Wednesday, October 04, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 18, 1445 H
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Al Mawalih dog shelter


My friend Isabel invited me to visit Al Mawalih dog shelter where she volunteers.

As we entered, I was welcomed by Batool the shelter’s manager having a tug-of-war moment with two puppies who were pulling the broom that she was trying to clean their kennel with.

Between shouts and laughter, Batool greeted me as I followed Isabel to the kennel that has her rescued dogs: Luna and her puppies. Luna has two puppies of her own: two-month-old Paco and Gabi, along with other eleven puppies that vary between the ages of two and four weeks. Luna was a part of a bigger pack that Isabel took care of in Al Ghubra.

The pack had three other pregnant dogs that delivered at different times. Shortly after their deliveries, the mothers were killed and Luna took their puppies and hid them along with her own inside a thickly branched acacia bush for protection.

Isabel noticed Luna’s disappearance and went looking for her and her two puppies. She heard whimpering coming from the acacia tree and when she bent to have a closer look, she saw Luna surrounded by a dozen of new-born puppies. It took Isabel hours of digging and cutting off branches before she could reach them. She moved all of them to the shelter where she could look after them, till they are old enough to be vaccinated and neutered.

As I hear her brave story, Luna comes and sniffs my hand before wagging her tail. I squat to take a closer look at her adopted puppies of different size and colours. I’m joined later by other volunteers who come to help in feeding the dogs, cleaning their kennels, and taking them for short walks.

There was a sudden locomotion when they realised that one of the female dogs was having a difficult labour and must be taken to the vet immediately. Four volunteers rushed out of the shelter carrying the dog between them inside a crate. Batool stayed and started telling me about the shelter that had opened a month back. It has many dogs, mostly strays recovering from bullet wounds. It also has abandoned and vulnerable dogs that are at high risk of being on the streets. All dogs in this shelter are neutered and vaccinated.

As for volunteers, there are currently 12 who take care of the dogs on two different shifts. Other than their work here, these dedicated volunteers also take care of packs in different areas that could go up to fifty dogs. It’s a temporary shelter and most dogs would be released back on the streets once they recover. Batool hopes that people would start visiting them to meet the dogs, adopt or foster for a while if they’re not sure about taking them in.

The volunteers come back after almost an hour to assure us that the pregnant dog was in surgery now. It’s lunchtime and the place is bustling as the team prepare and divide food in different bowls for the excited dogs. I get busy helping Isabel mix, fill, and carry trays of disinfectant to be placed outside each kennel. Afterwards, the volunteers share with me the amazing survival story of each dog.

I reluctantly say goodbye with a promise of visiting soon, while silently praying for the safety of these lovely creatures after their release. If you’re stressed-out or want to nurture your children’s love for animals, please visit the shelter and share a moment of magical serenity with its volunteers and dogs. For more information about the shelter and how to help or volunteer, please contact Batool: 95343143 or Amu: 99007439.

Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja.

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