Fostering through Pound Hounds Res-Q: Smiley’s Story

Two days ago we sent a $300 adoption fee to Pound Hounds Res-Q, the place that pulled Smiley from Brooklyn’s high kill shelter, NYACC. We had originally planned on fostering Smiley, the cute 6 year old pit mix who was abandoned because his former owners got pregnant…

Two days ago we sent a $300 adoption fee to Pound Hounds Res-Q, the place that pulled Smiley from Brooklyn’s high kill shelter, NYACC. We had originally planned on fostering Smiley, the cute 6 year old pit mix who was abandoned because his former owners got pregnant. We were in no position to get a dog – we don’t make enough money and live in a small apartment, but we couldn’t let Smiley die.

We ended up adopting Smiley after just two weeks of fostering, mostly because we fell in love with our foster boy and also because of Pound Hounds Res-Q. In addition to the fee, we also gave a small donation because of everything the rescue has done for us. Donating to rescues helps them save more dogs so I encourage everyone to do the same!

The amazing thing about fostering, is that it’s practically free and saves lives! Shelters such as the NYACC become overcrowded and put animals on the kill list very quickly. They barely get a chance to get adopted! If you foster a dog, a rescue will cover the vet bills and any necessary training. Then you help the dog get decompressed, preferably crate trained and then you help them find a new forever home.

Fostering is a great way to help animals without making a lifetime commitment, that many people can’t do. If we hadn’t ended up adopting Smiley, we would have likely kept fostering, because it has been so rewarding. Let me tell you a bit about it!

Smiley went from the NYACC to the vet to get neutered, then a special service was hired to bring him to us. We had never met him or even see him in real life! Smiley was friendly and curious but he wouldn’t look up at me or make eye contact. He also didn’t respond to commands, although we were told that he knew to sit, stay and come.

When I brought him inside, he explored the place, sniffing every corner and demanding to know what was behind every door. It took over an hour to get him to slow down and rest on his doggy bed. He lay there for a while until I tried to put his harness on for a walk. He wouldn’t let me put it on I’m and bared his teeth, so I backed off and let him sleep. A few hours later, after my husband came home, he let us put the harness on without any fuss.

On his first walk with us, he pulled like crazy, giving us rope burn. He was so strong and wouldn’t listen at all outside. We immediately ordered a front pulling harness, but got dragged around painfully for three whole days. We also watched some videos on how to get a dogs attention on walks and we tried to implement them, which only half worked.

The first evening while we watched TV, we saw him watching us from his bed. It was the first time he looked at us. Not surprising after being handed off from one person to another for ten days. He was scared and confused.

We crated him that first night as instructed by the rescue. People want to adopt crate trained dogs and we had to try our best although we didn’t like the idea of him being in a small cage. He barked a bit but quickly went to sleep. The next morning he woke up wagging his tail at us, it was progress!

The second day he acted like a spoiled child, pushing his boundaries. He would jump on the sofa, demand treats and he pulled me even harder outside. I may have had one or two breakdowns that day because I couldn’t connect with him. I couldn’t see anyone adopting a dog that was this crazy and I also didn’t know how long I could spend with him, but I didn’t want to disappoint him like humans have in the past.

That night he barked more in his crate at night, and I was stressed knowing that we would have to leave him alone for up to six hours the next day. Everyone reassured me that he would be okay, as long as he wore a cone – he was recently neutered and could rip his stitches.

When we came home after our trip, that we couldn’t cancel although we had wanted to, we found his cone out of shape and he was practically hanging by it because a piece got stuck in his crate. It was around his neck so tight that he coughed when I cut it off. He seemed fine otherwise and extra friendly, but I was traumatized by the experience. I was too scared of putting him back in the crate while he had his cone, so we let him sleep in our bedroom on his bed.

When he woke up that Sunday (we had gotten him in the afternoon on Thursday) he was a completely different dog. He was so calm at home, looked at us, asked us for pats and actually listened when we gave him commands. That day we took him to a beer festival because we didn’t want to leave him home alone.

We had been told that he shouldn’t be around other dogs or kids so we were extra careful. But he was calm around kids, accepting treats gently and he wagged his tail when he saw other dogs. We let him sniff a few and it seemed fine, we were starting to doubt everything that the kill shelter had said about him. We found a quiet spot at the chaotic festival and he sat with us, observing. People came over to meet him and he was so friendly and loving to everyone. No one believed that we had just rescued him.

The next day we had received a front clipping harness and the moment we put it on him, he stopped pulling on walks. He still got distracted outside but he was so much better at walking calmly. We let him sniff more dogs and discovered that he was super friendly but couldn’t tell between dogs that wanted to play or fight.

The following week he started to feel at home. We let him sit with us on the couch but still kept him out of bed. He behaved better every day. Except the one time he jumped on the bed when I screamed because I saw a spider – but that’s because I screamed and I assume that he was trying to protect me.

During the week we also let him play with some dogs while leashed. He seemed to get along with everyone, ignoring the dogs who were aggressive and he backed away when an angry cat jumped out at him. He was clearly a good gentle boy!

We also took him to the vet that week to check his ears (he was super itchy) and his stitches that he had licked more than he should have. He was so calm and let the vet do very invasive things to him without showing an ounce of aggressive – and I grew up with labs that growled at the vet…

That second weekend we had him, we took him to an amazing day care Petbuddy Services for a trial day. We were nervous to see how he would get a long with other dogs but it went really well! After a day of playing with dogs, he was even calmer on walks and less jumpy when he met new dogs.

The day he spent at doggy daycare we went out, but came home before picking Smiley up. Our home felt so empty without him even though he had only been there for ten days! That’s when we decided that we’d be keeping him. But we wanted to wait in case there were any issues with our landlord, although those were unlikely.

On Wednesday we took him to the vet again, and even though the rescue knew we were 99% likely to adopt him, Pound Hounds Res-Q paid his bill. Later that evening, we officially paid his adoption fee and he became a part of our family. The next day, I let him play off leash with a bunch of friendly dogs at the park and he did so well, people didn’t believe me that he was a new rescue.

Since getting Smiley there has been more stress in my life – we need to figure out where he will be while we’re on holiday. We need to worry about him getting sick, hurting himself or feeling lonely when he’s alone at home. I also have a companion at home now,  a smiling face that makes me happier and I can’t walk him down the street without him getting compliments left and right. Oh, he also gets me out of the house more and breathing that fresh New York air! I’ve even met a few local dog owners that are quickly becoming friends.

Of course I’m already worrying about Smiley dying one day, but that’s just how my brain works. He has already made my life so much better and more worthwhile. As much as I think that everyone should adopt a dog, or five, immediately, I understand that not everyone is int he position to do so.

Foster! If you can’t adopt. Donate to rescues, if you want to help but can’t foster. Dogs, and animals in general, bring so much happiness and unconditional love to our hectic lives. They deserve our help and love, they should all feel safe and happy – the same way they make us feel. Please consider donating to Pound Hounds Res-Q today, without them we wouldn’t have this beautiful dog as a part of our family!

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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 3 (Guest Post)

This week started very with a training where I could be the co-driver for Lukas. This time, we took the smaller cart with eight dogs, because Birgit did also train and she took six dogs. It was very cold, no wind, perfect conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I could be the co-driver so I wasn’t very good prepared with my cameras…

It is kind of strange, in between I think there is somehow a routine in my day or there were lazy days with not much action, but then again, there is always something happening, so there is ALWAYS something to tell 😉

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original blog post, and all the cute photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/10/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm_31.html

Week 17. – 23. October 2016

This week started very with a training where I could be the co-driver for Lukas. This time, we took the smaller cart with eight dogs, because Birgit did also train and she took six dogs. It was very cold, no wind, perfect conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I could be the co-driver so I wasn’t prepared with my cameras. I just had my iPhone 6 with me and there is no rely on that smartphone as soon it is a bit colder. The battery just dies, I guess, it somehow must have been damaged when I was in Norway where it was -18°C. The training’s duration is much longer now, the dogs already run 11/12 km. I could see a big difference; the dogs are so much stronger than two weeks before. On our way we saw a few deer, rabbits and even a stag, very close by!!! And my iPhone was DEAD aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggghhhh – I must complain to Apple =P

I told you already that Lukas is evil, didn’t I? He loves to tease us and prank us. We (Maria and I) went on the next morning for a walk with Aliy and Laska. On the way, it started to rain. Maria and I though, didn’t stop, we said we will go for a big walk, so that the girls are more chilled in the house. The rain just got stronger and stronger, nevertheless, we walked an hour and even had fun. We were playing music, danced and sang.

We were soaking wet! When we returned, we were standing in front of the entrance to dry up the dogs, when the door opened and a wide grinning Lukas was standing in the door with his laptop in his hand and played “Why does it always rain on me?” seriously? He waited at his window for our return so he could play us the song, and while we were undressing and drying the dogs, he gave us some more rain songs from his playlist…”It’s raining men” and “singing in the rain” 😀 he is crazy! 😉 the rest of the day, we pretty much spent lazy at home.

Therefore, the day after, we were really busy! Despite the training in the morning, we helped a little bit with building the new kennel (for the puppies), went on a hike and did some more work.

On that morning, Lukas said we shall let the puppies stay with Artac and Arthur, because Atreju is lately a little bit tense because of the puppies. I think, he doesn’t like to play the babysitter all day long =P so we let them in the kennel and they also seemed to get along. Then we did our lunch break. When we returned, we wanted to check on the puppies and noticed that somehow, only Star was left in the kennel. Hmmmm… but where was Nova? We know that she loves to crawl in every hole or corner which exist, but we couldn’t discover one. We almost wanted to look for her outside the kennel, when we noticed that between the wooden wall and the fence, there is a little bit space. There she was.

Obviously she crawled inside and couldn’t get outside anymore. I was trying very hard to get her through, but she was so scared, that she didn’t dare to come too close. We called Lukas and we were trying and thinking of a way. Then, I said the only way how we could get her out, would be, if someone would climb over the wall, grab her, lift her, someone else take her and climb back again. Well, the only person small enough for that was me – of course =P So I got my jacket and shoes off and climbed over and got her. She was sooooo relieved to be back outside 😀 of course, no one took pictures of my heroic action… well, I guess we all were concerned about Nova 😉

Stuck in between wall and fence, I had to jump on the dog house, and get over the wall to lift her up!

So much action on one day and I still had to drive to Prague. YES – I got four days off, to go and visit my boyfriend in Prague and see my friends. I went with the bus to Brno, where my boyfriend picked me up and we drove together to Prague. I won’t tell too much about Prague, I met a lot of friends, old colleagues, new acquaintances (my friend got her Baby :D), slept a lot, went partying, got new inspirations about my future plans and enjoyed just some alone time with my boyfriend. I must admit, at one point there were too many people and I sensed also a lot of negative energies (not towards me, in general) which kind of got me unbalanced, but in total it was really nice seeing all again.

Week 24. – 30. October 2016

Back in Gnadendorf, I was really happy to see the dogs again. You get attached to them (damn, what will I do when I leave for good?). The next morning, we should have had a training with the big cart. So we harnessed all dogs, started to set them up on the main line when suddenly they started to move – we all were puzzled, looked up and saw that the panic snap (additional break which is attached to a pole) just dissolved itself from the carabiner.

We got it somehow tight again and when all dogs were set up, I ran the hill up to open the gate, I was just about to touch the gate when I suddenly heard Lukas screaming my name. I turned around and just saw a mess! All dogs were standing completely mixed up and not in line, I ran down, holding the dogs and Lukas told us to unleash all dogs. So, we did, the loop of the mainline which is attached to the cart, ripped. Wtf…. Seriously, first the panic snap, then the main line – what was going on??? We were so in luck, that this happened within the yard and not outside on the track! How on earth could you get the dogs back then? Hardly possible. Training cancelled. What an excitement in the morning.

Rest of the day, was pretty lazy. We went for two hikes, but besides that nothing special happened on that day. Ah wait… there is something, Lukas does sing sometimes new versions of already existing songs. And he loves to put my name into that song. Well, first of all, he calls me SheiShei, then he started singing “Shei Shei Shei, Shei Shei Shei, shake your booty” from the song “Shake your booty”. His newest version is (a little bit early) “Sheida bell, Sheida bell, Sheida bell rock” from “Jingle bell rock” and then he is walking on the place and shakes his arms (I guess it shall be dancing :D) I need to film it, then you will see what I mean 😉

The next day, I drove with Lukas to Vienna, he had some business over there. It was a very rainy day, that means most of the time, lazy day for us 😉 The day after, we had to take preparations for the race which took part in Reingers from Friday to Sunday. We had to pack all kind of stuff, Lukas gave Miriam and me, two sport bags to clean which were lying in the shed. We carried it to the hose pipe to clean it. When I turned around the bag, I saw that there was a butterfly on the bag. It had its wings closed. It seemed as if there were stuck to each other. I didn’t know if it just hatched or it was getting ready for its winter sleep, no idea, but it had to fly away so that I could clean the bag. I didn’t dare to touch the wings; they are so sensitive. So, I touched its legs with my finger, and very slowly, it tried to open its wings and just watch what beauty I discovered:

The next day, we did a few preparations and around 11am we had to bring the dogs into the transporter in the boxes. OMG – why do I always imagine that something like that could happen quiet and easy? Such chaos and stress! It was almost impossible to get the dogs singled out of the kennels. There was always at least one dog, who escaped and you just saw us all the time running after dogs – Lukas thought that it was very amusing – of course! =P and of course I hurt myself! Two dogs pushed against their kennel door and it hit me on my knee – outch L after all dogs were placed, the cart was put inside, the caravan attached to the transporter, and Lukas, Maria and I started our way to Reingers.

It is just Maria who should come to the race, but because Birgit had to work that day and wanted to join Maria and Lukas in the evening, Lukas said, I should join them and help to set up everything over there. When Birgit arrives, I could take her car and drive home. Said, done. We drove there and it was interesting to see how many people and dogs were there.

I talked to an older couple, Bianca and Ernst, who were there with their Hounds, Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies. They used to live 20 years in Düsseldorf, moved then to Austria and now they are just about to move to Sweden/Lapland. They bought a house with a big yard for them and their dogs. I was delighted to hear that, I told them that I always wanted to visit Lapland to see the Aurora Borealis and maybe I could visit them over there 😉 they took my word, and gave me their contacts so that when I am about to go Lapland I just shall give them a call J There you go, you’ll never know who you will meet! Loved that. It turned very late until I came back to Gnadendorf, but everything turned out quite well.

The day after, Miriam and I had a very relaxed day. We went for walks with the dogs which stayed here, cleaned a bit the house, cooked together, watched movies and we talked a lot. While telling her a bit about my past, I found out WHY I changed my plans concerning tourism. I was always wondering, why I went another path but tourism, because I remembered that I had that idea in the very beginning. I always said it was something like my parents told me to do something serious. In the end, it was partially true, but the real reason why I didn’t study Tourism was, that all study courses existing including Tourism are private! At least in Germany. You must pay a lot of money, which I didn’t had. I went to business fares to inform myself about my possibilities and was devastated to find out that there is no option for me L at least not without taking a big loan from a bank or to win lottery. At one point, I decided to go in direction economics and business, to have a certain basic knowledge and I would then adjust in the right direction. Obviously, I forgot on my way what my original plan was. Well, it took me a while but I found back somehow 😉

At the weekend, Miri and I were going on hikes, Miri wrote on her short stories, I wrote on my blog, watched movies, I tamed the brown chicken – oh yeah – I think I never mentioned that we have chickens, did I? Six chickens. They are really funny, I think they have no names (sad) but every time when I got on their place to collect some wood for fire, they follow me and come really close because they think I could have something to eat 😀 I noticed, that the brown one, let’s call her “Little brownie” is more tame than the others, so I tried to pet her and then to carry her, see yourself what was the result 😉

All in one, very easy going. I was laughing today because my idea of a relaxing time is to have JUST five dogs, but I think when you usually deal with 18 dogs that’s natural 🙂

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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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Living with Pets, Nika Kagui

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change.

Living with Pets, Nika Kagui was originally published in The Bridge, the magazine published by IWAP – International Women’s Association of Prague. Nika Kagui was more than just a pet, she was a beloved dog that was part of our family. We still miss her every day, but the memories of her are no longer sad.

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change. My busy mother found time to take her on countless of walks every few hours, my neat germ-phobic father heard her howling one night and she’s slept in his bed ever since, and I discovered the true meaning of unconditional love.

But there were many sacrifices too. We couldn’t go on as many family trips, we worried too much about leaving her with others. Also, just like many other purebred Labradors, Nika had many health problems; one vet even recommended that we ‘don’t waste our time and money and put her to sleep’. She had hip problems among many others, and she was at risk of not live past 3. We decided to take our chances and vowed to keep her alive for as long as possible as long as she didn’t suffer and had the will to live – and boy did she love living.

She was always full of energy and curiosity. Among driving in the car and playing with Leia, a puppy we bought for her because she couldn’t have her own, her passion was swimming. She would climb the ladder into the blow-up pool in our garden with confidence; look at us to see if we were watching her and then jump in and swim for hours. When she got out she would dry herself on a towel that we laid out for her. Watching this regular routine never got old and always raised our spirits.

But despite the happy moments, there was also a lot of worrying involved. She underwent over 7 operations over the 8 years and 5 months of her life. Seeing her shaved in strange placed, bandaged up, limping with sleepy eyes after a long operation was always horrible. But no matter what state she was in, she would greet us warmly; wagging her tail, begging us for a treat and making us scratch her back. Her eyes always twinkled with gratefulness and happiness that made every single sacrifice worth it.

When she died in surgery a few months back, we were devastated. She was more than a dog: she was a member of the family, a friend and a reflection of ourselves. She fought for her life until the end. When her heart stopped during other surgeries, she would make it beat again. When we worried that we were selfish to put her through the operations, she showed us that she too wanted more than anything to live. Her bravery, determination, happiness and her endless supply of love is something that along with the memory of her will be with us in our hearts forever.

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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