Instead of the traditional dog sanctuary, I’ve been keen to explore cage free open spaces (where animals and humans can co-exist while taking the necessary precautions).
Certain communities are already working towards this goal – for instance, a public park in London, UK where deers roam while people jog or walk their dogs alongside them.
We do this already for our own dogs in designated urban dog parks – why not take things a step further…like an outdoor dog sanctuary with cafe in the midst of a park?!
I thought there would be poo everywhere. However, the space was kept very clean. They use disinfectant and the dog handlers constantly go around around with shovels.
I really enjoyed getting to know the local dog handlers. For the most part, they grew up in this town and as practicing Buddhists, seemed very compassionate towards the animals. Never did I witness any abuse – I imagine it’s hard to find and maintain good staff, so kudos to the charities’ management structure. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet the founder as I understand she is back in the UK actively fundraising – to feed and care for over a thousand dogs, fundraising must be necessary. Again, great job team!
New revenue source – biofuel?
Given the wheelbarrows full of feces that the animals generate on a daily basis, I wondered whether the dog sanctuary could add some algae to mix (stir it all up and collect methane, which in turn could be used as fuel). Turns out the charity had spent money to set it up but couldn’t get it to work a few years back. I’m not sure of the reason but this definitely deserves further inquiry. It could serve as a great revenue stream for the charity.
More like gang mentality
My primary objective was to understand how dogs behave in larger numbers. I noticed that when someone rang the door, it caused excitement and tons of barking. Often, a fight would break out as a result. A lot of growling, some nips but no blood that I could see.
The dogs typically stay in a pack or a gang. Once in a pack, dogs typically don’t venture into other gang territories. I didn’t see the introduction of a new dog but I imagine it’s high school cafeteria all over again.
In summary, this experience made me feel that as a society, we should explore more cage free options in open spaces. For instance, in his retirement, Jon Stewart from Daily Show built a farm sanctuary in New Jersey!
Benefits of spending quality time with animals
#1 – Cure for loneliness or feeling depressed: cuddle an rescued animal.
Spend 1 hour volunteering at a dog shelter and you will forget your worries and heartache. All they want is love!
And this isn’t just me advocating for it. Several other communities are actively encouraging spending time with animals.
As listed on National Center for Health Research:
- The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness. For example, walking with a dog has been found to increase social interaction, especially with strangers, compared to walking without a dog (I can attest to that!)
- Some research studies have found that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, stay home sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed
- Pets may also have a significant impact on allergies, asthma, social support, and social interactions with other people
- Elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself
- A similar study found that having your dog in the room lowered blood pressure better than taking a popular type of blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor) when you are under stress
- Other research has indicated that the simple act of stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol
BTW – I’m just surprised volunteering at a dog sanctuary / shelter isn’t touted as a place to meet eligible singles with big hearts yet. Maybe my next venture?
Thank you for reading.
Dihan, Proud-Owner, Organic Lifestyle
According to the Guardian, the world is on track to lose 2/3 of wild animals by 2020s (that’s less than 3 years away!).
If we don’t experience the love of animals and nature, we’re less likely to fight to protect the remaining endangered species.