Heidi Foord

Volunteering at HAS in June 2017

I am from England and now in my late twenties. I worked as a public health nurse back in England. I travelled to India in June 2017 with the sole purpose of volunteering with HAS. I came to know of HAS through the ever-popular website called ‘Workaway’. HAS seemed to have very positive reviews left by previous volunteers, and so I contacted HAS and was welcomed without hesitation. At the start of my first day at HAS, a pregnant stray dog was brought in by a man who found her laying under a car, covered in liquid (possibly amniotic fluid). She was unresponsive but clearly in labour. After many hours of surgery her puppies were born. The permanent staff and volunteers attempted to revive the little puppies but sadly they all died without the attention of their mother. To all our delight the mother is now in recovery and even enjoys an occasional walk with the volunteers.

It is hard not to become so attached to some of these dogs. We spend so much time with them each day, watching their progress as they recover. I have a soft spot for one dog in particular; his name is Arthur. Arthur is a young Labrador cross who was hit by a car, and as a result became paralysed from the hind quarters down. The Vets started treatment and the volunteers started rehabilitation. We would massage and flex his legs, and aid him to walk on all four paws using a blanket as a hoist.

The first time I saw Arthur he was trying so desperately to crawl over to greet me, his face and ears told me he was so happy to see me. I bent down and started to stroke him, even cuddle him. He reminded me of a dog I had had a as child who suffered in a similar way with the paralysis. I sat with him for over 30 minutes and found tears falling from my eyes. I had cared for my dogs so diligently when he was unwell, and now there was Arthur looking so helpless in his cage, not able to move as young dog should. I felt so sad for him.

Each day Arthur would receive some treats and then begin his rehabilitation therapy. By the time I was due to leave, Arthur could stand independently on all four legs for a short period of time. However, Arthur is a long way from being able to walk independently, but I am hopeful that over time he will recover enough to enjoy life scampering around with the other dogs.

I truly valued my experience with HAS and would love to visit again one day. I was honestly touched by what I saw at HAS. The passion that some people have towards animals just pulled at my heart strings. Animals are vulnerable just as children are, they need an advocate and they need care to prosper. The volunteers were cared for so well by everyone at HAS. I personally felt included, respected, and valued. Thank you to all.