When I decided to move to Afghanistan, about 9 years ago, I knew that one of the hardest things for me in this environment would be to experience the hard life and abuse of animals. I knew that from living here as a child. My passion is to work with children and women, but I have had a long career of working with fragile people and I knew that I had the emotional stamina and the skills to confront children and women’s suffering in Afghanistan and do something about it. Something about a suffering animal in a society that cannot care for them, particularly dogs and cats is hard for me as an animal lover.
As a result, over the years here I learned how to rescue and care for animals, using whatever resources I could find and doing so has enhanced my living experience here as well as actually supported the emergence of a significant movement toward addressing the stray dog population. About four years ago, I met Louise Hastie and Pen Farthing (see picture of man with big dog) with Nowzad Charities and had the privilege of supporting their efforts to start a “trap, neuter release” program to address the out of control dog population in Kabul. Louise actually lived with me and my family for years as the Nowzad shelter started up. By the way, this is my hobby and what I do in my time off…and no PARSA resources have ever gone into this (you can tell I have been asked) although plenty of my own have. It is just how I have come to peace with living in this harsh and beautiful country. It is how I have learned to work here also, and most of our programs are a result of coming face to face with some difficult situation and working to change it.
So, I calculate that I have personally rescued about 150 puppies and dogs, and as a result about 14 still live with me as my dogs in our household compound. It is a soothing and fun experience to be part of a pack, head of the pack actually. Mootee (diamond) is my beautiful brindle dog, who has been with us for five years. She opens all doors and until we changed our doorknobs she would gleefully lead the rest of the pack out of the compound to terrorize our neighbors. Once we stopped here on that she took to our walls, and spends her days overseeing the three feral dogs that live outside the walls but get fed and talked to daily. The Ferals have the job of monitoring the stray dog population near our house and keeping the new intruders out. Vaccinated and spayed by Nowzad, they are the example of how a monitored dog population can stop being a public health risk.
And this year, I am so excited because Nowzad has been asked to administer a vaccination program for 200,000 dogs in Kabul, our first step toward making a change in the terrible risk people have of contracting rabies here. How do Afghan’s feel about my dogs? Many, many of them are interested in how they can have healthy and friendlyt pets to protect their compounds like I do. I love my dogs. When I lived here as a child, and our family had a dachshund and siamese cat. My animals normalize my life here, and yes, my husband (gentleman in the red chair) is a very patient man. Marnie