Hello, my name is Tuğba Aygün. I am from Turkey and have been volunteering in Vilnius, Lithuania for a few months.
My volunteering is taking care of dogs and cats in an animal shelter. Since I volunteered in the “Animal Rights Community” at university, I chose animals for a European Solidarity Corps(ESC) project through BDK – Bodrum Youth. The country was not important to me, so I applied to an organisation called LESE for the best animal project. If you love dogs and cats, this job is really perfect for you.
I and two volunteers work together in the shelter. Our daily routine is almost different every day because we have around 50-60 animals. But they have a really good system. You need passion, patience, stability, merciful, punctuality and animal love for this work. Mostly we work with six people together with tutors. Sometimes we have a lot of local volunteers and visitors. Every day you can have different funny moments with the animals; it depends on your connection.
Physically, it was not possible for me to walk with the Doberman; but after what I learned here that the difficulties are not physical, just mental. I can say this for every dog in the shelter. If you don’t know that dog’s character, walking with it can even be dangerous. The important thing is to recognize the challenge and approach it accordingly. I learned patience, teamwork, and observation skills. That success does not come at once, you should first set goals and fulfil them. In order to work efficiently, it is necessary to respect the working styles of dıfferent teammates. Also, working in a shelter teaches you to be punctual and manage crises because here everything works like the chains of a gear. If you don’t direct the crowd at the same time to the right spot, you may find yourself in great chaos.
Meanwhile; I have a lot of time for photography, which is my biggest hobby. Also, I’ve been learning to edit videos. Although I am still not professional, I’ve made a lot.
What volunteering gave me outside of work; I’ve been getting to know new people and living with them. Before I had stereotypes in my mind for every country but they are gone by now. I had extremely strict rules in my home life. I’ve learned to evaluate people individually. I have now become a person with tolerance in everything because your indispensable lines are not even a point for others. I’ve learned to listen and understand before making a decision.
While I was so far away from my family I noticed that I am not alone. I’ve had a new family, my flatmates, who were in the same situation as me.
I learned to enjoy every moment I live because I can never return to yesterday.
P.S.: I had an online course about dogs cognition and emotions. Scientific information: If you make eye contact with dogs, your and the dog’s body produce oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the hugging hormone. This means you will feel happy when you make eye contact with dogs.
Here is my daily routine in volunteering at LESE: