Xenii Says

Gauguin Les Alyscamps

29 July 2015

Every animal welfare organization must have their ups and downs. What to do? I think the only sensible way to go is to enjoy the Ups and fix the Downs. Which is why you are looking at a new site in the early stages of transformation. Please bear with us!

It might take some time, and eventually this will be a dynamic and informative site that’s a pleasure to visit! So, all you AWARE people everywhere – all ideas and suggestions gratefully received (aware.guatemala@gmail.com), as well as contributions: text, pictures, links, or personal stories from Hound Heights.

We will certainly need help to make this the Best Site In The Cosmos, and for starters we need Volunteer Translators, willing to turn our finely-crafted English into highly-polished (or at least comprehensible) Spanish. This will be an on-going need, as articles get updated and other posts added. If you are fluent in Spanish  as a native speaker with good English, or native English with excellent Spanish, please let us know (aware.guatemala@gmail.com in the first instance). We look forward to hearing from you!

1 August 2015

It’s always sad to see excellent volunteers leave. Natalie and Adam from Australia had only been with us 2 weeks but it seemed much longer. In this short time Adam transformed the place with his carpentry skills. Those of you who’ve been here before will be astonished to see the improvements to the Office, the Cottage, and the Quarantine Area. Meanwhile Natalie, a qualified veterinarian, teamed up with Anika in a much-needed health drive. There are a few animals here at Hound Heights who would not still be with us without their angelic ministrations.

Returning Guatemalan volunteer Walter showed up for a couple of days out of the blue like always, and with his grooming skills left several dogs looking much more comfortable and fit for Crufts. And while all this was going on Brett showed up, on his way back to the Frozen North from a wedding in Honduras! Apart from the laughter he unfailingly provokes Brett – and all the dogs he took running – got some timely exercise.

Together with Nomadic Lily the English Lady (get well soon Lily!) who has been gracing us with her presence and cheering up the Clinic dogs for a while they made a terrific team and livened us up no end.

Walter left at the weekend and Brett, Adam and Natalie shipped out yesterday. We were very sad to see them go. If it wasn’t for German volunteers Dr. Anika and David, and Lily, I’d be lost. Thank goodness for the animals!

5 August 2015

Everyone’s impatient to grow up and discover the secrets, pleasures and powers that we think maturity has in store for us. And maybe dogs are the same.

We share our house with 25 dogs – can you imagine that? So we have a stout wooden barrier between the large front room – where the dogs sleep, rest, and eat the furniture – and the rear section, where the kitchen and the office are. But the border is porous.

There’s an open area between the kitchen and the office, and that’s where we install some of the new arrivals: the sickest ones, sometimes a very lonely and sad pup. So these new additions grow up in a safe and relatively quiet space. Dogs from the front room will jump the barrier to come and inspect the new ones – especially the babies.


And the babies, of course, as they get bigger, healthier and more confident, want to follow their new mothers and sisters out into the big wide world on the other side of the barrier. But you can’t jump a 3-foot fence when you’re only 6 inches tall. Luckily for these eager explorers there are gaps in the planking, and with practice and a mighty effort – scrabbling and squeaking – they usually manage to squeeze through. And find themselves surrounded by 25 very big and curious adults.

So the great adventure of growing up and discovering the wonders of the world isn’t just a cakewalk. As well as the delights there are dangers. There are disappointments. One of these is when you grow too big to squeeze your chubby little belly through the gaps. And another one is when you grow too big to get picked up and cuddled. Such is life!

Jeta 5

PS I was going about the daily tasks and there was Jeta, scrabbling away at the barrier. Her big ‘sister’ Sugar just couldn’t stand it any more, grabbed Jeta by the scruff and hauled her through to the other side. And if philosophers needed proof of the thing they call ‘mind’ – well, it would be hard to deny that dogs have one.

15 August 2015

My husband can be a miserable old cuss. Boy, can that guy complain! “Do what you’re good at” he always says, and I’ve heard it so many times now that it isn’t quite so funny any more. Don’t get me wrong – I love him dearly. I just wish he didn’t have to be so negative. OK – there are plenty of things in this world that could do with some improvement. The way people treat animals, for one thing. But it seems kind of counter-productive just to concentrate on the bad stuff.

And it’s kind of up to me to cheer him up, which can be challenging, to say the least. So it’s always reassuring when he comes back from the morning walk in the woods with the House Dogs, chortling over the antics of the dogs racing around out there, leaping and playing. “They had me laughing out loud!” he says. This is good!

And I think Jeta has taken it upon herself to help us out. She’s found an empty food sack, and can bemuse her big sisters and amuse me and the Grumpus by using it as a toy – from the inside! Now we have an empty one-hundred pound dog-food sack careering around the floor. Doesn’t take much to please simple minds.

20 August 2015

We discovered yesterday that the lack of rain is due to El Niño. This is the Rainy Season in Guatemala, when a year’s worth of rain comes in 6 months, while the other half of the year is dry, but dry. Last year the rain was very sporadic, and so far this year it’s worse. The farmers are worrying about their crops, and we are worrying about the water table. The water for the Shelter comes from a very deep well, and we have no idea what’s down there. A river? A lake? If it’s a lake, how big is it? Is it getting smaller? Does a normal Rainy Season top it up every year? My husband refuses to go down there and check things out. I told him he could take a flashlight, but he still refuses. Anyway we actually did have some real rain for a couple of days last week. General relief and rejoicing. And when I say real rain I mean REAL RAIN! Some people probably complained that it was too much water all at once. Here we complain about the Internet signal, which is pathetic, at best. Apparently we could launch our own satellite and get a better signal, but until you folk start making some serious donations we’re stuck with what we’ve got. Which is slow. So please bear with us. Even answering e-mails takes much longer than it should, so please don’t fidget! Keep those Volunteer Applications coming! Don’t despair if your request for information doesn’t get an immediate reply! It might take a few days to respond, but we WILL get around to it – whatever the weather!

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