Marhaba chats with 10-year-old dog rescuer, Ava Crowther, about her passion for dogs, fostering and juggling her philanthropy with school.

Ava Crowther is a British expatriate and has been living in Qatar along with her family for four years. She’s a grade 6B student at Doha British School by day and a dog fosterer by night. Ava and her family are currently fostering a dog called Spero who will soon leave to the US. ‘Spero is a very special dog. He hasn’t had a very good life. He was in the desert for most of it then obviously he was found and came to us,’ said Ava. ‘He’s been eating rocks because he’s been starving. He was in the industrial area. He’s healthy now but he’s got a very damaged leg, which when he goes to the US, they’ll fix that,’ added her mother, Aimee.

Ava and her current foster dog Spero

‘I love dogs. I’ve always loved dogs. I like how they all have their own story. They’re very smart animals and their personalities are always different. They always have different stories,’ said Ava. ‘I think you’re just an animal lover, not just a dog lover. You love animals,’ said Aimee to Ava.

‘I really like animals. So the fact that I can change their life and help them and as I said about five times, give them a second chance, I can really help them recover from that. I like seeing them go to a new place and seeing all the pictures, seeing them happy,’ added Ava.

In addition to Spero, the Crowther family already has two dogs of their own – both adopted from their time here Qatar – as well as four rescued cats. One of their dogs was adopted from BarkinQ – Volunteer for Dogs. ‘We once had a dog named Rocky. He was so ill. He was fine the first few days then he just got so sick but even the vet at that point didn’t know what was wrong with him. So he was on medication, eye drops. We’ve tried everything. This was the brother of the dog we adopted. So this dog had to come to our house, stayed with us for a while then Rocky died because he wasn’t well but we kept his brother, Charlie,’ explained Ava. ‘There’s always a sad side to it. Sometimes, they get the chance to try everything but you still lose them. But you have to try!’ added Aimee.

The fostering

Last month, Ava said farewell to Lucy, a dog she previously fostered. Lucy, along with another dog, Roza, are the only survivors of the Al Wakra Dog Shooting, where at least six dogs were shot dead in March 2018.

Ava and her family have been fostering dogs for about 18 months now, anything from a one-night to a two-month stay. The dogs they foster are usually waiting to travel to their new homes or shelters abroad. ‘The foster period is between one to two months most of the time. It takes us that long to get them in good health, vaccinated and ready to fly, and to arrange a foster home or forever home in the US. There are a lot of people who have to work together to make this all work. You’ve got to consider people driving to the airport in the US. It’s a very big place. They might land here but their foster home might be eight hours away. We all have to work together to make it work out,’ said Aimee.

For Ava, fostering dogs entails daily care. Although she has school, Ava works around school hours to accommodate the fostered dog. Right now, it’s Spero. ‘I’ll get up, let Spero out, fill up his bowls, then I’ll get ready, then I’ll go back, walk him if I can, depending on how much time I have. I always do try to squeeze a little quick walk though. Then come home, take off his leash, fill up his water bowls and his food. Then probably stroke him for a good while, give him treats, play with him, then clean up his mess outside and walk in the evenings as well. We do about two walks a day,’ she explains. Spero leaves for Atlanta in the US on 12 July 2018.

Ava fostered Ruby and her nine puppies who were found in the desert. Ruby was underweight. Now, they have all been adopted by different individuals in Qatar and the US.

So how does young Ava adjust whenever a dog she is fostering leaves or passes away? ‘What keeps me going is like the quote, “Everything happens for a reason.” So, for example, Rocky died but I got to have Charlie and he’s a lovely dog. So I kind of keep with that. I did not have enough time to sit and cry and things because I will be with this new dog but this other dog helps me get over the other dog that passed. So you have to stay positive!’ explained Ava.

Most of the rescued dogs are flown to the US mainly due to less expenses as well as the strong partnerships BarkinQ and other animal rescuers in Qatar have made with animal rescuers in the US. ‘When we send them to the US, they can fly as accompanied baggage, which isn’t very expensive. When we go to the UK, they can only fly as cargo. And we’re pretty much self-funded. We don’t get that many donations so we can send one dog to the UK where that could pay for five to the US. It’s that much of a difference,’ said Aimee.

Working with BarkinQ

‘BarkinQ is so nice,’ said Ava, crediting her philanthropy to BarkinQ. ‘Even though it’s quite a small community, everyone is working together and everyone’s kind to one another. It’s so nice. I really like it that Donja and James spend so much time in rescuing these dogs. It’s crazy how kind they are to these dogs. It’s so nice. Because if it wasn’t for them, this community wouldn’t have happened. These people wouldn’t have come together…All the dogs we’ve fostered, they’ve rescued. I really like that they can give these dogs a second chance and they really help them get over what they’ve had in their past,’ she explained. ‘I think she finds their kindness very admirable and I think she aspires to be like them,’ added Aimee.

According to Ava, being with BarkinQ and surrounded with adults who dedicate their time to rescuing animals is an inspiring learning experience. ‘I think it’s very nice, as a kid, because I know many kids my age don’t think about dogs. I think it’s very good responsibility for me that I can see all these people doing kind things and obviously I would follow them. Donja and James do so much and they’re really nice. I look up to them,’ she explained.

Doing more

The Crowther family collected donations for the workers and street dogs in Al Khor.

The Crowther family have recently been collecting donations to feed street dogs in Al Khor. ‘It was for the benefit of the dogs to feed them throughout the summer when the lady who feeds them is going away for seven weeks. We leave the food with the workers who will take care of them. They care about them but obviously don’t have the means to provide them with food. So as bonus, I was also asking people to donate any clothes or rice or whatever to the workers and they did,’ explained Aimee.

To people in Qatar, Ava says do more.

‘You can do anything if you try. You can reach out to BarkinQ even if you just want to help donate some food or help the workers or spend time with them or go to some of the animals events, then you could see dogs that are very nice. They are very nice animals. Go to the shelters and feed them,’ she said.

Author: Ola Diab

Copyright © Marhaba Information Guide. Reproduction of material from Marhaba Information Guide’s book or website without written permission is strictly prohibited. Using Marhaba Information Guide’s material without authorisation constitutes as plagiarism as well as copyright infringement.