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I live in a small town in rural Brazil with my Brazilian husband.

Most people here do not have respect for dogs. There's a dog so sick and skinny, I thought she was a stray- until I saw her in her yard with her owner on the porch!

My neighbor's dogs were fighting, and she threw such hot water on them that it left scars.

There's a very small ratter-type dog (again, with an owner) that has at least 20 full ticks that I can see just when I squat to pet her.

People criticize us for allowing the dogs inside.

Most people do not vaccinate their dogs or worm them.

There's no shelter, but there is a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, which is rarely used.

So that's the reality.

I want to help change the culture of insensitivity here & think the best way to do it is through the children. I think this might work b/c last night my hubby walked through the main plaza with the dogs, and decided to put them through their fun tricks while waiting for a down pour to stop while under cover. It drew a crowd! (Nothing special- sit, down, stay, up, speak, quiet) But I guess almost everyone here has never seen a dog do a trick. Circus' here do not allow animals.

I did find the Animal Empathy program from the ASPCA and I'm translating it- other ideas? I cry a lot seeing dogs sick and suffering on the street but I want to DO something with that energy, not just feel pity. And my husband will do whatever it takes to get me to stop crying every week.
 

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Wow, I feel for you, and I'd be going crazy seeing all of that. The kids are a great start, and so is translating the program. You could ask some local schools if you could give talks to their classes based on the program, maybe even bring your dog along and show them tricks! Talk about the spay/neuter issue, pet nutrition etc. If you wanted to get even more ambitious and have time maybe offer some free or low cost training classes (I'm talking basic stuff, more teaching owners to teach their dogs how to do what you've already taught yours). You may not be a trainer, but if there is no one else there that has the knowledge or inclination I don't see that you could do any harm, and you certainly seem kind, so I doubt your first instinct would be to do something misguided like strapping a prong collar on a 6 month old fearful puppy. Or, if you don't want that level of responsibility or formality maybe a "dog club", and maybe people who are like-minded, but lack the information or knowledge to treat their dogs differently could come together with you.
I guess it all depends on how far you want to go! Good luck with it, and let us know how things go :)
 

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OMGosh a dog club is a WONDERFUL idea! Everything I know I've learned online and from my dogs. I am not a trainer at all, but I could certainly teach sit! When we went out to a friend's farm, their dog learned an amazing recall in 3 days. Every time I called my dogs he saw they got a treat, so he joined in on the fun. I was truly amazed!

I have connected with a sympathetic teacher who might allow us to start there with tricks and the empathy program.
 
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