After 3 weeks of holiday and visiting friends – its time to get back to work. We took the overnight train from Padang Besar to Hua Hin, Thailand. A driver was waiting to take us to Pran Buri where Cristina has a home with 37 dogs. We have done this house sit before for Cristina but she was on the island of Koh Phayam then and there was only 16 dogs.

Check out my story of the last time here ….

It was so great to see Cristina again and see the wonderful place her and her husband Paul had created. It felt like it was just yesterday that we had last seen her. 10 of the current 37 dogs were there last time and we think they may have remembered us……. Of maybe that’s just being romantic.

We spent nearly a week with Cristina and along with the care of the dogs, she showed us around the town of Pran Buri and Hua Hin. We were armed with lots of tips on where to shop and where to eat. She left us with a car and introduced us to a few people we could call on if needed. What could possibly go wrong!!

Feeding time is a little chaotic. The first time we just watched and frantically wrote down all the details. 37 dogs, we don’t know their names yet, how are we ever going to remember who gets what! There are three different types of food, vitamins and medicines for some and liver and chicken treats hand made by a wonderful volunteer Chris, some get and some don’t. Not quite as simple as a cup of biscuits each! When we looked after the dogs on Koh Phayam, we cooked the food every day and we thought 16 was a tough gig!

So we set off on the feeding program ourselves. Cristina is still here and she is just pottering over there, sweeping the floor, the odd little suggestion when we get it wrong, or reminder that the dog I referred to as she actually had a penis. She must have been having quite a giggle to herself watching us try to put it all together.

Once we took the training wheels off and started fending for ourselves, we got into a fantastic routine. We got to know all their names and didn’t put up with any of their shenanigans. We fed them in groups and, all in all, they were very well behaved and knew when their turn was coming. Occasionally one would “slip” into the wrong place and try to get another bowl. Bob – the policeman of the pack, would stand guard over the old girl Poon’s food while she took herself out for a pee half way through her meal. We thought this was very admirable of dear Bob, until one day we saw he had an ulterior motive.

Dogs can be so smart! Buttercup was a bit of a food junkie and could not help herself when any food was around, so at feeding time, she would jump into Nimbus’s sleeping crate (she could get in but couldn’t get out) and just wait her turn, she could not trust herself with all the other bowls of food around. How about that for discipline!

There is a gate between the kitchen area and the garage area and when feeding the group in the garage they all rushed up to the gate. But we just opened and closed the gate, just like herding sheep into a pen, yes-no-yes-no, the odd one got through but we got is right most of the time. They could be so quick! Sometimes I would turn around and there was one I wasn’t expecting, looking up with big brown hopeful eyes – and where did YOU come from??  Then it was the mad rush to pick up all the bowls before someone peed in the empty bowl, some with incredible accuracy!

The property is about 2 acres. They bought it as bare land and have done an amazing job of creating a paradise for the dogs. There is a big pond, several shade houses, big boulders and concrete pipes for playing on. It is fully fenced with internal fenced off areas for some of the dogs and the house section. It rained for days at the beginning, and this did cause a bit of mud in places, particularly the walk way down to the big paddock where the pond was. Some would go through but most were “NO! not doin it” haha Those rainy days were quiet, the dogs just hung out and didn’t want to go out, we just hung out with them, we even managed to watch a couple of movies.

We got to know the dogs really well. They all have their own personalities and problems or attitudes. Some don’t get on with others, some are obsessed with others. They love attention, I likened the pack to a group of children on more than one occasion. They had this massive big playground, a paradise for dogs, but would they go out to play? No, not unless you went with them. We got into a lovely routine every evening – once the path was passible, once the last food bowl was picked up, lets go! Down to the paddock. They would all run off barking and excited, it was so much fun. We would sometimes take a beer down and try to sit on the platform. We gave this up pretty quickly as they all followed up the stairs, and at least 2 wanted to sit on our laps, or at least sit right by you and demand attention. Dirty wet paws all over us from a swim in the pond – Oh it’s a dogs life!!

Whenever we say to people that we are house sitting in Thailand and looking after 35+ dogs, we get puzzled looks, really? 35+ dogs? Why? Who for? Is it a dog sanctuary? Well yes, that is exactly what it is. This is a self-funded rescue shelter. Cristina came to Thailand from Denmark about 7 years ago, she is incredibly selfless, she feels very deeply for the dogs on the street who have been miss treated or injured and not cared for. She will not only look after and provide for her own pack, she will drive around the neighbourhood feeding street dogs. She knows them all and they know her. She has taken in and rescued most who are there today. She tries to get them adopted and occasionally they will get to go to a forever home. Buttercup was one while we were there, she got to go to a loving family which was awesome. So our original 37 is now 36! It takes so much dedication and time to rehabilitate some of the sorry stories, not to mention money.

Out of the 36 that are there now, we had 1 paralysed from the waist down, 4 with malformed or missing paws or parts of legs, 2 with only three legs, 1 with one eye, 1 with one ear and 1 with fur just starting to grow back. There is 1 Great Dane, 4 Chihuahua, at least 1 purebred that I know of and a whole lot of loveable mutts of every description in between. It’s a motley crew! But every one of them has been loved and cared for unconditionally.

We spent 12 days on our own and were exhausted. Cristina does an amazing job and she is on her own most of the time. Her husband Paul works abroad, he is home as often as he can be. There are two wonderful volunteers who come and help out a couple of times a week, Sue and Chris. They both also have a passion for dogs and put their heart and soul into their care. Picking up poo is done with a smile! Chris cooks treats for them every week. Together with Cristina they sweep and scrub, bandage and brush, administer meds and creams, clip and snip, hug and kiss, they are a great team.

Remember if you see a stray dog on the street that looks in such a bad state of neglect and full of skin decease and you feel afraid because you think that dog is most likely aggressive, so you just walk on by, most often than none you are very wrong. Because under the superficial scaring, wounds and skin decease is a wonderful dog that once rescued, treated cared for and loved will in turn love you for ever.

Taken from Cristinas facebook page

This is one of Cristina’s stories,

Gi Gi.

November 2020. Cristina noticed Gi Gi tied up by the side of the road, skinny and scabby with no fur. She was told the dog was a street dog and they were trying to help her with no luck. Cristina started caring for her by going to the house 3 times a day and slowly the story began to change. Gi Gi is a purebred Thai Ridgeback and was bought together with a male to breed. After she had puppies without proper nutrition and tick protection, she got sick. No longer useful, she was given to the owners brother, who kept her tied up on the side of the road with no shelter or protection. This is where Cristina found her. They claimed they were looking after her but this was very obviously not the case. Cristina managed to negotiate with the man and took Gi Gi home. It took a lot of time and love, along with good food and supplements, but she slowly built up her mussels, her fur grew back and she blossomed into the wonderful dog she is today.

This is just one of many success stories. Working in Thailand has its challenges and Cristina does an amazing job especially when, at times, her heart is breaking with the neglect and cruelty.

Everything Cristina does is totally self funded, she depends on the help of her volunteers, any donations and sponsorship. It is humbling to know that there are still people like this in the world and we found it a privilege to have been part of it. If you are ever in the area, get in touch and go and check out this amazing operation, you will be welcomed.

And then it was bed time. Navigating 6 in the bed was a challenge at times, but we did it!

We had a wonderful time. At times the noise would get to us, and at times we felt so grubby we would never be clean again! But we loved every minute, Challenging? YES! Rewarding? YES YES YES!!!

We now have 36 best friends!

I know you are not supposed to have favorites …………. If only I could take you home to NZ Toffee!!!!

Thank you for reading our story

I have mentioned 31 of 37 in this story, Twiggie, Biscuit, Latte, Mr G, Big Ear and Gizmo, we love you too!