Traditionally, January is a slow month for dog sitting. Last year I was in New Zealand and before in Albania. Now I have spent New Year’s in Greece. My project: working as a volunteer at a dog shelter. Welcome to Hopeland.
Hopeland is the name of the shelter which is close to Thessaloniki, on the mainland of Greece. I got this assignment through Workaway, the volunteering network. My hosts were very nice. They took good care of me and I could spend New Year’s Eve at their home: a traditional Greek evening with foods, drinks and tv show.
It is not an easy to take care of 60 dogs. Different ages, background, characters and needs. Some are disabled and will never be adopted, some are nice young puppies who will easily find a new home. And some are mentally so damaged that this place is the best they will ever see in their lives.
The day consists of feeding the dogs ander cleaning their space. The beautiful thing of Hopeland is that 25 dogs live inside the house. They have their beds, and can stay with their friends when sleeping. But not of them are potty trained. So in the morning when they all go outside to do whatever they need to do, you start cleaning. And after breakfast, you go on cleaning.
It was tough. Of course I didn’t agree with everything the host did with the dogs. But that was fine. But after a while it was just too much. I could not accomplish what I came to do which is my life purpose: enhance the wellbeing of dogs in order to improve the quality of their lives. Now I know I have to find another way to do so.
Taking care of so many dogs doesn’t give you the time nor energy to bond at a personal level. For me the definition of ‘taking care’ is much more than feeding them and cleaning their life space. For me ‘taking care’ goes beyond the primary necessities of life. It is about looking for what each individual needs to make his or her life better, mentally and/or emotionally.
This experience gave me an important insight about how I can work on my life purpose in a way that really gives me energy and feeling significant at the same time. One day – when I grow up – I want to have a dog sanctuary myself. So I learned a lot from this experience. Maybe I will go deeper into the details about my thoughts about Hopeland at some point.