End of august, a knot in my stomach from nerves, tension and excitement. My training (animal-keeping) requires me to fulfil an internship abroad and after searching the internet, I ended up with Scooby. Six weeks by myself to a country I don’t know, a language I don’t speak. Never before have I been on a trip alone, so a true leap of faith.
After a good trip I was picked up by Sandra at the train station in Medina del Campo, and after a short ride in the car I asked her how far it was. She answered: we’re here! My first reaction was disbelief and a sort of shock, Scooby looks different than it does on the website and is no way comparable to Dutch shelters. When I got to work the next day, still a little skeptical, this feeling I had changed immediately. Although the conditions are not conceivable in the Netherlands, I have experienced a passion here that I have never seen before. All employees are working day and night to take care of the dogs in the best possible way. After just one day I just didn’t care anymore that it lacked a few of the Dutch facilities, but I was just too happy to be able to be part of the Scooby team.
I have learned so much during the six weeks I have spent at the shelter. For example I learned about the handling, medication and care of dogs. And now I know a few Spanish words and I had a chance to brush up on my English. However, most importantly, I have been able to develop myself on a personal level. The Spanish have taught me to stress less, I met a lot of people and my biggest achievement: I have been in a strange country by myself, and it has been the best time ever!
During my stay at the shelter I have had a lot of new experiences. Even cleaning out the paddocks was something I could enjoy daily, thanks to the sweet galgos. The first time you enter the paddock they’re spying on you from a distance, but the next time they’re waiting for you, wagging their tails! They are very sweet dogs with the softest characters.
I have even been able to experience what it is to take care of newborn puppies for five days. Taking care of five puppies, with 2 people, bottle-feeding them every 3 hours is more strenuous than I thought!
Saturday is also a good day to explore the nightlife of Medina del Campo, but then again the Sunday mornings are very disappointing!
Early October the day came for my departure and it was harder than expected to say goodbye. I said goodbye to all the dogs, people and new friends I had made. Still there was no reason to be sad because I had already decided to come back during the summer holidays.
Now, back in the cold Netherlands, I really do still long for Scooby. The passion of the volunteers and the generosity and friendliness of the employees is something that can be set as an example for people here in the Netherlands. This is not a sneaky way to lure as much volunteers as possible to Scooby, but a sincere story of how I have experienced Scooby.
People, if you are still having second thoughts, stay away! If you are smart you will listen to my warning, because once you are there the risk of never wanting to leave is too big!