I’d simply had a smashing day: I’d been peed, pooped, and to top it all off, vomited on. And not only had I instantly forgiven the monster that did this to me, I’d even held it, petted it and fallen head-over-heals in love with it.
The I-wanna-be-your-mum-provokingly adorable Rollie, together with his sister Rosali, was travelling to Germany, and the first leg of their journey was by car from Valle Gran Rey to San Sebastian. On a road with so many hairpin turns that it just barely avoided tying a knot on itself.
Rollie was not only scared shitless…, he was also impressively carsick. Not once, but many times. The ample supply of oversize diapers that Dominique, the literally driving force of Pro Animal Gomera (PAG), had brought to line their comfortable cage with, could not even begin to take care of the damage. When we reached San Sebastian and carried the puppies from the car park to the vet, the four of us must have been reeking of puke and muck.
Through health examinations and the final touches to his travelling forms, Rollie gained back some of his happy-go-lucky puppy composure. After all, he was among the lucky ones. Together with his siblings he had been rescued from the garbage bin in which they had been deposited, and was now looking at a long, prosperous life with kind adoptive parents in Germany. And not, like many less fortunate cats and dogs, at a mere miserable existence, short of food, love and care.
On High Horses
Feral animals, undernourished, injured or suffering from painful conditions, are a common sight many places. The spotting of such specimens on our travels not only make us cringe in pity, but also judge the locals, putting them down as insensitive, uncivilized and backward.
Getting on our high horses is the easiest way out for us, riding away as fast as we can, washing our hands and our conscience of the problem, and soiling the local people’s character in the process.
Dominique, originally French, Gomeran resident of 28 years, has a different approach.
She doesn’t pass judgment or consider herself in any way morally superior. She knows the story of an island never prosperous, never privileged, but inhabited by people living under harsh conditions. Making do with what they had: their bare hands and a tough chunk of geography, turned into small pieces of cultivable, fertile strips and patches through painstaking reshaping and upkeep of the land.
She knows too, that under such circumstances the mere subsistence of your family is your uppermost priority, and any animal that is not able to carry your goods or constitute the main ingredient of your dinner, is of little consequence.
Teaching an old dog new tricks is hard, doing the same to puppies, however, is much more feasible. That’s why one of the main goals of PAG is through educational programs to encourage new attitudes and better ways of handling animals, and to urge local authorities to enforce already existing animal protection laws.
While waiting for the effects of these measures to kick in, Dominique and her allies spend most of their free time trying to alleviate some of the problem in cooperation with local veterinarians through capturing, sterilizing, vaccinating and treating feral or abused animals. A select few are put out for adoption, either locally or, like Rollie and Rosi, abroad.
On the organization’s wish list is an animal shelter, but the expression ”there’s no such thing as a free lunch” goes for animals too. Everything costs money, and this and all other measures are therefore hinging on public funding and private donations.
The Boy And The Starfish
In the meantime Dominiqe’s house is constantly inhabited by an assortment of animals “in transit”. She is well aware that she is not able to save or take care of all the animals of La Gomera, but in the spirit of The Boy And The Starfish she sees each animal as an individual and helps when- and wherever she can.