This is the fourth post on our trip to Koh Samui, Thailand, on December 2013. You can read the previous ones (in Finnish, though, or just see the photos) by clicking the links: Koh Samui, Ko Tao, and The Dogs of Koh Samui. After writing the post on the Samui dogs and after reminding myself of the wonderful memories of our holiday by organizing the hundreds of photos for the post, I got a little sentimental. In my previous Samui post I pondered the question of free will. We all have a free will to do what we want and to live where we want. And so do the dogs. Our free will is very bound to our heritage, and the environment in which we are born is the main factor defining our "free will": Why we choose to live where we live and so on. As an European and as a Finn, the culture of keeping dogs, or dog culture, as we say in Finland, seems so very different where ever we go. Of course, a vast part of Finnish dogs are family pets, just like in every other Western country. But in addition to "just" pets, there is a growing number of "dog hobbyists" here who train their dogs for agility, obedience, canicross, ipo, water rescue, you name it... And we do it for fun - it is fun for us, but it is also fun for the dogs. Most of the dogs need a job to keep them in their senses, and in a modern world there really are very few "real" jobs for them on offer. So we create them!
Having explained myself a little, you understand that the starting point for seeing dogs in such a different kind of culture is worlds apart. It is mentally very difficult to dive into a foreign culture and just to observe the differences - and trying not to judge. You'd like to make a difference, but who are you (as a tourist, really!) to tell the natives how to live their lives, how to keep their dogs? What can you do in a very short time to enhance the conditions for good?
I did not know about Samui Dog Rescue Center's existence beforehand, but actually bumped into it on a map a day before we rented scooters and headed to explore the island. In fact, the dog rescue center became the number one "attraction" for me in an instant! We actually drove a few miles past it, and needed to drive back. How did we manage to miss the large sign next to the road? An even larger water buffalo on the field had caught our eyes, that's why! Outside the center, two dogs were already looking forward to welcoming us in the area. Even though we had already gotten accustomed to the friendliness of the local dogs, a free-running strange dog always makes me a bit uneasy. The sign outside welcomed visitors kindly, so inside we went.
|The welcoming committee|
First of all, I'd like to thank the rescue center personnel for receiving us and for giving us a tour inside the center. Thank you also for bearing with my various questions and for having the patience for explaining the way of life inside the center. For all the tourists that are interested in making even the smallest difference: please visit, please donate and please spread the word. The center is based on voluntary work, and help is wanted, help is needed.
The rescue center feeds the dogs who live at the temples of Koh Samui. The center also offers free treatment and vaccinations, and what I find extremely efficient: They have a free-of-charge spay and neuter program for cats and dogs! Spaying and neutering is the most efficient way to deal with the excessive and growing number of stray dogs and cats on the island (and everywhere else, for that matter). In addition to medical treatment, the center offers a place to stay for locals' dogs and cats while they are away from home. That way the pets have a safe place in the shelter, and they do not need to cope with the environment all by themselves. The shelter also has a temporary home for strays, who wait for someone to adopt them. I was told that whoever can bring a stray from the beach or where ever to the shelter for quarantine, and after the quarantine, the rescue center helps out to organize the flights into the final destination. Read more about the dog transport here and about the adoption here.
And about making the difference after the holiday as well: You can donate or you can become a sponsor. We donated a small amount back when we visited the center, but I definitely want to help the center also in the future! Making an occasional donation or starting a sponsorship is an excellent choice for the good deed of the year 2014.
|Who can resist this look?|
|Wrestling, just like our dogs back home.|
|This beautiful creature has just got her leg amputated, |
and still she wagged her tail when we entered the enclosure.
|The owners of these dogs were away for holiday or business trip.|
Just like my Luumu stayed in a dog hotel during our holiday in Samui.
|There were also plenty of cats in the shelter.|
|All the residents had their pictures and information on the wall.|
|Donation boxes could be found all around the island.|