‘Ah, it’s a dog’s life’, means having a very unhappy and unpleasant life, and there are many dogs that are living this sort of existence.

Once upon a time (well don’t a lot of stories start this way) a dog I shall call Duke was born, one puppy from a litter of several more. His human couldn’t afford to keep him or his siblings, and as soon as they were big enough, they were turned out into the cold, hard world. They thought it was fun, exploring new sights and smells, and took off in all directions. Some were lucky enough to stumble on caring humans, who took them in and gave them warmth, food and love.

Lonely and frightened

Duke, on the other hand, wandered off on his own, getting further and further from civilisation. Come nightfall, he was hungry, thirsty and lonely. Curling up in some grass to rest, he was a sitting target for ticks and mites, and woke up frightened, itching and scratching. He found puddles to quench his raging thirst, but it was dirty and muddy, and soon felt really unwell, vomiting one end and….well, you can guess the rest. He sniffed around rubbish bins searching for food, but it was always rotten and smelly, which just added to his misery. In no time, he collapsed in the gutter, desperate, weak, and covered in sores.

This is where the story could go two ways. He might have died right then and there, and nobody would have missed him. But the doggie gods must have been watching him, and a human with kindness and compassion gently lifted him into their car and took him away.

Tiny Shelter to the rescue

He was taken to Albufeira’s Tiny Shelter, where the staff oohh’d and aaahh’d at his condition, spoke kindly to him and gave him clean water, food, bathed his sores and provided a safe place where he could get his strength back. In no time he was back to his old self, and in a few weeks was adopted into a loving home.

Well, this sort of story doesn’t end well by magic. The Tiny Shelter is real and is run by a dedicated team of helpers, some full-time, some volunteers, who dedicate their time to helping dogs (and sometimes cats too) who need care. Financial donations help pay the vet's bills, and keep these poor animals de-wormed, flea-treated, chipped and inoculated. Food is donated, sometimes just a bagful, sometimes a truckload might be donated, and all is welcomed. Fund-raising events are constantly being planned to help raise awareness, and of course, money.

Volunteers please

They always need volunteers to help – maybe taking the dogs out for a walk, playing with them, helping with the feeding process, supervising doggy swim times when it’s so hot, or just ‘mucking out’ - yes, someone has to do it. Tiny Shelter make dedicated efforts to have these animals adopted or even fostered, to make way for the steady stream of newcomers that appear, and their efforts have to be applauded. Some of these animals arrive in critical condition, and none are turned away.

New Location

Tiny Shelter now has a brand-new location, and many hours of hard slog by volunteers have made it possible. Clearing the land, badgering suppliers to donate fencing, digging trenches, erecting kennels and shade – all volunteers, efficiently led by Isabel Searle, who has dedicated her life to the welfare of unwanted animals.

If you think this might be something you could help with, even one day a week, or a couple of hours here and there, it would be very, very welcome. Even adding a few cans or a sack of dog food to your trolley when shopping can be of help, to be dropped off at the Shelter, or if you let them know, they can arrange for it to be collected.

Contact: info@tinyshelter.de about volunteering, or their web page, tinyshelter.eu, for donation information. Isabel and the dogs will be happy for all the help they can get.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan