The Owner, Potma, is an Admirable Person
Potma, the name of the German woman who started this shelter some 15 years ago with only three dogs, starts boiling water to make tea – starting the day. Volunteers come in and out all year round; sometimes there are two foreigners and other times there are ten. Everyday, the giving Potma, cooks one massive meal a day in the afternoon feeding all of the volunteers staying and helping at the shelter and, of course, feeding herself. In the morning there are amazing dateballs blended with an assortment of seeds, nuts, rice flour, and a local natural surgar syrup called kithul (made from the flowering bud sap of a specific palm tree). Typically there are also some fruits available too 🙂 Everything here is vegan and gluten free as per Potma’s personal diet.
However she is always accommodating to people with different needs. A family once stayed at the shelter with their child. Picky with their food, as children are, this one was no exception. He only ate pasta with store bought pasta sauce and don’t even try to fool him with that gluten free pasta crap! “Why is it a darker color? This tastes funny? I want real pasta!” :p So Potma bought jars of pasta sauce and semolina pasta and provided what the family needed to feed their kid.
So Many Dogs!
Ok, so Potma is amazingly giving and kind and sweet and wonderful, enough singing her praises <3
I’ll start off with a poem I wrote thinking about my time at the shelter – I hope you enjoy:
Woof! Woof! Woof!
Bark! Bark! Bark!
The dogs have heard
The dogs have smelled
The dogs have seen
A human has entered upon their quarantine
150 join in the display
Decibels breaking records everyday
That is fine, it’s just the way
Some run up, “Come on, it’s time to play!”
Others run…run far away
Their fear inside means my pleasure delay
But Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4
Eventually, I can calmly open the door
Closer now to Charlie, shows his teeth, he’s still unsure
Yes – but I was closer now than ever before
This one is shy – Jillie the name
Never been for a walk, that’s a damn shame
Smell my hand, let us dance, play this game
I’ll be the first to walk you! I’ll gain my fame
The day is done. I smell like pee…or is it poo
No matter now, my work this day is through
Lying down, my heart feels warm
I’m to leave tomorrow, but my desires are torn
The dogs I’ve bonded and their love is strong
I can’t stay forever, so I’ll remember their song
If you didn’t take note, there are 150 dogs at this shelter and nearly 60 cats as well. They are kept in separate pen areas kind of like a “minimum security prison for dogs” as my friend Lee puts it 😉 But no, no, no – this is a very good shelter taking in stray animals. Then feeding them, housing them, people-izing (getting them used to people) them, and finding new permanent homes for these guys.
Most of the homes are now in Europe and, as Potma is from Germany, it seems many of the clients are from Germany as well. Of the 8 foreigners volunteering there, 5 of them spoke German (the only ones not were my friend and me, plus the Chinese Ping Ping whom told me about this place – you may remember her from the Jayagau family village in Napal (INSERT JAYAGAU LINK)). Potma initially gave dogs away to Sri Lankan families, but consistently, the dogs just weren’t doing too well in these homes. It may be because many of these dogs were mistreated by Sri Lankans and then rescued by lighter skinned people so they become afraid of darker skinned people (#notracist – not me anyway…the dogs…probably). So most of the animals are now going to homes outside of Sri Lanka.
Taking Care of These Cuties
Potma is even supporting the local people providing several jobs around the shelter to local people. Several women are under her employment cooking and feeding the dogs, cleaning up the cages, giving water, and keeping the peace when trouble brews amongst the canines. And every Sunday she hires a doctor to come to the shelter and provide medical services to the dogs in need, but most importantly castrating the dogs to limit the amount of strays occurring.
Now what must we do as volunteers you ask? We spend time loving, petting, caring for, and people-izing the dogs and cats. I’m spending 4-6 hours a day hanging out with all of the different dogs. Trying to spend extra time with those whom have more fear or more behavioral troubles.
One of the most important things we do is take the dogs for a walk. Getting them out of the pen, away from the other dogs they spend so much time with and into some more open space and personal space at that. This also helps them get used to wearing a harness and leash as well as learning what it means to be guided on a walk with that leash. I spent extra focus on dogs that have been walked the least by volunteers in the past. This happens because the dog is too shy, too wild, too difficult to walk, or too difficult to put a harness on. So I’m happy to say that I was able to walk three difficult dogs, one of which had never been walked before. For whatever reason, they were very easy for me to handle.
Potma told me that one dog, Alvays (Polish name), was a difficult one and that when someone walked him they never attempted that again. So I took on that challenge and found him so easy and calm and responsive during the walk. The walk was one thing – getting the collar on was a more difficult ordeal, but manageable alone. I took Alvays on three easy-going walks!
I will admit that I found myself a little tired at times looking for some personal time to recharge. The dogs are so giving, but petting and loving incessantly all day was sapping my energy levels. Luckily, Potma doesn’t expect anything but your best and most honest input. So whenever I needed time for myself I stepped away and took some time for myself. I would go to some quiet cats and meditate or take a minute on Reddit or talking to a friend via WhatsApp. Then I’d come back ready to show some love 😀
Come Help and Enjoy!
I had a really enjoyable time staying at Tikiri Trust (INSERT LINK AGAIN). The food Potma cooks is delicious and some of the healthiest eating you can do. The dogs are beautiful and lovely and playful and cute and it’s awesome to spend time with them. I learned about different fruits like wood apple, cheese fruit, wing beans, bitter squash, and green coffee (un-roasted coffee beans).
When you find yourself in Sri Lanka, you will undoubtedly find yourself in Kandy. Message Potma on the Facebook page and come to the Tikiri Shelter <3 You’ll be very happy that you do.
NOTE: When you first arrive all of the dogs are exciting by someone new and the barking can scare some people away. But after 3 days it gets a little more calm and after a week it’s pretty chill. Chill as far as the dogs concern about you. They still love barking at each other, at cats, at the moon, at nothing, or just for fun.
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