“Saving one dog won’t change the world but surely, the world will change for that one dog”.
This is the motto for the Hang Dong Dog Rescue Centre near Chiang Mai, Thailand and on our second visit to Chiang Mai I spent some time volunteering at the Dog Centre where I was able to walk and socialise with these rescued dogs. It was truly an enjoyable and rewarding experience for me. So many beautiful dogs just wanting to be loved and waiting to be adopted.
The shelter has been operating for 10 years and is now run by the non-profit organisation, Care for Dogs. They rescue dogs of all ages that have been abandoned, injured or abused and give them ‘hope’ and a second chance at a better life.
The Rescue Centre runs an orientation each Wednesday morning for new volunteers where you are given the history of the Rescue Centre, what’s expected of you and how to deal with varying dog behaviours.
I spent my first day at the shelter exercising the dogs in the morning and giving baths in the afternoon as it was quite a hot day.
This was pretty much the routine for my visits to the Centre, except when it rained and this was when we would groom and cuddle them. I also got an opportunity to speak with other volunteers and found ‘dog lovers’ like myself from all over the world. Some of these volunteers spent their entire vacation at the Dog Shelter – now that’s dedication!
I typically arrived at the Shelter at 9:30am and left around 3pm, but everything is flexible here and the shelter staff and rescue dogs are grateful for whatever time you can give.
As mentioned above, the dogs were exercised in the morning, 2 dogs per walker up till around 1pm which was when I would take a break for lunch. A few hundred metres down the road there was a local Thai restaurant and I would have a meal (veggies with rice) for 20 baht (about 80 cents). If the weather was below 34 degrees you could do more walks in the afternoon, but I generally bathed the dogs or visited them in their pens and groomed them. Checking the dogs for tics and alerting the staff of any injuries was important as well.
I am planning on spending a few months in Chiang Mai each year and I look forward to returning and volunteering my time to this rewarding and worthwhile cause.