A few weeks back our Co-founder Bee went on a quick visit to Dubai. She is familiar with the city of skycrapers and endless coastline, but it was the first time she’d heard of walking doggies in the desert. Read on as Bee shares her unique experience at a home for stray hounds in the heart of the Arabian Desert.
I went to visit my son Conor, who is working as an acrobat in Dubai. And having visited the city quite a few times before, I wanted to do something different. “I know what we can do”, he said. I thought he was going to come up with some youngster activity like sky diving or long boarding, as being a fully fledged stunt man these are the kinds of things he enjoys doing. “We can go walk stray dogs in the desert”! Now this I was up for. Having rescued a very special boy from Egypt myself, the harsh treatments some animals endure is something I’ve experienced first hand, and an issue very close to my heart.
I was not sure what to expect. We drove to a meeting point where we were joined by a convoy of cars heading out into the desert past golden sands and rubbish strewn buildings. After an hour or so, we then turned off the road onto a semi-tarred path, getting stuck in the sand on more than one opportunity before arriving at a low building painted the same colour as the desert.
We entered a long open tunnel to the sound of many, many barking hounds. After a brief explanation by one of the volunteers we were led to the cages. My fellow walkers were Conor and his friends Chris and Jo –both Australian, living in Dubai. Other volunteers varied from a French woman climbing the Dubai corporate ladder to some caring locals who just wanted to help.
Everyone went around the pens individually – all dogs had to be returned back to their original pens. Taking one, or two dogs at a time if you could manage, our team of volunteers walked out into the desert for 7-8 minutes and then back to the shelter – thus ensuring each dog had around 15 minutes exercise. This was repeated until all the dogs had been taken out.
The last dog in my care was a gentle beast named Shylo, it turned into more of a carry than a walk as Shylo was so anxious and frightened he just wanted to be picked up. Quite a few dogs had been so badly treated in the ‘outside world’ that their cage had become a place of safety and they would not come out… instead they just cowered in the corner – this was heart breaking! Others came out but then refused to walk in fear of not coming back, and then we had those so excited to go on a walk they would leap out of the cage, but who were just as excited to get back into their safe pens on our return.
“Today was a good day” said one of the volunteers. As we had managed to walk all dogs in 2 hours – there must have been at least 20 volunteers to walk around 200 dogs. Sometimes it can take up to 3 hours and in summer when the sun is so hot and all the walking has to be done early, it is not that easy to get people out to do it.
OUR GRAIN OF SAND | #DESERTTAILSAPPEAL
The Center Umm Al Quwain is such a fantastic organisation that us at H+W would like to help more. Many of the leads and collars in the stray home are in bad shape so we thought we would put out an appeal for our customers to donate any old leads and collars they have lying around. Would you join in? Please drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be donating some of our new collars and leads, and I shall be taking everything with me on my next visit to Conor at the end of March.
There was time for a chat and a group photo and then it was back to Dubai, where skycrapers grow out of the desert and highways have 8 lanes!
Built in 2014 exclusively by donations, the Stray Dog Centre in Umm Al Quwain is a non-profit organisation on a mission to help abused, abandoned, neglected and forgotten stray animals in the area. Discover more about their amazing work and volunteer & adoption days here.