Help street dogs on a lovely property outside Quetzaltenango, Guatemala



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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    **Accepting fully vaccinated, Covid-responsible volunteers only**
    **Please don't apply if you're a vaccine or mask skeptic**

    We are a small street dog rescue located just outside Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. We pick up mainly female dogs, spay, vaccinate, de-flea and de-worm them and provide whatever other treatments they need. We return about 25% of the dogs to the street, find homes for about 50% of them, and the remaining 25% go back to their low income owners, or people who look after them in the street,

    We run the project from a beautiful large property about 15 minutes by car from the center of Xela. It's nothing like a typical dog shelter, almost all the dogs have free access to gardens at the front and rear of the house, and most rooms inside the house. With the exception of newly arrived dogs, all dogs sleep inside the house.

    We usually have around 20 dogs running free on the property, and in two enclosed corrals we have 2-4 new dogs (in quarantine). All dogs are treated for fleas and parasites as soon as they arrive, and vaccinated and spayed/neutered as soon as possible. We treat about 80-100 dogs a year.

    The project is run completely voluntarily by Alyce (Australian, 48, has lived here for 7 years) and Mario (Guatemalan, 42). Mario lives on site with the 20 dogs. Alyce lives in the center of Xela with another 10 dogs where she also runs Cafe Mandarina. Alyce spends the day on the property every Monday.

    Covid Information:
    Wearing a mask is mandatory in Guatemala outside the home, and you will be expected to comply with this.
    We are fully vaccinated as of mid August, as are all our visitors to the home and our veterinarians.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Animal Care

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Here you will learn about the street dog problems in Guatemala, and learn about different treatments for common conditions (mange, skin infections, sexually transmitted tumors), as well as vaccination and worming schedules, export procedures to send dogs overseas etc. We are NOT veterinarians, but we see enough things that you're sure to learn plenty.

    Many long term travelers in Xela are here studying Spanish. This is a great opportunity to obtain free accommodation with a flexible schedule while you study or do other work online. You would most likely need to travel into town to receive classes - about 15 minutes via a bus or Uber.

    Our caretaker Mario speaks only Spanish, so you will definitely get to practice your Spanish. He understands a lot of English, but can`t really speak it. You can always WhatsApp message or call me with any communication problems.

  • Help


    We need help with the dogs for about 2-4 hours a day, 5 days a week. The timetable is very flexible depending on your energy levels and the weather.

    1) Clean up poop in the garden areas - about half an hour, morning and night
    2) Mop up pee accidents in the house throughout the day
    3) MOST IMPORTANT: Walk dogs - about 1-2 hours per day, depending on where you go. Some days might be a long 2 hour walk with other friends in the hills, other days might be 15 minutes x 4 dogs leash training inside the property, or a couple of short walks around nearby fields,
    4) Wash dogs blankets and hang to dry - every second or third day, a couple of machine loads.
    5) Attend vet visits as you wish (we used to attend several times a week, now it's much less due to Covid) and assist with vaccinating, worming, wound care etc in the house - if you'd like to help with this we're more than happy to show you how it all works.

    We have a house cleaner 4 days a week who cleans inside the house. She takes care of sweeping up dog fur and fully mopping inside the house, and cleaning of all indoor spaces, including your room.

  • Languages spoken

    Spanish: Fluent
    English: Beginner

  • Accommodation


    You will stay in a basic but comfortable private room with private bathroom.

    As we're a not-for-profit and invest every cent we have in the project, we regret that we simply don't have the budget to be able to provide food, but you have access to a large kitchen with everything you need to cook, and filtered water. We run the very popular Cafe Mandarina in town and you're welcome to enjoy a free lunch there once per week. Mario is also an experienced chef and will cook for you once a week, something exotic like Thai or Indian food (pre pandemic he had a Thai restaurant in town). Mario also makes tofu and tempeh, which you can use for free in your own cooking.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are about 15 minutes by car out of town. Buses (Q2), taxis (Q40) and Uber (Q25) are available to travel into town, and Mario can take you to the supermarket at least once a week.

    Once in the middle of town so you can walk to almost everything of interest. The most common thing to do in Quetzaltenango is study Spanish, which you can certainly fit in around the dog chores. It's a medium sized town, so there are enough restaurants, cafes and bars, and yet it's small enough that you'll meet everyone in a couple of weeks. There are several hills around town for hiking, as well as volcano hikes which are done with guides in a one day or overnight trip. For yoga fans there is the very affordable and popular Yoga House. Basically its a town for living in, not for touristy activities, and that's why we like it!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We have a 30MB internet connection. As with all internet connections in Guatemala, the speed varies from great to slow.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    The property is very large and there is plenty of space to park a vehicle on the driveway. However, there is no undercover parking, and the dogs may scratch the paint jumping up on the car.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    If you have a very well socialised, female, spayed dog, we can see how it goes. We have 20+ free range dogs so there will be some scuffles initially.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    3 hours a day, 5 days a week (flexible with hours)

Host ref number: 248218733138