Our mission is to help everyone on Kos island to understand all animals deserve a quality of life.
Volunteers come from all corners of the globe, some with previous experience, others with none, but they have one thing in common – a passion to make a difference. With volunteers Tabita and Iza now back in Switzerland, this week we have Jill, Abbi and Laura, all from the UK, soon to be joined by Amanda, a veterinary nurse from New Zealand. Accommodation on site is a cozy but clean and modern flat (Swiss style), enabling new friendships to begin and teamwork to evolve.
So what does a typical day look like for volunteers at Stepping Stone?
The truth is no single day is the same once the volunteer phone starts ringing. Sterilisation day (Wednesday) is one of our busier days and gives you some insight into the important work we do here on Kos island in addition to looking after the animals rescued and kept on site until they can be set free again or re-homed.
Never mind the phone alarm, we wake up to the cock-a-doodle-doo from John the cockerel, chattering crickets, bright sunshine, Steppy the resident cat, eagerly waiting at the door and a tiny kitten (dumped 3 weeks ago) screaming for its latest bottle feed.
Marion our leader (and GASAH co-founder) calls a quick fast-paced meeting to outline the objectives for the morning, making sure each volunteer is clear on their responsibilities whilst we drip feed ourselves with caffeine to keep up.
And then we're off!
Abbi is on dogs – 13 dogs of all shapes and sizes to feed, water, exercise and clean out within the hour. It takes a confident and calm approach to swiftly
move through each kennel area and rotate the dogs so they each get some time out to play, pee and poo (the 3 Ps). These dogs are lucky with access to a field area in addition to well-kept dog
pens and kennels. There's also a quarantine area where dogs are kept post-surgery or injury to recuperate. Hygiene is paramount and Marion is a stickler for keeping everything clean 'Swiss
Laura sees to the 6 chickens, 12 cats and 4 puppies. It's a race against time to get them all fed, watered and cleaned out before the heat takes all our energy
and today in particular so Laura can join Jill in the dog bus to take 4 animals to Kos town.
Meanwhile Jill and Marion clean and prep the dog bus with animal crates ready to transport.
Jill sets off, driving the rattling dog bus, with Laura (chief navigator) sat beside her armed with google maps on her phone as neither quite know where they're going.
Successfully deliver 2 cats and 2 dogs to two different vets for sterilisation.
Visit police station to negotiate pick up time of a puppy washed up post earthquake.
Coffee break at the beautiful H2O Hotel by the sea. A chance to escape the heat for an hour and use wifi to catch up on messages from home whilst the animals are operated on.
All aboard the dog bus again to do the same journey in reverse. Navigating the tight Kos town roads we collect the newly sterilised cats and dogs, still sleepy from their anaesthetic, and finally the gorgeous healthy puppy from outside the police station – that one wont be difficult to re-home!
Arrived back at Stepping Stone and immediately got the puppy washed in flea repellent whilst the sterilised animals were returned to their kennels to recover from their ops.
By 2pm we were done – a longer working day than usual so Abbi and Jill were given the rest of the day off.
Siesta time to do what you will – go down to Captains on the beach to enjoy a fresh smoothie, coffee and have a sleep on the free sunbeds (for GASAH volunteers) on the beach. Or stay on site and make use of one of the hammocks to chill and read a book.
Marion and Laura race through getting all the animals on site fed, watered, exercised etc before heading down the hill to have a sunset swim and something to eat.
Free time to enjoy the evening as we wish.
Marion's knowledge of the island ensures you get to experience all the best restaurants tucked away, with the best views and run by local people. Or some evenings she'll take you on fabulous dog walks up into the hills where there's ruins to explore and a little taverna serving home-made lemonade and freshly cooked simple food. Other options include horse-riding, swimming in the sea with Raj the resident Rottweiler (he loves a bit of hydrotherapy), meditating in the sand dunes as the sun sets or simply staying put and cooking fresh veg from the market for next to nothing.
'Don't you leave that dirty cup outside or we'll get rats'
'I can still see poo in the dog field'
'I've told you 100 times to shut the toilet lid or a snake will come up and bite your bum'
'Tilt the windows in the flat or they'll slam and I won't be able to get a Greek builder back in for months'
'Lock the bloody gate or we'll have somebody dump dogs in, you dumbos'
'Don't put two washing machines on at once or we'll lose our solar power'
'Don't have more than one phone charging or we'll lose solar power'
'Ask me before you put a wash on or we'll lose solar power'
'Don't use your own hair dryer or straighteners or we'll lose solar power'
'Keep the bathroom clean'
'Get the pots and pans washed up or we'll have bacteria and wasps'
'We need mindfulness at all times to work here'
'Put your egos to one side'
'Love without wisdom is harmful'
'Don't let anybody take your power away from you'
'Everything will be alright, we've survived an earthquake'
'It's like boot camp here, you'll go back 5 kilos lighter at least and with less mental baggage'
'The worst crime here is to not put things away. We're in a 'war-zone' here and could get and emergency at any moment and we need to be prepared'