Our mission is to provide a home to animals that have been adandoned or abused, to show them what it is to live in a home where they are loved.

Rule #1: We do not let the dogs bark

Yes, I know, dogs bark and it's normal. But it's nor normal to have 17 dogs and it is extremely unpleasant for everyone, especially our neighbours, if there is a constant amount of noise coming from here. Costa Ricans are not well known for their tact and many will resort to throwing poisoned meat over the wall to solve these types of problems.

Barking might tart off as innocent yapping but it very quickly escalates if the dogs are allowed to bark without limits. It can escalate quickly into howling which is often very difficult to stop once it starts. The more the dogs bark, the more excited they get and therefore the more they bark and howl and the higher their adrenaline levels go. Adrenaline levels take many hours if not days to level out again. Keeping adrenaline levels low maintains a levels of tranquility.

Rule #2: All doors stay closed

As a home, we try to make things seem as natural as possible and we do this by keeping certain dogs in certain areas and keeping all doors and gates closed. These include gates in the garden and doors inside the house.

Rule #3: All dogs are inside by 6pm

Between 3 and 6pm is the time the dogs are their most active. During this time we rotate them as much as we can and let them go out and play in small groups, at the same time making sure that they have had their last pee by 6pm. 6pm is when it usually gets dark in Costa Rica and usually around the time that we eat dinner.

As darkness falls, the toads come out. Yes, poisonous toads. While we are preparing or eating dinner we prefer to do so peacefully without wondering if the dogs have found a toad. The same goes for barking as passers by

Rule #4: We never ignore a barking dog or a meowing cat

Dogs and cats usually communicate with us by barking or meowing. They can be trying to tell us there is a snake or toad, that a dog has escaped, that there is a cat in the yard next door or that a fly has landed on the gate. While some things are very unimportant, sometimes they are trying to tell us things we need to worry about. So when a dog barks at something, we always go and check it out and we always stop the dog from barking.

A meowing cat could need food, be stuck or just want attention. Attention is easy to give, so if you are being harassed by an affectionate cat, feel free to stop and chat for a bit! Also, we don't encourage the cats to continue meowing since this can get the dogs downstairs very worked up and they can try to start chasing it.

Rule #5: We always keep the dogs in small groups

We try to mimic a home environment as much as we can. In a home it's not normal for there to be more than 3 or 4 dogs, so we try to keep them in smaller groups of 3 or 4 especially during their active times. This is what we refer to when we say rotate. Letting 3-4 dogs out at a time, letting them play and run around for 20 minutes and letting them in again. Then letting a different 3-4 dogs out to play and run around or even pee for another 20 or so minutes, and so one. This ensures that the dogs not only stay in small groups when they are outside but also ensures that they all get to go out and be inside throughout the day.

Rule #6: Mingo ALWAYS goes out on a leash. Always

Mingo is quite a sweet talker and there will be days where you may feel sorry for him and want to let him roam around a little on his own. But Mingo has proven time and time again that he cannot be trusted off leash. First of all, he is the best escape artist that ever existed. If he doesn't have access to his regular escape routes, he will find, or possibly make, a new one if he feels the need to. Once he has decided he's out of thee, there is nothing you can do to stop him.

Secondly, he is very dangerous if he escapes. One look at Mingo's sweet face and he will try to make you believe that anything I have said is not true! Mingo is partly Rhodesian Ridgeback, which means he is not just any hunting dog. He is a hunting dog bred to hunt gorillas. Mingo cannot help but respond to the sound of a yelping dog, it excites him, gives him a rush and activates his hunting/killing instinct.

Rule #7: We always have one person upstairs & Always have at least one person downstairs

Whether the dogs are sleeping or chilled, there is always at least one person with the dogs upstairs and another person downstairs. Even if you are sitting doing homework, reading a book, working, cleaning, pruning the trees or even napping.

We have realised that a commotion downstairs cannot be heard upstairs and vice versa. Even if it is heard, in the time it takes to rush downstairs or upstairs a fight between 2 dogs, for example, could have already caused a lot of damage.

Rule #8: We never walk around with leashes. Ever

If we plan on taking a dog for a walk it is always a top secret mission. That dog never knows until they are almost out of the gate. This way they never get a chance to tell the other dogs they are going for a walk and the other dogs don't get excited and cause a commotion. If the dogs cause a commotion, we abort the mission.

Rule #9: We always keep the dogs as calm as possible

Imagine you are in the playground with a bunch of 5 years olds playing and the play gets rougher and rougher and rougher and suddenly you think to yourself, if this escalates any more, someone is going to get hurt. Dogs are much like those 5 years old, when they get excited they start to get more and more rough and instead of pushing each other off the swing they start ripping at each other with their teeth. Perhaps a small exaggeration, but the message is there; dogs are very capable of causing damage when they decide to.

So, when you feel that this is just too much excitement and they need to be calmed down, a squirt of water works really well, throwing a bowl of water on them, especially if they are in the garden in a group, or putting the most hyper dog in timeout are all tricks that work really well.

Rule # 10: The upstairs dogs stay upstairs, the downstairs dogs stay downstairs

This one is pretty self explanatory but it also means that you need to be careful when opening gates or doors that communicate between each level. The dogs know but are still willing to take chances. A squirt of water usually does the trick.

That being said there are exceptions.

Max and Paz are downstairs dogs that can go up and down without restrictions.

Spotty and Whiskey can go down into the garden as long as Mingo is inside. Remember to keep the groups small.

Rule # 11: When rotating, dogs in first, then dogs out

When letting dogs out and others in, it's important to let the dogs that are outside first, in. If you let the dogs out first them you have a big pack outside and they get excited, start playing and it makes it impossible to get them in. While there may seem to be no harm in any of this, the idea is to prevent issues and in the event of an issue, be able to manage and control it..

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