Help street dogs in Xela (Quetzaltenango) Guatemala

  • Guatemala
  • Favourited 346 times
  • Last activity: 20 Sep 2023



 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks



  • Description


    **We only have space for one person at a time (one single bed)**
    **You need to be able to communicate in Spanish**
    **We have a 10.30-11pm curfew so as not to cause chaos with the dogs and the neighbours at night**

    We are a small street dog rescue located right in the centre of Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. Following a funding crisis in 2022, we had to move from our large country property into the centre of town, which means we have less space and fewer dogs, but we're more conveniently located for travelers to enjoy all that Xela has to offer. Presently we have 12 dogs with Mario and 10 with Alyce, but we are aiming to get down to about 16 in total during 2023. The smaller space is somewhat chaotic with this number of the dogs, which is why we urgently need help with walks and supervision.

    Historically, we picked up mainly female dogs, spayed, vaccinated, flea treated and wormed them and provided whatever other treatments they needed. We returned about 25% of the dogs to the street, found homes for about 50% of them, and the remaining 25% went back to their low-income owners, or people who look after them in the street. However, now in the smaller premises we are simply unable to bring in dogs and are changing the way we operate.

    In 2023 we will be focusing on in-community animal care. This means running door-to-door awareness campaigns and in-community spay, vaccine and veterinary clinics. We hope to access and treat dogs and cats BEFORE they are abandoned onto the streets - leading causes for abandonment are the female coming in heat or getting pregnant, or the dog falling ill, so we want to provide low cost and very accessible preventative campaigns. We hope to start this in February or March.

    The project is run completely voluntarily by the very young at heart Alyce (Australian, 50, has lived here for 8 years, Spanish & English) and Mario (Guatemalan, 43, Spanish only). Mario lives at the house where the volunteer will be, while Alyce lives about 5 blocks away with another 10 dogs. Alyce visits the house several times a week and will initially accompany you on walks.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Animal Care
    Help around the house
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability 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.

    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 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.

    1) Clean pee and poop from the patio and inside the house - this is ongoing, whenever you're around and you see an accident, clean it up.
    2) MOST IMPORTANT: Walk dogs - about 1-2 hours per day. Some days might be a long 2 hour walk with other friends in the hills, other days might be 15 minutes per dog leash training dogs on the street outside, or a half an hour or an hours walk in the nearby cemetery. The aim is to get six dogs out a day, usually it's possible to take 3 or 4 at the same time.
    3) Stay home with the dogs and supervise for about 1-2 hours a day, so that Mario can go out. You can do other things during this time like study or cook or clean - you just need to be around at times agreed on with to supervise the dogs.
    4) Wash dog blankets and towels and hang to dry - every second day, a couple of machine loads.
    5) Attend veterinary visits 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 usually go once a week to the vet.
    7) Help with monthly adoption fairs (hang out with dogs for 4 hours on a Sunday in a nearby park and hope people are interested in adopting them).
    8) Help with monthly spay / vaccine / vet care clinics (this is a NEW concept for us, so the actual role is a work in progress. We hope to start in February or March 2023).
    9) Bathe dogs from time to time.

  • Languages spoken

    Spanish: Fluent
    English: Beginner

  • Accommodation


    You will stay in a small but recently renovated private room and share a bathroom with Mario (there is a separate additional toilet). The room has one single bed, bedside table, chest of drawers and a desk.

    We can provide you with a Q200 allowance for food each week and you'll have access to a kitchen (about to be renovated in early February) with everything you need to cook.

    Alyce runs 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 probably cook for you once a week, something exotic like Thai or Indian food. Mario also makes tofu and tempeh, which you can use for free in your own cooking.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are located about 5 short blocks from the very center of town, right by the cemetery and El Calvario Park. You can walk within about 10 minutes to almost everything of interest.

    Within 3-4 small blocks of the house there is a fresh food market (Las Flores), a supermarket (Mas y Mas) and a large liquor store. There are street food stands and other cheap takeaway food only 2 blocks from the house, in front of El Calvario Park.

    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, Xela is 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.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    If you have a very well socialized, spayed or neutered dog who is up to date on their shots, we can see how it goes. We have 10-15 free range dogs so there will be probably some scuffles initially. Our dogs are very used to accepting new additions. Cats and other animals, for obvious reasons, cannot be accepted.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

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

Host ref number: 248218733138

Feedback (4)


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Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (4.3)

Communication: (5.0)

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