21 Feb

Be Kind

“In a world where we can be anything, be kind” is how the well-known quote goes. It is a quote that resonates in your mind and so it should.

And it is now recognized that making a kind choice is indeed just as good for the person making the kind decision as the person or animal that receives the kindness.

Scientifically proven benefits of being kind

It is said that just witnessing acts of kindness produces the hormone oxytocin which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart-health. And to prove the point just recall how you feel when you watch a clip of an injured animal being saved by a modern day Samaritan.

Sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center,  Christine Carter, quotes a study where about half of participants reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others, with many feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.

On top of that, it is said that kinder people actually live longer, healthier lives.

The ‘Helper’s high’

According a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries it was found that people who are altruistic—in this case study, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall.

According to scientific research, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed! This phenomenon has a name – the “helper’s high.”

Shopping Kind

Of course not everyone can rescue a suffering animal or work in developing countries or give substantial amounts to charities, but we can all attempt to make simple everyday kind choices when it comes to shopping.  From home furnishings to food to clothing and accessories, the kind shopping choices we make can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of animals, people and environment (as well as ourselves!)

We are well aware of the environmental and ecological destruction at the hands of humans; we know certain cosmetics and household products are cruelly tested on animals and we know that the production of many goods involves sweat shop labour.  But can we change this by making kinder choices in our shopping habits?The answer is yes, we can!

Look at your hand bag or home furnishings and ask yourself what impact that product had. Can you make a kinder choice – perhaps to purchase a product that has not been tested on animals, or an eco friendly product?

It is acknowledged that purchasing only fairtrade products is nigh impossible but that is no reason not try and make considered choices.

And although we Australians love to buy new clothes, (and wallets and bags and homewares) once we tire of them, 85% of it ends up in landfill. Clothing made from polyester can take 200 years to break down.  How many people (mainly women) suffered long and torturous hours to produce these products in sweat shop conditions? It is time to consider purchasing second hand, better quality clothes or fairtrade where possible.

Change comes by way of small steps. Let’s continue to take those small kind steps.

05 Apr

The old and infirm

It is nearing the end of my third week at Soi Dog Shelter in Phuket, Thailand.  Of late I have been getting to know the aged and infirm dogs at the Shelter and I would like to introduce you to three of them.

I like to visit them each afternoon if I can to give a pat or a cuddle. Many have had their eyes removed but they can sense where I am and love to have someone to sit with them for a short while. In many cases I don’t know how they came about their injuries but I do know about Torkal, Candra and Jamie.

I feel quite emotional when I am sitting with them – these dear souls who have been through so much. I love them.

Torkal  came in apparently blinded from being beaten. He cannot walk properly and I think this may be due to a neurological problem after the beating.  He is almost 10 years old now.



Dear Candra is a very shy boy who came to the shelter suffering from a terrible skin condition. Life was hard on the streets and people were cruel. His skin has improved but he will always have the scars from the past.  A great fear of most people means that he is unlikely to ever be adopted into a new home. But he is cared for and safe at the shelter now.





Jamie was born on the streets and really had no one to care for him. His is now aged 6 years and blind. He has never had a human to love him or a place to call home.

Jamie was hit by a speeding car and found by the side of the road and brought to the Soi Dog Shelter.

Unfortunately Australia’s quarantine rules make adoption from Thailand very difficult and very very expensive but you can sponsor an animal which will help greatly with the upkeep and it will help the dogs to continue to socialise with the kindly volunteers who come to visit.  This is all part of the healing process for them.

Please visit http://www.soidog.org


25 Mar

Inside the Soi Dog shelter, Thailand

Welcome to my second blog about the Soi Dog experience. It is now the end of my first week at Soi Dog in Nai Yang Thailand and what a humbling experience it is being part of this shelter for the stray and neglected and injured street dogs of Thailand.

Each weekday starts with a pick up in the back of the Soi Dog ute. I am joined by about 8 other volunteers from the UK, Canada, Germany, Holland, Austria and Finland all set for their job to walk the dogs from their run (one at a time) around the dam at the property and to allow the dogs to become accustomed to socialising with humans.

Upon orientation a new volunteer spends the first day meeting and mixing with the dogs allocated to you. I am in Run B3 and have 22 dogs! I can now remember most of their names (and I have to say some look very much alike) and yes I was a tad nervous going into a run with so many big dogs on my own but by the end of the first day I was much more confident. The dogs have, for the most part, come from very sad and sorry situations and are now being rehabilitted in readiness for their adoptions around the world.  Many have been hit by cars or attacked by machetes and suffered horrendous injuries. Many have 3 limbs and quite a few have only one eye or no eyes at all.


Each dog goes out of the run through a series of secure gates and then walks around the dam once or twice if he or she wants to. Many dogs crowd around the gate and jostle to get out and it is tricky trying to get only one out at a time.  Even after so much jostling to get out, many are so shy that when it really does come to their turn for a walk they can be too scared to go beyond the main gate of the enclosure.  Some are so very shy. But when one thinks of their history it is completely understandable and we must be gentle with them.

And their histories are not pleasant and this of course raises the issue of the Dog Meat Trade in Asia. The rescue of these dogs is a big part of the work of Soi Dog Foundation.

People who trade in these dogs grab dogs off the streets in Thailand and have them transported to Vietnam and other neighbouring countries where they are sold live as meat animals.  According to Soi Dog, the conditions under which the dogs are transported and slaughtered are inhumane and many die from suffocation before they reach their destination. In reality these are the lucky ones. Those that are still alive are not humanely killed but many are tortured often for hours before being skinned alive.

Soi Dog works to rescue these dogs and bring them back to the Foundation here in Phuket.   Many are currently here with the arrival of a large number last Friday and they are pictured here in the DMT runs – yet they are surprisingly calm and gentle. They are assessed and often then transported to the US in groups of about 10 to cities such as New York where there is a wonderful shelter and they stand a very good chance of being adopted.

Under the direction and perseverance and hard work of the late Gill Dalley and her husband John, co-founders of Soi Dog, the dog meat trade is now illegal in Thailand though many dogs are transported from Thailand to neighbouring countries and Soi Dog needs to be vigilant.


If you would like to take action after reading this please see the Petition against the dog meat trade here – http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/333/178/361/

25th March 2017

12 Mar

Heading off to Soi Dog in Thailand

Why am I going?

A few issues arose at the end of 2016 with one being the end of my shop’s licence at Frankston Bazaar and with it came a sense of “wanting to get away and do something” that saw me searching on my phone late one night for a purpose.  I was looking at some of the worst case scenarios for animals. I am not sure why I put myself through this but in doing so I came across information about the dog meat trade in Asia.  Yes I know people eat animals here in Australia and I know there is no difference between the eating of a dog or a cow.  But the image of dogs all bundled together in sacks ready for slaughter at who knows where, stuck in my mind and I could not erase it.

Although I had previously known about this trade and felt helpless I knew I would not be brave enough to front the issue head on at the meat markets but what I did discover late that night was that a shelter in Thailand, called Soi Dog, takes many of these dogs who have been rescued from these horrendous markets with  many more come from brutal lives on the streets of Thailand.

Soi Dog means Street Dog and there are certainly plenty of street dogs in Thailand and this no-kill shelter cares for up to 400 animals (both cats and dogs) at any given time.

So I have decided to volunteer for a month starting on 18th March 2017. The job of volunteers, who come from all over the world, is socialise with the animals, encourage them to trust and receive human love and affection. Tasks include brushing and walking the dogs and in general preparing them for their adoptions (which  happen right around the world from Switzerland to the UK to the US but unfortunately not to Australia as our quarantine regulations are very strict).

Some might ask why help dogs in Asia when dogs are being put down or living horrible lives in puppy farms here in Australia.  For me Soi Dog is not just a shelter but works hard to lobby for end to the live dog meat trade. Sadly every year tens of thousands of dogs are inhumanely transported from Thailand to neighbouring countries where they are butchered by cruel and barbaric methods. However, the Soi Dog Foundation is actively working to end this appalling practice.  Soi Dog aims to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering .

So for me it is not just a matter of socialising with rescue dogs in Thailand but contributing to the work of raising awareness and encouraging change in the region.

And simply this is something I felt I could do.

Please check out the stories about Soi Dog at www.soidog.org

If you would like to know more about any of this please don’t hesitate to email me at any time at kindchoices@gmail.com

And when I return at the end of April 2017 hopefully I will have some Soi Dog merchandise and fairtrade handcrafts for you here at the Kind Choices on line shop!


12 March 2017

Rawai, pictured above, was chained up at a restaurant at Rawai beach. The photo on the right shows a month later on his way to recovery. (I have deliberately not shown the worst cases that Soi Dog see as I know even this is very distressing for many readers).