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Koh Koh Pups Koh Tao – How a dog rescue stole my heart

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For today’s blog post, I wanted to share a little story about something that has been a part of my daily life here on Koh Tao since December 2021. It actually became so normal to me that I’ve never shared it on my blog before. Why? I asked myself this question today and don’t know the answer. But the fact is, everyone who likes dogs and comes to Koh Tao should know about it and come for a visit. The organization I’m talking about gives my island life here a real purpose, and over the years, I’ve learned so much!

Let me introduce you to Koh Koh Pups. Koh Koh Pups is a non-profit dog rescue that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted, neglected, and found stray dogs of all breeds and ages on the Thai island Koh Tao. In this blogpost, I’m sharing how I came across Koh Koh Pups, why it enriched my life in many different ways, and how you can support this amazing place yourself. Having Koh Koh Pups as part of my life is very meaningful to me. Volunteering there helped me feel more rooted in Koh Tao and create a special connection to the island. Koh Koh Pups has also been a big reason why I could never stay away from Koh Tao for too long.

Koh Koh pups residents Koh Tao
the typical Koh Tao dog look
At Sairee beach with a dog
daily sunset beach walk

My Koh Koh Pups story

The first time I visited the small island of Koh Tao was in March 2020. Originally planning just a week-long stay, I ended up getting stuck for four months due to the pandemic. You can read more about this time here. I often wonder if I would still be on the island if not for the unexpected lockdown. It could be a whole other story about my life changing positively during the pandemic, leading me to become an underwater videographer, but that’s for another post. At that time, I was aware of Koh Tao having an animal clinic, and though I considered volunteering, it didn’t happen.

The early days of Koh Koh Pups

Upon returning to Koh Tao for my divemaster course in December 2021, I met a woman who told me about a small dog project on the island. She insisted that if I loved dogs, I should visit to take them on walks and give them some love. I’ve always been a huge fan of volunteering while travelling and being a dog lover, having grown up with a furry companion, I had to go. So, I visited the dog shelter, which was then located next to the dump (a huge garbage pile I didn’t even know existed – it’s interesting to discover where the island’s trash ends up). I met around 10 lovely dogs living in different cages. This was the early days of the Koh Koh Pups dog rescue.

Here are five activities you can do on Koh Tao!

I went to see the dogs almost every day, taking them on walks, feeding them and spending time with them. We had some puppies which weren’t used to humans, so in order to finding them a future home it was super important that they got socialized. From December 2021 to June 2022, Koh Koh Pups became part of my daily life. I loved watching the dogs grow and taking them on walks. The greatest reward was being greeted by wagging tails and wet noses every morning. Koh Koh Pups played a significant role in my daily routine, and saying goodbye to the dogs in June 2022 was tough. Since they were all up for adoption, I didn’t know if I would see them again.

the dump in Koh Tao
the first Koh Koh pups location
dog and woman selfie
bonding with the dogs – this is Blue

The now

I eventually came back to Koh Tao 7 months later, in January 2023. Some of the dogs I knew from before were still there, others had been adopted. I met some of the new puppies and became part of seeing them grow up (again). My daily life on the island has been a mix of going scuba diving, working online and volunteering at Koh Koh Pups ever since. These dogs became a huge reason of why I found connection on the island and couldn’t stay away for too long.

Why Koh Koh Pups is making my life better

Volunteering at Koh Koh Pups truly makes my life here on Koh Tao better. Not only can I dedicate my time in a meaningful way but only being with the dogs gives so much in return. There’s no chitchat or awkward small-talk, I can just be me. I would even say that when I’m with dogs, my brain gets quiet and I fully arrive in the present moment. Dogs are great teachers at that.

Belonging somewhere

With time, I became a regular volunteer and could therefore walk the more challenging dogs as well. I vividly remember the day Lara showed me the first draft of the Koh Koh Pups logo. Suddenly, I found myself being part of this whole development. This shelter, which started at the local dump, has moved to new premises and has become a well-known organization on the island. And I was part of it! Being a volunteer at Koh Koh Pups has always given me this profound sense of belonging somewhere.

rescue dogs Koh Tao
Taking Chai & Red to the beach
dog and woman selfie
Harley, he has found his owner on Koh Tao

Stability & connection

Koh Tao is a beautiful island, and living in paradise is great. But, like any life, it’s not perfect. One issue about living on Koh Tao is that it’s quite hard to connect with people outside the diving bubble. Koh Tao is a diving island, hence most of the people here work in dive schools and spend their days on the boat. If you join activities beyond diving, you’ll likely meet other tourists who move on after a few days. There is so much change and movement on this island! Koh Koh Pups has always been this place that gave me stability, like an anchor. It’s also where I met my closest friend of the island when I first joined as a volunteer.

Purple rescue dog Koh Tao
Purple (living in Finland now)
Emma foster dog under the table Koh Tao
Taking Emma to a restaurant so she knows how it works

So much love

Koh Tao dogs have such special personalities. I love how friendly and relaxed they are. Honestly, the love and care I share with them comes back to me tenfold. Over time, I started training some of the dogs to sit in the footwell of a scooter, so I could take them to restaurants and the beach. Introducing them to all the ‘human world’ sounds is super important and makes their transition into new homes smoother.

dog on the scooter Koh Tao
Teaching the dogs to sit in the footwell
dog on the scooter Koh Tao
It takes some attempts, but they are clever

When I first arrived in Thailand, I’d see people riding bikes with dogs on them. In my head I envisioned myself doing this, and it actually came true. My partner and I fostered two dogs for a few months, preparing them for their journey to Europe. We introduced them to living with humans, did some crate training, and just had them join our daily lives. Yes, it was really heart breaking to let them go in the end, but knowing we helped them ease into their new lives made it all worth it.

rescue dogs Koh Tao
Our foster dog Fynn, now living in Germany
me and my foster dog in Koh Tao
Our foster dog Emma, now living in Germany

The Koh Koh Pups have truly stolen my heart and are my anchor on Koh Tao. Wherever I will go in the future, I’ll keep an eye out again for volunteering options and dog related activities as they give me a feeling of connection, of belonging somewhere and having a purpose.

About Koh Koh Pups Koh Tao

Let me share more insights into Koh Koh Pups and the incredible work they do. Koh Koh Pups was founded by Lara Dakers in 2019. To me, she’s like the mother of dogs on the island. The dedication she gives to these animals on a daily basis is hard to put into words. She is working every day to provide shelter and care for the Koh Tao dogs and puts a huge effort into finding them new homes.

Some of the furry Koh Koh Pups residents were abandoned or neglected, while others were found as puppies. If Koh Koh Pups wouldn’t take found puppies in, there would likely be significant long-term issues with uncontrolled breeding. Over the past few years, the shelter has had between 10 and 30 dogs. All of the dogs are up for adoption, and many of them have already found new homes! Adoptions happen locally on the island, in the surrounding areas, and some lucky pups even find their way to new homes in Europe, the US, or Canada. Koh Tao dogs have beautiful characters – they are very social, clever, friendly, and relaxed. If I knew what my life would look like in the next few years, I would’ve already adopted one myself. One thing is for sure though, one day I’ll have my own Koh Tao dog.

Koh Koh pups residents Koh Tao
2021: the teenager cage
Koh Tao Dog Rescue
feeding time after the walks

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This is how you can help

Koh Koh Pups is a non profit dog rescue and fully relies on donations and the help of volunteers. There are a few different ways to support Koh Koh Pups.

1. From far away: Every donation counts! If you would like to support the work of Koh Koh Pups please leave a donation through their donation link.

2. Come volunteer: If you are visiting Koh Tao, come and get to know the pups yourself! Get in touch with Koh Koh Pups through Instagram or Facebook to check the daily walking times (usually 7.30 am & 4 pm) and let them know you are coming. You can take the dogs on a walk, play with them and cuddle them.

3. Spread the message: Follow Koh Koh Pups on Instagram to get regular dog content and spread the word with your friends! If you know someone who is looking for a dog, tell them about Koh Tao dogs or rescue dogs in general. There are so many lovely dogs out in this world looking for a home, that there really is no need to get a bred one.

How to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao? Read here

Koh Tao Dog Rescue Teal and Sadie
Teal (living in Germany now) and Sadie
beach Mae Haad with the dogs
Taking some pups to the beach

So this was the story of how I came across Koh Koh Pups, and found something I wasn’t actively looking for. Or maybe Koh Koh Pups just found me in a way? Being a volunteer at Koh Koh Pups was exactly what I needed to find connection on the island. If you are visiting them yourself, say hi and give some cuddles to all the dogs.

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