If you happen to volunteer at the dog shelter at Elephant Nature Park, beware. There is a very dangerous animal here, aptly named Steel. I say aptly because she is a dog of tremendous determination, an animal with a Will Of Steel and she will snatch your heart and not give it back. If she happens to be in your vicinity, do not, I repeat, DO NOT look into her eyes. Because this will happen:
You looked, didn’t you? I warned you…
Steel came to Elephant Nature Park about a year ago. She had previously been run over by a motorbike and her hind legs were severely injured. Some locals then put her in a small cage for two years. You can read about her past and how she came to Elephant Nature Park here.
This is what her back end looks like:
When we volunteered at the dog shelter, we cleaned her cage out most mornings. Her cage is large and shaded, with nice all-round views and a nice slippery floor that allows her to slide around on her backside easily. Here lies another danger – washing the floor while attempting to remain upright. I actually went and bought a new pair of shoes with decent grippy soles because my other shoes may have well been a pair of roller skates.
This was the routine:
- Enter cage. Fend off super friendly canine inhabitants while closing the door behind you.
- Look into Steel’s hypnotic eyes, succumb to her mesmeric ways.
- Scratch her neck because she can’t do it for herself.
- Fall deeply into the honey brown depths of her stare and lose all track of time while continuing to scratch and caress her.
- Tear yourself away and prepare equipment for the cage-washing procedure.
- Accidentally meet her eyes again and scratch her neck some more.
*Note – this is why you should always approach her cage in pairs. This way there is always the other person to haul you back to the job at hand.
- Convince all canines within the cage that they would like to go to one end (Floor Side B) while you clean the Side A. Inspect the bedding, convince any lingering humongous centipedes and other tropical-dwelling creepy crawlies that they need to go outside now.
- Put bedding outside the cage, shift bed to floor Side B, along with dog dishes and toys. And dogs.
- Rinse floor Side A, apply disinfectant, scrub every tile, rinse again. Apply squeegees to floor using long handles and get floor as dry as possible.
- Convince inhabitants that they need to go to Side A while you go on to clean Side B. Shift bed, toys and bowls also.
- Accidentally meet Steel’s eyes…
- Tear yourself away once more with the aid of your partner then repeat cleaning cycle with Side B.
- Put bed back in original place, collect fresh blanket from outside the cage while somehow keeping three enthusiastic dogs from spilling out the door with you. It is now time to make the bed. At least two of the dogs will help you. Get down on your knees, grasp blanket and enter the bed house. This requires the careful application of a mathematical formula that surpasses the law of nature regarding three objects trying to occupy the same space at the same time. You might be there a while. Giggling is permitted.
- Your job is almost done. Inspect the water bowl and ensure there is enough water for all the dogs’ drinking requirements for the day.
- Turn to the dogs and speak your farewells.
Resistance is futile. I did say this job wasn’t for the fainthearted…
Steel is very fortunate. She was rescued from a life in hell and now lives the best life she possibly can at Elephant Nature Park. There is a short movie about her initial rescue. You can see it here. Get your tissues out about now…
Also, she has been provided with a set of special wheels that allow her to go out for a run on a regular basis. Here’s another wee movie about that.
As you can probably tell, Steel got to me. She stole my heart. I have to admit to a few tears welling up when I think about her indomitable spirit and her beautiful, soulful eyes, and the happy-go-lucky spirit that just radiates out of her. Of all the beings I have ever met, she stands at the front of the crowd for me. I really hope you get to meet her – she’s an Utterly Magnificent Being. xxx