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Saving a puppy in the Philippines: Our story with Shaka

This Blog Post is about a very special experience that we made during our time in the Philippines. Siargao Island was one of our favourite islands we travelled in the Philippines and the place where we found Shaka, a tiny abandoned street puppy. We fell in love and couldn’t leave it behind. That’s how we ended up saving a street puppy! Read about what happened and how the story with Shaka ended.

This is Shaka when we found her and below is her story!

  1. How did we find Shaka?
  2. Shaka’s journey to the mainland
  3. Visiting Shaka again
  4. About Puppy Puddle Siargao
  5. How’s Shaka today?

How did we find Shaka?

First of all: who are WE?
Well, first there is Coco who is an amazing Belgian girl that we met on our trip through Palawan & then again in Coron, where we decided to travel to Siargao Island together. And then there’s Ben, our friend from Australia that was travelling with us through the Philippines for two weeks. We four were a pretty good travel group!

However, our puppy saving experience happened on a beautiful day on Siargao Island, actually it was Ville’s birthday! To celebrate and surprise him with a small gift, we organized an island hopping tour to the nearby islands around Siargao.

The island hopping tour was super amazing! We visited Guyam Island, Fish Sanctuary and ended on Daku Island, not only our home for the night, but also Shaka’s home. By then we didn’t know yet what we’ll find…

Abandoned and sick

We spent the day on the beach and strolling around the island. We had just found a nice place on the beach to relax when Coco and me saw this cute little shape of puppy running towards our direction. I was getting excited right away when I saw it coming as I looove puppies, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that this puppy was really sick. The skin was extremely dry and damaged, there were open wounds all over the body and there was no light at all in the puppy’s eyes anymore. When she sat down right next to us, looking us in the eyes, we knew that this was the moment we couldn’t leave Shaka behind anymore. And that’s where it all started!

This is how Shaka approached us on the beach.

It was faith

While Coco was hunting down organizations on Instagram that might be able to help Shaka, we ‘forced’ Ville to take Shaka into a towel (honestly everybody was really scared to touch the puppy, as we all didn’t know what kind of disease it had, so we figured that Ville was the best victim to choose :D). Finally, Coco successfully found an organization named ‘Puppy Puddle Siargao’ & they immediately texted us back that we could drop off the puppy at their shelter on the next day.

Wrapped up in the warm towel, we brought Shaka to our camping spot, where we shared our dinner with her and gave her some fresh drinking water. It looked like she didn’t have anything to eat or drink for weeks!

When we all went to bed, Shaka wrapped herself up again in the towel & didn’t leave our tent’s side during the whole night! We figured she might be gone by the next morning, but she stayed close to us the whole time as if she wanted to tell us that she really needed help. That’s when we gave her the name Shaka, named after our favourite cafe ‘SHAKA’ in Siargao.

Like to know more about Siargao?

➳ Read: Your guide to Siargao Island- Tropical Paradise.

Shaka’s journey to the mainland

After a beautiful sunrise, we started our journey back to Siargao’s mainland. Shaka who was still sleeping in the towel next to our tent, didn’t know yet that a whole new life was about to start for her. After we asked some locals around the island if Shaka really didn’t belong to someone, it was clear: she was homeless and needed help.

After we packed up our things, we carefully lifted Shaka into the fisherboat that was bringing us back to Siargao. She even looked excited for this small adventure! When the boat’s engine started (a noise a street puppy really is not used to) she hid her small wrinkled face into the towel. It was so cute! Before arriving in Siargao, we stopped at Naked Island, where Shaka was happily exploring a new area and getting some “business” done. 😀

Tiny Shaka on Naked Island exploring.

Off to her new home

After the boat ride, the journey wasn’t over yet. Travelling from A to B can be very time consuming in the Philippines, and we still needed to catch one of the TukTuks to meet the girl from the organization that had planned to pick up Shaka. During our TukTuk ride we realized that Shaka’s condition was getting worse from minute to minute. She looked exhausted, had the sadest face one could ever imagine for a puppy and we now were 100% sure that she wouldn’t have had survived several more days on Daku Island. 15 minutes later, we finally arrived at the pick up point: Mad Monkey’s Hostel, our accommodation.

Shaka in her worst condition…

Shaka’s Pickup

While we waited for the girl from ‘Puppy Puddle Siargao’ , Shaka already had a few fans from the hostel.

The girl who picked up Shaka looked European (actually she’s from Poland, living in the Philippines for several years and the one who founded the organization to save hundreds of puppy lifes.). She came on a motorbike and had a small jute bag around her shoulders. Her big smile and positive energy was contagious and when she saw Shaka it grew even bigger (it’s that when you can see people’s real passion!). She wasn’t harmed to touch Shaka in any way and directly closed her arms around her: “Ohh this little one has such a bad mange! But we’re going to fix this!.” She explained that ‘Mange’ is a really common skin disease for street animals that can be deathful if it stays untreated.

She put Shaka in the jute bag until only her head looked out of the bag.
The girl had told us the address and said we could visit Shaka whenever we liked. The image of these two cruising away on the motorbike, Shaka inside the jute bag and disappearing into the jungle of palm trees was actually quite funny! 😀 And I thought: WOW! That’s how the girl fulfills her purpose of life: cruising with a scooter around a tropical island saving street puppies. How amazing is that?

Visiting Shaka again

On the next day, we headed towards Puppy Puddle directly after breakfast. We were so excited to see Shaka again and couldn’t wait any longer to finally grab the scooter. We had some difficulties finding the buidling, as in the Philippines the houses mostly look the same and inside a jungle of coconut trees it was actually not so easy to stay oriented with Google Maps haha.

However, we finally found it! It shouldn’t have been to hard because you definitely couldn’t oversee the 3 small, cute puppies outside of the terrace greeting the visitors. It was puppy cuteness overload! I couldn’t do differently but give those cuties a big cuddle (please leave below in the comments if you’re also such a puppy lover so I know I’m not the only crazy puppy lover here :D).

A small wonder

We entered the room and the girl who picked up Shaka yesterday was just preparing food for them. There was one volunteer too that was busy cuddling another white street puppy with Dumbo Ears named ‘Bravo’ (so cute!) that already looked extremely healthy and was wearing a red collar.

And then we saw Shaka! I couldn’t believe my eyes, she looked like a different dog!! She staggered towards Coco and me on her tiny legs, with ears up and bright eyes. She was wailing her tail as if she knew exactly who we were and sat down in front of us.

Shaka on the next day (and Bravo in the background).

My heart melted when I saw how happy Shaka looked like, how much healthier she was already and how much life got back inside her eyes. It was one of the biggest rewarding feelings I have ever felt. That was the moment I realized we had really saved this puppy’s life.

Pepped Up

After we spent some time with Shaka, the girl explained to us that she already got some important vaccinations against her worms and mange that saved her bad conditions. Besides that, she got some important Vitamins she was very low on via injections and she’s eating regularly which made her come back to strength.

But the greatest news was that she had found a sponsor overnight that wants to overtake further vaccination costs and food expenses for Shaka! For every new puppy, ‘Puppy Puddle Siargao’ postes photos of them on their website and Instagram to find possible sponsors as quickly as possible.

Goodbye Shaka

We visited Shaka one more time on the following day, before our time on Siargao Island had come to an end. We felt like she was even doing better than the day before and she even wanted to play and get attention from the other puppies in the house. Indeed, she was very straight forward and knew exactly what she wanted! She even stole Bravo’s (who was almost three times bigger than Shaka) sleeping basket, her body almost disappearing into the big pillow & made herself comfortable in there. Bravo couldn’t believe a small girl like that is trying to overtake is territory but we all had to laugh: this was Shaka, she was a real survivor and knew how to fight for what she wanted.

The goodbye was really sad for us, but we knew now that she was in good hands and she would have great opportunities to get adopted by a family one day. When we left, Shaka turned her head and looked at us for a while, as if she wanted to say ‘thank you’.

Ever since I’ve kept thinking about Shaka and wondering how she’s doing nowadays. It truly was an experience that has shaped my life , something that will always stay in my heart.

Puppy Puddle Siargao- a life saving organization

Puppy Puddle Siargao is a non-profit organization located on Siargao Island, Philippines. Their mission: island animal rescue & ending suffering of animals!

Who are they?

The organization was founded by ‘Alex Goldyn’ who is from Poland and has been living the island life in the Philippines since 2010. She then started ‘Puppy Puddle Siargao’ in 2018 together with Co-Founder ‘Kaisa Kasemets’, to combine her deep love for dogs with her mission to end suffering of animals on Siargao Island.

Summed up ‘Puppy Puddle Siargao’ is an organic fusion of two animal loving island girls that joined the forces to make a difference in animal welfare in a place they now both call home.

Alex and Kaisa are founders of the non-profit organization. (Photos taken from Puppy Puddle Siargao.)

Read more about Alex and Kaisa here!

Their mission

“Our dream is to give every animal a life that they deserve. Life free from starvation, thirst, diseases, fear and suffering. Life full of love, compassion, comfort, peace and freedom. Happy puppy life!”

Puppy Puddle Siargao

The organization works hard to improve the island’s situation by providing free spay and neuter services, vaccinations and supportive medications. Besides that, they continuously raise awareness around the island and on social media to spread valuable education in animal welfare across the communities of the island and the world.

It’s about improving the entire island’s situation to get under control spreading animals diseases like certain viruses, canine distemper, rabies and mange. That’s why Alex decided to found Puppy Puddle Siargao, to create a supportive place where people can get involved, connect and together make a difference; a network dedicated to puppy saving and other island animals lives!

@PuppyPuddleSiargao Instagram

Donate, Sponsor, Adopt

There are different ways on how to support and help the organization and the puppies to survive! 🙂


The first one is to donate! There are multiple options to decide what you would like to support. You can make a general donation, donate to a specific cause, support a specific puppy or donate for the volunteer maintenance.

Click here to know more or make a donation!


The second option to support Puppy Puddle is to become a sponsor. Sponsors generally make either one time large sum donation towards a specific cause, or make themselves available to support a cause on regular basis. This could include:

  • Events
  • Medication
  • A certain puppy
  • Female Dog

Click here to find out more about becoming a sponsor!


The end goal is to prep up the puppies and prepare them for a new and safe life in an new family. So, for those who have time this is an amazing opportunity for a new family member.

➳ Adopt, don’t shop!

When we were at the puppy house, there were several families coming over to have a look and get to know a possible new family member. Some of them were locals, but actually there were a lot of international ones too from the USA, Netherlands etc. so it’s also possible to adopt them internationally.

The Adoption is completely free, but obviously it’s obligation that the new family overtakes upcoming vaccinations and other necessities throughout their life. Puppy Puddle checks every now and then on the families to make sure those requirements are being fulfilled. 🙂

@PuppyPuddleSiargao Instagram

See Adoption List here.

Become a volunteer

For all those who dream about volunteering with puppies and street animals (like me! :D), and love to travel while making a change in person, becoming a volunteer with Puppy Puddle Siargao is your go!! The organization is always looking for new volunteers.

The tasks will vary on personal interests, but here are some examples:

  • Feeding
  • Treating dogs
  • Becoming a part of our alert network around the island
  • Be part of mass spay and neuter clinics organised every couple of months
  • Give dogs some love
  • Look after recovering animals
  • Help with puppy saving

Get some insights on how it is to work with street dogs and read about: My Volunteer Experience working at an animal shelter in Peru.

Me volunteering at an animal shelter in Peru for 1 month! 🙂

You don’t need any vet experience, just a kind and open heart!

As Siargao Island is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Philippines, it’s the perfect place to combine your holidays with a bigger purpose. 🙂

Read more about requirements and volunteer opportunities here!


Make sure to check out their Instagram to connect and get more impressions on their work of saving the one and other puppy. @puppypuddlesiargao


their website.

How’s Shaka today?

So, after this adventurous and exciting time from finding Shaka on Daku to seeing her pepped up and happy at the Puppy Puddle house, some of you might want to know: how is Shaka today??

Of course, after our rescue operation and after we had left Siargao Island, we daily followed up on Instagram to see how Shaka had developed. Her skin disease was getting better from day to day, her hair regrew and after a few months it was already hard to recognize her! She looked like a different dog, so healthy and of course, more grown up after a time.

Shaka after a few months at Puppy Puddle.

Almost 3 months later, Puppy Puddle made a new post sharing big news: Shaka got adopted!!!
She had found a new family that is now taking care of her. She is now living a healthy and beautiful puppy life!

Shaka and her new mum. Can you see how different she looks like?? Photo is taken from Puppy Puddle Siargao Website.

Shaka has really shown me that it’s so worth to invest some effort, connect and believe in the ability of making a change because together we can!!

A huge thank you also to Puppy Puddle Puddle Siargao for giving Shaka a new home and working so hard with so much passion to save hundreds of animal lifes. You guys are amazing!!

➳ Want to know more about Siargao Island? Read: Siargao Island, Tropical Island Guide.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading about our puppy saving experience! Have you ever had a similar experience? Maybe I could even inspire you to help a small street puppy next time you see one… 🙂 Let me know!



  1. Gatinho
    June 16, 2020 / 12:43 AM

    Best post ever!!!!!

    • annabcm
      June 18, 2020 / 4:04 PM

      Such a good memory isn’t it?? Wish we could have taken Shaka with us *.*

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