Gone to the dogs....

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Part of the 'A' group!

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.

Hanging out with the pups
It is now 3 weeks later, and we aim to stay another 2 weeks before we completely outstay our visa requirements. The rescue centre takes in street and temple dogs primarily, sterilizing them as a matter of course, providing medical care as needed and rehoming. The number of street dogs in Thailand is completely out of hand (as we saw in Bangkok and Ko Samet) and the centre also assist with sterilisation costs for owner dogs if required. They currently have around 100 dogs including puppies, most of which are up for rehoming, but some will stay at carefordogs for the rest of their lives, they have a 'no kill' policy unlike many centres in SE Asia. There are 3 Burmese men who are paid workers and stay overnight in case there are any problems, other than that, all workers are volunteers.
Doo (right) with his new buddy Sing


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.

Ronnie.....
Many temple dogs are well cared for by the monks, and come in for sterilisatiion and go back, but some of the treatment is awful. There are many dogs which have been rescued from owners who kept them in awful conditions, whether intentionally or because they simply did not know how to care for them. Some of the dogs have extremely violent backgrounds are were brought into the centre in a very bad way.

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.

Rocket thinking about mischief!
We sat with him a lot and Lisa and another volunteer Kate walked him and groomed him which increased his confidence. 3 weeks in, and Doo is a completely different dog, socialising with the other dogs, standing his ground if another dog growls at him, and sometimes even straying into the 'A' area!! It is hard to explain the emotion behind this transformation, but we are all so proud of how he has grown in confidence.


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.

Sweetie taking a well earned break
...! The remaining puppy from that rescue is Rocket, fiesty girl to say the least! She is very small, possibly abit of chihuahua in her, and extremely intelligent. Yet she thinks she is a rottweiler, she will growl at any dogs she sees, even if it is 10x her size. It's hard to get cross with her though, as she kicks another dog's butt then comes for cuddles, and brings me leaves when I'm feeling sad....!


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.

MooMoo, loving the attention from her phantom pregnancy!
That evening the decision was made to take her to the vet, who just suggested more TLC and gave her a load of injections which she didn't like one bit. Another long term volunteer Gill took her home that night, but we were all so worried; Lisa had to give me a little talk about bad things happening to good puppies... The next morning we met up with Gill with some trepidation, but she was much improved and a couple of days later was up to speed with her brothers and sisters, play fighting with the best of them!! We have already ascertained that the quarantine rules in the UK are crazy and it would be unfair on the dogs to keep them caged for 6 months, but believe me, if the laws were different we would cut our trip short to bring Sweetie and Doo back to the UK.


I could ramble on for hours about each and every dog at the shelter (and apologies to those who have got that email).

Washing the new babies
I could talk about MooMoo who we all thought was pregnant, she even started lactating and Gill took her home to give birth in peace, 4 days on and we found out it was a phantom pregnancy! I could talk about the 7 pups who came in as we were about to leave one day, that Adrian and I washed to get rid of fleas, their eyes were still closed and they couldn't walk, they were only 10days old. I could mention Ringo who is currently receiving fluids by IV, who I hand fed chicken today and he let me pick him up to take him to the car when he growled at the guys who were taking him to the vet. There is a story behind every dog.


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.

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Part of the A group!
Part of the 'A' group!
Hanging out with the pups
Hanging out with the pups
Doo (right) with his new buddy Sing
Doo (right) with his new buddy Sing
Ronnie.....
Ronnie.....
Rocket thinking about mischief!
Rocket thinking about mischief!
Sweetie taking a well earned break
Sweetie taking a well earned break
MooMoo, loving the attention from …
MooMoo, loving the attention from…
Washing the new babies
Washing the new babies
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes