Friday the 11th of August 22:30h. After weeks and weeks of draught, hot wind and an unbearable scorching heat that went up to 48°C and kept us and our dogs and still does from 11:00h in the morning till 21:00h inside, it is now time to restart the update. Dirk just left for the airport and between now and a couple of hours Marianne and her new assistant will arrive. Because one week before her arrival we were placed before the fait accompli that she did not have an assistant anymore we must look for a black pearl! Black pearls Dirk B and Kevin Verdonck, regional manager of the “silent” Kempen, offered their help but because Kevin does not speak one word of French, and he is working and must take off and Dirk B was free, the choice was logic. And so, the elected one (who is also co-driver and coordinator) started a crash course with his daughter, who has been a vet assistant for years already, to help Marianne in cleaning dog teeth and administer injections. Anyway, the problem has been solved and I expect the duo free from worries and I am sure that Dirk B, after his baptism of fire will be “Mariannized” after this adventure. Even though my Dirk will assist the new assistant I feel a little bit of compassion for him. A high work rate and a barrage of French recommendations in Marianne’s way is waiting for him. That he will sweat is a fact. Anyway, I am very grateful, and I admire him for his courage.
Saturday the 12th of August 2023
Yesterday after they arrived around 00:45h with loud roaring of our and the “neighboring” dogs and after the general welcome they dropped their luggage in the room we chatted for a few more hours and did not go to bed until 2:00h. I was happy and satisfied because Dirk B knows Marianne from the nightly galgo droppings whom she chose during her sterilization marathons (or vice versa). And often they had chosen her without her knowing it. Anyway, even though she usually fell asleep during the flight, he got to know her better during the trip which was a good foundation for today. It was a comforting thought for me to fall asleep with after talking. Despite the late hour yesterday and the short night we are already eating breakfast at 7:30h and in between bites Marianne is teasing her new assistant about what is awaiting him. As usual I am also a victim. That is how we know her. Traditionally we are still having breakfast when Marie-Carmen arrives half an hour earlier than agreed with the first 10 galgo ladies longing to be made baby proof. Beter early than late Marianne thinks and 10 minutes later our brand-new medical team leaves for the clinic. Dirk follows them and 10 minutes later I also follow them to overload our new assistant with recommendations. After a few minutes Marianne is fed up and says that she does not understand a word of Flemish and adds that we should speak French and then she starts with the first galgo lady, an old black breeding female. It is a wake-up call for Dirk B when Marianne puts her on the operation table, and it appears that she has several subcutaneous tumors on her belly. Internally it is no better, and it takes Marianne a lot of time to rid her from her rotten abused uterus. It started for Dirk B who stood by and looked at it in disbelief.
When Marianne is ready with the old lady, she moves to Dirk B’s table who is assisted for his first teeth by Marianne and Dirk who are watching attentively. For the first time he is doing amazingly well, and he is approved for the work. Our brand-new tattoo machine is doing less well, it still needs to warm up. Nevertheless, he succeeds in putting an S from “sterilized” in her ear. When her teeth are cleaned, her nails checked and her pink ribbon from day 1 is put on, the brave old lady moves to the recovery boxes that are all equipped with soft pee cloths (thanks to Nancy Quidé) the “dentist” can test his newly learned technique to lay softly down his first patient in the box. Once the first one is done Dirk B must throw himself into the ruthless “rotation”, it is swim or drown as Marianne wants to move forward. Give premedication to the arriving dogs, move the dogs from the operation table to his “dentist table”, when the teeth are done put the dogs in the boxes, put the sleeping dog on Marianne’s table, change the pee cloths and drop the dirty ones in the veranda where Dirk is recuperating them to wash and meanwhile cleans the poop and urine etc.… It is not evident and overwhelming for a new one who sometimes cannot see the wood for the trees anymore. Finally, what is expected from me is that I am the perfect hostess, I am responsible for the fruit supply and whatever they may want during their work in the clinic, and for breakfast, lunch, supper, and everything needed and more, so… At 20:00h when they come upstairs the first 18 ladies are peacefully and baby proof resting from their relieving operation. Everybody is satisfied and after a well-deserved aperitif we celebrate the success of the day with my abundant complete Greek supper and home-made tzatziki without cucumbers because Marianne hates cucumbers. After supper we go over the day again and Dirk B is well-deserved praised by his “boss”. He passed the baptism of fire and what is more Marianne likes him, I know her. When after the last patient’s checkup, we go to bed at 23:30h and the thermometer still indicates 38°C. Fortunately, the ventilator in their room is constantly blowing cool air.
Sunday the 13th of August 2023
Just like yesterday we all are ready at 8:00h, the dogs are checked, they have eaten and enjoyed their sanitary stop. Meanwhile Dirk hosed everything, and breakfast is ready. We just sit down when Marie-Carmen arrives with today’s first 10 ladies and so it will be a short breakfast again because Marianne does not want to waste time. I walk back and forth to the clinic where Dirk B is already feeling like a fish in the water and cleans teeth, moves galgos gives injections like he never did anything else. When I ask Marianne if she is happy with her assistant, she replies that he may return, especially because he finds such good music on the radio. When I ask him what he thinks of her proposal he replies to my surprise that he would be happy to assist her further!! After my brain registered his reply, I felt relieved. After lunch Marie-Carmen brings another 8 poor souls, amongst them 2 females with swollen nipples full of milk who have just given birth (puppies!!!????) and 5 very frightened ones who can hardly be touched, amongst which a few neglected black ones. Well, we are used to it.
Around 20:00h when they come upstairs for supper there are 36 galgo ladies in the clinic. Tomorrow the last 4 ones will come and then all 40 ladies who were waiting for Marianne are done. Unfortunately, when the team is barely on the plane already “new” ones will arrive in the shelter. With the upcoming hunting season all unnecessary burdens will be dumped. After the usual aperitif the hard-working guests are treated with French fries, chicken, and salad. Our supper will already be successful and will inspire us to chat for a couple of hours and reminisce about past times. To make sure I ask Dirk B once more if he still accepts the offer to assist Marianne further. “Of course,” she replies in his place and adds with a laugh “the new Beaujolais has arrived”. To round off she says, “as of now his name is Beaujolais” and she bursts out laughing!! That is how we know her. After the night round we dive into the pool to cool down and it is after midnight when they go to bed. Fortunately, the ventilators are still blowing cool air because like yesterday the thermometer is stuck at 38°C and the heat is already inside.
Monday the 14th of August 2023
When at 14:30h after a warm goodbye and the usual photo our newly assembled team leaves with Dirk for the airport I am left behind with 4 ladies who have been made baby proof today and are still napping in the clinic. The 36 who preceded them are still residing in Casa Belgica and strolling in the garden or stretching under the air conditioner on the veranda. I am going to check the clinic and the dogs outside and despite the heat some of them come flatter themselves against me. With tears in my eyes, I enjoy for minutes the peaceful scene and I go inside to clean up last lunch’s cups and saucers. It is dead quiet in the house, after three busy days our dogs are exhausted, and they are sleeping here and there in donuts or sofas. I am also exhausted but I will much enjoy reminiscing about the past days and the beautiful work that we did again.
Again 40 ones are safe and hopefully they will find a forever home.