Today’s mini blog is dedicated to some of the most amazing expats I have met in Georgia over the past few weeks, all of whom are doing great things. Its crazy how closely knit the community is. For example, my yoga teacher’s children go to the school that we did some outreach work at for OPG, and this week they all went to the DOG shelter in Tbilisi where our OPG kids have been volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh/International Award for Young People. Kudos to the school, innovative and very dedicated Class Teacher, and to parents for allowing the children to visit. And great input and fun for the dogs too.
Its a bit of a trek for us to get to at the moment, and pretty swampy right now, but we are hoping to help the shelter out in some way or other. So, I wanted to share a couple of photos with you from the children’s visit to the shelter, they aren’t my photos, I stole them from the shelter’s facebook page, but I want to share them with you in case you ever find yourself in a position to help the shelter and all the stray dogs in Tbilisi.
This week I know they have been inundated with dogs, all of whom are smart and have been vaccinated and spayed thanks to donations from people over several countries. This is crucial if we are to prevent so many unwanted dogs and packs of strays on the streets, and also for reducing the rabies risk, and number of people who are afraid of dogs after being bitten. There isn’t such a culture of re-homing strays in Georgia, generally people prefer pure and not mixed breeds, so that makes the re-homing process much harder, but also more worthwhile. My personal dream, having seen the hard work of the volunteers at the shelter, and great input from the vet, would be to encourage people to think about re-homing strays rather than forking out for pure breeds, just for status. If you are a vet, why not consider an internship here, and if you have ideas for fundraising or wish to walk the dogs, then why not become a volunteer yourself, or better still foster a dog at home, teach it some house skills, and give it some time and love.
Most of these dogs have never been in a house before, have not worn a collar, and have developed fears after living on the street. But they are friendly and with a little time and effort will make a lifelong companion. If I had my way, I’d love to give some of these dogs to organisations like Search and Rescue Dogs, PAT (Patient Assisted Therapy) or Guide Dogs for the Blind for example, as many would make perfect students and Assistants.
The puppy above is known as Lizzie, or ‘the bus stop pup’ after she was found by a lady called Elizabeth last week. She along with many others are looking for a home. I’m currently fostering a lovely 8month old called Bella. She was found at a week old, and hand reared as far as I know, and is bright as a button, but very submissive. Last week she was spayed and now she is staying with me until we find her a forever home. She needs a lot of time and energy for initial training, but she is great with children and other pets, and given that she is a puppy still, she’s super good in the house, far better than expected. She would make the perfect dog for agility training or search and rescue, or as a working dog and has bags of energy, and once she gets more confident, she is really smart and learns quickly, far quicker than my own dog did. My dog is so used to walking and having other dogs around after our work with my friend’s company in Coventry ‘Fat Dog and Friends’, that she makes a patient and good teacher or model of how a puppy should behave, and I’ve always found it makes the teaching process far easier when you have a doggy role model around to learn from!! Good to keep my dog busy too!
Walking the two girls has been quite funny, my dog attracts the interest, and opens up the conversation about Bella. People are very anti mixed breed dogs, and have little interest, but my dog is pure breed since I got her from a friend in the USA when living in the Caribbean, but I’ve grown up with all sorts of mixes of dog since my family regularly took on RSPCA fosters, as did I. In general, I actually prefer mixed breeds, since they generally have a wider pool of genetics, which means they have less abnormalities, behaviour, or health problems.
Anyway, DOG is a brilliant organisation, set up by a Dutch guy, and very much needed in Georgia. For more information on their work, or to volunteer or donate, or help in any way you can, please visit their facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dog-organization-Georgia/201274479898699) or website (http://www.dogshelter.nl/site54/).
I’m loving having Bella around, and its brought a new energy to the house and a welcome distraction for my own mutt. Fostering is a very rewarding experience, especially when you see changes in the dogs and when their personalities really start to show. Dogs are so unconditional.