Gone to the dogs....
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 22 of 42 › view all entries
It's difficult to know where to begin talking about our Chiang Mai experiences....
Before we went to the Elephant Nature Park Lisa was quite ill, so we didn't really get to explore the city very much. While she was ill I contacted a dog rescue centre Care For Dogs (<--- click) which our fabulous Nancy Chandler map said needed volunteers. By the way, this map is not just a map, it is an investment, a godsend, a guidebook on a piece of paper.
We went along to an exhibition of their work at a local shopping centre and met the founders and other volunteers, aiming to spend a couple of days helping out.
Most of the dogs at the centre are in a central 'open plan' area, unlike places you see in England where dogs are kept individually. This means that dogs do occasionally fight, trying to ascertain their pecking order within the pack, but also means there is always someone to play with. Within the open plan area there are several zones: a main section near the office for the 'A' dogs, and several seperate sitting areas and shelters for the other dogs. Every dog can in theory go where they wish, but the 'A' dogs certainly know when an imposter is about!
On our first day we were shown around by Sarah, a long term volunteer who works there 6 full days a week. We heard about the histories of some of the dogs, and found it quite upsetting.
Our job is primarily to assist with socialising the dogs. Many dogs have had a terrible time with humans, and are understandably cautious, sometimes hiding under the shelters and growling when approached. We have spent a lot of time simply sitting with these dogs, letting them approach us when they are ready, and trying to gain their trust. On the first day we were shown Doo, who sat in a doorway with his back against the wall, as every time he moved away he was beaten up by the other dogs, he was truly at the bottom of the pack.
Our favourite place to be is of course the puppy area. When we arrived there were 6 teeny tiny puppies, at 6 weeks old which had been rescued from a rubbish dump. We fell in love instantly. Now only one of those puppies remains, the rest have been rehomed including Ronnie my absolute favourite. Of course it is fantastic when they are rehomed, but when I arrived one morning and he wasn't there I did have abit of a moment.
10 days in, and more puppies were were rescued and brought in, even smaller that the others. Lisa and I spent a lot of time with them and got to name them which was lovely. The pups were so young that they still wanted mum's milk, so a couple were struggling to eat. One in particular 'Sweetie' (named after Lisa spent many hours saying 'come on sweetie, eat this sweetie') wouldn't eat at all and was very floppy even after we fed her by syringe.
I could ramble on for hours about each and every dog at the shelter (and apologies to those who have got that email).
Every time we go in (4x a week) we come back buzzing with excitement at our day. Part of me wonders why I wanted to work with children so much, I've never had THIS much of a rush from doing anything before. One of the days I went in alone as Lisa was unwell. It was an incredibly busy day, lots of washing mange, getting growled at and stepping in poo. When I got back, Lisa thought I'd taken drugs, I couldn't stop talking, the adrenaline was going crazy!!
We only have 2 weeks left but plan to make the most of it, going in every day that we can. I feel that it is going to be very difficult to leave Chiang Mai.