Happy Adopt a Shelter Dog month! I love dogs, and rescue dogs are my favorite breed. Now that that’s out of the way…
I visited Armenia and it was a very humbling experience. A little bit of a backstory: I was born there and moved when I was only 2 years old… many, many, many years ago. I had never gone back until last month. One thing I noticed in every town we visited were the stray dogs running around. They didn’t bother anyone and didn’t get in anyone’s way, but every single one broke my heart. My princess Pretzel was also a street dog before we rescued her, so this really hit home.
Before my trip, a childhood friend (shoutout Angela!) told me about Dogs of Gyumri (D.O.G.), a non-profit animal shelter in the city of Gyumri founded by 2 amazing girls, Lusine and Sarah. Gyumri is a town about 2 hours outside of the capital, Yerevan. They were hit with Armenia’s largest earthquake in history, a 6.8 in December 1988. Since then, the small town has been trying to rebuild and frankly, the street dogs aren’t their biggest concern. I knew I had to visit Dogs of Gyumri during my trip.
I met Maya and Rocco when I visited D.O.G. If I told you I fell in love with both of them, I’d be lying… this was beyond love. I wanted to take these angels home with me (Pretzel would NOT have been happy!). Both Maya and Rocco were the absolute sweetest and most playful pups.
Rocco, an 11-month old, was found after a car hit him. His leg was badly injured and now he is a tripod, but that doesn’t seem to bother him or get in the way of his very playful personality. He was jumping, running, and playing just as much as Maya.
Maya is merely 4 months old, and this little baby loves getting attention. It was my honor, Maya! Her favorite was playing with the toys and getting belly rubs. I could have spent my entire trip with these two.
D.O.G. is celebrating their 2 year anniversary in November. The foundation began because animal rights in Armenia does not exist. Due to a lack of education, abuse, neglect, and intolerance toward animals is common. Because of this, it is D.O.G.’s mission to place the pups in the best foster homes until they are adopted. They actually pay the foster caretakers to ensure the best care is given. Before finding fosters for the pups, D.O.G. neuters, vaccinates, and cares for any ill or hurt pups. Monetary donations go directly toward these expenses.
D.O.G. also has an Amazon Wishlist for anyone wanting to donate items. Because my visit was preplanned, I took as many items from the States as I could, but wanted to also shop for the pups in Yerevan, where I spent most of my trip. Sarah had warned that animal products in Yerevan were extremely expensive compared to the States… boy, was she right! This is why their Amazon Wishlist is so necessary for all puppy necessities. They’re also building their offices, so the Wishlist has items to help out with office needs, as well.
Many people from the States adopt pups from D.O.G. It might seem complicated to adopt from another country, but Sarah and Lusine make it as easy as possible. The dog flies out to you with a willing traveler. Just meet them at the airport and get your puppy! D.O.G. is always looking for adopters and fosters in the U.S.
Co-founder Sarah is actually from Philadelphia, but moved to Gyumri 3 years ago to work with children and animals. She also works for an organization called Debi Arach (Moving Forward) Children’s Center. Co-founder Lusine is a Gyumri local who aside from saving animals, goes to school full time.
I could go on and on about Dogs of Gyumri, but truly, the pups who are with their forever families tell the entire story. I am in awe of what this organization is doing and I urge everyone to help out in any way they can: Amazon Wishlist, Donate, Foster, Adopt, or simply, spread the word.