Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scooby Afternoons, November 2012 Visit

Galgo Hugs on a Lovely Afternoon
Margie Hugging Another Beautiful Galgo in the Quarantine Kennel
Scooby Afternoons
Continuing with postings about my recent trip to Scooby in November -- the afternoons were my favorite time of day. After lunch, my fellow volunteer, Melissa Beamish and I would normally clean a couple of the dog paddocks and attend to other chores that needed to be done. 
These Silly Puppies in Paddock 1 Stole My Rake - It Became a Fun Toy
Sometimes Your Work is Interrupted by Shenanigans ;-)

Cleaning the Paddocks has it's Rewards!
Many of these Puppies have been Adopted - Hooray!

Hugging the Galgos
After the chores, we usually had a bit of time to socialize with the galgos and other dogs in the paddocks, quarantine and other kennels. We would give hugs and pets, sometimes sausage treats, and talk sweetly to the shy ones who were to afraid to approach us. 
Margie Visiting the Beautiful Paddock 4 Galgos - They Love Sausages!
Most of these Galgos are now Living in Homes in Italy and Slovenia :-)

Cat Testing
On one of the days, Melissa cat-tested two of the galgos who were soon traveling to Slovenia for adoption. This involved taking the dogs out of their quarantine kennels to the back warehouse, where many of the feral cats hang out, to see if they can get along safely with cats. One was a bit interested in the cats and the other could have cared less. It's interesting that the cats don't seem to care one way or another; probably because they are around dogs all of the time and always have an escape hatch/place to hide if they need to.
Cat Test #1
Note Kitty at Top of Sunbeam and Interested Galgo
Doesn't Mean Galgo Cannot Learn to Live with Cats, Just to Use Care in Training

Cat Test #2
Galgo Could Care Less About Kitties and Passes with Flying Colors

Emotional Prep for The Upcoming Transport to France
It was exciting and uplifting to know that there was a large transport of dogs going to France on 11/16/12 and another going to Italy and Slovenia in early December. The only bittersweet part of all of this was that Melissa had to say, "Au revoir" to her precious galga, Hacinta. We spent most of our time with the dogs who would be leaving soon on the transport, and I took time to take lots of photos and some videos of Melissa and Hacinta and the other dogs in her quarantine kennel. I knew that it would be sad for Melissa to have to let her beloved one go off to her new forever home. While there were tears, they were much more of joy, knowing that Hacinta would soon have a loving family to share her life with. Every day, we talked about the transport, knowing that it was soon to come... 
Melissa Introduces Me to the Dogs in Hacinta's Quarantine Kennel
They all Love Her!  :-)
Doggie Dinner Time
Just before we cleaned up and got ready for dinner, we usually helped to prepare the food for the dogs. Sometimes it would be opening cans of food and mixing it with kibble, and other days, we would open hundreds of packages of wet cat food, which is then layered with bread in large barrels. Preparing the food is a nice time to bond with fellow volunteers, as it is fairly quiet in the warehouse area, and everyone is working together in circles.  I always enjoy this time as well. Nilcelio, the Scooby staff member who lives on site, feeds the dogs each day. The entire process can take a few hours for the prep and the feeding, depending upon the number of staff and volunteers. The great thing about having volunteers is that it frees the staff to work on other chores throughout the day.
Melissa Works with Pablo and Nilcelio to Prepare the Day's Dog Food
I'm Nearby Working on Tomorrow's Food

The afternoons went by quickly, and it began to get dark around 6:30 p.m.There were many times when I would go back to the dorm to relax and download my photos before dinner and Melissa would still be out giving medications or taking care of some of the dogs who were recovering from surgery. I so admire her dedication and hard work, and the sincere love and caring that she has for all of the animals. It was such a pleasure working with her every day.
The Joy -- The Scooby Dogs
The main reason that I loved the afternoons so much... the Scooby dogs.  In these blog postings, there are but a few of the many photos from my visit. You'll find many, many more photos and videos on my Pinterest board and YouTube. My next postings will be about the transport to France, Scooby Nights, and the journey home, so stay tuned!
"Scooby Skies"
This video is a walk-through, showing the main building hallway, walking out to the patio, Austin and Amelia, the beautiful skies and busy grounds and paddock 4 and dogs.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.
Our Gorgeous Scooby Galga, Bless

Please support Scooby!
Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scooby Mornings, November 2012 Visit

Hugging a Beautiful Puppy During the Morning Work at Scooby
My November visit was a total of nine days, but I lost two days because of the trip from California to Spain and the return. So much to tell about those seven days that I spent at Scooby.  I told you about Day 1 in my last post, and will continue sharing my trip by mornings, afternoons, evenings and special features (like the transport to France). 

When I awoke that first Scooby morning, it was warm and cozy in the dormitory building, thanks to the two heaters that Melissa Beamish had arranged for me ahead of time.  I made delicious coffee and a quick breakfast each day.  While I was getting dressed and ready for work, called my husband, Darrell, who was just getting ready for bed (nine hour time difference).  Put on my day's comfy work clothes, including a gortex jacket and pants that I purchased prior to the trip, along with a nice pair of rubber boots that I bought at the flea market for a few dollars.  Everything was put to good use along the way, so I was happy that I had thought carefully about what to bring, along with help from Darrell. 
Found My Gortex Coat & Pants and Rubber Boots to be Perfect for the Work
These are Two Beautiful Galgos Ready for the Transport to France, 11/16/12

Went out each morning and looked for Melissa to see what we would work on that day.  Our first chores were always to take care of the cats, kittens and puppies in the front kennel areas.  Melissa would usually take the two larger cat pens, a quarantine cat pen, the rabbit and bird pen, and the raccoon pen, and I would usually take one of the cat and kitten pens, and the two puppy pens. 
Melissa Beamish has a Backpack Cat
Took Care of the Cats Every Day

I fell in love with the animals in these kennels. There were two litters of puppies. One had four galgo mix puppies who were so very friendly and playful. Apparently they were terrified when first dropped at Scooby, but are now social butterflies.  The other litter of six podenco mix puppies were with their very excellent Momma.  They were younger and all very friendly and loving as well. Mom had been abused and was very shy, but began to trust over time.  What a greeting we received each day! I felt so loved. :-) Oh boy, can they eat! 
Galgo Mix Puppies Loved to Play - Shortie on the Right
 Podenco Mix Puppies and Their Excellent Momma

I had never spent time with the Scooby cats and other animals in the front pens.  It was very pleasant, and I enjoyed getting to know the cats, kittens, puppies, raccoons, and birds. 

The cats take a lot of time to care for, as you must clean and feed each one in their individual cage.  Melissa had a good routine for cleaning, and I followed suit and helped so we could finish more quickly and move along to take care of the other animals.  Most were so longing to be loved and have attention.  A few of the kitties would jump on your back and crawl up to your neck to nestle in and purr. Two of the black kittens would each crawl up one leg to your neck to perch and purr on your shoulders like lovely cat birds. 
Cat Bird Kitten Perched on My Shoulder - So Small but So Much Personality!
The rabbit is so friendly. He lives with a couple of female pheasants (at least I think they are) and a bunch of pigeons have taken to roost in his building as well.  There are three raccoons, and two of them are pretty social, while the other is reclusive in his den.  They are fun to watch with their interesting antics.
Raccoon Enjoys a Good Meal
On my first work day, two special things happened: the first was that two very special volunteers, Lara Montagna and Luca Casati, who are both animal rescue advocates, were there from Switzerland and Italy to select dogs for adoption and had been there for a couple of days prior to my arrival. We worked with them and got to know them as friends. The second is that a sweet puppy, now named "Shortie" arrived at Scooby.

Shortie was found wondering around Medina del Campo and someone called Fermin Perez to ask him to pick her up. So Shortie arrived the same day that I did. It all came together, and Lara fell in love with her the first day and decided to adopt her.  She now lives happily with Lara and is featured each day in a lovely Facebook posting.

Shortie is Such a Sweet Girl and Now Lives Happily with Lara in Switzerland
Everybody Loves Shortie!
Lara interviewed me and Melissa for a Swiss radio station/podcast, and Luca is a first-class photographer, who took photos of the dogs and created a very special calendar. Funds raised from his calendar, "II Calendario 2013 "Caras de Galgos" will go to help rescue more galgos.  His photography is beautiful and truly captures the reality of each subject and situation.
Lara Montagna, Switzerland, Choosing Dogs to be Re-homed in Italy
She was romping with the dogs. She's an angel!

Melissa Beamish and Luca Casati Visit Scooby Matriarch, Miratu
Melissa and I worked so well together.  I would ask her what needed to be done, and we would clean the kennels and buildings, feed the cats and others, hugging and talking with them as much as we could.  We'd normally finish around Noon or 1:00 p.m. and then have lunch.

Scooby sunrises were unbelievable. It's the best feeling in the World to wake up, know that an adventure is going to unfold, and that you are going to do good work that will make a difference for so many needy animals.The weather was so lovely. The skies were gorgeous and most days, the temps rose to about 60 degrees or more.  No rain, except one evening while I was there, and a few very light showers on two of the days.  It was cold at night once the sun went down, around 40 degrees, so you had to bundle up.
The Most Beautiful Skies!
Scooby mornings... Yes, I yearn to return to have more soon. So glad that I had the chance to go back and spend this time helping the animals and working with Melissa. It was so very special!

Next up... Scooby afternoons. Stay tuned!

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.

Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Please support Scooby!

Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Journey Back to Scooby, November Visit 2012

Lovely Day, Lovely Galgos
Paddock 4 Galgos are All in New Homes Now

The Journey from California to Madrid
On Saturday, November 10, had an early flight from San Francisco through Philadelphia, and then on to Madrid.  Arrived 7:45 a.m. and running on vapors, as it is one full day to get from California to Spain, and I didn't sleep much the night before because of my excitement and never did sleep well on an airplane.  Somehow the adrenaline kicks in and "boom" you're ready to go another several hours because of the thrill of being back in one of your favorite places. 
The Journey from Madrid to Medina del Campo
Because I was shlepping a gargantuan suitcase, full of donated supplies from other Scooby volunteers and also from us, plus a duffle bag with my stuff and a backpack, decided to take a cab to the train station.  For those who have never taken the train from Madrid to Medina del Campo, words of advice.  Make sure they take you to the correct station, which is Chamartin.  The taxi driver and I both misunderstood and he took me to the main metro station. 
Gargantua Suitcase and My Other Stuff
Mondo bag full of Scooby Supplies
The station was very nice, and everyone was extremely helpful.  I finally found my way to the main ticket desk where the young woman explained that I had to first take the metro to the Chamartin station, then I could change trains to get to Medina del Campo.  My other advice is to print those train schedules or have them handy on your phone, as that is how I successfully got on the right train to the correct city. Apparently, there are two Medina's, and one is much farther away. 
Once I arrived at Chamartin, waited for about 90 minutes for my train. Had a wonderful cafe leche and did another Facebook check-in.  Asked to make sure that I had boarded the correct train and sat across from an elderly couple.  I wanted to triple-check one more time to make sure that I was on the right train, so I showed them my ticket. They tried so hard to explain something to me in Spanish, but I just wasn't getting it. So the woman told the man to show me. He took my ticket and then gestured for me to grab my bags, and he took the mondo suitcase, and then we walked through four cars to get to what he was trying to show me.  Low and behold, the ticket had an assigned car and seat, and he had shown me to it.  Muchas Gracias, Senor! :-) It was at the very back, near the ticketmaster and driver's booth. It was actually kind of silly to have an assigned seat because it was Sunday and there were only a handful of folks on the train... All was well. I was off and on my way to Medina del Campo.
Madrid: Metro to Train
Easy, Inexpensive, Fast
It was a very nice day -- mostly sunshine and about 60 degrees. The scenery along the way is really beautiful.  The skies were stunning. There was snow on some of the taller mountains.  We stopped at many small cities along the way and just a few people got off and on. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable trip, and would recommend it for anyone traveling to Scooby from Madrid, especially if they don't want to deal with driving. Total cost was around 29 Euros, and it takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes (because of the stops on the non-Express trains).

Spanish Countryside
Beautiful Scenery, Relaxing Train Ride
I eagerly anticipated meeting my hero volunteer and now fellow Scoobette, Melissa Beamish, who I had planned to work with on this trip.  Somehow, my overtired brain couldn't get Melissa's cell phone number correct to text her.  Thank God she texted me while I was at the train station, and was keeping tabs on when I would arrive around 2 p.m.  She drove the Scooby Volunteer vehicle to pick me up, which I greatly appreciated. When we met, I felt like I was seeing one of my life-long friends right from the moment we met.  She is beautiful inside and out, and her photos, stories, blog, videos, etc. don't even do her justice. They don't show that gigantic heart and soul that she has for all animals. I'm so glad we met via this blog!  My mondo suitcase had to ride in the front, while I rode in the back. It was only about five minutes from the station to Scooby. 

Back in the Saddle at Scooby! :-)

When we pulled up to the potato chip factory, in front of the Scooby grounds, Melissa said to me, "Can you believe it? You're actually here!" We were both so excited to think about the wonderful times to come over the next several days. 

Since it was Sunday, which is the day that Scooby Volunteers normally take off, we decided to take this day to visit as many animals as possible.  Melissa took me around and introduced me to many, many galgos and other dogs, including the most beautiful Hacinta, her heart dog who she returned to see off to France. (More on that later.)
Melissa Beamish with Hacinta
Our visit with the Quarantine Dogs in Hacinta's Kennel

I had the entire dorm to myself and Melissa was right next door in one of the caravans where we could hear, "The Song of the Galgos" ring out several times each day.  She had looked after me in so many ways before I even arrived: making sure that I had sleeping quarters, heaters, food, space in the kitchen and fridge, and so many other things. I can't thank her enough!
 Melissa Does A Happy Dance Exercise with Hacinta and the Galgos
I love this video of Melissa doing her dance with the galgos for exercise!

Melissa with the Pajama Club
These were some of the sweetest dogs in the bunch.  The UK Scoobettes fondly named them, "The Pajama Club", as they loved to snuggle up together in their jammies/warm coats.

Left My Heart with these Sweet Puppies
Took care of them every day while there. They grew before my eyes!

Scooby Sunset
Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight - Promise for a Beautiful Day Tomorrow

That first evening, Melissa cooked me and Nilcelio, the Scooby groundskeeper who lives on site, a very delicious pasta dinner. We talked and talked until I couldn't stay awake. Went back, settled in and had a good night's rest. 

I knew that this was going to be a very special visit to Scooby. It was my third, and I had no idea how many wonderful things would unfold.  I didn't mean to let so much time go before letting you know about my trip, but had lots of Facebook and YouTube postings to take care of. Quite frankly, it's very difficult to let go of the pull on your heartstrings when you leave Scooby. Help me! I have separation anxiety!
Scooby, I Can't Leave You!
OK, so I have to leave, but will leave my Heart so that I can return. OK?

Please watch for my future postings, as I will be sharing lots of updates about my trip.  It was magical! :-) Can't wait to return.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.

Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Please support Scooby!
Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Perdóneme, the Clocks Changed and I'm on Scooby Time

Perdóneme, But I'm on "Scooby Time"

I had the very best of intentions to write regularly about my Scooby adventures on this trip to Spain.  But once I arrived, remembered that I'm on "Scooby Time", which means that hours and days pass all too quickly when you are volunteering at Scooby and before you know it, it's time to leave. I still have two precious days left to visit with the beautiful galgos and other animals here, and will savor every moment.
Beautiful Galgo with an Angel Face

When I return to California, will update this blog with many wonderful stories about what I experienced on this trip.  The highlight has been working with Melissa Beamish, my UK super-volunteer hero, who is traveling around the World, volunteering at the neediest of pet shelters. Today, Melissa said, "Hasta Luego" to her beloved Scooby galga, Hacinta, who she fell in love with during her first volunteer visit in May.  We escorted the lovely Ms. Hacinta along with 19 other galgos and two other types of dogs to the Scooby transport van which will deliver them to their forever homes in France in the next couple of days.  It was a bittersweet day, knowing that this moment had come. Feels great to know that loving arms are waiting for these dear, sweet dogs,and that they will now have the lives that they deserve.
Melissa Beamish and Her Beloved Hacinta

I have a day-by-day journal of my adventures, which I will share in upcoming postings. Apologies for not keeping you informed while here, but those who have visited will understand how "Scooby Time" takes hold of you while you are here, and you have little time for anything but the lovely animals -- as it should be.

Stay tuned for lots of updates about the happenings at Scooby.

What a wonderful, soulful experience being back to volunteer again! I will be very sad to leave, but the satisfaction of knowing that I will soon return certainly helps.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.
Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Please support Scooby!

Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hasta Luego! Back to Scooby, 11/10/12 (We are Star Fish Throwers)

Happy Days! Gone to Hug Galgos at Scooby!

So excited to return to Scooby! Leaving from San Francisco to Philly on Saturday, 11/10/12 a.m., and arriving in Madrid at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, 11/11/12. Will take the cab to the train, and then the train to Medina del Campo. God willing, I'll arrive in the early afternoon.  My volunteer hero, Melissa Beamish, will pick me up at the train station and bring me to the Scooby sanctuary. From there, who knows what will happen?  It will likely be settling into my digs at the Scooby dorm and then meeting and greeting all of the wonderful animals.  So happy just thinking about it!

My Friend, Melissa, Whom I have Yet to Meet in Person and Her Beloved Hacinta

Melissa learned that her beloved Hacinta is supposed to go to France to her adoption home on 11/16/12, so if this happens, it will be bittersweet. There will be tears of joy and sorrow. I am so glad that I'll be there to share that with Melissa and Hacinta, as they have such a special connection and love for one another.  Am so looking forward to many a late night chat with Melissa to hear of her adventures, as she travels the World, volunteering at the most needy of animal rescue facilities. Yes. Angels do walk among us. 0:-)

Our Bless Sleeps on One of Her Many Beds - Happy Galga Girl!
Bless, our adopted galga of almost two years, will be cheering for her peeps back at Scooby, wishing them the same great life that she has her here in wonderful California, where she is an adored member of the Easter pack/family.  All of this is thanks to the great rescue work that Scooby does. Two years ago, Bless was left at the Scooby facility, and I found our precious needle in the haystack, traveled to Spain to get her, volunteered to learn more, and then brought my princess home.  You cannot believe what a wonderful companion dog she is.  100%+ lovin' from the galgos. Please consider helping Scooby with its mission or adopting a galgo.

So why does Margie and all of these other crazy people do what they do? Does it really make a difference?  An answer: I stumbled across something that was on one of my fellow Scoobettes Facebook pages (Louise Stanforth -- thank you!), and that is this story:

Saving One at a Time Still Makes a Difference

The Starfish Thrower

There was a man who was walking along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.

The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the sea, otherwise they would die.

The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? The boy picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean and said "Made a difference to that one..."

The man left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. He soon returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea....

We are starfish throwers and proud of it! On the immediate horizon, Melissa and I shall be throwing dozens of starfish back. We hope that you will join us in spirit, and in person some day!

Many updates to come as often as possible.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.
Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Please support Scooby!

Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Scooby Fever Takes Me Back to Spain

Scooby Fever =
When You Fall in Love with Scooby, You Must Return Again and Again and Again......
So excited! :-) Returning to volunteer at Scooby in Medinal de Campo, Spain.  Leaving on 11/10/12 and returning on 11/19/12, which means that I'll be at Scooby on 11/11 for 7 days visiting the lovely animals and people.

Yay! I finally get to meet Melissa and Hacinta!
The timing for this trip was another bit of serendipity. Melissa Beamish, my hero volunteer, whom I wrote about in my last blog posting, learned that her beloved Hacinta is still at Scooby.  So she was able to work things out to return to Scooby to volunteer for a month. Will be meeting up with Melissa, and we'll be working together to take care of the wonderful animals at Scooby. She's already there, working tirelessly to take care of the precious ones that we love. I so admire her strength, courage and heart for taking care of the neediest of animals at this shelter, as well as the others she has and will be working with during the coming months. I cannot wait to meet Melissa, her Hacinta, and to meet and greet all of the oldies and newbies at Scooby.  We may be two of the only non-Scooby staff and non-local volunteers there at this time, but one never knows because others show up unexpectedly.  No matter... it will certainly be an adventure and delight, as always.

Wah! I missed my UK Scoobettes!

Sad to say that I just missed my lovely UK Scoobettes, Heather, Jacqui, Ellie, and Lucinda by a few short days. :-( Had volunteered with Heather, Jacqui and Lucinda the first two times that I visited, so this is this is my first non-UK-Scoobette visit ever. Wah! I love these folks and will miss them so much. My bright shining star on this visit will be Melissa, who is one of the most noble of animal volunteers ever.

Upon the advice of my fellow Scoobettes, am taking the train from Madrid to Medina del Campo, which takes about two hours. The Scooby sanctuary is only about five minutes from the train station, so someone there will pick me up, or I'll take a cab. 
Scooby "Dorm" - Photo from my first stay.
Used to be the store too. Bunk beds make you feel like a kid again. Comfy digs!

Will be staying there in the dorm and on-site for the entire time, which I like to call, "total Scooby immersion". Will be sleeping next to the quarantine quarters and hearing the, "Song of the Galgos" many times during the day and night. In fact, will bring ear plugs, just in case. ;-)

Melissa is staying in the caravan nearby, so I'm sure we'll have some great talks about her travels as we work together, and especially while caring for the animals and making dog food lasagna (layers of cat food and bread -- yes, we *always* need more dog food folks).

Scooby Medina del Campo Sanctuary
Planning out all of the logistics to make sure things go smoothly. Already half-way packed for the trip.  Taking supplies: leads, collars, antiseptics, and other medical and people supplies from Nan Wallace, fellow Scooby volunteer (thank you so much), a couple of good pooper scoopers (always in dire need), bandages, rubber gloves, and other supplies which will be left at Scooby.  My husband, Darrell, has optimized and adjusted everything to make sure it all fits in my suitcase. Will be taking a Gargantua suitcase for the supplies, which must only weigh 50 lbs. or less, plus my clothing in a smaller bag and my backpack.
Suppose I'll Look Like Carrot Top with My Giant Suitcase Full of Scooby Supplies ;-)
It is Fall/Winter there at around 40-50 degrees during the day and in the 30's at night, so I'll be packing warm layers of clothing. (My years of growing up in Michigan will pay off here for preparations weather wise!) Bought a new pair of rubber boots to leave there, and nice new pair of rain-proof pants and jacket to wear over my performance clothes, as well as hats, gloves and warm socks. Ready for the elements, and expecting cold, wet weather including snow. If the sun shines, will consider it to be a great blessing. To avoid hassles and pick-pockets in the Madrid Metro, I'll probably take a cab from the airport to the train station.  On the return, I'll probably take the train to the Metro to the airport, as I'll be unencumbered.

Have a new iPhone 5, so planning to take lots and lots of photos and videos, and will try to send you all daily updates, as I know that I wait on pins and needles for updates from others when they visit. I will try to be the best "roving Scooby reporter" possible. Lord willing, the AT&T and Scooby WiFi networks will hold out. ;-)

Will provide another update before I leave.  If you have special loved ones at Scooby that you want to see in photos and/or want to give special hugs and kisses, please let me know.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.

Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Please support Scooby!
Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Hero is a Humble Servant - Thank You and Happy Birthday, Melissa!

Super Star Volunteer, Melissa Beamish
& Hacinta, her Scooby Galga
Who Would Have Thought?
When I started this blog 18 months ago, I had no idea how many wonderful friends I would meet from writing about something that I am so passionate about -- galgosIt began as a journal and vehicle to raise awareness and share information about adopting one of these precious ones, our Bless. (Side note: Friends, this blog is at almost 5,000 page views from visitors around the World. How cool is that?) :-)

Meeting Melissa and Her Hacinta:
A few months ago, out of the blue sky, I received an email from another Scooby volunteer who had visited right after Darrell and I were there in April.  She's from the UK and her name is Melissa Beamish. She had read my blog entry about falling in love with one of the galgas there, Polka, and it touched her soul. She too had fallen in love with a lovely galga, Hacinta, while she was volunteering at Scooby.  She didn't know much about galgos before visiting Scooby, and this posting has some great insights for those who are also new to the breed.
The Beautiful Hacinta - Forever in Melissa's Heart
I know how much you love Hacinta, Melissa. My wish for you is that you can some day take sweet Hacinta home with you, or at the very least, you can go to visit her in her new home in France.
Melissa with Lovely Hacinta
18 Month Mission Around the World:
In her email, Melissa explained how she was on an 18-month mission, volunteering at needy animal shelters around the World and had begun her dream journey with Scooby in May, 2012. I read her blog, connected to her on Facebook and looked at all of her amazing photos. Her writing style is even somewhat like mine, which is awesome!  Scooby and this blog had brought together two more kindred spirits.

Melissa's Bio:
I'm following Melissa's travels with great anticipation and a heart full of admiration, and thought it fitting to make her story the topic of this entry.  I asked her to send me a bio, and here it is:

A brief bio about me, and sadly it isn't even a bit interesting compared with the life I am now living since my dream began 4 months ago.

I was born in the US, but have lived in England since I was 4....I've always loved animals and have always grown up with cats, all of which have been rescues (interesting fact, I have never owned a dog, and my sisters adopted Alaskan malamute, also known as my beloved Mal Nephew Thunder, is pretty much the only dog I have been around until taking this trip).

5 years ago I started joining various animal rights groups and charities, PETA, WSPA, and began learning a lot about the atrocities that are happening to animals all over the world, and I really had my eyes opened (so much so I also became vegetarian). I felt so sad and horrified at what i was learning, and I then got to thinking how much I would love to work with and help animals, but realised I've left it too late in life to be able to study to be qualified in any way. I own a house, a car, pay bills and have responsibilities, so it would not be possible to go in to full or even part-time education.

So then I got to thinking there must be places in the world that don't require you to be qualified in the way that England does, and that led to me thinking about volunteer work. I'm a big believer that we're all taking and taking from the world, but not enough of us are giving back, and how rewarding it would be to be able to help animals, people, and do this from the heart, rather than for the financial reward. I've talked about travelling the world for many, many years, and always planned to take a year out at some point to do just that. But the more I thought about animals, the horrific cruelty they suffer, and the want to help them, the dream of travelling changed its course.

I started researching volunteer placements with animals, and was again opened up to a world of such placements I didn't before knew existed. After many many hours, days, weeks researching I decided on a 2 week working vacation at the Harnas Wildlife Refuge in Namibia, Africa. I had an incredible experience, and in just under 2 weeks I'd hand fed cheetahs, slept out under the stars with 8 month old lions, taken baboons for daily walks, and much much more.  But what I did learn is that I got just as much, if not more, out of the time I spent with the domestic dogs and cats at Harnas, than with these incredible wild animals.

By the end of my trip (3 years ago) my mind was set, and the dream was born. I was going to start saving as much money as possible, and travel the world volunteering at animal shelters, focusing primarily on cats and dogs as they are the ones that seemed so much in need of help, love and comfort, with all the abuse and dangers they are exposed to.

The planning for my trip started around 7 months before I left the UK. I first decided on countries to visit (basing this on countries either with high abuse issues, strays, poverty etc) then spent countless hours, days, weeks, months researching projects. By the time I left the UK (and even now still), I only had the first 5 months set up and planned. My short list of projects after that is still at over 100+!

In Spain alone I found so many shelters  requesting the help of volunteers, but I have to say Scooby was one that when I saw the website (bearing in mind I only read a small amount), I instantly said 'I have to go there, I have to help them'.

I left my job at one of the UK's top private boarding Schools a week before the journey began, my house is now inhabited by tenants, my car is declared off the road and in a secure parking lot, and my possessions are now packed in to crates stored in my sisters loft. I have one large and one small rucksack containing my belongings for the next 18 months, and the rest from there I guess from my blog you will know already.

I've said this many times on my journey, that I have honestly never enjoyed a days work more, than when I'm caring for animals, and doing it for free. As you will know from your own experiences at Scooby, no financial reward could possibly match the incredible rewards that working with animals can give. I knew right away this is what I am meant to be doing with my life, and this is what I really call living. Although content in my life before this, I felt I was more existing than living, and I wanted my life to have more meaning  and a real purpose. Donating to charities and signing petitions was not enough, and I could no longer justify sitting back and doing nothing, I had to be a part of it.
I feel truly blessed to be doing what I'm doing, and it's a journey I hope will never end.
(by Melissa Beamish, 9/2012)

A Map of Melissa's Travels


What an Experience!
I can only imagine how full her mind and heart must be with all of the experiences she's having and the animal souls that she is touching as she travels from place to place. But do read her blog and you'll learn so much more. I will forewarn you that she presents the bright and dark side of her experiences, which some of you may find upsetting; however, it is the truth about how some things are, whether we want to know it or not.

Thank You for What You are Doing, Melissa: 
You are a humble servant, and you'll be richly blessed. But I know that you are not doing this to receive anything in return. Giving of yourself like this gives back to you in more ways than any words can describe. You are an inspiration to all of us! God bless you as you continue on your dream journey, touching and helping to heal the needy souls of these beautiful animals, one at a time.  I hope to meet you at Scooby next Summer!

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog! More to follow. Bless sends her blessings.
Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!
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Know an organization that will donate dog food?  Please let me know.