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The snouts, the clothes covered in mud, the boots, the fences and the gates, it all looks the same when you see those things on facebook pics.

All the shelters look the same, all the dogs seem the same dog, the same face behind a mesh.

When you are comfortable in a warm place, behind a computer screen. Those snouts get to you only when you cross that gate, when you enter their world. When you sit on the ground, your ass getting cold, and you look them in the eye, when you feel their smell, that shelter smell, a mix of piss and soil, ruffled fur and captive soul.

I chose Turbo, cause his eyes struck a chord with me.
I sit on the ground (in the next cage, like Lola suggested) and I start to talk. With my voice, with my gaze, with a clicker and some food. Turbo wags his tail, stares at the food, thinks. It’s hard to think after so many years in the shelter. But he tries. When the session is over, his mind is satisfied and he’s peaceful.

We then try with Lucky, but he can’t make it, so we propose a different activity: environmental enrichment in a bigger fenced area.
Lucky is lost in his ancient fears by now, so Balos and the blondie of the first cage take advantage of it.

The next one is Full, a pure breed german shepherd who’s very much affected by the shelter life.

Full is more focused than Turbo, but he’s still struggling. In order to show where our session could lead, I try with Taresh, a wolf Czech hound. Taresh gets it in less than 30 seconds, he likes it, he’s having fun. There’s still time for a hot tea and a quick visit to a group of small phobic dogs. We hit the road home planning to return to the shelter once again. And to invite whoever wants to share this beautiful experience.

Text and Video by Alexa Capra

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