As the distance between you and Kuwait City widens, the air becomes clearer and the landscape more open. On my way to Ghada‘s – who goes by the nickname of Ghalya – Hundeparadies, or pet hotel, the traffic is almost non-existent and the stress of city dissipates. I am welcomed with open arms (and paws) into the greenery that acts as the running and playing area for the five large dogs living on the property.
Ghalya’s Pet Hotel has seven spacious dog kennels housed in an AC/ heater controlled room. There is also a grooming station equipped with only the best products to ensure that your pet is cleaned, brushed and clipped to perfection. A professional dog treadmill is available to keep your pet fit and energized throughout its stay. Outside, the vast, grassy area allows the dogs to interact with each other and spend some time in the fresh, open air. In addition, the large swimming pool is another source of activity for the guests of the hotel and Ghalya swims with the dogs, even providing them with life-jackets to make them comfortable.
Ghalya’s love for animals of all shapes and sizes is evident through her gentle playing and comforting commands. Ghalya has always considered this the best way to interact with pets. Although they may not understand the exact words you are saying, the tone in which you say them can have an enormous effect and transform a nervous dog into a relaxed companion. Although Ghalya has been faced with ‘aggressive’ dogs and warned of biting on the grooming table, she has never been bitten by any of her hotel’s clients. The solution: she talks to them as she gives them a long, relaxing bath massage. When a soft, soothing tone of voice is combined with a gentle touch, the animal knows that it is safe and begins to relax and enjoy the treatment.
Last year, Ghalya spent time in Germany, immersing herself in various dog training programs. She returned with diverse qualifications such as Narcotic, Explosive and Patrol dog training as well as Kennel and Veterinarian Management from the Police Dogs Centre in Holland. What she also came back to Kuwait with was Turbo, a work line police dog that she has been training for one month using a mixture of German and Dutch commands. In addition, Ghalya has a diploma in doghandling with skills such as holding and guiding as well as general animal behavior. Her expertise is certainly tangible as her dogs look to her for instruction and obey her every command.
In Kuwait, there exists a perhaps distorted opinion surrounding pets as a functional part of our society. Although thousands of pets are bought every year, the number of stray animals is increasing every day as puppies grow unmanageably large or kittens begin to scratch furniture and are heartlessly abandoned. Facilities such as K’s PATH are reaching bursting point and – as a result – older, disabled dogs are facing euthanasia. The simple cause of this Kuwaiti stray epidemic is a lack of research.
Ghalya’s advice for anyone interested in getting a pet is to adopt. Not only does it relieve some of the pressure from animal shelters but it also guarantees some level of devotion and dedication in a pet. She also stresses that training is paramount, no matter if your pet is showline or a lap-dog. In order for a pet to thrive, it needs to follow a loosely-set routine and respect boundaries set by its owner.
Ghalya hopes to establish a children’s training facility in order to provide young people with the skills needed to train and properly love their pets. Ghalya believes this to be important for the understanding of animal behavior and a change in mindset from the bottom up.
In order to provide a safe space for dog owners and trainers, Ghalya forms part of a newly-organized group called KK9A, based in Kuwait. It consists of 80 individuals, including Ghalya, and allows for dog trainers to meet every Friday and keep up with each others’ progress and share training tips.
It goes without saying that training a pet takes time and effort. However, Ghalya explains the simplicity of it: if you feed, clean and love your pet, they will do anything to please you. You just have to know how to tell them what you want and listen to them when they respond.
If you’re leaving Kuwait and looking for a safe, fun place for your pet to stay, call Ghalya at 9697 4464 or check out her Instagram @turnado14.