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Each year, our staff members are given the opportunity to take a day off to volunteer in their community. Louise lives in Spain and volunteers with animal rescues all over the country.

Hi, I’m Louise!

This year, I traveled to Pat’s Rescue Retreat in Malaga with donations that we had been collecting all year. It meant an early start as we had an 8-hour drive ahead of us from Madrid to Malaga in the loaded campervan.

We stopped a few times on the way down… It was a good thing the gift shop had everything that we could possibly need: cheese, honey, and knives! We had some canine company too, in the form of Emma. Emma had been adopted from Pat’s rescue a few years ago, when she was just a puppy, and it was her first time going back to visit her first home.

When we arrived, we were greeted by some of the long-term residents, Sacha, Buddy, and Finn. Despite there being 90 dogs, a donkey, and a horse, the only noise was the sound of birds singing. You’d never believe that there were 90 dogs there! Once we got settled, it was time to start unpacking the donations. We had bags upon bags of beds, towels, blankets, towels, medicine, food, harnesses, leashes, collars, and items to sell in the charity shop- and everything needed organizing.

Once the donations were sorted, it was time for puppies! The little guys jumping all over me in the video are 5-month old Mastín Español puppies. The males can weigh about 100kg and the majority of the dogs at the rescue are Mastíns or Mastín crosses. Originally bred as livestock guardian dogs, they are often used to guard abandoned properties in Spain, only seeing people once or less a week.

Most of the dogs at Pat’s Rescue Retreat were abandoned, found as strays, or taken in because their owners couldn’t take care of them anymore. Lots of them arrived in appalling conditions and many are very fearful of humans through being abused or a complete lack of socialization. At Pat’s Rescue Retreat, Pat works tirelessly to rehabilitate the dogs in order to rehome them. Some are too old or sick, or won’t ever be adopted, so they have a forever home with her. She rotates them between the kennels and her house so that every dog has the experience of living in a home environment before they get adopted.

Rutti is one of the most recent additions. She’s an American Bulldog. She has a lot of complicated allergies which need vet care and a special diet. When she got pregnant, the owners couldn’t care for her, so the morning the puppies were born, they gave them to Pat. On top of the 90 dogs that she normally has, Pat then had to take on the responsibility of 12 newborn puppies. Unfortunately, one didn’t make it, but the other 11 are thriving. Once they’re old enough, they’ll be looking for their own families. Pat rehomes her dogs in Spain and all over Europe. (I was tempted to try and smuggle one of the pups back with me!)

Feeding time is super organized… But feeding so many (big!) mouths is a challenge. We calculated that Pat needs at least 48kg of food per day and that’s not counting for the dogs that have special dietary requirements, including puppies. As you can imagine… That much food doesn’t come cheap. The rescue is run on donations and Pat’s savings, without any government assistance or funding.

The work never stops. That evening, as I was walking a friend to her car, we reached the gate and realized that there was a little Bodeguero standing there. We put him in one of the kennels for the night with a comfy bed, some food, and water. We planned to check for a microchip and to remove ticks from his ears… But he managed to escape during the night!

Pat’s Rescue Retreat is a wonderful place, run by an incredible woman. But… She can’t keep doing this on her own. If you’d like to donate to the rescue, you can find her on Facebook:

Pat Waterhouse
Pat’s Rescue Retreat

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