wander for good

What Fostering Tiny Puppies In Bali Taught Me About Traveling

Turns out that going on a spiritual journey can be about more than yoga and meditation and hikes at dawn.

I didn’t plan to fall in love in Bali, with my husband Ross by my side. But I did. Four times.

Like many third-world places, the island of Bali is overrun with homeless, sick, and disabled dogs. When I left my ten-year-old Morkie at home with my parents while I set out with a one-way flight to travel the world, I was left with a puppy-sized hole in my heart. From the first day we arrived in Ubud, Bali’s bustling culture capital, I would ask my husband to pull over the motorbike every time I saw a stray dog so I could offer them some love, if not a bite to eat.

After a week of doing this (and in turn getting everywhere quite slowly), we did some research on local pet rescue organizations and stumbled upon Bali Dog Adoption & Rehabilitation Center (BARC). At any given moment, BARC is caring for over 350 animals, including kittens, monkeys and even albino hedgehogs. BARC is a strict no-kill shelter that offers vaccination, sterilization and medical assistance to every animal that passes through their doors. We had found our place.

After a quick ten-minute motorbike ride from our home just outside the center of town, we found ourselves face-to-face with two hairless, weak little puppies, staring back at us through the shelter window and begging us to come play with them.

“Hi, we’d like to foster a puppy. We’ll be here for three months.”

“Great. Can you take two? These two are sisters, and it will be better if they can stay together.”

A quick nod between Ross and I, and that was that.

“Yes, we’d love to.”

Squeaky toys, puppy formula and blankets in tow, we hopped on the back of the motorbike, Ross driving and me with one puppy in each arm, and both of us ready to shower them with all the healing love they needed to thrive.

Their first night home with us.

After one week of medication, the puppies were strong enough to be out of the danger zone of survival.

After two weeks of regular baths, their hair started growing in soft and thick.

After three weeks, they started to learn to walk on a leash.

After four weeks, they joyfully played all day long like strong, healthy puppies should, and slept soundly alongside us at night.

And after two months, they were ready. We brought Coco and Quinn back to the rescue center, and they were adopted two days later.

More puppies needed a loving home but with only two weeks before we left Bali for Thailand, we didn’t have a long-term commitment to offer. But two tiny Chihuahuas that barely fit in the palm of my hand had been found behind a dumpster.

“Can you please take these puppies?” they asked.

“We’re leaving in two weeks. Will it help to have them that short a time?”

“Even a few days or a week will help. They’re really weak and need consistent food and warmth.”

For one week we fostered Whitey and Brownie, and we watched them get stronger each day. Just as the peace and quiet of a foreign island can help us heal, so the stability and warmth of our daily presence can help one of these little animals heal.

So: Whether you are in Bali for one week, one month or one year, BARC needs your help—and so do the animals of Bali. While the shelters offer a better environment than living on the streets, the animals can heal exponentially while in the home of a loving caretaker. BARC is at constant risk of shutting down without homes for all the animals that need help. May this article serve as the sign that you are needed, and inspire you to look into similar opportunities wherever your next destination may be.

From my heart to yours, and the sweet loving puppy that awaits you, we thank you. Terima kasih.

(Not planning on being in Bali but want to make a contribution? You can donate directly here.)

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