Stray Dogs / Chile
(cortesy translation from German)
In March 2014 I started my semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago and at the same time my volunteer work with street dogs. At the beginning I had doubts whether everything would fit together and whether my Spanish would be enough. Concerns that I shouldn't have had afterwards. The work in the street dog rescue center was something very special for me - enriching, interesting, but also exhausting. Our team, that usually consisted of only 5 people during the week, had to look after more than 80 dogs and puppies. In any case, there was intensive contact with the dogs. We were a great team, especially because my colleagues were super nice, helpful and understanding, too. A team that I will not find again anytime soon.
During my time in the street dog project, I also developed a strong relationship with many dogs. Some dogs have been in the shelter for a very long time and need a lot of love and attention. I tried to give the dogs this through walks and training sessions. We often just sat on a bench and cuddled for a long time. To bring them a bit of variety into their day, I often brought rice, treats and other things with me - everyone was very enthusiastic 🙂 I worked between 4-6 hours a day, on Saturdays only every now and then, since there are usually a lot of other volunteers. During the week I also visited the vet with injured or sick animals and supported the vet. It was also of particular concern to me that the dogs have a well-groomed appearance, as this increases their likelihood of adoption. That's why I trained with more complicated dogs, but also with dogs that are enthusiastic about learning, especially that they are no longer used to pulling on a leash.
My duties included food preparation, washing dogs, cleaning boxes and other work that was done here and there again. During the week, I often helped my colleague Juana with adoptions. At the beginning I only listened and watched, but after a month or two I was able to actively help - advice on which dog might be the best fit, training tips, feeding tips, adoption processing, etc.
I was able to combine my volunteer work with my studies very well because the schedule was very flexible. I will never forget the street dog project, I met so many great people and dogs and I was able to take so much for myself. I can only recommend everyone to support the dog shelter
Chile is such a diverse and beautiful country. Traveling in Chile is really special, there is so much to see. Impressive landscapes, nice people and just so many things that you can't find in Germany. A highlight for me is the Atacama desert. I was never aware that a desert could have so many different facets. I found the people of Chile to be very nice and helpful. I also found the mentality very positive after the time of adaption. The Chileans are very hospitable, courteous and full of energy and joy. Sometimes, however, their serenity is a bit tiring, at least initially. However, now back in Germany I miss this very much, because I find Germany sometimes stressful and people are often impatient and unfriendly if something does not work out immediately.
The Chileans also have a few peculiarities that one should simply accept: promises or appointments are not always kept, kisses when greeting are also uncomfortable for many Germans or the Chilean way of dancing, especially for men. Things that can be seen calmly.
I quickly made friends at the university, through whom I got to know Chile much better. Another very good friend is Juana, from the street dog project. My boyfriend and I were invited to dinner with her every now and then, so I was able to get to know her family. I definitely want to keep in touch with Juana and my Chilean friends and hope that I can definitely visit them again.
In the course of my volunteer work, I fell in love with a little street dog and adopted her. I actually brought the dog to Germany. Her name is Marissa. She is such a wonderful dog and I am happy every day when I have her with me. The veterinarian in the street dog shelter helped me a lot with the papers. A good friend, Nancy, took Marissa in for almost two months. Fortunately, I have a great friend who always supported me a lot with Marissa and still supports me now 🙂
I will try to continue to support the dog shelter from Germany and am already working on ideas.
I am so incredibly grateful to South America Inside that they helped me with everything from the start. The attention and support was always very good: before, during and after my stay.