Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria Part 4 (Guest Post)

I would like to express here that the dog’s wellbeing is Lukas first concern and therefore he didn’t stress the dogs to run fast or on all three days like others did! Therefore, he knew there would be no chance to win that race and this race wasn’t important, it is more like a training…

Here we’ll go again, somehow a lot of things happened and then, not again. The same weekend where Miri and I were alone (Lukas, Birgit and Maria went to Reingers in Austria for a cart race), a previous volunteer arrived. She was the last time only two weeks with Lukas and wanted now to come to visit the dogs and Lukas for a few days. When Lukas, Birgit and Maria came back, they all were kind of relieved and happy to be back with all dogs and all in one piece. Obviously, there was some catastrophe going on in Reingers. Due to the weather circumstances, Lukas decided to not let the dogs run on all three days. It was too warm!

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, including photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.com/2016/11/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.htm

I would like to express here that the dog’s wellbeing is Lukas first concern and therefore he didn’t stress the dogs to run fast or on all three days like others did! Therefore, he knew there would be no chance to win that race and this race wasn’t important, it is more like a training. Usually, Birgit would have gone with four or five dogs and Lukas with eight. Due to the fact, they left out one day, they decided to run with the big team instead, so with all thirteen dogs. Usually, there are several dog handlers which are supporting the Musher holding the dogs and release them in time when the training or race starts. When they wanted to start running, one of the front dog handlers didn’t let go fast enough the leash and fell, so six dogs were running over him, and the seven behind stopped to not run over the guy and the mainline snapped through the force from both sides going in different directions. It snapped in the middle where Braxi was attached to; I am not sure if you know what that means.

The dogs have a neckline attached to their collar and one leash which is attached to the harness on their back; so when the main line snaps in the middle, the neckline is attached to the six dogs who were now running free and his backside to the leash which belongs to the dogs who stopped; they could have ripped him in two pieces, but lucky as Braxi is, his collar was not too tight on his neck, so he could get out of his collar and was standing still in shock! Two dog handlers jumped on their quad bikes and drove after the six dogs which were running their race without the cart and musher. They caught them fast, but that was a really BIG shock for all of them! Lukas directly bought new and stronger lines and a new nice collar for Braxi! That was somehow too much, three times in one week something snapped.

Being back, Maria had the next four days off and went to Vienna. Miri also left on the next day, so I was left with Silvia. She had no experience in doing the routines, so it was pretty much me doing the work … but Birgit and Lukas also helped 😉 I am very thankful for her pictures and videos, though. When we had training, she was filming and taking pictures. Interesting to see, because I never get the chance to take pictures during training (Lukas would most probably kill me if I would take pics instead of helping ;-)) I wanted to post the video, but somehow I had difficulties to upload it.

Before Maria came back, we had a spontaneous photo shoot for our race which we organize in December. I think, I already mentioned that we are organizing our own race here in our region. It will be on the weekend of the 10/11th December. We wanted to hang out some posters to make an advertisement and Lukas asked me if I could take the role as a runner, or so-called Canicross. There will be Sabrina, who is also one of the helpers who will be on the bike and Lukas on the cart. Tim (he is only 9 years old) is going to take the pictures. He is really good at it. Lukas told me, that we will start running up the hill in our yard to the open place and that I have to be really fast because I have to keep up the pace with a bike and a cart! I was doubting that I could keep up that pace, but I didn’t count on Braxi. He was dragging me up that hill so fast, that I even overtook the cart and the bike and was not able to slow down!  I have to admit, a little bit painful because the belt is kind of dividing your ass, but that was actually really funny.

When Maria came back, I left on the next morning for my long weekend off. I also went to Vienna with my boyfriend. It was really lovely! We had a nice hotel, with some crazy architecture, went for some sightseeing, shopping and we even went for the opera “la Cenerentola” (Cinderella). I loved that weekend and I will miss him even more after it.

Being back, I was a bit down. I think I caught something, I felt not that strong. Birgit and Lukas wanted to go away for a few days and that morning we still had a training. I got to go with Lukas and finally had the chance to drive the cart and I discovered my hands are too small to hold the brake of that big cart :-/ typical! So mean L at least, I could drive a few times when we were going more uphill and I didn’t need to handle the brake =P

When we returned, I didn’t feel really good and lay down for the rest of the day. I got sick. With Birgit and Lukas being away, there was not much to do so I could rest. Miri and I found out that Maria (coming from New Zealand) never watched “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” we were shocked!!!! We started watching that week all Hobbit movies and kept on going on with the Lord of the Rings. Lukas and Birgit returned on the 11th of November. The next morning, we started with a training and Lukas suggested after the training, that Maria and I could take the car so we can go to Buschberg, he saw some pics that there was still a little bit snow laying and  Maria is so eager to see snow. She didn’t really see much snow in her life. In addition, she didn’t get up there to see the nice view, so we went together. It was much fun, I also felt better again.

Sometimes when we got too much paper and carton leftover we do a big fire and burn everything. Maria is freaking scared of fire, so she ripped the carton and I did the fire. I am not afraid, but I have respect. We were making a decent fire, at one point, Lukas came and asked why we are not putting the whole carton at once into the fire. Well, he did, and the fire got so big. He was laughing about us and made (and is still doing) fun about us ripping paper into small pieces and says “I already start a fire, I will be done in two days” and then just cracks of laughter!

Later that day, we went to the chickens and I noticed that little brownie was not outside with the others. When I checked the shed, I directly noticed that something couldn’t be right. She wasn’t on her eggs but was laying in the corner, with her face down in the Stroh. I tried to get her up, but she seemed not able to get on her feet, so I put her in one of the incubators so that she didn’t fall on her face. We went back to the house and told Lukas. He noticed that she had diarrhea, he tried to make her drink water or eat something but couldn’t. Brigit’s father, Pauli, also checked on her but he said that she probably won’t make it. A few hours later she already was dead. I couldn’t believe it, the tamest and most productive chicken died. Still sad about that.

The next day, I didn’t feel good at all! That was the first time I stayed almost the whole day in bed, instead of helping. I couldn’t even help with the night training, Lukas and Maria went alone. I really fear that I will miss the European Championship. The next morning, I got up and helped with the training, but it did cost me so much energy that I was shaking for almost ten minutes… had to rest afterward a little bit. Lukas asked me if I think I will be fit for the Championship. He will need someone who is 100% fit. Birgit is this time not participating due to health issues so it will be just Lukas with eight dogs and one dog handler. I couldn’t tell him, I said, I will wait for the next day and when I don’t feel better I will stay.

If you want to know if I made it to the European Championship, stay posted. Within a week, my next post will be online. Hope to see you again! 🙂

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Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria – Part 1 (Guest Post)

I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this?

March to September 2016 – what happened since my last post

Since my last report, there is some time passed and MANY things changed. Obviously, I needed that time before I start off for real, but now I will for sure.

by Sheida Nasseri (guest blogger)

Read the original post and look at the photos and videos here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.com/2016/09/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html

 

Let’s catch up what happened so far (in short cut):

I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this? I started to research and to search and to search and it got me from jobs in Alaska to the very corners of China. In the meanwhile something else happened, I found love. Well, that’s typical. I want to go away and travel the world and I fall in love with a German guy in Czech Republic/Prague. It kinda throw me back a little, but still he told me that if it makes me unhappy, I should follow my dreams and if it works out, at one point we will be at the same place again. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I got an idea, maybe, it will be the right thing to do some volunteering work and take the time I need to figure out what I really wanna do? I was not sure yet where I wanna go or what to do exactly, but at one very special morning on the 10th of May, I just got so upset in the doing something I don’t have any passion for, that I decided to quit on that very same day. First, I was relieved, then I think scared and at one point very sure that was just the right decision. If you think rational about it, what am I scared off? I saved some money to make sure that I will survive a while without a job, I will do some volunteering which is always good in your CV, AND just in case everything does not work out as I wish, I always can find a job! Even if it is not the perfect job with a high salary, but I am capable of finding a job very fast and secure me financially. So what am I afraid of? That I finally could find something what I really like and be happy?

After all this thoughts and preparations, I finally decided that I want to find a volunteer place somewhere nearby (so that I could still see my boyfriend) and I would like to try a dogsled farm as I liked it so much in Norway. I really found two places, one in czech republic and one in Austria. After a few messages I decided that I will go to Austria. After such a long time it would be nice to understand the local language. Addionally, I liked that this dogsled farm used the dogs not only for races, but also for therapy reasons with kids, youths and adults. I got the place and arranged that when I get along with the hosts, I will start mid of September and stay there until Dec ’16/Jan ’17.

Dogsled Farm, 11th of September 2016

On Sunday, 11th of September 2016 my boyfriend and I planned to go to Austria, so that he can bring me to the volunteer place. It almost looked like I am not going to make it, because I felt so sick on that morning. I have to admit, I felt the whole week sick due to my excitement – this damn sensitive stomach =P I took some pills, lay down for half an hour and I felt strong enough to leave. The dogsled farm is called Snowdragons and is located by Gnadendorf, but not in the small city, no, between Gnadendorf and Wenzersdorf. So when you need something to buy, you have to drive at least 10km – well that’s in the middle of nowwhere right? Lukas and Birgit, the hosts greeted us very friendly and showed us around. The most exciting part was of course the dog shelters. There was a lot of barking around the corner and 18 Siberian Huskies were greeting me through their shelters. In the beginning, he only let his yard dog Abraxis out, what a big a beautiful exemplar. I have to admit, at first sight, they really are impressive and huge! Definitely in comparison to me =P especially when they jump up on you. Additionally to the hosts, there is Maria, she is from New Zealand is 22years old. Then, there are Miriam and Angelika, who are working in between on the farm when help needed. It is part of their practical year in school and is counted as an internship. They are both 16years old. The girls are really lovely 🙂

Update 24th September

I think, after being two weeks here (with a weekends interruption due to the wedding of my boyfriends stepbrother which I attended) I would say, I slowly get used to the life on the Snowdragon farm. It’s been a really tough week and it is still not over yet, today there will be a group coming of 13 people who will stay until tomorrow. But let me start telling you what happened so far.

Last week, I needed to get used to all dogs and their names and how to feed them and in which order, and so on. It is really tough, to carry the big bucket full with meat, veggies, rice and water and to manage to get inside of the kennels without the dogs jumping on you. I am getting better at it. Then, there are of course a lot of tasks which include cleaning and maintaining the yard, the house and the kennels of the dogs. People, who are visiting the farm, are just seeing the end result. The way it looks very nice and enjoy the time with the dogs, there is a lot of work behind the final result.

When I returned from the wedding, the real work started. We had on Tuesday a school group coming for three/four hours. 27 children in an age of 10/11 years old!!!! OMG!!! I can tell you, that’s pretty tough 😀 but to be honest, the kids were amazing! They loved the dogs so much and played all games so motivated. First, we did a cart race with the kids, to get a little bit of energy wasted – we played it twice and both times the boys won. But we always say, the boys are the stronger and faster, but the girls are the ones, who are cleverer.

Then, they get to play a Quiz with questions about Huskies and the answers were hidden somewhere in the yard. Later on they got to spent time with the dogs in the yard, and then, we went for a hike. The kids got a map and they had to find their way back to the farm – kinda funny because they really were not that good in map reading, but we were not allowed to give them any advice (as if I had a clue, for me, that area was also very new 😀 ). After we returned all savely, they got to spent a little bit more time with the dogs before they had to say Goodbye, which most of the kids really didn’t want to.

Before and after a group is coming, everything needs to be clean and the tent needs to be cleaned as well. They use the facilities inside the house, so that needs to be cleaned as well. Lukas and Birgit are working on a cultivation which includes rooms for sleepover, a bathroom and kitchen for the guests. So far, they used all facilities inside the house, meaning the bathroom is much more ocupied than usual =P

After the group left we had a team meeting and Lukas told us, that the next days the weather will be cold enough in the morning so that they will be able to go for a cart run with all dogs. He told us which dogs have to be lined up in which order. So on Wednesday, we needed to get up around 6am to feed the dogs at 6.30am and then to get them ready. Put the harness on and get the cart outside ready  –  Well, let’s say it this way; the first time, we kind of sucked =P

Marie, Angelika and I, we put first the wrong cart outside, then we put on the harness on Foppa, which we were not allowed, because he can get so excited that he would chew his harness off. He needs to get ready last! It was so stressful, all dogs went crazy, we forgot to open the gate before we started to get ready, I felt SO stressed!!! BUT, as soon Lukas released the line and the dogs could start running, all dogs went silently and just run perfectly in line. Furthermore, we thought we just go inside and wait, because they will be away for at least twenty minutes. So we had breakfast and then went outside to find out that they were already back and almost all dogs were back in their kennels. I felt really bad. We went then inside and had a feedback talk. All mistakes were mentioned and noted, so that for the next run (next morning) we would be prepared!

Then Marie, Angelika and I took the puppies and Duke for a hike (they are not going for training). Around 2pm the next group arrived. They were 4 young adults in the age between 16 and 19yrs old and three coaches. They are from a vocational orientation training facility. They let the young adults to try out different kind of work and let them participate in projects, so that they’ll know which job they are going to do. In the beginning, when a group arrives, there is always the same kind of routine. They get first to see the dogs, Braxi is greeting all of them so kind and sweet that all of them fall immediately in love with him. Lukas is explaining some main rules, how they have to behave around the dogs, what they really like, what will stress them and then they are allowed to the backyard and we let out the first two kennels. Then we change and they get to know slowly all dogs a bit better. Depending on the group, for example, when they are a bit older like this group, they can go for a hike and they are allowed to wear the hiking belt (it is a belt which looks and works pretty much like a climbing belt and is made for pulling purposes). We (volunteers and interns) are accompanying them, so nothing bad happens and they find their way back. That’s what we did on that day. This group was going to stay until Friday. They grilled in the evening and had some beer and just enjoyed themselves. We girls needed to feed the dogs in the evening. I was really tired on that day and another early morning was still ahead of us.

Thursday, we were up quite on time and started feeding the dogs a bit earlier so we were prepared and had more time. We did not repeat one of the mistakes we made the day before. I also didn’t feel that much stressed, although as they wanted to run, the two Lead dogs got tangled. But with help of Birgit, we managed it and they were off. We waited for them to return and helped to unleash all of them. Lukas said, that there are just small improvements to make but we improved a lot to the day before (whoop whoop :)). Maria, Angelika and I went again for a hike with Duke and the puppies. Unfortunately, Maria stepped into a small hole on the ground and somehow sprained her ankle. It got swollen, so we let her rest pretty much the rest of the day. The group played on that morning a game called “Lost”. The groups will be divided into two groups which will be taken separately to some spot further away. They have to find the right way back with only some hints to a certain meeting point. Lukas and I were checking the route the day before and wrote down all hints for direction. If everything goes right both groups will meet at the meeting point. As of the meeting point both groups have one half of a map, which combined will lead their way back to the Snowdragon Farm. That gave us some time to relax and go for some grocery shopping. Around lunchtime we waited for them in the backyard. Then we all could have lunch. In the meanwhile, Miriam, the second intern arrived as well. The afternoon was pretty chilled, just enjoying the company of the dogs. Then we went for one more hike, before the group relaxed in the evening at the open fire with some beer and food. Lukas told us girls, that there won’t be a morning training for the next days, because the weather is getting warmer again. Somehow a relief for all us – we can sleep one hour longer, although on the other side, I have to wait longer to get a ride with the cart…

On Friday, I felt so much better. I slept good, recovered and was totally motivated. We fed the dogs, and later on the group wanted to go for one more hike. We just went for 25min. because the weather was already too hot. The group then packed their stuff and had one last meal. Lukas talked the day before to one of the coaches and had an offer to make to the group. He has one cart which is really old and needs some maintainance work and also some new colour. He asked, if the group is willing to work on that cart. In exchange, he they could visit us again and they get a drive in a cart with the dogs for free. They were thrilled by that idea. Finally, they packed and went away. In the afternoon, we spent some time with cleaning work, but it wasn’t too much. When Birgit came home she asked us if we would like to join her for some hiking up the hill. We did, so we drove with two cars. Birgit with Miriam and Laska and Nova, I with Angelika and Aliy and Star. It was so much fun. We enjoyed it a lot, the views were just amazing!!! We met on the way some people who had two dogs and they stood still when we passed by and asked if the two puppies were wolves 😀 I couldn’t blame them, they really do look like wolves.

In the evening we played some board games. I have to admit, I almost forgot how much fun it is playing board games. As Lukas is really competitive, unlike me (nooooot) we had a lot of fun. We played the game Ubongo (Ubongo Quick Start Rules). Later on that evening, the girls and I played the ladder game (board game). What a perfect day =) I fell asleep quite early, but very happy 😀

To be continued …

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Beagles for Peace – War in Ukraine

Today was a long and emotional day for me at Maidan, so my first post about it will be a happy one. One of the first things I saw when I arrived in the square was a group of beagles with yellow-and-blue ribbons on their collars. Their owners were holding signs that read “Beagles for Peace” standing on the steps by the “Christmas tree.” Other beagle owners were coming from every direction and the cuteness was attracting a lot of attention from those passing by…

Beagles for Peace was made possible thanks to the grant I received from the Prague Freedom Foundation to report on the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution in March 2014.

Today was a long and emotional day for me at Maidan, so my first post about it will be a happy one. One of the first things I saw when I arrived in the square was a group of beagles with yellow-and-blue ribbons on their collars. Their owners were holding signs that read “Beagles for Peace” standing on the steps by the “Christmas tree.” Other beagle owners were coming from every direction and the cuteness was attracting a lot of attention from those passing by.

Our blogger in Ukraine finds a propaganda battle waged with puppies http://www.praguepost.com/viewpoint/37836-beagles-for-peace

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Beagles for Peace: Puppy Protest

Today was a long and emotional day for me at Maidan so my first post about it will be a happy one. One of the first things I saw when I arrived in the square was a group of beagles with yellow-and-blue ribbons on their collars. Their owners were holding signs that read “Beagles for Peace” standing on the steps by the ‘Christmas tree’. Other beagle owners were coming from every direction and the cuteness was attracting a lot of attention from those passing by…

Beagles for Peace was made possible thanks to the grant I received from the Prague Freedom Foundation to report on the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution in March 2014.

Today was a long and emotional day for me at Maidan so my first post about it will be a happy one. One of the first things I saw when I arrived in the square was a group of beagles with yellow-and-blue ribbons on their collars. Their owners were holding signs that read “Beagles for Peace” standing on the steps by the ‘Christmas tree’. Other beagle owners were coming from every direction and the cuteness was attracting a lot of attention from those passing by.

After it calmed down a bit I went up to one of them, Andrij Bovkun and asked what was going on. He smiled at me and said it was quite a funny story. His daughter was watching a children’s show on a Russian channel, and the show has a dog called Phil. In this particular episode, Phil was preparing to go to war and had a little backpack and was all dressed up. A Russian woman on the show explained to the children that Phil is going to defend his borders because it is very important. This was all propaganda directed at children about the situation in Crimea.

Bovkun’s dog was incidentally also named Phil, so he gathered several other beagle owners initiated this unofficial event. This event was made as a response to the Russian TV show – Russian dog Phil is preparing to go to war, while this Ukrainian Phil is promoting peace. It was a really nice and original way to spread a message of peace, especially to the children who had watched the show.

But before you are overwhelmed by the cute pictures and the sweet message, think about why the father did this. He saw that propaganda was being spread to the most susceptible members of society, children. Worst of all, it was being spread through a seemingly harmless TV show. If a person is brainwashed like this from a young age, what sort of person do they grow up to be? Maybe Putin was brought up on similar propaganda. There are a lot of serious problems going on in Ukraine right now, but something like this shouldn’t be overlooked. Some Russian news channels have been banned in Ukraine for skewing the truth. Russian children’s channels should definitely be monitored and reviewed – and if other cases of such propaganda are discovered, then there is no question about them needing to be banned from public television immediately.

Originally posted at: https://olenakaguiukraine2014.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/beagles-for-peace/

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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