Our project is a small street dog rescue in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. We pick up mainly female dogs, spey, 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 right in the centre of Xela (2 blocks from Parque Central). It's nothing like a typical dog shelter. It used to be a hotel, but now we rent out rooms long term to travelers. We don't run it as a business, we simply rent out the rooms so that we can pay the rent, and therefore have the space for the dogs! Really its more like a huge share house as most guests stay 3-6 months or longer.
Running free on the 3 levels of the property we usually have around 10-14 dogs, and in two enclosed areas we have 2-4 dogs at a time. All dogs are treated for fleas and parasites as soon as they arrive, and vaccinated and speyed/neutered as soon as possible. We treat about 80-100 dogs a year, with most of those coming through the house, and some staying in temporary homes with friends and other rescuers.
The project and the house are run completely voluntarily by Alyce (Australian, 47, has lived here for 5 years) and Mario (Guatemalan, 40). We need help with daily care and walking of the dogs.
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 are at the vet about 3 times a week, so you're sure to learn plenty.
Many long term travelers in Xela are here studying Spanish or doing part time voluntary work with another NGO. This is a great opportunity to obtain free accommodation in a really beautiful house, with a flexible schedule while you study or do other work (ie, rather than being chained to a desk in a hostal for 5 hours a day).
We speak English and Spanish and the Guatemalan members of the household are usually happy to do some language practice / exchange with guests and we can most certainly chat to you in Spanish if you're up to it!
We need help with the dogs for about 1-4 hours a day, 7 days a week. The timetable is very flexible; you don't need to walk dogs 7 days a week, but poo patrol is necessary every day, unless you arrange with us to take a day or the weekend off to go on an excursion or trip, which you're welcome to do.
1) Clean up poop and throw disinfectant on pee on the 3 levels of the house - about half an hour, morning and night
2) Feed dogs - about 10 minutes, morning and night
3) Walk dogs - about 1-3 hours per day, depending on where you go. Some days might be a long 3 hour walk with other housemates or friends in the hills, other days might be a few laps around central park and to have lunch in a cafe, other days might be 1-1.5 hours to the local cemetery or skate park (the only enclosed spaces in town), and other days might be an hour of supervising playtime with all the dogs on the roof terrace while you work on your tan.
4) Wash dogs blankets and cleaning rags - every second or third day, a couple of machine loads.
5) Attend vet visits as you wish (we're at the vet usually 2-3 times a week) 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 5 days a week who cleans all the public areas in the middle of the day, and does some of the dog related washing. She takes care of sweeping up dog fur, midday poo patrol, and cleaning of all public spaces. She will also clean your room once a week.
You will stay in a large private room with PRIVATE BATHROOM. The house used to be a 4 star hotel so it's very nice! The room will vary with what I have available at the time, could have 1 or 2 large single beds, a double or a queen. We have the highest speed internet available in Xela (50MB, but as with everything in Guatemala, that varies!). The rooms are usually rented out at Q1500 per month, to give you an idea of the value.
As we're a not-for-profit and invest every cen 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 a couple of popular restaurants in town (Cafe Mandarina by day, and Mad Dog Thai by night) and you're welcome to enjoy a free lunch and a free dinner per week at our restaurants. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
We are right 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!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
3 hours a day, 7 days a week (flexible with hours)