A True Adventure - tales from Thailand Dog and Cat RescueVOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES / 07 September 2015
Eve joined the team our Dog and Cat Rescue project in Thailand and has shared her brilliant blog and review of her time volunteering with us:
I booked this trip in very much a spur of the moment decision; I was having a bad day, the weather outside was miserable (as it usually is in Scotland) and I felt that an exotic holiday was the only cure. But here is the thing- I was terrified, I literally spent the next three months having nightmares of plane crashes and not even being able to look at a map. And do you know what makes it worse? Every time you tell someone, anyone, that ,yes you are travelling by yourself, no you’re not going on a beach holiday, and no you’re not flying with British Airways, they look at you like you have grown three heads. In this part of the world everyone very much stays put ( I can’t yet conceive why). They book their one week to Benidorm per year and then they come home again. It was therefore official: I was a weirdo. The diabolical thing is that I almost let this stop me. Yet, this holiday was one of the most enriching things I have ever experienced (and not just because I actually got some vitamin D for once).
It is so easy in your everyday life to get caught up in a whirlpool of narcissism, and daily routine, and bills that need paid, and housework that needs done, and so and so said this and as a result completely forget just HOW privileged we are compared to the majority of the world. So, that is why I would promote volunteering as one of the best things you can do, not just for others, but for yourself.
I’m afraid I’m digressing. What you really want to know about is the centre. Home to about 60 cats and over 30 dogs, the centre operates completed unfunded by the government to carry out vaccination, and sterilisation programmes, overseas adoptions, as well as treating just about anything that comes through their front door. If I had all of the words in the world I could not adequately express just how wonderful this place is, not only do they treat animals, they care for them. Just walking to my bedroom on site I would be surrounded by a host of curly-tailed, purring, cats, desperate to be picked up and cuddled (who would have thought cats could be that friendly?!), and then there are the dogs: one of my favourites went by the name of “Gizmo” . He was a stray brought in while I was there, with a skin condition so bad that he had lost almost all of his fur and a dislocated hip that caused his hind leg to freeze periodically when he was walking. Despite this, Gizmo was always waiting at the front of his kennel to be walked, with his tail thumping as soon as he heard footsteps coming his way. Sadly though, the centre is full to capacity and Gizmo will be released again once his skin has cleared up. I cannot get over the feeling that he would have made a wonderful, wonderful, loving family pet.
Although, undeniably I am a complete sap, I left Scotland resolutely saying to myself “you will come home by yourself, you will not pack any animals in your suitcase”. This lasted less than a week. I fell in love with Muffin. Muffin is a wee Thai dog who had been brought to the centre almost a year before heavily pregnant, with blood parasites, heartworms and so covered in ticks that they couldn’t get a blood pressure cuff onto her. After giving birth, and three months of kennel rest Muffin was put up for adoption. I mean who could resist her? Seriously? I used to go down into the dog runs and she would climb halfway up the fence and stick her head though as soon as she saw me coming. I ended up crying with laughter every time. Sadly she didn’t come home in my suitcase, but hopefully will be joining me after her quarantine is finished.
Oh and I just have to tell you about kitty quarantine: When I arrived I could barely believe that they had a room of 14 kittens, kept isolated until they had completed their vaccination courses, where, as a job, you had to cuddle them. I would not be telling you a word of a lie, if I said that I spent hours in there at a time cuddling every kitten in sight. In fact, by the end of my holiday I had come to dub it, “the room of happiness”.
However, I would like to stress that these are the happy cases. On an island that doesn’t like dog’s, life can be very hard for them, and during my three weeks I saw some heart-breaking things that will be with me forever. But that’s were passion comes from isn’t it? Without any doubt or hesitation I can safely say that this has inspired me more than anything else. If I had gone there and everything had been happiness and sunshine, I would have had a brilliant time, and then left without a second thought. The reality is very different from this. It is a charity struggling to make ends meet, struggling to treat all the animals given to them, and most of all struggling to keep all of the animals in that safe haven.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to do this (I know I certainly don’t, especially after paying for Muffin), just a bit of time and a big heart. And one final thing, if you are thinking about adopting a dog, please, please spare a thought for the abandoned, and abused pooches halfway across the world.
If you would like to support the Dog and Cat Rescue project you can find out more about it here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/dog-and-cat-rescue-thailand/