There is a magical place in South Gippsland, Australia. It’s called Saffron On The Hill. And it is like heaven for pugs and pug lovers.
Saffron rescues dogs, mostly pugs, from puppy mills, then houses them while getting them ready for adoption.
Karen Layland, inspired by her own pug, Greta, launched Saffron in 2011. At any given time, Saffron houses 15-20 pugs – the all-time high was 30! In 2012, Saffron found homes for 115 dogs, Karen said.
As those pugs await their forever homes, Saffron provides a serene, picturesque residence for them to socialize with other smooshed-face friends and Saffron’s volunteers.
They often get their photo taken, and sometimes they dress up for special occasions.
Saffron sits on eight acres in Southern Australia. There’s a house, and a half-acre of outdoor space fenced off for the dogs to hang out. The pugs have views of nature for as far as they can see. For the dogs, this is typically the first time they have ever been inside a home.
And lucky for the pugs, they have the run of the house. Even Karen’s bed! The only time the dogs must be separated is for meal time. It is chaos but “organized chaos” says Karen.
Most of the pugs know exactly when it is time for dinner, as pugs are well-known for having a strong internal clock when it comes to their meals.
Most of the pugs are between 7 and 8 years old, but because of the tough situations from which they come, they often need to be trained as if they were puppies.
Saffron rescues pugs after a breeder decides that he or she is no longer useful – typically once they can no longer fit to breed. Occasionally, Saffron receives pugs that are 2 to 3 years old if they eat their litter, have mites or their organs have fallen out of place. Karen and the breeders will meet at an arranged place and she immediately takes the dogs to a veterinarian. She has never been allowed on a breeders’ property. Karen has approached lots of mills, often begging them to surrender their dogs to her.
Once the dogs arrive at Saffron, they usually have to be housebroken, taught to walk on a leash and learn about riding in a car. Most importantly, they have learn to trust humans and get along with other dogs.
The dogs usually have had extremely tough and sad lives, so while teaching them to “sit” is nice, Karen is most concerned with letting them be dogs and enjoy sitting on the sofa, with the TV on or in front of the computer. (Judging by the photos, they don’t seem to mind.)
If you want to adopt, volunteer, shop or donate to Saffron On The Hill, go here.
(All photos are from Saffron on the Hill; main image by Erin McNulty)