• DAY 364: VIDEO: WHEN PIGS WAKE YOU AT 3AM

    Sep 28 2013

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  • DAY 354: PLEASE PASS THIS ON.

    Sep 18 2013

    Please pass this on.

    The more human eyes on this the less pigs bellies on tables.

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  • DAY 281: TOO LATE TO RESCUE THE DOGS FROM SLAUGHTER?

    Jul 03 2013

    Looking for a dog shelter in Hanoi is like looking for a bacon rescue centre in London. Seeing a dog in the streets of Hanoi is not far different from seeing a pig walking down Oxford Street: you wonder how long before it will be in someone’s stomach. No one wants to help dead-meat.

    Nevertheless, I’ve decided I’m going back to rescue those dogs I saw in the cell at the restaurant just over 24 hours ago (blog time is a bit delayed). A long trip back to the jungle but I hope to bring them here to dog-meat city for a new life.

    Clearly, things are stacked against me.

    1)They might be dead already. There’s no telling how long dogs are kept before being ordered for a snack.

    2) Frustratingly, I cannot get through the pangolin centre to tell them to head to the restaurant to stop them being killed. I will pay of course. I have left eight messages but I must remind myself how strange this will appear – it is like a Laos person coming to London and demanding to go to Burger King to save a really cute cow.

    3) I have no idea where to take these dogs – can they get a proper life? Is there a rescue centre good enough?

    4) I have to find transport for three dogs on the brink of death. London taxis don’t take pigs. I doubt the taxis take dogs over here.

    But as good as the Vietnamese are at eating dog they are equally good at providing service. My hotel staff are so keen to please they would probably pop the whitehead on my forehead if asked. So when I ask for a taxi to take me back to the Cuc Phoung National Park…

    ‘Yes, how long you stay please in our beautiful park?’

    ‘Five minutes.’

    ‘Oh…’

    ‘Then I come back. With dogs. That people want to eat. I rescue them’

    Only a slight pause, then. ‘Yes, sir, no problem’

    Foreigners must appear …so foreign. It is not long before they find a facebook cat rescue group.

     

    Some sad news

    I call up the cat rescue. A woman is practically in tears at the idea of a dog being killed. This is a welcome surprise. I agree to take a taxi to meet her immediately. Just as I leave I get through to Phoung and urge him – right now – to go and stop the dogs being killed. Things are moving fast.

    But thirty minutes later, after I drive off into the Hanoi madness (the taxi going against the motorbike traffic like a boat struggling upstream) I get a text

    ‘I am Hung, Phoung’s assistant, I go to Nho quan for see three dogs (we see yesterday) like you asked and so I sorry, but when I go there I ask salesman but he says ‘kill’ all’. Sorry for this’

    My heart sinks.

    Another one of the millions of dogs out here has bitten the dust. I feel awful but in a strange way relieved – the stillness of death seems nothing like the pain of the path leading up to it. But the guilt sets in. I should have done something sooner…

    The cat rescue centre - very surreal to find this in Hanoi, Vietnam

    Cat rescue home

    I arrive, deflated, at the cat-rescue woman’s house. On a small bustling street the house is open fronted like a vast café spilling out on to the street with many young people – average aged 21 – sitting inside drinking milkshake and scanning the internet on large-faced mobiles. On the floor are tiny cats playing with electric mice and paper butteryflies and on the wall are pink-framed pictures of cats. I have entered a surreal Asian cat fantasy bar: I imagine that at any minute dancing girls and swirls of pink and candy floss will appear.

     

    Cat pictures on the pink walls of the cat rescue centre. So someone loves animals around here....

    Cat pictures on the pink walls of the cat rescue centre. So someone loves animals around here….

    I bought 4 and wore them around Hanoi. Yes, I looked like an idiot but who cares.

    I bought 4 and wore them around Hanoi. Yes, I looked like an idiot but who cares.

    I drag my sorrow inside, take my shoes off and then, from a young woman, I buy four badges that say ‘I LOVE DOGS’ on them

    This is the new wave of animal lovers coming through and it’s good to see. I meet my contact, a young and eager Hanoi girl. I tell her about the dogs being killed – she was sad but not surprised

    ‘They kill them very soon after capture. We don’t rescue dogs from the dog meat trade – we are not allowed to use the money we raise on that because the killers will jiust go back and get more dogs’

    That made me feel better – but not much.

    ‘Why do so many people eat dogs then? If some of you love animals’

    ‘Actually many people they love their dogs. My father too!He brush his dog every day, he feed it good food he stroke it. Then he go out and eat dogs in restaurant’

    I was surprised. But later, after having a conversation with Ann, she made me realse there is nothing strange about this at all. Many farmers love their animals and still eat meat. This man is making a distinction between dog-as-pet and dog-as-food. This is no more abitrary than our own distinction between dog as pet and pig as food. Both are drawing a compassionate line in the sand, one within a species, one across a species, which are as divisive and ultimately, meaningless as each other. (we draw the same boundaries within our own species on a daily basis: we love our families, we care far less about strangers. Perhaps her father is more honest about the limits of his compassion then us dog lovers???)

     

    A difficult river to cross.

    This journey into compassion feels at times like walking across a river on floating planks. I’m looking for solid ground but at any moment I might sink under the weight of my own inconsistencies. What is right, what is wrong?

    Over there on the far bank seems to be a land with answers but which I am not sure I want to reach. A land of veganism where I must let ants come into my house and where I will beaten with cold slabs of tofu. A place where I have to be open to a lifetime of the pain of species all over the planet….a place where I have to accept that those people I love – and those that I do not – are somewhat blind to the mass torture of innocents on a scale which, numerically at least, is without precedent.

    Does anyone know how to build a bridge??I’d like to maybe go back and forth a little.

    I’d like to apologise to those of you that have offered money to save these dogs. Maybe next time. I’d also like to thank those of you who have donated to the puppies. They have new names: GIPPER (meaning ‘happy’ in Korean) and DAISY or LUCKY depending on sex. Thank you!

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  • DAY 191: A PUPPY SAVED FROM THE DINNER TABLE!

    Apr 03 2013

     

    The ride home with the rescued dog. Time to piss all over Martin's legs

    The ride home with the rescued dog. Time to piss all over Martin’s legs

    I’m afraid we never managed to intercept a truck at night with dogs bound for the meat trade and with me dodging bullets – I apologise for the lack of drama and for not getting shot – but I do have some GOOD news.

    We saved a single, quivering, chained-up puppy from the dinner table.

    And I want to bring her home. Gulp.

    Meet MANGO. 

    MANGO - weird name, but curiously sweet

    MANGO – funny name, but curiously sweet

     

    Perhaps it’s for the best that we did not intercept a truck. Andrew told me that the stench alone of opening the  back of a vehicle full of dying dogs stuffed in bags and cages would be enough to stay with me for life. But all the same I’m frustrated. I came here to help.

    So instead we paid a trip to an area where the dog traders are known to live – and ply their trade. A small street on the outskirts of Manilla: charming, backwards, hot. Hot but chilling, because this is the very street where dogs are frequently purchased (or stolen) to then be shipped up to places like Baguio where they are made into stew. Mmmm.

    Andrew, Frank and Ros talk to a man on the street where dogs are frequently collected for dog meat. A few minutes later we saw the puppy

    Andrew, Frank and Ros talk to a man on the street where dogs are frequently collected for dog meat. A few minutes later we saw the puppy

    We almost missed the puppy. It was tied up in the shade by a small chain, shaking. The owner, who spoke no English, was more than happy to sell it for only $4.  A sure sign that when the dog was bigger and fatter he would have happily sold it on to the traders

    This is how we found the puppy, chained to a wall in a dark corridor. We think she is 3 months old.

    This is how we found the puppy, chained to a wall in a dark corridor. We think she is 3 months old.

    I called the puppy ‘Patrick’ at first after briefly checking he was a boy (I was filmed for a charity whilst checking his bits) and then found out later from the vet that he was in fact a her (I didn’t do GCSE biology – which is hardly an excuse).

    I then called her Mango. Erm. Mango are the most popular fruit here…and kind or…er…sweet.. (Just get over it!)

    The man was more than happy to sell the puppy for a few dollars.

    The man was more than happy to sell the puppy for a few dollars..and handle her roughly.

     

    Proud dad.

    Proud dad.

    She rode back in the car with me staring out at her old life passing away with no idea what that $4 could change so mcuh.

    And then, out of gratitude she peed all over my legs (does she own me now? Mango, I will be your lampost any day of the week) We took her to the best vets in the whole of the Philippines where she was checked over, de-ticked and kept in observation.

    Life and death is so brutal out here. And death is so pervasive out there that saving one dog may seem pointless: but it is a vote for life

    Waiting at the vets.

    Waiting at the vets.

    Check me out on this tall table...

    Er…what’s going on?

    Promise to get you a new home

    Promise to get you a new home

     

    Weirdly the vet was being filmed for Filipino TV when I came in for some reality show...when asked what I was doing here I made the fatal mistake of saying I liked Indonesia. I am now officially an idiot...ON INDONESIAN TV (i mean filipppino tv)

    Weirdly the vet was being filmed for Filipino TV when I came in for some reality show…when asked what I was doing here I made the fatal mistake of saying I liked Indonesia. I am now officially an idiot…ON INDONESIAN TV (i mean filipppino tv)

    A decent meal

    A decent meal

     

    Can Mangoes be imported to the UK?

    I’m now in serious trouble.

    I HAVE PROMISED TO GET THIS DOG BACK TO THE UK.

    Double gulp.

    I don’t want her to be another Cordelia.

    This little thing REALLY perked up when she had some attention. It will take months to get all the paperwork and tests together but I am determined. In the meantime she will stay with the vet’s mother but it is NOT a long term solution.

    There is no dog-shelter in the Philippines that I am leaving this dog in, there is no home we can be sure she will do well in and  I am determined that at some point this dog will be in the UK in a new home.

    One of my promises to Ann on starting this year was that I would help as much as I can – and travel –  but our house would not become a refuge centre…for spiders, hens or dogs.

    Alldogsmatter in the UK will help me find a loving home over here for this dog but in the meantime…

    ..it’s over $1000 to do it wth flights.

    AhhhhhhhhhhhH!!!!

    Next blog. I’m desperately selling portraits of Mango to try and get the money to fulfil my promise. Pls help!!! Let’s get this dog some 

    Mango poses with Ros...she became SUPER affectionate in no time once she had some food.

    Mango poses with Ros…she became SUPER affectionate in no time once she had some food.

     

    IMG_6704 IMG_6663

     

     

     

     

     

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  • DAY 189: DO YOU REMEMBER CORDELIA FROM INDIA?

    Apr 01 2013

     

    Cordelia - the 'cow-dog'. She was almost totally blind but still looked at me in a way that shot through

    Cordelia – the ‘cow-dog’. She was almost totally blind but her eyes seemed to say a lot. At least to me

    Some sad news on Cordelia, the blind dog that I kind of fell in love with in India.

    This is my last day in the Philippines and tomorrow I will give you some better news but in the meantime I got a few emails asking about Cordelia the poor pup in India that I wrote about a while back and I wanted to update you.

    I’ve been in touch with Avis, the inspirational woman from the ARK, many time over the last few months. She’s had a fairly rough ride of late and maybe one day I’ll be able to tell you about it but she’s back at the helm again now and her daughter, Odette, has joined her for support.

    I’m afraid that Cordelia got put down yesterday.

    She had been diagnosed as fully blind and was continuing to be bullied by the puppies. She was placed into her own space but then started fitting repeatedly and the decision was made that given all the circumstances and her health it would be kinder to put her to sleep.

    The bed where she felt comfortable. Which kind of reminded me of a boat.  It makes me think of max in where the wild things are - I imagine she might float off to a better place now. No more wild things for you Cordelia

    The bed where she felt comfortable. Which kind of reminded me of a boat. The way she sat in it made me think of Max in ‘where the wild things are’ – I imagine she might float off to a better world now. No more wild things for you Cordelia

    I feel terrible. And I also feel I have let her down. I am sure I could  have done more.

    I got the news on my phone today and sat where I was for a number of minutes, pressing a pause button in my head so that I might be able to keep the world from flowing and changing.

    I’m not quite sure why Cordelia got to me so much, both in life and death.  I felt for her more than any dog I have met on this whole journey and now I wonder if could have bought  her to the UK (it would have taken many months), or maybe raised money for some in-depth treatment. Too late now.

    Perhaps guilt is a way of trying to avoid feeling helpless.

     

    Blog9_keraladog_02

     

    Underdog

    Cordelia represented the genuine ‘underdog’ to me, not just for her own species but all animals:  terrified of human abuse, blind, attacked by others, unable to accept companionship. She was so wrapped in self-protection that I couldn’t properly touch her. Of course that made me want to reach her even more. She was beautiful too.

    In another world, a cinematic world, I imagine her as a human child, bullied at school and wearing awkward thick glasses and looking to the floor but with an obvious beauty.  No doubt in that film she would emerge as a striking woman, comfortable in her skin.

    But Cordelia is no more and this reality is not a film. Nevertheless, I feel I could have directed a different ending. But maybe that is just a fantasy too.

    Spare a thought for Cordelia the little cow-dog with those funny markings. In some foolish part of my brain I think if we all send her on her way it might make a difference.

    Cordelia never wanted to connect. I don't blame her

    Cordelia never wanted to connect. I don’t blame her

     

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  • DAY 150: THE RISE AND (almost) FALL OF THE GALGO – the story of the Spanish hunting dog

    Feb 10 2013
    Ebro - Charlotte's dog that I I photographed today against a white sheet I knicked from the hotel

    This is Ambo – Charlotte’s own rescued Gaglo that I photographed today in the sun against a white sheet I knicked from the hotel. More pics below.

    KEEP YOUR HEAD UP

    Charlotte (of www.112carlotagalgos.com, Galgo Rescue) leant across to me today and –  in a rare moment of calm between feeding the kids, cleaning the house, tending to Ebro, , worrying about the fundraising auction tomorrow and trying to fix the computer the cat has pissed on-  told me that running a dog sanctuary can be a dangerous game.

    ‘It can break up marriages.  Having to deal with so many injured dogs takes over your life. The suffering, the hours, the lack of money, it can lead  to depression and breakdowns. I’ve heard many stories about relationships collapsing because of the pressure…. ‘

    Click to read more >>>>

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