Bosnia • Tanja’s Shelter (Day 2)

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So, this morning started with a trip to Tanja’s shelter with two of her friends who also volunteer with the dogs. Located downhill away from the busy roads and alongside some more agricultural homes, there was a compound with a high fences and some tarpaulin sheets. This was the home to around 25 dogs, of which included two litters of puppies, a huge three legged Turkish breed, and multiple discarded hunting dogs.

For once, although it was sad having to see these dogs in a makeshift shelter rather than a loving home, I was pleased to see that the volunteers had done everything in their power to make it as comfortable as possible. Each dog had their own kennel, they were within a compound but off the leash so they were able to run and play together, they had access to food and clean water, and they had a properly sheltered area for during the night and spells of bad weather.

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We took all the dogs except the puppies and those that were particularly scared out for a walk together and they were so well behaved. They are treated every day to a long walk through the surrounding fields all the way to a lake where they go wild and jump in for a swim and a drink. They’re all allowed off the lead except for Doris (a hunting dog that had been used in excess solely for killing small game, thus leaving her with a very high prey drive) and Phoebe (a relatively new addition who is a little nervous and hasn’t yet found her place in the pack). The rest have the run of the fields and go sprinting after each other and diving into anything foul smelling. Although they love the freedom they stay close to the volunteers and (usually) come when called.

One dog that isn’t walked with the rest due to his behaviour towards other males is Hope, a huge Turkish Kangol dog that was left without treatment for a leg injury for so long that is eventually had to be amputated. Someone had also cropped his ears, which is illegal in a lot of countries, but sometimes seen as a cultural necessity, or simply to make the dog look ‘better’. He was calm and curious as we turned up at the shelter and I bent down to talk to him through the bars of his cage and he was so sweet natured. He licked my fingers through the bars and enjoyed a good scratch behind his ears before he was walked on his own. He would make a brilliant companion to someone with a lot of space, a kind heart, and a bit of strength (he’s strong on that lead when you first take him out, three legs or not!). But so far, Hope has had zero interest…

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We left the dogs in the care of the man who lives onsite, and who looks after them every single day. He feeds them, walks them, gives them water, provides them with human interaction, and cleans their kennels. He adores the dogs and makes sure that they are looked after to the best of his ability. With what little money and resources they have he doesn’t half do a bad job. All the dogs are healthy and happy, their coats are thick, soft and shiny, they are well socialised, friendly and some of them even have good recall. They’re all looking for homes and will make brilliant companions.

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