My Time in Rwanda Part 5

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Thankfully the dogs came back the next day. I still had the food setup the same way as yesterday. Once the dogs approached and went inside, I was able to close the entrance to the dog pen. The dogs were kind of oblivious to what was going on, as I’m sure that they had never been in such an enclosure before.

This worked out exactly as I had planned. I was now able to freely play with the dogs and build their trust without the threat of the dogs running away.

After playing with them for a few hours, they were tired out. I was able to put collars and leashes around them. This was probably the first time that either of them had ever been on a leash.

Needless to say they were very confused as to what was going on.

However, as Cesar Milan says, if you establish yourself as the pack leader, all dogs will follow you. This worked wonders.

I was now able to walk the dogs around the hotel without much of a problem.

I had established an agreement with the hotel where I would be able to keep the dogs in my room while I ran my experiments.

Now that I had the dogs on a leash and inside, I would be able to further build my bond with them.

As I said earlier, this is going to help me build my relationship with all dogs in the area. From here I am going to also show Rwandan people that dogs are great companions and make lives infinitely better.

Just think about when bad things have happened to you in your life… have you often gone home to your dog and held them tight? It makes you feel better, right? No difference to Rwandan people. They just needed to see that for themselves.

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My Time in Rwanda Part 4

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I sat down and put the beef chuck right in front of me. There was now no way that the dogs would be able to get to the food without me being able to get their attention.

The first dog approached the food very cautiously. I put my hand out so they could sniff me. After the dog sniffed my hand, he went right for the food.

I made a bold move and began petting the dog right when it was eating the food. I gently pet the top of the dogs head in order to build trust.

Much to my surprise, the dog didn’t flinch or run away. I figured that I would get bit, but that was not the case.

Once the dog was finished eating, he continued to let me pet him.

I had also put out some water right in front of me that both dogs began to drink from.

I think it was this moment that these two dogs began to see me as a provider to them.

I sat with the dogs for a couple of hours, petting each of them, and having a brief cuddle with them.

I was able to inspect the dogs and much to my surprise, they didn’t have any ticks or fleas. Their sole visibly ailment was that they were malnourished. I knew that I would quickly be able to change that.

We repeated this scenario for a few days before I knew that I had to attempt to domesticate the dogs. This was going to be a very arduous task, but one that I was prepared for.

The next day I setup a dog playpen and put the food inside of it. There was a small entrance that the dogs would be able to go through. Once they went through the entrance to the dog playpen, I would close it and they would be entrapped.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating this first day. The dogs were nowhere to be found. I could almost sense that something was wrong and hoped that I would see those beautiful dogs again.

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My Time in Rwanda Part 3

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We finally arrived at the hotel that I was going to be staying atPetit Prince Hotel. It was by far the crummiest hotel that I had ever stayed in.

Luckily there were tons of stray dogs roaming around the hotel, so I would be able to get some first hand exposure as to what the local dogs were like.

The first few dogs that I went to greet were incredibly skittish, almost afraid to even be looked at, let alone touched.

This was very heartbreaking and was a tell-tale sign of dog abuse. It absolutely broke my heart.

I knew that I would have to take a much gentler approach and build up the trust of the dogs before I could approach them again.

I also knew that once I got the trust of these dogs, more and more dogs in the area would be friendly towards me. This is because when a dog sees another dog being friendly with a human, the dog knows that the human is safe to be around. Winning these dogs over would be paramount to my mission.

I went to the local butcher to see what kind of scrap meat they had. Luckily for me, the butcher had some beef chuck left over that they were going to throw out. Apparently beef stew isn’t a thing in Rwanda. Who would’ve thought?

I took the beef chunk back to my hotel room and cooked it up a bit. I found a bowl that was laying in the cabinet and brought the food outside.

Given how hungry the dogs looked, I didn’t think it would be much of a problem to lure a few dogs over.

I initially hovered around the bowl, but no dogs were approaching. I figured that I was scaring the dogs off by my presence and needed to give them some space. They aren’t like dogs in Puerto Rico, these dogs don’t trust humans.

Within 10 minutes of backing away from the bowl, a couple of dogs came over and started eating from the bowl. I slowly moved closer to them until I was within arms reach. I had more beef chuck on me.

This was my time.

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My Time in Rwanda Part 2

So I set out to embark on my mission in Rwanda with the mindset that I needed to make an immediate impact. I knew that there was very little time left for all of the stray dogs that were roaming around Rwanda.

I left on a Tuesday; I remember that because it was a very beautiful day. I knew that my mission was going to be successful because of that day. I kissed my three dogs goodbye and left for the airport.

16 hours and 2 Xanax later I finally arrived in Rwanda. That was an incredibly long flight, but I knew it was worth it. I needed to focus on saving all of the dogs in Rwanda.

I unloaded all of my cargo and hopped into the Jeep that my escorts had brought along. Traveling in Rwanda meant that I needed to have a security detail at all times. Despite the country no longer being in turmoil, it was not a risk that the U.S. embassy was willing to take.

It was a five hour ride before we finally arrived at the city of Butare.

I remember the first thing that I saw when I arrived was the beautiful large Christian cathedral that they had.

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It was absolutely breathtaking. What also stunned me was the amount of stray dogs that we saw roaming around. I asked my escorts how come no one was taking care of those dogs and they said that people didn’t really care about the dogs.

Dogs to them were more of a nuisance than a benefit. This was very painful to hear as I am a huge lover of all dogs.

I asked the protection detail what it would take for them to change their view on dogs – to view them more as members of the family rather than a tool or a nuisance.

The protection detail replied that the dogs would have to start walking on their hind legs and speaking like they do.

Great, that’s just the answer that I did not want. I knew that I had my work cutout for me.

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My Time in Rwanda

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When I initially went to Rwanda, I was a bit nervous. I had gone there a couple of years after the Rwandan Genocide. For those of you that are too young to remember this heinous event, it was a truly awful event in the history of the world.

The uprising that occurred was nothing short of pointless and barbaric. Millions upon millions of beautiful men, women, children, dogs, and animals died during the genocide.

I decided to go to Rwanda because I knew that they needed help. I knew that there were plenty of people and organizations that were helping the people of Rwanda, but there weren’t many people helping the animals of Rwanda.

Everywhere you went in Rwanda, there were stray dogs roaming the streets. All of the dogs were significantly malnourished and on the brink of death. This shouldn’t have been a problem, as the populace of Rwanda actually had an abundance of food that the dogs would have eaten.

There was simply a basic disregard to the entire dog population. People were too concerned about themselves, and partially rightfully so, to care about the welfare of animals. In fact, it would take nearly two decades of work by Amy Vedder and Bill Weber before the gorilla population of Rwanda began to flourish again.

I knew that I wouldn’t have two decades to do my work. I needed to make an almost immediate impact. I knew that I would need to leverage psychological factors of the Rwandan people in order to get them to see dogs as part of their family instead of tools.

I would also leverage the psychological benefits of having a dog to the people of Rwanda.

I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task, but it was one that I must accomplish or else the future welfare of all dogs in Rwanda would be in jeopardy.

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