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  • Writer's pictureAaron Bartlett

Expanding our dog-feedings: increased supply, schedule, and volunteers!

This is just a little zoom-in on the youngest couple of dogs in the Mayan house we've been assisting. They have the worse of their siblings case of mange, our common skin disease here on the lake. I've been servicing these dogs for almost a month now, but we ran out of our mange medicine roughly 2 weeks ago. So they haven't been able to get the consistent medicine they've needed yet, but only because we were working with so many other dogs and a limited supply. However: a very good friend and volunteer of ours went and picked up the biggest order of Cefalong we have been able to get thus far in San Pedro. And this time, Vetitlan only charged us cost. Because we have worked together so much, and they know we are a non-profit, they made this generous offer to start to supply us medicine at cost and not with a mark-up. Your donations are reaching farther, because of our local relationships, and allowing us to get much larger supplies which will let us get so much more medicine distributed. Thank you!!


But take a look at how the whole family is coming along (notice Stella):

  • How come some of these dogs still look sickly? And what are you doing about it?

So there are two basic reasons for this.

  1. Resources. In October, we were only doing these runs 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, & Friday) based on our amount of food and medicine we had on supply. When we encountered these dogs we were first told there was 2, and there happened to be 12. The family does feed the dogs, but only with the resources they have as well which are quite limited.

  2. Volunteer availability. Roughly 2 weeks ago we started the "Dog Volunteer Action Team" WhatsApp group, thanks to our friend Erica who put it together. We've slowly been building the schedule and availability of those volunteers, but we were only able to pull off 3 times a week at the time.

But now it's November! And we got more of everything.

We have REALLY great news to share, about how we're going to be expanding our help and getting all these dogs the help they really need.

  • We have 3 volunteers moving into our current living space this week! Which means there will always be 3 "on staff" who can help me do these runs in addition to the separate WhatsApp group which is just local volunteers and friends around Tzununa.

  • So because of this, and our improved resources thanks to your donations, we now have a 100-lb dog food bag, another 100-lb rice bag, and upgraded our order with the doggie chef so we're spending $40/week on the delivered cooked food as well.

  • Previously I estimated we'd need $100/week for the food. But that was if it was all cooked for us, cause I had no free time or energy to do it then. But now that we have 3 volunteers moving in, we got this huge rice bag and are gonna be cooking the second half of it. So we've lowered our costs, but are doubling our output!


So thanks to this volunteer thing...

I've got a huge relief to my workload, with having people living with us that are specifically here to help me with the dogs, I'll have people at home feeding my dogs, while I can go and run out with volunteers 6 times a week to get food to all the street dogs. So like I said before, we're doubling our output, and that means doubling our schedule. This week (starting tomorrow, Monday) will be the first time we are going to try and feed double the dogs, double the days. Monday-Saturday, giving us Sunday off to do things like go to the market, relax, self-care etc. This is huge expansion for our reach, and really it's all thanks to having people who are agreeing to live here to help support these goals and take care of the house while I am gone. Caring for 10 dogs at home is not easy, and has required the majority of my time every day. But no man is an island, and a non-profit is not meant to be run by 1 person. I've had many who've shown up to help, but nobody has come to help me with the basics: caring for our dogs at home. This is gonna open up worlds for me and will allow me to start focusing on The Dog Sanctuary.


Kiwi update! Little adorable Kiwi came into my house today.

I could hardly believe when I walked home after going to the market in town today (every Sunday) with a bunch of meat and bones in my bag that Kiwi followed my pack home and helped himself into our house. After I gave all my dogs bones to chew from the butcher, Kiwi was sitting there on the staircase looking up like "What about me?" 🙄 So I used the opportunity to give him a few bowls of food, his third dose of mange medicine in a row this week, and a nice bone to chew on with raw meat which he seemed to love.

As I'm writing this Kiwi is still sitting outdoors on the land near the outdoor sink, I am amazed this dog is just chilling here and the others have no problem with it. Perrita gave him a few growls and barks, almost started a fight, but I calmed her down and let her know he can be here. She just doesn't want him getting close to the puppies, which is very understandable. Also, 2 of Perrita's puppies officially were adopted yesterday, and moved out with my previous roommates who took them in. So Perrita has less to protect, and that frees her time and energy up a bit. She seemed to have no problem with them taking the pups, but she takes extra good care now of the two remaining here.


I am SO grateful to be here.

This place has definitely brought it's challenges: Guatemala is not the easiest place to live, and I've personally experienced more than a few of the common problems travelers have when they come in to live here for an extended time. But my time here has been better than most: and I think that's because I get to work with the locals so often. Connecting with the locals, and bridging the gaps between us, is one of the most important things about living in Guatemala (or any foreign country I'm sure). If you want to live here, as a volunteer, business owner, traveler, or even just visit as a tourist, you're gonna want to know some Spanish, for starters. Secondly, don't be afraid to talk to anyone that makes eye contact with you, because the people are as friendly as any I've ever met. My developing relationship with them has given me so much joy and comfort here, because it feels like a home, not like I'm coming in and telling people what to do with their lives. If we want to help, we show up, state our purpose, and those who agree with it and support us will tell us so, and lend us their hands. We can work together, and make this world a better place.

Thank you for reading, please share if you feel so inclined, and libertad por los perros!

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