I am now in Mandal, the southern most tip of Norway. It’s a beach town and a quaint lovely one at that. My host here is Agnes. She runs a boarding facility that she calls a “Dog Hotel“. I went to the place and it blew my mind. Agnes is lovely woman and a very very pregnant one too. So I am just in total admiration of her dedication towards these dogs, working in such a state. Being around people with so much love for dogs is such an enriching experience. Just being here is teaching me so much.
Yesterday, as we approached, first thing that hit me was that there was the pin drop silence. Not a single bark. As we got closer, there was one lone bark from a building a little away. Apparently that dog was being picked up by his human. I was quickly whisked past that building (the office) that he was kept in and was told that I could not meet him. Since he was returning, they saw no point in getting him meeting me. Meeting new people can stress dogs and they saw no need for him to take on that stress.
After he left, I spent the first half of the day sitting outside the main building wondering how many dogs could there be inside, considering there was not a single bark from within. One by one the dogs started coming out for their walk. Some also did some nosework. I met 12 dogs in all. Everything from retreivers to rotties to poodles to pumis. Dogs that pulled like crazy, dogs that were rather energetic, dogs that were calm and walked like pros…The whole range. No biters of course
The rottie was a bit of a scared fella. Afraid of squeaky toys & frogs and a little afraid of people too. Extremely strong fella. So I was taken into the backyard and made to sit like a buddha while he examined me and got comfortable. We did some tracking with him and he was just AMAZING! But pulls like an ox and I was quite concerned for Agnes, as she walked him. But she managed well. They don’t do any leash training unless owners ask them to do so explicitly. So they just need to work with pulling dogs. Quite challenging!
The second half of the day, I could briefly enter the building. Once I entered, there is a small little hall and a tiny kitchen. I stuck to the kitchen most of the time, so that i don’t bother the dogs. I kept myself busy by digging around all the dog food and the dog diaries they keep for all their residents. It’s so weird reading diaries and not understanding a single word and trying to guess what that might mean. Understanding their system was quite fascinating to me.
One of the dogs was quite agitated. He started barking after one small misstep in trying to walk him with another dog somewhere in the distance. He continued to bark after he was put in his room. So Agnes and I sat outside while the others brought him into the main hall and sat with him, while he got to snooze. I wanted coffee desperately and Agnes needed to use the loo. But we both HAD TO wait till he was done with his sleep because disturbing sleeping dogs is a BIG NO NO.
We went back later in the night to walk the dogs again. Some dogs are completely off limits to me and IF I got things right I might get to put a leash on a few of them towards the end of my stay here. They really love the dogs here and are very very very conscious of the stress in the dogs and do everything they can to keep the dogs calm. It’s fascinating to watch and learn. Here is a video of the facility before it started being occupied. Looks quite lovely