Without the help of volunteers, RSDR would only be able to rescue a fraction of the cats and dogs that we find suffering on the streets. We rarely, if ever, meet the amazing people in our admin teams in the Netherlands and UK – or our team leader who lives in Australia. So it was such a pleasure to welcome Nicole and her partner Nick, who spent a week with us at the Shelter at the beginning of May. Nicole explains how she and Nick ended up travelling 2,000 miles to help us…
“I have been part of the RSDR family for about 4 years now. I stumbled upon some of the YouTube videos that Diane and Tony had made. I was horrified by the plight of the dogs, and amazed by the work that the Rowles were doing. Shortly after I sponsored a dog, Comma, then when she was adopted, Chelsea. I started doing telephone interviews about 8 months ago, and it was a natural progression to want to actually go to Rudozem to meet the dogs and see their situation first hand.
The road from Plovdiv to Rudozem is winding, and took some time, but the scenery was stunning. Everyone was really friendly when we checked into our hotel, but the owners didn’t speak English, so we relied on gestures. This got a bit confusing as nodding your head means “no” and shaking your head means “yes”!
The next day we drove to the Shelter for the first time. It was so strange and heartbreaking to see the street dogs everywhere, terrified of humans and skulking around bins. These beautiful animals deserve so much better. Cats are commonplace, most are in very poor condition, but are not quite as wary as the dogs.
Meeting Tony was a bit surreal having followed his work for so long on Facebook, and I was nervous. I needn’t have worried – he is just as good at putting humans at ease as he is with animals!
Tony introduced us to everyone, explained the routines, and we got to meet the beautiful dogs. We went up every day, helped with the pups, and then mostly walked and spent time with the older dogs.
It is important they get time out of the Shelter, and also get introduced to strangers. A few were a little nervous at first, but after a very short time they all relaxed and enjoyed their walk. The only one who had an anxious moment was me, when I nearly trod on a snake!
The dogs at the shelter are so lovely. I had a soft spot for Roma, he is far more beautiful that any photo shows, and is so sweet. I also enjoyed being with Bill, so handsome, intelligent and loving. I also adored Mama Cass and Pompom – but they are all so special in their own ways.
My week with the team at the Shelter was inspiring, how they care for the animals, and prepare them for life in a home of their own. The best part for me was seeing first hand how RSDR really are making a difference. I think the most difficult part was leaving Roma – I really left a piece of my heart with this boy, and would just love to see him on the bus to a forever home.
I would certainly recommend volunteering at the Shelter, what an experience! It was great to see the work in action, and I would love to go back.”
If you would like to volunteer to help at the Shelter please visit our web site for more information: