in the Spanish Lockdown?
With all of that taken into account, we are often being asked by people back home “Are you ok?” “What is going on out there?” “Are you safe?” “When are you coming home?”
We wanted to let you know that we are indeed safe. You may have seen in a facebook post recently that we have decided to stay here in Spain for the foreseeable future. Louise and I had many discussions, alongside Tina, the director of the charity to come to a decision as a team.
We had several options open to us at that point, before the Spanish lockdown came into force. Drive home before the borders closed and ferry’s stopped running. Fly home and leave Chewy behind. Stay put and remain at the centre until this all blows over and things return to normal.
Tina had spoken to us about the volunteers that were due to arrive in the coming months. They had either cancelled or been forced to stay away by their travel operators. Although we all know that it is not what anyone wanted, it is totally understandable that these steps had to be made. It would leave just Tina, Nomi and 3 part time staff to run the centre and look after 200 dogs.
Some volunteers that were here also decided it was time they went home (to different parts of the world including USA, Belgium and UK), while another trooper, Michele, risked it to stay a little longer.
Spanish lockdown – Should we stay or should we go now?
If we decided to go back to the UK, would we be putting ourselves at risk being in transit. We would be in close contact with lots of people on the ferry, plus we would need shopping and fuel on the way there. There were already police and army out in Spain stopping people to ask where they were going etc. If we stay put, we are in a secure compound with a small group around us.
We decided we would be better off staying here and helping with the dogs. They need our help and even though with a vastly reduced staff and volunteer level, we are still here to ensure they all get fed, medicated, walked and have clean bedding.
Isn’t that selfish?
We don’t think so, quite the opposite. Our family back home are safe and able to look after themselves. They are scattered across the country so even if we went home and then further travel restrictions were enforced like they are here in Spain, we couldn’t get to most of them anyway,
We feel we are being responsible by just staying put and adhering to all the government advice during the Spanish lockdown. We wouldn’t want to leave our home on wheels behind. At the time we were in real discussions, we were hearing about other motor homers who were being turned around and quarantined at the borders as they were trying to make their way home. Aires were closing, campsites shutting down and no where for them to go.
How is the lockdown affecting your daily Spanish life?
Well. To be honest… Not drastically. We are so lucky and we know it.
The set up here it that there are a handful of on site staff and volunteers. The compound is far away from the nearest town, a necessity when you have around 200 dogs barking. There is a fully stocked kitchen, laundry facility and pretty much anything we need.
Although we can go off site when we want to, it’s only to do a bit of shopping or go exploring – which we currently cant do. We are currently having food bought in for us so that is easing pressures.
With less hands on deck, we are all taking on more responsibility so pulling around 12 hour shifts to ensure the dogs are all exercised, fed and cleaned. Everyone us also taking responsibility to do their share of cooking and cleaning around the centre. The food we have eaten is amazing! this centre is 100% vegan and we have delighted in learning new dishes.
What is it like outside the compound?
It’s a little scary to be honest. Currently, we are still in lockdown. Only one person is allowed in a car unless you are with a minor or disabled person. No non essential trips are allowed.
At the supermarket, you must wait with your trolley outside in a queue. They are only allowing a few people in at a time and you are instructed to antibac your hands for 20 seconds and then put disposal gloves on. If you are thinking of cutting corners, don’t. A burly security guard with a large baton watches you.
Cash is not being accepted. Only card payments to stop germs being transmitted on the coins. In the cars, the drivers are all wearing face masks and gloves.
In the cars, the drivers are all wearing face masks and gloves. Everyone looks suspicious of everyone else and wants to just get home. It won’t take long for this “new normal” as they are calling it, to become easier as we all get used to the restrictions but we all want it to pass.
In Spain, we are lucky. Despite some early frustrations with the government not acting sooner to close Madrid, the majority of people are calm and following orders. Spain acted very quickly with the whole country shut down fast. It has been quite scary to watch how slow the UK were to catch up. It seemed at times that the UK thought that it was immune to the virus and just carried on. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if the fatality rate per population percentage will be higher than Spain.
In the UK we are hearing reports of vigilante behaviour, of fire extinguishers being let off in hospitals, ambulances being sabotaged and an uprising of anger and mob mentality. With that in mind it isn’t a welcome site to come home to.
Wellies and waterproofs at the ready 7 days a week at the moment. We have been having days of torrential rain, thunderstorms like you have never heard and strong winds. The centre has partially flooded in areas (including under the van) and drying clothes is a real nightmare.
Our waterproofs are not waterproof and we can’t find any in the local supermarkets – all other stores are closed – so we are doing the best we can. When it was dry the air was covering the van, inside and out, with a layer of red sand/dust that made it harder to breath, and now we are swimming in muddy water!
We are hoping that the weather dries out a little but we are forcast more rain in the coming weeks.
What about support?
Well we are here carrying on in our own self isolation. We are taking pride in caring for the dogs and are loving watching the puppies grow every day. We are having some real breakthroughs with some of the dogs with behavioural problems and Tina is still able to rescue dogs.
Sadly, with people being made redundant, having to cut back on spending etc, sponsorship’s are being cancelled. Rehoming can not happen during the Spanish lockdown, neither can home checks etc.Dos that were supposed to be going home can not travel at the moment and this has a knock on effect in terms of income for the charity.
We know this is a difficult time globally and things are going to be a bit strange for a while. But if you can spare some money, even just a couple of Euros, Please consider sending them to the charity to help pay for the veterinary care and food bills for these beautiful and precious dogs.
You can log on to www.galgosdelsol.org to find out more.
As you all know, we have been approached by a Galgos dog rescue charity in Spain who require immediate help. The charity are currently bursting at the seams with over 200 dogs on site needing urgent care. They are so full that they have had to ask for help from other rescues as they do not physically have room for dogs found abandoned on the street.
We are hoping to volunteer 2-3 months to go over there and assist them in their duties.
How much does it cost to run the Galgos rescue centre?
With the kennel cost rising all the time to cover vet bills, food, power and accommodation, it is easy to see why they can not afford to pay staff and rely so heavily on volunteers to assist in programmes on site to continue their work. So where does the money go? It costs around 45,000 Euros a month. Vet bills (16,000 euros), Food (3,500), social security (thousands of euros a month) as well as maintenance, accountants and solicitors, vehicles (inc running costs), medication, pest control, insurance and tax. They use 7000 litres a day of water and the water bills are unforgiving.
We hope that you understand that our fundraising campaign is to help feed us one meal a day and cover basic expenses whilst there – all cash over this will be donated direct to help the Galgos.
Our Responsibilities with the Galgos charity.
We will not have any say over adoptions before anyone asks if we can smuggle one back home, but will be there to assist in other duties around the centre. We have done everything we can so far to raise money i.e. raffle of personal goods, fundraising plus of course we have lived a very basic life in the last few weeks that we have known our services are desperately needed. We are paying for as much as we can ourselves however we still need your sponsorship.
We have had some technical hitches over the last few weeks with GoFundMe as some donations have been returned or refunded for reasons we do not understand so the option of using Paypal is in place now. Our paypal link is paypal.me/vanlifediary2020
With all this taken into account unfortunately we still have a shortfall in the donations of £2000. If only we could explain how we are feeling knowing that we may not be able to fulfil our promise due to the short fall meaning we could not support ourselves fully whilst committing 18 hours a day, 7 days a week with no days off to helping these dogs, around £14,000 worth of minimum wage hours if you work it out.
We totally understand financial implications for individuals however even by just sharing our plea for help you are enabling someone else to help us, our promise to help these dogs is imperative to their future. Anyone who knows us knows just how hard working and passionate we are when it comes to animals. They will know that the thought of us having to cancel the trip and leave the rehoming charity without help will not sit right with us.
We also understand that making donations that are so public is uncomfortable for some, therefore, we offer you the opportunity, in the hope that you can donate to meet the shortfall of over £2000 to our PayPal account. We will not publicise your donation on social media but will endeavour to thank those that do where possible and keep you up to date via our blog.
Louise and I are coming up against some resistance from those who do not understand how or why this is so important. Galgos are used as hunting dogs and after the short hunting season, thousands are turfed out and abandoned. Many are killed in inhumane killing stations, others are mutilated. Some are dumped in large dumpsters that they can not get out of and others, like we were hearing about only a few days ago, are killed in traffic accidents. One of which Maria, a volunteer was on the way to rescue as she had a plastic bag tied around her throat. Sadly she was run over before maria got to the location.
This is hard work, but to those dogs, they are having their lives saved. They are being rehomed and living full happy lives and they are not suffering.
We are supposed to be travelling on Friday to Spain and need your help and sponsorship to make this happen so that we can help the dogs that are so desperately in need.
Please help us help the Galgos charity.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton