Its a dogs life

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Meeting the puppies

So, after planning to be in Chiang Mai for a few days we find ourselves still here four weeks later.

Before we went to the elephant park Rachel had found out about a dog shelter here in Chiang Mai that has been set up to deal with the ever increasing number of homeless dogs. We emailed them and asked if we could come along for a day or two and help out, they said yes and invited us to come along to a fund raising day they were holding at one of the big shopping centres. We went along and met some of the people that do long term volunteering, and of course saw some of the cute puppies they help.

Once back from the elephant park we called one of the volunteers and arranged to meet another volunteer and take a red bus to her house so we could ride to the shelter with her.

Doo the wimp
We met up with Kate, a Kiwi that had been helping at the shelter for the past couple of months and she took us to Gill's house. Gill has been volunteering at the shelter long term and has been fostering various dogs and cats from time to time. At the moment she is fostering Paul, a border collie cross who was hit by a car and has lost the use of his back legs due to atrophy. Gill provides regular physiotherapy and the hope is that he will regain full use of his legs. For a dog that can only use 50% of his legs he is still very mobile, using his strong front legs to get about and was very eager to get cuddles from us!

The shelter is a twenty minute ride from Gill's house and as Paul comes aswell at least one of us (I think it was Kate that day) always rides in the back of the truck with him, cant do that back home! The shelter was founded by three women who wanted to do something about the rising number of stray and mistreated dogs.

Pocket Rocket
the shelters main aim is to sterilise as many female dogs as possible to reduce the number of unwanted puppies being born. The sad fact is most puppies end up being shipped to Bangkok markets, dumped on the streets, or even being sold to the ever popular meat industry.

We arrived at the shelter and met Sarah, a Kiwi who has been running the shelter for the past year and a half on a volunteer basis. The shelter employs three Thai workers to help with the running of the shelter, they are the only permenant paid workers, everyone else is there on a purely volunteer basis. Sarah took us round and introduced us to the dogs. The shelter is set up in an open plan compound, the dogs are not individually caged like they would be back home, they are free to wander and form their own 'packs'.

Tim Tim (nice but dim)
There are wooden 'houses' that have been built around the compound and the each pack has claimed its own house. The A group has laid claim to the area closest to the office, meaning they get to see who comes in first and gets first strokes. It is a very elite group and harder to get into than the white house!

Each dog has a story, some are truly heart wrenching, like Nick, a friendly but slightly nervous little ginger female. Every week volunteers go out to temples to feed the dogs that live there. One week they arrived to find body parts of dogs littering the temple grounds. A group had attacked the dogs with machetes, slaughtering them in the dozens. The volunteers were understandably horrified and rounded up every dog they coud find that had survived and took them back to the shelter.

Willow looking shifty
Nick was one of these, she had a nasty machete wound on her back and was hand shy for a long time after.

Our first task was to wash some puppies (its a hard life for us!). There were six small pups, six weeks old, a mixture of two litters that had been rescued from a rubbish tip. They had a bacterial infection which was affecting their skin so we needed to give them all a wash. Some were braver than others, some just cried and wiggled the whole time, but they all enjoyed the cuddles they got as they were being dried. We spent a lot of time over the next few days with the puppies but also got involved in the day to day running of the shelter. We have been bathing dogs, pulling ticks from between toes and in ears, taking the dogs for walks, grooming, and of course providing lots of cuddles!

A few days after we started at the shelter a litter of 5 puppies came in.

You looking at me??
They were about 5 weeks old, all fluffy bundles of fur except for the runt who was a little short haired female. She was much smaller than the others and wasn't eating properly so Sarah asked me to syringe feed her some food. I managed to get some food into her with a bit of cajoling and lots of cuddles. Rachel ended up naming her Sweetie because I keep saying 'come on Sweetie, just a bit more' and 'thats it Sweetie, you're a good girl'. I also named one of her brothers Tim Tim (nice but dim) because he was a bit slow on the uptake with things! Gill took Sweetie home for a couple of nights to keep an eye on her and give her a bit of extra TLC and its been wonderful to see her come on in leaps and bounds. When she arrived she was a scrawny little runt that was getting pushed about by everyone else and now she is one of the liveliest, always bundling with her siblings and even taking on some of the older puppies!

We normally arrive around 11am and leave about 5.

Sweetie says hello
30pm but we could happily stay there all night, its such a buzz helping. We get mucky as all hell and are grinning like loons all day. Growing up, there has never been a time where my family hasn't had a dog except for recently. I hadnt realised until going to the shelter just how much I have missed having a dog around this past year. If there was any way we could bypass the 6 month quarantine England imposes on animals we would have shipped home several of our favourites (Sweetie being first on the list) by now.

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Meeting the puppies
Meeting the puppies
Doo the wimp
Doo the wimp
Pocket Rocket
Pocket Rocket
Tim Tim (nice but dim)
Tim Tim (nice but dim)
Willow looking shifty
Willow looking shifty
You looking at me??
You looking at me??
Sweetie says hello
Sweetie says hello
Amy & Rocket
Amy & Rocket
sleepy time
sleepy time
Porkki, one of those I would adopt…
Porkki, one of those I would adop…
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes