This week I began volunteering at the Hermanus Animal Welfare Society (HAWS). HAWS “cares for sick, abandoned, and abused lost cats and dogs”. I’m spending time with both dogs and cats. Walking the dogs is especially satisfying, since they’re so happy to get out of the kennels into fresh air and sunshine! It’s good exercise when the larger dogs take you for a walk, rather than vice versa.
My first day was spent walking dogs with another new volunteer – a young South African woman who’s leaving soon for university in Edinburgh Scotland. The dogs realized we were new and did their best to break us in :). While walking, I enjoyed talking and getting a fresh local perspective on Hermanus and South Africa.
The cattery is between dog kennels. Cool kitties remained calm while contemplating the parade of energetic dogs passing by on their way for a walk. No hissing, but I saw a few scathing “if looks could kill” glares.
The volunteer operation is low-key and mellow. It’s up to you how often you show up – of course the dogs and cats always appreciate love and attention. The kennels are in an industrial area surrounded by businesses, including the cordoned-off and mysterious South African National Space Agency (SANSA) next door.
SANSA “promotes the use of space and cooperation in space-related activities”. Activities include gathering Earth observation data and monitoring space weather information – huh?
A field between SANSA and HAWS is ideal for dog walking. It would be scary at night. There are a few areas where people have dumped interesting (for lack of a better word) rubbish. The dogs socialize, and mole mounds, guineafowl, pigeon, and dove provide seemingly endless amusement.
Over the years, I’ve participated in various forms of volunteering throughout South Africa. This time, I opted for simple. Spending time with the dogs and cats is a joyful, uncomplicated experience. When you enter their space with a leash in hand, the dogs get excited! They know why you’re there. A lead volunteer says the dirtier she gets while volunteering, the more beneficial the day is for the animals. I agree.