By Jude Dickinson
In October 2018, I experienced an amazing week with Healing Animals Organisation who spend seven days Volunteering in Cyprus alongside three animal centers with Elizabeth Whiter, graduates and students of the Healing Animals Organisation, Dee Arp, a former graduate and her dedicated team of volunteers.
Conditions in Cyprus can be hot, dusty and stark for animals living in Cyprus with temperatures reaching to 28oC – 30oC in the summer months. Dogs and cats find themselves becoming strays either because they were unwanted or wandered out of their family home via an unguarded front porch, never to be seen in months or ever again. The estimated number of abandoned dogs in Cyprus is 170,000 per year! Estimated number of dogs killed every year by the veterinary services is 20,000, most of them healthy dogs. Many of the strays are hunting breeds. Cypriots have what is known as ‘hunting season’ whereby in October they will travel high up into the mountains looking for wildlife and game but unfortunately if any of their dogs are not suitable for hunting from their illegal breeding by the hunters in the first place or are too old or just can’t do the hunting job they are meant to do when they are simply left in the mountains to fend for themselves, to starve or poisoned. As the Animal Party’s leader Kyriacou explains “Some of these dogs sit in the owners’ backyard or garage for over six months before the hunting season, with no training whatsoever. Therefore, when they are released in the wild to engage in hunting, some of them run away as their inexperience makes them scared of the gunshots,” Kyriacou said. “The hunters then cannot be bothered to spend the time to find them and so they get lost.”
However, the healthy ones will wander down onto the streets or motorways to be picked up by the local dog warden. Which I saw on a couple of occasions working with the HAO in my week but to be honest, it seemed dogs were arriving almost every day.
Working in the week I experienced and had a joyful cuddle or two with these strays in the Dali Dog Rescue Center. The center’s locals who are regularly found volunteering in Cyprus work tirelessly, many of them having full-time jobs of their own, they help bring round all the dogs and puppies who are often too scared, feel lost and confused or just overwhelmed by the stress of living on the streets and coming into a noisy kennel environment. Some dogs are also abandoned by their ‘owners’ who for some reason can’t cope with the extra responsibility of looking after a female who has fallen pregnant or has delivered puppies and had just abandoned them by a dried up old river bed, or thrown onto a motorway or dare I say it be lucky enough to have been left outside one of the shelters in Dali, Cyprus.
When you first walk into the kennels it is noisy, no doubt about that but it is an absolute pleasure meeting these pups with dusty noses and paws all desperate for your attention for some moments of love and a carefree hug. Some dogs are unsure of humans and will jump back into their wooden huts for some security to hide away and to feel a sense of safety. If they share a kennel with a mate then even better. After all two’s company right?
It was amazing to watch and observe how kind-hearted these dogs are considering the harsh conditions some of them have come from. A dog called Phoebe who was the most unbelievable sweetest girl climbed straight onto my lap as I sat down on the hard concrete floor to greet her. She nestled her warm body upon my legs and looked up at me with her brown saucer eyes with the longest eyelashes asking ‘I’m ready for a cuddle if you are!?’ How could I resist such an innocent request from this girl? Her kennel mate Oreo, however, was anxious and needed to voice his opinion on things with a whimper. With Phoebe on my lap and my hands on Oreo stroking my hot hand down his black silky fur coat he began to relax and within ten minutes he was experiencing the best doggie massage I could give along his shoulder blades and up and down the muscles on his front and hind legs. He decided to transfix himself onto one spot and not go anywhere, which was quite unusual for him as being an adventurous climber he would climb right up to the top of his kennel pretending to be the best Superman a canine could ever be but really his soul was just yearning to be ‘free’.
I spent a lot of minutes sitting inside a kennel either just sitting literally sitting doing nothing else for 45 minutes with my hands outstretched, healing pouring out through my hands into the kennel space and slowly but surely the nervous, shy creature standing before me would trust me just enough so they could move and sit inside their bed. Maybe release a yawn or two or nibble at a biscuit or two off the hard floor that they had dropped just hours ago at breakfast. To me sitting there would signify a breakthrough that this dog had enough courage to move just a few inches towards the healing energy wanting to be soothed and bathed in. The healing light that is coming from my hands. They are trusting the process, ever so slowly in their own time, not rushing it but allowing it to work on their time. Their soul and mind can be relaxed and quiet just for a moments breath and breathe out the essence of peace, at last, they receive an inch of this that they have been yearning for.
Traveling up the Tala Monastery of cats is different ..different in a way that yes the animals who come in have been abused, abandoned or have got lost. When you walk in there, what first strikes you is the radio in the background playing out the modern music of our age and cats everywhere! In every orifice you can imagine. Up high in canapés above you, below brushing against your legs, laying by your feet or there are some walking past you to head for their destination. Felines lay across tree branches, drinking from the fountains lapping at the fresh cool water. Observing each cat – each one is different. You name it the monastery has it. All 800 of them and Dawn the founder/owner knows each one by name! All colours of an autumn season tease your eyes from beiges, browns, blacks, white, ginger, tortoiseshell, greys of a feline fur meowing around at your side. There was a blind cat who I have to admit I shared my lunch with and some sausage meat. Close by there was a moggy with no nose who had a few minutes of healing with me. Laying back in the plastic chair he absorbed the healing energy, gently drifting off to sleep with added snores for effect. A black cat sauntered past me afterward with a red bandana adorned around his neck oozing a energy of ‘how cool am I?’ I thought to myself transfixed by this confident dude ‘Yes very cool little man’. The cat shelter is run by devoted, tireless and amazing volunteers who feed and clean and look after these kitties. Totally relying on donations from the public to feed and house the felines. Some tourists will even fly over especially and spend their week at the monastery to help out.
To come back to the U.K after seven days I was certainly glad to feel the cool fresh air upon my face. Seeing the green lush grass and hedgerows surrounding me. Feeling the coolness of the wind blowing upon my face when walking with my client’s dogs. And so do to the dogs in Cyprus deserve this once they are adopted to one of your homes. How wonderful would it be for a dog to sense the cool fresh grass under his paws? To taste food with flavour, to drink cool water without it warming up due to the increasing 30-degree heat in the day? To place their paws on a pebbly or sandy beach and feeling a salty wave whooshing against them? To visit a woodland river with birds singing their song for attention, squirrels running up a tree and keeping a lookout to see if you have spotted them, twitching their bushy tails once they have played peek-a-boo.
If you are interested in sponsoring a dog or adopting a cat from D.O.G Rescue Cyprus or Talacatmonastery then please look at the following websites:
Dali Dog Rescue Cyprus here £50 will pay for you to sponsor a dog, behind the scenes all the dogs have veterinary health check-ups, medical flight checks, some of them have operations and you can even name them. Every Sunday a ‘freedom flight’ will fly over a dog to the UK for foster and adoption. Can you help offer that chance of offering them a home?
If you would like to know more about the Healing Animals Organisation which has been created by Elizabeth Whiter you can find the school listing here…
Please give support to help neglected dogs and cats of Cyprus a second chance, I know a good motto which is
- If you can’t adopt
- If you can’t foster
- If you can’t sponsor
- If you can’t volunteer
- If you can’t donate
My background with animals has been for working for the R.S.P.C.A in 2001, Patcham Branch for 2 years and then Cat Protection League, Chelwood Gate Branch in 2004, and also volunteered for W.R.A.S. Wildlife.
I am an experienced professional Dog Walker and Pet Sitter and run my own business Connect-2yourpet which has been successfully running for 7 years.
I am a qualified Reiki Master and have been running my own healing clinic and Relax HAOK9 Canine Massage business. I decided to place these skills and love of animals to become an Animal Healer with the Healing Animals Organisation and currently visit European animal sanctuaries including Bologna, Italy, and Cyprus with the Healing Animals Organisation.
I am listed on My Pets Review, so check me out here and get in touch, I would love to work with you and your pets. I look forward to hearing from you.