A Day in the life of …..Caroline
A KAR Rescue Centre Volunteer
Kim Betts brings us the story of Caroline……
Kyrenia Animal Rescue (KAR)…..
Up at 6.00 am – this requires an early start. A hasty snack for breakfast and pack my bag with the requisite items. Sandwich for lunch, water and some appropriate shoes. It looks as if, yet again, it will be hot. Very hot. Swap my small bottle of water for a larger one that has been in the freezer and will stay nice and cool as it melts during the day.
I join two of the team who live nearby in Alsancak and we pile into the car, heading through the early morning traffic to Girne, all of us chuntering about the state of the roads. The bulldozers are out again enroute to the Bellapais traffic lights. A man stands at the side of the road amidst the chaos and dust, a green “GO” sign in hand, waving us on. We can only hope that the chap at the other end has the “STOP” sign facing in the right direction or life could get very interesting. However, we manage to negotiate the worst of the mess by heading off in a loop through Dogankoy, popping out at the Lemar supermarket to re-join the maelstrom of yawning drivers who, like us, are on their way to work. At Erdener Supermarket we join more of our fellow workers in the KAR van. A well worn but trusty vehicle it stands high off the ground and we short ladies of a larger waistline have a bit of an undignified scramble to climb in the front. Those who can’t fit next to the driver sit on old cushions on the floor in the rear for the trip up to the Arapkoy Centre. In all there are six of us today. Sometimes we are fewer in number.
The combined choir of three hundred plus dogs in the compounds greets our arrival. The anticipation of having company, being cleaned out and fed arouses huge excitement. The cats yawn, stretch and peer sleepily out of their beds and boxes, anticipating the start of another day of being cared for by their slaves. Fortunately, on this particular morning there are no animals left abandoned at the top of the track leading to the Centre, an all too common occurrence.
The team are allocated specific tasks, on this particular day I am on The House i.e. responsible for the animals that are in the main building, cleaning up the kitchens, loo and prep rooms, cooking a vast amount of pasta, and feeding the fourteen dogs in the adjacent compounds. A busy day stretches ahead for us all.
Contrary to popular opinion, rumour and the likes, KAR depends solely on the donations of the public, its voluntary workers and the kindness of a variety of benefactors to keep it going. So we have to beg, cajole and persuade to get help to feed the animals and some hotels kindly supply us with leftover food from their kitchens.
The food can be fairly interesting as a result. As we are slopping out today’s mush of bread, gravy and veg to feed the two young pups and the two adult dogs in the back room of the house I come across a rather odd shaped lump of flesh. I am wondering quite what this is when one of the lads informs me that they are sheep testicles. We dig around in the slop (rubber gloves a must) and find several more, so we chuck them in a pan ready to cook later for the puppies. I casually mention that I shall have to chop them up into very small pieces, at which there is a concerted wince from the chaps. Sympathy, perhaps? Concealing a smirk I take the items out to be boiled and also put on two huge vats of pasta to cook.
In the back rooms of our building we have treatment pens for small sick animals or those undergoing treatment. The larger dogs who need to be isolated for any reason are accommodated with their beds in the two rooms available. Today I have two small pointer pups, siblings who are being given preventative treatment for Parvo. One of their family has already died, but I am pleased to say that there are no sad little corpses to be removed this morning.
A pretty Golden Spaniel, dumped with us because she is probably no longer able to produce the puppies her owner wanted to sell, and a black and tan lurcher make up the group. All animals have to be clear of disease and neutered before they go out in the main runs. I set to with the poo scoop, mops and buckets to clear up the night’s detritus, cleaning out the pups and moving them into a fresh, clean pen with a plastic bottle to play with whilst I get their food ready. It is not a job for the squeamish or those with a sensitive stomach. Once again I check on the pans of pasta, emptying the cooked batch into a large bin and putting on the next four packs. There are some weevils in one pack and I callously reflect that they are getting a horrible end but who cares – the dogs will eat them anyway. Cordon Bug!
The main office holds the Centre administrative functions and is where we greet visitors. A different mop and bucket is hauled out, (another load of pasta is put on to cook) and I dust, polish and mop to make the place look nice and tidy. Through the door I can see the others on the team trundling their equipment around, cleaning up and barrowing the rubbish to the disposal pits, hosing the pens out, filling bowls with fresh water and making sure that any medication is administered. The “Cat People” move a group of cats out of their pen into the play area. Just as with the dogs the cats are fed and given fresh water, their litter trays have to be emptied, cleaned and refilled; floors are hosed down and disinfected and medicines administered as required.
A conference between the two managers ascertains who is on the vet run today and for what. Some cats or dogs are going for treatment and others for neutering.
The two kitchen areas are next for cleaning, so I decide to boil the testicles while I am working in the area. The resultant pong is truly horrendous, and every fly in the neighbourhood drops in to see what this delicious concoction might be and can they get some of it. I beat a hasty retreat, leaving the noisome mess bubbling on the stove whilst we break for coffee. A family turn up with cans of dog food. They tour the pens and fuss the dogs, then bath two pups. One takes exception, making a bid to escape and causing mayhem as it runs around the yard with us in hot (literally) pursuit. The bath is not popular but the strokes and cuddles on being rubbed down and dried make it all worthwhile. A dog walk is proposed and they head off down the valley but return pretty quickly, the dogs have decided that enough is enough and it is far too hot to be going anywhere. Having spent a couple of hours with us our visitors leave having made a generous donation of 100 Tl and a promise to look at our Facebook page. All very welcome.
Half the day is gone. Lunch is a sandwich, eaten outside under the brollies. Individual animals are discussed. A tag dog is ready to go back on the streets and two new animals are coming in. One of the new arrivals was seen out on the street by a holiday maker who is interested in taking the dog to Germany. If this does happen then the dog will need to go through several months of preparation before it can be flown out of TRNC and it may well go into private boarding during that time – freeing up some valuable space for another needy dog. Quite a few are rehomed in this way. The other incomer is a very large Kangal/St Bernard Cross, a pretty, gentle bitch abandoned on the streets. It is possible that someone may home her, or maybe we can find a sponsor.
Another four packs of pasta are boiled up. The preparation room now holds dustbins full of food and it is time to feed the dogs. Bowls (many well chewed) are filled and taken out. I stand in the pens that I am working on as the occupants eat to make sure that war doesn’t break out, also giving the animals some fuss and the once over for ticks and fleas. Some dogs like to have their food placed up on top of their kennels, others cheerfully amble from dish to dish, sampling everyone else’s as well as their own. There is no animosity, everyone gets enough to eat. The bowls are washed up and the residue of gravy, bread and vegetables cleaned off the prep room floor. Empty food bins are hosed out and the testicles, now cooked and cooled are chopped up and gleefully welcomed by the puppies for their second meal of the day. Yummy!!
As the afternoon wears on the vans with the vet run returns, the food delivery from the hotels is picked up by members of the team.
And yet again I clean up behind the pups and dogs in the back room. A puppy out in the main pen is racing round nipping its mates and jumping on them. The others join in and a mad five minutes of silliness ensue before they all suddenly collapse and go to sleep in the shade, piled up together in furry heaps.
Last job – clean the loo. Make sure it is fresh and nice for the staff and visitors the following day. The team have closed up the pens, made sure that the security cameras are on and the gates to the walks are locked. We have had people breaking in, vandalising the compounds and upsetting animals. A pointer bitch, due to go to the UK, was stolen. We think this may have been because she was a rare breed and somebody may have had hopes of pups. She had been spayed. She has never been found despite offers of rewards. I put all my mops in water and disinfectant, do a last minute waterbowl check. Pat a head and rub a proffered tummy.
Back on the van. The return journey is a mirror image of the morning. My own three dogs race around the corner of the house to greet me, three lucky little animals who all came to us from the Centre. I throw my clothes in for washing, shower and sit down to a peaceful evening. One dog hops up beside me on the settee and puts her nose on my knee. It has been a busy day, ten hours from end to end, but worth every moment for the pleasure of seeing vulnerable animals well cared for.