You may or may not have noticed my dog spam this week. Believe me, I was trying to be restrained and not go overboard. My week at Bon Jardin Dog Rescue Centre was easily the best week of my trip so far.
While it was amazing and I loved it, it was also hard emotionally, very hard. I am so soft, the thought of any animal suffering or in pain makes me cry. I want to rescue them all and wrap them up in cotton wool. That said, I loved my week on the farm, walking, feeding, bathing, brushing, cuddling and playing with dogs. I didn’t however enjoy seeing wild dogs with tumours hanging out their bums, dogs in pain and distress or seeing street dogs fighting. But it’s part and parcel of the Bon Jardin Dog Rescue world and i have nothing but respect and admiration for Mike who deals with all of that with a smile on his face, while I’m hiding behind my hands and trying not to cry!
My highlight of the week was this little monster Kola. He is so beautiful but unfortunately not very sociable with other dogs. I was sleeping in a house by myself and from the moment I arrived he was on my doorstep watching my every move. While he isn’t mad on other dogs he is so loving with people.
Throughout the week I wanted other dogs to come over and hang out too. He would growl and warn them off at first but by the end of the week he was happily sharing his territory with them and even starting to play. He definitely knew he had me wrapped around his little finger though and was starting to pretend he didn’t notice when I was kicking him out the house for bedtime. This also meant I was going to bed later and later because I didn’t want to move him from the lounge! Since I have left Mike has already sent me videos of him eating with the other dogs and he’s promised to keep up the work on helping him socialise! (And send me daily photos and videos of him to help with me missing him).
Thailand is renowned for it’s stray dog problem. They are everywhere and sadly they aren’t all nice dogs that you can go over and give them cuddle. Bon Jardin Dog Rescue centre is based on a beautiful farm around 2 hours north of Bangkok in Nakhon Nayok.
The Birth of Bon Jardin Dog Rescue
The owners of the farm land are a dog loving Thai family, some of the family still live there and in the past have rescued dogs which have become their pets. They always dreamed of making the farm into a proper dog rescue centre but weren’t sure how or where to start. Last year the idea really came to light when a friend of the family decided to invest his own money into creating Bon Jardin Dog Rescue. A good friend of mine, Mike, adopted a dog from Thailand a few years ago and since then has had a real sympathy for the country and it’s dog situation. Mike worked with the investor behind Bon Jardin in his previous job and it all just slotted together nicely.
Around this time last year Mike started to take research trips to Thailand and other international countries, visiting dog rescue charities which are already in place and seeing for himself the extent of the problem. He also formed close bonds with dog rescue charities in the UK, learning how everything works to the highest standard possible. In February of this year Mike left his home in London and moved to Thailand. Just being a dog lover doesn’t qualify you for the work he is currently doing, and he works so hard on educating himself in how to care for these animals in the best way and then feeding that back around the community.
So what’s going on on this farm?!
So much is happening!!! At the minute the plans are very early but moving very fast. I’ll start with where they are right now.
There are around 25 dogs living on the farm at the minute. Some will be there for their whole lives, others will be adopted either within Thailand or Internationally, and others are being cared for while they need it but will be released back to their owners or local temples. There are also a couple that Mike won’t let go of, he’s only human and we all accidentally have favourites!
A lot of local temples or businesses unofficially care for street dogs. They feed them during the day and let them shelter and sleep in their properties or yards, but aren’t in a position to financially care for the dogs to the extent they may need. This includes vets bills. Meaning should anything bad happen to the dogs the local community don’t have any way to help them. This is where Bon Jardin now step in. They will go and collect the dogs and fund the care. If possible they will take the dogs to the vets and return to the owners that night, but where the dogs need more attention and treatment they will take them in until they are healthy.
One dog who stole my heart is Pepsi. Pepsi is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen and is Kola’s brother. He was very affectionate and loving with people but like his brother, not into socialising with other dogs. He is a street dog who ‘lives’ at the farm across the road to Bon Jardin. He developed a cancerous tumour on one of his front paws between his toes. Mike took him to see Dr Ben, the local vet and he removed the tumour. Sadly he also had to remove Pepsi’s middle toe.
Mike took him back to the farm to be kept in a kennel while he healed. Pepsi had to be given antibiotics immediately after the surgery and have the wound cleaned regularly. He is almost healed now and enjoys walking on the lead twice a day. The little hero is learning to put his weight back on his front paw and is almost walking properly now. Once Mike is happy he will be able to fend for himself again he will take him back over to his previous home.
Another adorable dog is Buddy.
Mike found Buddy abandoned in a temple locally. He had horrendous open bite wounds on his shoulders, his eyes were badly infected and he could barely walk he was so injured. He had clearly been attacked by other dogs more than once and was in a bad way. After a long course of antibiotics and daily cleaning of his wounds Mike has fallen in love with Buddy. He is such a gentle dog and is very protective over all the dogs on the farm. If there is any grumbling amongst the dogs you can see Buddy running over and breaking up any potential fighting. He isn’t a young dog and so this makes him harder to re home. Luckily that isn’t an option as being up there as one of Mikes first rescues and favourites Bon Jardin Dog Rescue is now his forever home.
Kit and Nine
Two gorgeous healthy dogs that came to Bon Jardin Dog Rescue around 6 months ago. They were at another rescue centre in Bangkok but didn’t have any lead or obedience training. Mike has been working hard to teach them to walk nicely on the lead and be less ‘wild’ to give them a chance of adoption. Kit has been known to cause a bit of chaos and gained a reputation as a chicken eater but he seems to be growing out of that. Next week they are flying to Toronto, Canada where they will find their new homes. EHS Rescue, the adoption centre in Toronto hand pick dogs that they are sure they will re home quickly. They are taking both Kit and Nine over and are confident they will have new homes within a month!
(Kit is proudly being the face of this blog post in the photo at the top!)
The root of the problems
Aside from taking in the sick and mistreated dogs, Bon Jardin is working closely with a number of other charities to try and tackle the root of the problem. The root of the problem is simply over population of dogs. They are wild animals and their instincts are to eat, sleep and reproduce. There isn’t a quick fix to getting rid of the dogs. In the long term spaying and neutering the dogs will stop the reproduction. Meaning over a few years the amount of puppies will be less and the amount of dogs will reduce.
Two of the days I spent with Mike at Bon Jardin were while his monthly sterilisation clinic were running. Once a month a lovely lady called Pimpakahrn and her SNIP team come up from Bangkok and they go around the temples in the local area to Bon Jardin and offer to sterilise the dogs for free. I am ridiculously squeamish and was a bit worried how I’d cope with needles, stitches and open cuts around me but I am surprised how well I managed. The SNIP team have it down to a tee! They were so impressive. Arriving at 8am they quickly set up their mobile clinic and are ready for action. The vet is a lady that I can only describe as a MACHINE! Over 2 days she spayed and neutered 43 dogs and 9 cats.
To put that in perspective – Dr Ben, the local vet with 15 years of experience said he could get through maximum 5 per day! This is down to Pimpakharn’s organisation. She has her team running like clockwork. Weighing the dogs, giving them pre meds, shaving them ready and passing them over to the vet. Then someone is checking on them as they come around and Mike is then there to return them to their homes. Everyone on the team is a lover of dogs and you can see how much they care and are passionate about their jobs. They understand the importance of what they’re doing and work tirelessly to do the best they can!
I was photographer and videographer for the two days and I was knackered watching!
The bigger plans
Work has just begun on the farm land and they are clearing space to build a much bigger space to house more dogs. There will be a proper training facility where they will have courses running throughout the year. The first of these is all booked and confirmed for February 2018 so it’s moving at great speed. Looking further to the future Mike will be able to recruit a team to be on site, including a vet, a trainer and more staff to help out.
Alongside this, Candice, the farm manager, is working hard on planting and growing enough vegetables that they can eventually be living off the land. The permaculture practices are in the early stages but you can see from Candice’s passion and drive it will be up and running very soon!
Mom in the photo above is cared for by a local restaurant owner, she can’t afford his treatment so Mike has been taking him for chemo as he has a tumour in his nose. The lady who owns him looks after him the best she can as you can tell by his snazzy fashion sense!
I am so excited about the work being done at Bon Jardin and very proud that Mike is the one making this all happen. I can’t wait to come back again during my travels and see how things are progressing (and see Kola for cuddles). As Bon Jardin Dog Rescue is officially a UK charity despite being based in Thailand it took a little while to get their donations pages set up. For now, if anyone has a spare £5 please click on this link to donate. I can personally vouch for the fact that every penny donated is going towards the dogs and they’re really making a difference in the community. Eventually they want to be able to afford to help the surrounding areas and gradually spread the dog rescue love around the country!
For proper information you can also check out their website here!