The name TAMA is short for “te ama,” which means (something like) “you are loved” in Spanish. This was the name of the dog shelter that we volunteered with in El Calafate, a not-for-profit organization that has been struggling to make a difference in the lives of the abused stray dogs in town.
The little pups there do not have it easy. They are currently being housed in an open-air, gated area that is in the corner of the city dump. As I write this, it is -6˚C in El Calafate, and these dogs have nothing keeping them warm except for a few wooden dog houses and cardboard. It is very often the case that young puppies do not survive the winter in Patagonia because of the cold, the wind, and the overall crappy conditions. The floors of the dog pens are mostly concrete, sometimes just dirt, and they only get cleaned once a week by volunteers. Actually, all of the work that is done with the dogs is volunteer work, and everything they have come from donations.
As much as it was heartbreaking to see and learn all of this—the day that we spent volunteering at the shelter was an incredibly rewarding experience, opening my eyes to issues beyond my own knowledge, and giving me the chance to help out those of much lesser fortune. It also took all of my self-restraint to not adopt these two adorable puppy sisters. They were SOOOOOO CUTE, but if I brought them home I wouldn’t have anywhere to keep them. 😦
I’m sorry, Northeastern University, but WHY can’t I have a puppy in my dorm room?!
If you have any interest in learning more or helping out, visit TAMA’s website — www.tamacalafate.org (You might need Google Translate though!)