Michaela helping abandoned Dogs
Volunteer Work 2014
In March 2014 my semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago began and at the same time I started my volunteer work with stray dogs. At first I had great concerns about whether everything would fit together in time and if my Spanish would be good enough. These concerns were completely unreasonable.
The work in the sanctuary was very special for me - enriching, interesting, but at the same time exhausting and sometimes very nerve-wracking. Our team, which usually consisted of 5 people during the week, had to care for more than 80 dogs and puppies. So I had really intensive contact to the dogs. We were a great team, especially because my colleagues were super nice, helpful and understanding.
During my time at the street dog project I built a strong relationship with too many dogs. Some dogs are waiting for a long time in the sanctuary and require a lot of love and attention. I tried I tried to provide them with much love while our joint walks and workouts. Often we just sat on a bench and cuddled. In order to bring a bit of variety in the dogs diet, I often brought rice, treats and other dry food - they really liked it , I worked between 4-6 hours daily, on Saturdays only from time to time, because usually a lot of local volunteer helpers were there. During the week I also went to the vet with injured or sick animals. A particular concern of mine was that the dogs would look good, since this increases their chance for adoption.
Among others, my responsibilities included food preparation, washing dogs, cleaning boxes and so on. During the week, I helped my colleague Juana with the adoptions. First I just listened and watched, but then after a month or two, I could actively help - counseling which dog might fit best, giving education advice and feeding instructions, etc.
I could connect my volunteer project very well to my studies as the schedules were very flexible. I'll never forget the street dog project, I've met so many great people and dogs. I can only recommend this program, to support the dog rescue center.
Chile is such a versatile and beautiful country. Traveling in Chile is special because there is so much to see. Impressive landscapes, nice people and just so many things that you will not find in Europe. A highlight for me is the Atacama Desert. I never realized that a desert could have so many different facets. I found the people in Chile very nice and helpful. They have also a really positive mentality. The Chileans are very hospitable, accommodating and full of energy and vitality. But sometimes their composure can also be a bit tiring, at least at the beginning. But back in Germany I missed this a lot as I think Germany is very stressful and people are often very abusive and rude.
The Chileans have a few quirks that you simply should accept so: promises or appointments are not always respected, kissing for greeting can also be uncomfortable for Germans or the Chilean way to dance. But these are things that are tolerable.
At the university I quickly found friends and thanks to them I got to know Chile much better. A very good friend is also Juana, from the dog project. My friend and I were occasionally invited to dinner with her and so I was able to meet her family. I will definitely stay in contact with Juana and my other Chilean friends and I hope that I can visit them again.
During my volunteer time I fell in love with a small dog, adopted him and took him with me to Germany. Her name is Marissa. She's such a wonderful dog and I am happy every day again, that I met her. The veterinarian in the rescue center helped me with the paper work. Fortunately, I have a great friend who has always supported me with Marissa and is still supporting me now 🙂
I'll try to continue supporting the rescue center from Germany and am already working on ideas.
Chile Inside - I'm so incredibly grateful that you helped me from the very beginning so great with everything. The service was always very good: before, during and after my stay.
(Michaelas' report was translated from German, you can find the original post here.)