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Published: February 17th 2019
I am so happy on this island. I want to come for a month next year, but really need to be able to ride a scooter to get full advantage. YouTube it is, then!
Today was something I’d planned to do since I knew I was coming here, to volunteer for a day at Lanta Animal Welfare, and see if I wanted to do it another day too. I emailed them before and said I’d turn up at 9 and stay until 5. The coordinator replied, no problem. I was super keen to hand over the bag of stuff I’d brought from home. Their website has a list of things they need, medical supplies, collars etc. Our lovely neighbour Helen had given me some worming tablets and I’d bought some stuff too. I was happy for the extra space in my bag and less weight.
Bao, the hotel owner, said to flag down a tuktuk on the main road and pay no more than 100b. After breakfast at Lanta Panda (?) Bungalows I walked up to the main road. Not a tuktuk in sight, so I started walking, my phone had said 59mins and I didn’t really have that
much time. No tuktuks for ages, then after about 20 mins and halfway there one was chugging along on the other side of the road, did a U turn and quoted 60b. Phew! He knew where to go too.
There were a few longterm volunteers hanging around outside, including Richard from Cardiff, who’d been there a week. If you want to stay you have to do a minimum of 2 weeks and get free accommodation in 2 person rooms, breakfast and lunch. The next level is the day people, like me, then the ones who turn up for the dog walking at 9 and 3. After a bit I was taken through to the dog kitchen. There are 2 areas for dogs and cats, and they have about 40 of each. The cat area is called Kitty Corner and is where the snack bar is. You can play with the cats but there are rules. See pic. I saw Jeff and Kush, the musicians I’d been on the minibus with. They were there for dog walking and hanging out with the cats.
So the first thing I did was take a dog for a walk, accompanied by Kilian,
a young German guy. I went into one of the enclosures with a permanent volunteer and one of the dogs, Pixel, was quite nippy and showing off. I ended up with a bleeding arm and a hole on my trousers, which was a disconcerting start. He was tied up until he could behave. The 2 dogs coming on the walk, Andrzej and Lola, were kitted up in their own personal harnesses and we were told to do the blue forest route, turn right at the seagull bungalow sign and just follow the blue ribbons tied to the trees. The dogs were pulling quite a lot on their leads and sniffing, but we managed to keep to the route, up through some rubber trees. Then I’m not sure what happened but we got to a T-junction with a little road, no blue ribbons in sight! Left would have been wrong, right took us down to the main road, which we knew wasn’t right, but apart from retracing our steps (in hindsight this would have been a good decision) we felt we had to carry on. The dogs didn’t react to the traffic but it was hot, and took us a while
to get back to the turnoff for the centre. We also arrived back from the wrong direction, but luckily nobody was there so we just said no problem When they asked how it had gone. It was stressful, though.
I had the option of going out on another walk straight away but needed a drink so took a break in Kitty Corner and had a lemonade and a kitty cupcake. Then one of the hourly guided tours was starting so I joined it. Interesting to hear how it all started and that now the sterilisation programme has been so successful that they are extending to some of the local islands, like Ko Phi Phi. And they send people to schools etc to convince the locals, who can get their own pets treated for free. Most animals get adopted abroad, which can cost £1000 for a dog to go to the UK. Australia doesn’t allow it. While we were walking round there was a new arrival, brought in by one of the local staff, a tiny 6 week old puppy who’d been found hanging from a tree where someone had tied it by its neck. We were all shocked.
After my break the supervisor for the morning shift asked if I would like to shampoo the puppies. I definitely did, and got another hole in my trousers and very wet doing it. There are 3 little ones. One (Slinky) had had mange really badly and was bald but now his fur is growing back. None of them actually like a bath and hid as much as they could. I had to wet them with a hose while they howled, shampoo them, leave it for 10 mins, then rinse. While covered in shampoo one sat on my lap and chewed a lot. It was so cute.
Then more chill time, with a brief stint looking after the shop, which I was a bit useless at. I took a 9 year old Swedish boy in to stroke the puppies. He was so happy. They asked if I’d take Pixel for a walk, the one who’d attacked my trousers, on my own. As there was talk among the staff staying there about the annoying nature of some of the dog walkers, complaining a lot, I said yes to everything. But Pixel definitely didn’t want to go. He sat down. See pic.
He lay down and point blank refused, so I took him back to his enclosure. After lunch there were 2 young German volunteers and we cleaned the dog kitchen area. I kept reminding myself it wasn't used for human food preparation. It is all really well organised, lists everywhere, all the individual routines written down. In the kitchen is a bed where volunteers sleep on a rota basis, as when the mosque does the first call to prayer at 5am the dogs start howling and have to be shushed, bigtime, to keep the locals from complaining too much. They get to sleep with a dog of their choice!
Then we got to bath the older dogs, who were brought into their night kennels so they couldn’t escape. Also not keen, but Mona was quite compliant, then I took her on a walk with Fanny, a funky volunteer with dreadlocks from Sweden. Also hung out the laundry to dry. There are loads of jobs to do. I helped her with feeding the dogs in the isolation pens, 4 puppies with ringworm, one dog who is still quite aggressive. Most are really well behaved and socialised.
I worked until 5,
although I did feel like a spare part at times while they found job for me. It must be annoying having so many visitors and short term volunteers, but brings in revenue. The visitors seemed delighted to be there.
The only tuktuk driver outside had a booking so I walked down to the main road, praying I wouldn’t have to walk the 2 miles back. Luckily I found one easily, another 60b. He dropped me at the top of the road. Never have I been so relieved to have a shower. It was an exhausting day, but really worthwhile.
I booked a few more things when I got back, a cookery course at Time for Lime, the school owned by the animal centre people. It’s super expensive at 2000b but goes to a good cause. The only problem is that as I’m doing it solo I’ll have to cook all the time. The couples get a rest and get to chill with a cocktail while their partner cooks. Maybe I’ll find a buddy! It’s not far from here but they have a pick up service. Also emailed the E bike company for Tuesday. Nothing ventured.....
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