Visit to Meda’s Run

On July 24th, after a very long bus trip, I finally arrived at Meda’s Run in Serbia. Svetlana picked me up from the bus station in Belgrade, and drove me to Drazevac, about 50 minutes away. The weather was extremely hot, over 40 degrees Centigrade. But that could not bother me, I was finally going to meet the dogs!

The first dogs in Meda’s to greet you are the sarplaninac. Big and heavy mountain dogs bred for guarding and protection. But also the most loving creatures on earth, if you manage to win their trust. Clearly, these dogs here were used to unknown visitors, for they never showed a dislike to me. Big, strong Baloo, graceful Yoda, sweet Emma, deaf Barry and odd Ari – all became amazing friends throughout my stay.

Next came the dogs in the front yard and the house. The door was open, so I was welcomed by dozens of dogs at the same time. Amazing! Small and medium sized happy dogs of all kinds and types live here together. If the guardians at the gate would let anyone slip through, these would surely alarm the whole shelter if there were an unannounced visit. Before overloading you with kisses and cuddles, of course.

The next morning I would meet the other dogs and visit the compounds at the shelter. In total there are over 160 dogs in Meda’s at this moment, and over 30 are in pensions throughout the country. Many of these 200 dogs are old and handicapped, as Svetlana tries to take only the dogs that have no other way of survival. But there are puppies too, many without a mother and abandoned on the streets.

Now my training began. With Betty on leave abroad, and Svetlana having to work in Kosovo, the workers and I would be the only ones left at Meda’s Run. Quite a responsibility with so many dogs! But thanks to all the help, everything went quite organised. Besides a few escapees, there were no troubles. Poor old Uno was having some medical problems (he is getting old and didn’t like the heat), but we cut his long coat and that seemed to help a lot.

Daily routines would start with opening the doors in the morning, so all dogs could go out in groups. Then cleaning, feeding (always a challenge!), medication rounds and photographing. Long and hot days, but it was always fun. Even though not all workers speak English and I don’t speak Serbian. But that only added to the great vibe.

Then in the evening several checks of the compounds, making dinner and enjoying a meal in peace. Meda’s Run is a heaven for people who love to work with dogs and having them around and close the whole day. At least in summer time, because the weather is a lot worse in winter. With heavy rains and temperatures far below freezing point I’ve heard.

In autumn I plan to return to Meda’s Run and meet all the dogs again. And of course Svetlana and Betty! These shelters, filled with dog stories, make one’s heart cry about the cruelty they have endured. But seeing the dogs happy and well cared for, makes one all the more determined to help and make a difference. Will you help us?