Lena Moral Waldmeier, founder of The Bali Dog
Partner of @thecasaassociation
Her Mum’s cancer and need for a canine companion, rescue dog Hazel, led Lena (family name) on a journey rescuing dogs from culling, poisonings and the dog meat trade. Now her noble mission is to make people better understand and respect a dog’s life. And with her book project, The Bali Dog, she hopes her values and questioning mind, nurtured while at BIS, will create better lives for our furry friends.
- When was The Bali Dog started?
The Instagram page began in Easter 2018. But my involvement in rescue goes back to middle school, when my friends and I would routinely find abandoned animals at school, or on the streets, bringing them home to our parents’ dismay. Our organization, The CASA Association, was registered as a charity in July 2019. It covers all aspects of animal welfare and the habitat’s protection.
- Why did you start it?
I didn’t grow up surrounded by animals. But when my mother had cancer my family and best friends encouraged us to adopt a dog as a companion. After adopting my first dog I grew a soft spot for street animals, Bali dogs especially. I began to notice abandoned animals everywhere and wondered why they should stay on the street. At the time I was unrealistic about the costs and consequences, just following my heart. I spent all my pocket money on rescues – it wasn’t enough.
Hazel was my first solo rescue, I first saw her on the beach and begged my parents to let me take her home. I couldn’t stop thinking about her all night, so the next day I went back to find her. Hazel was the first puppy I encountered with parvo [an infectious gastrointestinal illness]. My mother and I soon fell in love with Hazel. We would take turns to visit her at the Kedonganan vet three times daily, showing Hazel how much we cared, improving her morale. She survived parvo, and also needed hip surgery after a car accident. Eventually, Hazel was adopted by a lovely couple and now travels the world in style; she’s been to Russia, Chile, New York, and most recently, the Grand Canyon.
Her recovery inspired me to do the same to other dogs that are abandoned.
- What is the hardest part of taking care of a rescue/shelter home?
Rescue is very emotional. To make the best decisions you must remove emotion. You can’t cry or break down when a dog is injured – you must be calm. The same goes for receiving bad news, being let down by an adopter, or losing a dog that you have spent time and effort rehabilitating. Not to mention, many unfortunate things happen in Bali such as the dog meat trade, poisonings or culling. So pouring all your love and care into these animals, while making the most effective decisions for the long-term, is a balancing act.
Every situation should be approached with understanding.
- What is the most priceless reward?
My rescue dogs enjoying a healthy life. And seeing their adopters happy. It is about supporting animals, and also humans. Improving the human/animal relationship not only means working with the psychology and physiology of the animals, but also humans. The best reward is receiving updates from adopters who are overjoyed with their new companions, and seeing our rescues living the lives they have always deserved. Being validated for all the effort we put into them.
- How do you fundraise?
Through social media platforms. We are a very young organization and don’t have the resources, or networks that others do. We are grateful for the support we have received, and hope to work more with small businesses who contribute to our project, and we in turn promote them. We are also collaborating with brands that create products for animals and their owners, giving us a percentage of every sale from our limited edition collaboration products. We are always looking for new funding sources and are open to any kinds of partnerships.
- When did you graduate from BIS and What are the values you learned at BIS?
What I really appreciate about BIS was the continuity between PYP, MYP and IB. Always questioning why things are the way they are, the moral and ethical implications of the topics we were learning, from maths to art. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) may be something you only take in IB, but you can see its continuity throughout all three programs where you are pushed to think for yourself, not just memorizing facts. It is a style of education that suited me well and is appreciated beyond high school, into university and beyond. Asking the questions that others don’t, because they accept the status quo, and putting yourself in the position of others, analyzing problems from different angles and best of all, accepting that sometimes there is more than one right answer.
- Tell us about The Bali Dog book you are publishing soon.
No organisation seems to be able to put an end to the dumping and neglect of animals. We see a lot of hope in future generations, unfortunately they often don’t have the know-how, or the resources for a rescue as we do.
These situations inspired us to create an education program showing people alternatives, broadening perspectives, and allowing them to reach their own conclusions. So we created two books – one for children and one for adults.
The children’s book will follow the adventures of a dumped female puppy, who meets other neglected animals along the way, like monkeys kept in cages, or snakes displaced due to construction. She eventually gains the confidence to navigate the scary streets of Bali and is rescued by a young girl, reminding her that she has value and that there is someone in this world who wants her. This book will be sold to publish future copies, and for every book sold we will donate a bilingual version to a local school or education program in Indonesia.
The book for adults is a photo essay that explores the daily lives of Bali Dogs, whether on the streets or owned dogs. It will include their history, the myths and beliefs surrounding their existence. We want to remind people of the importance of the Bali Dog, their unique attributes and enlighten the rest of the world to their situation on the island as well as surrounding areas. For now this will remain an e-book to reduce costs, as we want to be as financially responsible as possible.
We are fundraising to cover the illustration, publication, translation and photography costs. See: http://www.casaassociation.org/book-project