As my passion for dogs mostly came from working with rescue dogs in rescue centres, I wanted to create something, through my photography, that allowed me to help out a cause that is very close to my heart.
This is how the Rescue Project began. I wanted to visit different dog rescues from around the world, or places that helped rescue dogs in some way, learn about the work they do and take photographs so I can help share their stories and hopefully create more awareness about these wonderful organisations and why it is so great to welcome a rescue dog into your home.
Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter
Camilla (left) and Tina (right) sat with the dogs at Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter
On the 8th November 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting the Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter in Phuket, Thailand.
One of the reasons this rescue is so wonderful is the location. The shelter is on temple grounds, donated by resident monks and the temple committee. Even though the temple needs funds to operate, they do not ask for any money for rent or use of water and electrics from the rescue.
The surroundings are beautiful, with the amazing Thai architecture, Buddhist statues and, of course, the 'Bodhi' tree in the middle, hence the name of the rescue. It is an idyllic resident as it is also believed to have magical properties and care for those around it. It is a nice thought that such a magnificent tree is there to help watch over and protect the dogs.
The shelter was set up and is run by the wonderful Tina (pictured above). She rescues the sick, neglected, wounded and abused animals in Phuket. Once healthy, they are available for adoption and can be adopted in Thailand or to other countries around the world, thanks to the help of flight volunteers. They also have a community outreach service to people without resources, to help take care of their animals.
I can say, hands down, I have never seen a harder worker or a more caring animal lover than Tina. It is a full time job for her, day and night and she always fights to do the best for the dogs she cares for. And it isn't an easy job. There is a lot of heart-break involved and some very tough days, but every day she makes a massive difference to the lives of many.
Alongside Tina, there is a very hard-working group of people, regular workers and volunteers. I spoke and met up with Camilla who works at the rescue full time. Another hard-working and caring individual with the biggest heart. Like with Tina, the dogs lit up when around her and she showed them lots of love and attention, knowing each as individuals. She shared some of their stories with me:
Toby was found outside a 7-Eleven shop covered in mange. He could have lost an eye if he had been left. He is now with his forever family, a South African family living in Phuket.
Wilma was born at Surin beach. She had bowed legs from sitting scared under the table. She is now with a foster family.
Flopsy had an infection in her leg that kept spreading. It was then amputated, but that didn't slow her down. While at the vets she managed to climb up to the top of her door with just her three remaining legs! She too has now found her forever home in the UK.
Even though a lot of the dogs came from bad backgrounds, I witnessed them all living harmoniously together at Bodhi. No individual shelters, no living behind bars, but free to roam together with plenty of places to hide or rest in, things to play with or climb and fed together in groups. (They all get treated to a wonderful diet of meat, brown rice, turmeric paste, morning glory veg and fish oil).
It was a lovely opportunity to see the dogs truly being themselves among each other. No strange behaviours due to being in kennels, but their real personalities coming out. Even just being there a short time, you got to know who each dog was and what their interests were.
Bodhi rely on the generosity of the Abbott of the temple and the temple committee, the Thalang Animal Hospital who gives them cheaper deals on the veterinary care for the dogs and donations from the public. Without these, the centre couldn't continue to run. They try to keep their numbers down, but there are so many dogs in need around the area in Phuket. They are always in need of donations as it costs a lot to get the dogs better and keep them safe and healthy before they find their forever homes.
To learn more about the brilliant work Bodhi do, please visit their website or Facebook page.
Thank you Tina, Camilla, Anne, Niki and the rest of the fantastic people working at Bodhi for all the amazing work you do and for inviting me to the shelter and allowing me to take photos of some of your beautiful dogs. I will never forget it!
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Photography by Connor Broderick and True Dog Photography
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Feeding the elephants at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
When I first heard about the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary a couple of years ago, my interest in the sanctuary was to gain more knowledge about elephants; how they are mistreated and what rescues do to help them. But after following the organisation on social media for a while, I learnt there was more to interest me about this place. They aren't just a sanctuary for elephants, but also a home for a group of rescue dogs.
Visiting the sanctuary, I learnt how very little I knew about elephants, how they are seen in Thailand and other countries and how they are commonly exploited and harmed. After watching the centre's video, shown to all visitors, there was a general feeling from all there of heart ache and upset from being shown what happens to these wonderful animals. Especially the very disturbing images of an elephants behaviour when it is being 'broken'; a process that the elephant's owners often do to later enable them to control the elephants. From knowing and understanding dog behaviours, there was a lot of disturbing similarities watching the elephants in distress and that really hit home to me how much it was effecting them - a sight I later witnessed first-hand while still in Thailand. There are a lot of cruel behaviours happening to elephants that are often hidden from the public eye, some being seen as normal, especially in the tourist trade. Many wouldn't even think twice about riding an elephant for example, it is on many people's bucket lists and seen as a must-do in locations like Thailand, but the harm and effect it has on the elephants is heart-breaking to learn about.
This is why the work at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is so important. Alongside rescuing and rehabilitating elephants, they are also working to change people's views; working with rising camp owners to educate them and change the way they treat their elephants and teaching the public about the right and wrong ways to view elephants. At the sanctuary, instead of elephant trekking and washing, you can walk alongside the elephants as they move around the grounds and watch them bathing themselves. It is an amazing sight to see an elephant rolling around in a mud patch or splashing water over itself with it's trunk!
There are just a handful of elephants at the sanctuary for now, though space is being made for more occupants in the future. It's a beautiful sight to see these magnificent creatures living free among a vast space of greenery at the sanctuary, and also harmoniously alongside the several rescue dogs also living at the centre. The dogs love to roam the grounds too and follow the tour groups each day. Though, I was told there were a few incidents near the start where the elephants boundaries had to be learnt the hard way by the dogs, but all have an understanding now and are quite happy to live together, doing as they please.
The dogs also get along well with each other. They have come from different backgrounds. A couple are from the Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter, others were previously street dogs. Some permanently live at the shelter and others occasionally come from their homes to visit the centre and spend a day exploring and meeting the visitors. But all are happy to play, walk and sleep together. It really is a wonderful environment for both elephants and dogs who have had a tough start in life.
If you want to learn more about elephants and the important work that the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary do, I would thoroughly recommend a visit! It really is the best way to meet and view an elephant if nothing else. Also you will have a some lovely canine friends to keep you company while you are there and the best thai food I ever tasted comes as part of the ticket price for an added bonus!
It was an experience I will never forget and I would love to thank Louise Rogerson and the rest of the fantastic team at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary for allowing me to visit and take photos.
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Photography by Connor Broderick and True Dog Photography