Imagine every day waking up to hundreds of cuddly dogs vowing for your attention. They sing you a song as you pass by all the open runs, and some of them can hardly hold their excitement as you quickly pass through their gate for socializing. The dogs are the first creatures you see as you leave the volunteer house, and they are the last ones you pass by one your way to bed. This is a day in the life of an Elephant Nature Park Dog Rescue volunteer.
If you’re like me, being surrounded by dogs for 8+ hours a day sounds like heaven. I have always been around dogs. Growing up on our farm in Kansas, my family would have at least one dog (along with many other animals), and as soon as I left Kansas, I couldn’t wait to adopt a dog of my own.
When I first volunteered at ENP years ago, they were just setting up the dog rescue. The Bangkok floods had taken a huge toll, and ENP had around 200 dogs that they had saved from the raging floods. Since I was there to work with the elephants, I didn’t have much time to help with the dogs, but I promised myself I would go back at some point.
5 years later that time came, and what’s even better is that I would be able to volunteer with my boyfriend Alan. This would be the first time I have ever volunteered with him or anybody for that matter! AND it would be Alan’s first time volunteering ever!!!!
A day in the life of an Elephant Nature Park Dog Rescue volunteer
The days start early with breakfast at 7am before starting chores.
I tried to wake up early a couple of times to do some yoga before beginning the day, but the challenge of not waking the dogs was too hard. Believe me….once 1 dog gets barking the whole rescue lights up, and now there are almost 500 dogs at the rescue!
I don’t think my fellow volunteers would appreciate me waking them up, so I opted for afternoon yoga the rest of the time.
After breakfast, all the volunteers meet at the vet clinic at 7:45am to begin our morning chores. While I was there our group had 12 volunteers all together, so we would rotate who did the different chore duties.
The dogs being treated in the clinic were in the smallest runs, so they were the first to be walked in the morning. As those dogs were being walked 2 volunteers would stay back to clean the runs and get the morning food ready for the dogs when they returned from their walks.
Once all the clinic dogs were walked and the clinic had been cleaned, we would start working on whatever project needed to be done. This could be de-ticking the dogs, putting up tarps in-between the big runs to avoid fights between the fences, helping take dogs for check ups at the vet, and walking the dogs in the big runs.
With almost 500 dogs, it’s a challenge for the Dog Rescue manager to make sure that all the dogs in the big runs were getting along with each other. Some dogs jut don’t like one another. If fights keep breaking out, we would have to move the main trouble maker to another run in the hopes that they will get along better with the other dogs. After moving a dog, volunteers would stay and monitor the dogs to make sure they were getting along.
By the time lunch came around, we were all more than ready for some good food and a nice break.
After lunch, we would continue working on whatever task we were doing before the break until the afternoon walks and cleaning began.
Since these were the last walks of the day, the bigger runs were walked first and the clinic runs last. Again while the dogs were being walked, 2 volunteers would stay back to clean the runs and get them ready for the night.
We would normally finish all the chores around 4pm.
Then it was a mad dash to the showers to wash off all the dirt and grim you tend to accumulate when you are around so many dogs.
The evenings were spent doing whatever we pleased. Our group became very close over the course of a week, and we would usually end up playing a pretty competitive game of Uno or meeting up at The Hut for some cold beers and good conversation before heading back to the volunteer house and calling it a night.
How ENP Dog Rescue helps the local community
ENP Dog Rescue realizes that they need to help control the pet population, so they have opened up their clinic to the pets in the local village. Locals can bring their pets to the clinic for treatments as long as they agree to get their pets spayed or neutered.
In the week I was there, I saw a good number of local dogs and cats come through the clinic to be treated and neutered which is great! There are too many stray animals worldwide, and ENP is helping cut down on that number!
Leaving without a dog
To be honest leaving was the hardest part of the week. I fell in love with so many of the dogs!
There was Duang the old pick pocket dog that lived at the volunteer house. She would sneak into your room and steal your dirty socks if you weren’t looking (I know from experience). And then there was Zoe. She could barely contain herself when she saw me walking up to her run.
I fell in love with the sweet boy Tono. He had been fighting a terrible blood parasite when I first got there. He could barley walk and the outlook seemed grim, but low and behold he powered through and was walking long walks by the end of the week.
Out of all these dogs, the one that really stole my heart was Tio. He came in with 13 other dogs that had been rescued off the street. He was so skinny that you could see every rib through his fragile skin. His hair was almost completely gone, and he was terrified of every single person. From the looks of him, I doubt he would have made it another week on his own.
Alan and I both connected with Tio right away, and we made it our goal to get him to walk and not be so scared around humans. Everyday we would take Tio out for longer and longer walks. We noticed how much he liked one of the other dogs that came in with him, so we started walking them together which helped tremendously. By the time we left Tio had shown vast improvements and actually seemed like he just might be happy at ENP!
If I actually had a house and a place to give Tio a good home, I would have rescued him right then and there, but sadly I don’t, so I did the next best thing by sponsoring him. For less than $100 you can sponsor any dog at the rescue for the year. That money helps pay for their food, vaccinations, and other supplies needed to keep them happy. Now I get updates on him every 3 months!
The love and dedication that the permanent staff, as well as, long term volunteers have is inspiring to say the least. Day in and day out they work hard to give these dogs a good home. They make sure the dogs are well taken care of and safe from harsh world outside the runs. Many of the dogs will be rescued and sent to their new forever home, but the ones that stay at ENP are sure to be well taken care of surrounded by people who love them.
If you wold like to volunteer with the Elephant Nature Park Dog Rescue, you can find more information and volunteer applications on their website.