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The Dog Sanctuary is a-go! 

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Perros Libres stands, today, as a dream that was once in the confines of a single mind. A blip of an idea presented by many people to me, rather than "coming up with it on my own", a collection of suggestions started to boil-up in my mind. At the same time, in the process of finding myself ready willing and able to help dogs, nothing really better to do, and opportunity to begin an idea which I have never done or attempted to do in any way before in my life: I thought, "what the hell?" A new frontier awaited, on the other side of manifesting one's dreams.


This looks like a clip from a movie, but I thought it looked cool.

After the hard work of creating the space, now we stand on the edges of the cultural front of Guatemala, in-between the old-world and the progressively healthy future world we all want for the dogs. Guatemala as a country seems to be opening the doors to Dog-reformation decisions, with the new Seed political party new opportunities may come for us and other dog-rescues here in Guatemala.


Guatemala Flag flying in Antigua


Dogs may seem so, innocent, even dumb to a fault, but believe you me when I tell you they are highly intelligent beings. They put on the goofy face cause they know we love it, they express themselves always joyfully and emotionally, but they don't have the same language we do. However they still speak, and communicate, with us on a daily basis.


I think this dog is happy XD

 

At my very core...

I think it might be fair to say I like dogs more than people. 😂 But I know all the rescue people say that, which there may be some truth to it. Only people who don't mind spending 100% of their time with animals can really do this work. I would daresay it's not "easy" by anyone's standards. And it can make you kind of a loner, if you're not careful.



Giving a vaccine to Josecito, one of our toughest little dogs.

I don't desire to be boastful here, but sincere. I consider this path one of the most difficult I ever could have ever dreamed: not knowing I would have to fight, literally at times, to keep my dream alive and not under dangerous threat or harassment. This is perhaps something many, many organizations face that work in cultures outside of their own, and do work in places they may not always be welcome. It's a part of the territory, we can say.


 

Vaccines for dogs!

Thanks to the awesome Vetitlan from San Pedro, our favorite Perros Libres vets, we got a large donation of 22 multi-vaccines. We were able to re-vaccinate all the dogs needing multi-vax, which is just one way to say the "complex-vaccine 💉" that covers so many different dangerous diseases for dogs.



Thank you Vetitlan!

Anyone wanting great veterinary assistance on the lake should check out their Facebook page here. They speak English and Spanish and are very professional with their service, having saved many dogs of ours over the years.


 

Adopting Doggies!

Thanks to blessed luck and good people, we have had at least a couple successful adoptions this year so far. We have:


1. Beema, a dog from our pack with Nila & Nula, who successfully made it to Germany with the great volunteers Ana & Artur from times past.


Beema in happy home in Germany

2. Chad, previously known as Coco, a dog from another pack of 5 puppies who have now ALL been successfully adopted into others hands. These were the dogs from Mama dog Daisy, who is unfortunately no longer with us. She had passed away a couple days after her sterilization surgery. R.I.P. Daisy.


Chad with Krisztina, her new owner


3. Neptune (foster), Neptune has not been officially adopted yet but is being fostered with a new person that loves him, while they seek a forever-home.


Neptune with his foster-momma :)

 

There are some other "pending adoptions" in process, but we can say 2/24 dogs in our large campaign this year have been officially out (and stayed)! It's not as much as I would have liked so far, but it is progress. There have been more adopted through The DOX project, but because they took on those pups as theirs we don't count them in the list. However dogs are moving all over, that have come from our initial rescue. That brings a lot of joy to my soul, and reminds me of the good work we're doing here. Every adopted dog is another touchdown.


Touchdown for dogs!


We continue to seek adoptions constantly and ask anyone who can help with this feel free to reach out. As you can see we're working harder on promoting these dogs with better targeted advertising, graphics and posters and stickers, and just doing everything in our power to inevitably finding them the homes they deserve.


Puppies need homes! (Sammy, Tiny, and Sonny)
 

Lastly I'd like to give the biggest THANK YOU to you: our sponsors and supporters.

I'll be the first to admit I feel personally guilty sometimes I do not get to update you, the sponsors and supporters, more often. Originally I designed sponsorships to be once-a-month updates, and I have not been able to update as we would like to in a timely or consistent way. This has weighed heavy on my heart as a promise not kept, but I am here to right that wrong and improve communications further with you, our support and community as well as doggy-family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Volunteer Lea and the 3 pups

So, please accept my formal apology if you as a supporter do not feel you are updated enough of our work and progress. It is in my fullest desire and prerogative to create the system which will be able to consistently and frequently update all sponsors so you can see more into our work is done and how the dogs live their lives.


It is a joy to do this job, yet social media and "computer time" is harder and harder to access as the day progresses and the dogs need their daily care. It seems almost personally impossible for me to be comfortable as in an "office" while on the Dog Sanctuary.Thusly, we do not get to update as much as we would really like. So, there are steps being made to hopefully fix this problem in due time with some professional help.


Thank you for your patronage, your energy and your donations which have helped create the reality we now live in, take care of 35 dogs full-time, and do the good work we were put here to do. Thank you, and Libertad para los Perros.


If you can support our work at this time, considering donating at the link below.



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Bathroom Fundraiser Progressing

Hello world! When I write to you it always feels like I stand up on an invisible Perros Libres podium. Hopefully one day we will speak on real podiums in English, Spanish, and Kaq'chikel. Our goal is for our message to reach beyond the first-world, beyond our audience who read this from computers. We aim to reach our local Tzununa community to make a significant long-term difference. 


We can't simply rescue dogs, raise money, adopt dogs, and then claim that we're changing the world. Even though this does help, the REAL change comes from educating the local community, raising awareness of the real issues, and working together to make changes the dogs truly need. 


Sonny eating dinner (pup #1)

We cannot be disheartened by how large the task is. Quoting Ghandi, "The journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step." When one wants to change the world, they must take it a step at a time. That is how change happens: slow and steady. This describes our journey: we are continuously making steps toward our goals at Perros Libres. We can be the crux of this change, but we must focus outward and beyond our initial goals. We have to spread outward and build our relationship with the community in order for this project to succeed. 


All of you reading this are taking this journey with me, including many Guatemalans and even indigenous locals to Tzununa. This is not, and will never be, a "foreign project" or imposition on the local way of life. No, it will be an improvement. And on paper, everyone agrees with what we’re doing: cleaning the streets of sick dogs, rescuing and rehabilitating all who need it, and giving the local people medicine, food (when possible), and education around all things related to dogs. 


Sammy eating dinner (pup #2)

But the fact is, some locals still complain about the presence of our dogs in our part of the village. It's a small minority, but some of our direct neighbors have made it a point to  throw rocks at the Sanctuary whenever they see fit. It has created violent altercations on more than one occasion. 


I avoid writing about these negative experiences normally and wish to always focus on the positive. However, this is one part of our reality that I can’t ignore. We must befriend our neighbors and lower the number of dogs at Sanctuary A in order to bring down the dogs’ energy and noise levels for the community. With all of this I realize our job is not yet done. As the saying goes, we're not out of the woods yet.


New rescue Albini warming up to the pack :)

Our two main goals are simply to: 

1. Construct the volunteer house equipped with a real bathroom and shower. 

This will allow us afford to pay rent on the land long-term. We currently pay to rent sleeping spots with equipped water and bathroom/shower set ups that cuts in to our budget. Finishing this project will end up saving us a lot of money and giving us more security in the long run. The finished bathroom and shower will make quality of life quite doable for most people, namely the incredible volunteers who come and take care of our dogs.


3 Volunteers from Mr. Mullets Hostel

2. Adopt 24 dogs in 2024! 

We currently have 34 dogs on-site at Perros Libres Sanctuary A. It is, unfortunately, too many dogs for the given space. I consider a healthy number 25, but if we can get as low as 10 dogs running Perros Libres becomes a walk in the park. We can grow in a steadier way. I can focus on writing better updates to sponsors, giving individual attention to every dog, and making the job easier on our staff (and our neighbors). Though our dogs are the main focus, the goal is to help the entire community. Having fewer dogs is probably the best thing I can give the locals at the moment. And if they are more content about our presence and number of dogs, we can have better conversations and experiences.


Mattias washing Yallah

If we achieve our two goals, we will be able to solve our current problems with Perros Libres and help us achieve our mission. With your support, we can help improve the lives of the dogs in Tzununa and build a stronger relationship with our local community. No man is an island, no project can do it all, and nothing great ever got done without good people supporting each other. 


Aaron & a Volunteer Crew :)

FUNDRAISER UPDATE: 

Currently, we have raised $1,095.74 USD to aid our Build-a-Bathroom fundraiser! It is an incredible achievement, and since starting the fundraiser, I’ve lowered the goal to just $2,500 to focus on building the bathroom first. It is our biggest priority and will make the greatest difference in the sanctuary. We can pass sanitary codes and, even better, be able to use toilet paper, hot water, and a flushing toilet. 


With the money already raised and some help from our fantastic workers, we have made incredible progress on the project! The hole is already 8 ft deep and counting, which will be the basis for the composting space the toilet will need. The hardest part is digging that hole, and we have our landlord and good friend Andres Yaxon spearheading the project. 



Volunteer House Update: 

We are going back on Workaway again! We've souped up the volunteer house and will be taking live-in volunteers to help the Sanctuary’s daily staff and team grow. We've had help from our amazing friend Krisztina helping us get this room into shape and by donating a stove. With the propane tank we bought and the all the sheets and blankets we washed, our space is better than ever. Pablo even hung up lights and repaired the broken (cold) shower!


Little by little, we are making this space what it needs to be to keep ourselves and workers/volunteers clean, well-fed and happy. These are the basics, and for many charity-organizations like ours those basics are not always easy to access. It takes a village. And that goes back to you guys. 


Aaron shaving the caña leaves for the fencing

THANK YOU for giving us such an incredible 2023. We bounced back from the most turbulent and stressful situations I've ever been in, let alone with over 70 dogs at one point for us to take care of. But now with less than half that number of dogs, we had a year we will never forget in 2023. 


You can donate to this fundraiser below if you'd like to support our sanitation cause! 


Help a sweet doggie like Albini today!

Here's looking to 2024, which we hope will be best year the dogs in Tzununa and at Perros Libres have ever had.

Libertad para los perros! 



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Reworking our "build a bathroom fundraiser"

 

Hey there friends, followers, and dog family! It's been a long time since we spoke.


I am so happy to tell you the updates for the dogs on the Sanctuary are INCREDIBLE: every dog we have is getting better, bigger, stronger, smarter, healthier, better trained, better fur, more walks, and the best life we can give them. We are even finding more and more HOMES FOR DOGS! thanks to some super-great outreach and collabration with other organizations doing similar things.


We are currently down to only 30+ dogs!

Remember, it was 70+ earlier this year...


Aaron with the pack at largest size (early 2023)


There's many, many reasons for the collective improvements but I'm going to sum it up: we are working together with as many groups as possible, and we are developing some really strong supporters with different businesses, nonprofits, and dog-related people who help do this kind of work. Even hostels, individual dog-lovers, and collective dog-related organizations and agencies.


Big shout out to The San Marcos Foundation and The DOX Project whom both together have helped us big-time, by relocating a total of 20 dogs into separate places at a time of great need for us. With other volunteers, even ex-volunteers of ours, and helpers who have been able to work together to give the dogs better individual care than we could provide with such a small staff. We were down to 2 people at the time, and it was a hard time.


2 volunteers looking at a pack of dogs wanting walks

 


Aries finished her lunch!

But things are WAY better, with people and dogs, our team has gotten way larger, and more functional, effecient, and operational. The dogs in the care of the other organizations are finding homes quickly with their efforts, and progress is being made steadily.


Still there is much more to this than how many dogs do you have, but really how organized are you?


I'll tell you honestly organization and management is NOT my strong-suit. I can be really all-over-the-place in my mind sometimes and it can be hard to focus on one task for a long time. Some call that ADD-like-symptoms, but I was never diagnosed. But here's a list anyway of the things we have to think about on a daily basis:

  1. Manage daily tasks, and leading volunteers.

  2. Organize dog feeding times, and walking groups.

  3. Keep records of everything: dogs that are eating, walking, accounting, salary, budget, fundraising, and dogs vaccinations, adoptions, and medicinal care.

  4. Operate social media and online marketing (emails, messages, FB, Instagram and Tiktok profiles)

Dude, I could keep going, but that is just the most simple summary of the daily tasks we have on the Sanctuary that I manage as a single individual. But I'm sourcing help for every single angle, and slowly building that organization with my team. We're expaning the ability of the team by creating roles for all these things.


We are doing it. We're making the big changes and getting the big steps taken. It's been a long time coming, but I see success in the long term if we can really nail these things in.

God gives me hope, and I pray everyday for our success as an organization.


Nula: sponsored dog soaking up morning sun!

 

The big news of the day: 2023 Holiday Bathroom Fundraiser!

We began a fundraiser over a month ago to raise money for building a new bathroom/shower/and finishing out volunteer house. It would take a lot of money to do all these things, and we raised unfortunately not that much in all this time.

So, we're simplifying things. Reshaping the fundraiser and lowering the bar: we're making this solely to build a bathroom, and save the next steps of construction for another time and another fundraiser. Therefore we're lowering the fundraising amount to $2500, which is more than enough to cover expected materials, labor, and salary costs of a single bathroom with septic tank.


Here's a small and simplified financial breakdown.


Estimated material costs of bathroom/septic parts: ~$1,150

Estimated labor in time (3 weeks): ~$640

Salary of 2 dog-employees (3 weeks cook & caretaker): ~$440

= $2230 (+270 extra costs) = $2,500


Considering unexpected setbacks, labor takes longer than expected, or we need materials we didn't account for, we add an additional $270 to the total equating exactly $2500. I am 100% positive this will get the job done, and we will even be able to get nice lunches for everybody on the big days. Let's take good care of ourselves and the workers, and get this dirty job finished!


Funding will take care of all necessary elements for us to build, while maintaining the care and food for all the animals. Nothing is possible without good help: and we've got some amazing volunteers and awesome employees who can do this. If you can, and know the value of this need for a bathroom, please consider helping us reach out goal before the New Year 2024. You guys can help us make it through this year, and have a BATHROOM FINALLY on the other side.


Without further ado here is the fundraiser portal.





 

Thank you everyone for supporting us on our journey!

We can make it to the end of this year, I am more than confident, and want to thank everyone who actually reads these things and makes it to the bottom. If you're one of them: you are my hero! You're the reason we have a leg to stand on, and so do these dogs!


Libertad para los perros!


Dan with the super-cute Sammy pup


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