I have always thought of myself as an avid animal lover; the sort of person that followed Animal Hospital religiously, cries at dog rehoming adverts, and whilst avoiding eye contact with other humans will actively cross the street to say hello to a furry friend. With this in mind, James and I arranged our next adventure of volunteering at a foster home for street dogs upon our arrival in Thailand. It became very clear almost instantly however, that the love I had for animals was nothing compared to the devotion, care and commitment shown by the lovely lady we had the pleasure of working with; Tamara.
Tamara left her life in Australia behind to dedicate her full time attention to the street dogs of Songkhla. Every day without fail they are fed and given the time and human interaction they so desperately crave. She takes them off the street to sterilise and vaccinate them, to treat their infections and wounds (that sadly, and not always from other dogs but purposely inflicted by locals) and whenever possible she takes them in with the aim of teaching them to trust again and finding them a forever home, hopefully abroad so they don’t run the risk of ending up back on the street.
These past weeks spent with Thai Street Paws have been incredible. Barely feeling like work, we have been surrounded by dogs (and two cats!) at the foster home and spent our days caring for, feeding, bathing, brushing, playing and generally rolling around with them. Our week stay soon extended to a fortnight and then again to three weeks and today I still didn’t want to leave. In the relatively short time I spent in Songkhla I have seen such a change in some of the dogs who were more timid on our arrival, and in those who were more standoffish and frightened of our presence. These dogs have had an awful start at life, and the wonderful thing is that they are still so loyal and in search of affection. Even the few that took a bit more time and slow approaching want to be loved, and it’s heartwarming to sit and just be alongside them letting them know they don’t need to be scared anymore.
As well as general day to day care for the dogs my time has been spent feeding dogs on the street and participating in vet visits to watch vaccinations, chemotherapy delivery, check ups and even surgery.
Whilst on a feeding round with Tamara we came across a puppy that was far too close to the road. After luring her over with food we picked her up to find she was covered in lice and eggs and had a fat belly full of worms. Tamara gave her some worming medicine and we stopped by the vet for a check up and vaccination before me and James whizzed her to safety on the back of the scooter (we really are pros now and drive like the locals apparently!). We bathed her and applied flea and lice treatment before giving her some dinner and letting her rest. The timid girls eyes lit up when we brought the baby of the house, Mikey, to meet her. I named her Belle of course, after my favourite princess.
There are so many dogs under her care at the moment, Tamara can’t take anymore in. The foster home is overflowing with a current total of 25 and she already has 13 at her own home too. All of them (apart from the 3 of her own!) need homes. They range in breeds, ages and of course personalities but I can easily say that there isn’t a single dog I wouldn’t be happy to take home – sadly I have even less space than Tamara does! We have had the happy news that three of the dogs are soon to be on their way to the USA, and one is going home to Spain with a volunteer, however that only creates a space at the foster home to be filled by another of the dogs in Tamara’s care but still on the streets. I didn’t realise how easy and relatively stress free the process of adopting a dog from abroad would be (and now I know I can’t get Snickers off my mind!). If anyone is looking for a new love of their life, please consider checking out Thai Street Paws online. All of these animals deserve a home. You can check their website or Facebook if you’re interested. The charity runs entirely on donations too so if you can spare a few pennies, no amount is too little.
In addition to that, if you ever find yourself near Songkhla, I would wholeheartedly recommend helping out and volunteering with these dogs. I’m heartbroken to leave them, but I leave in the hope that with a bit of publicity that the dogs won’t remain at the foster home for long. And even in the sad event that they do, I know they will be looked after wonderfully by Tamara.