Impressions from the Dog Sanctuary

Working with dogs is connected to us humans in a special way – why is that? And how does this connection feel? We experience it when we are allowed to witness how a frightened and suffering animal learns that it is safe – how it then drinks in the trust and develops towards healing – a great lesson, also for us humans.

 By Barbara Kovats, March 3 2024

“Who feeds a hungry animal feeds his own soul.”

Charlie Chaplin

Faithful companion of humans since ancient times

Humans and dogs have lived together for at least 14000 years, thousands of years longer than any other domestic animal! In the late 1970s in northern Israel, the team of archaeologists led by Simon Davis and François Valla found the 12,000-year-old skeleton of a woman. Her hand rests protectively – on the bony body of a puppy! It is early evidence of the long and intimate relationship between humans and dogs.

No other animal has accompanied us so unconditionally everywhere: Wherever in the world man set foot, dog tracks can usually be found. Dogs are very similar to humans in their social behavior – dogs can read a person’s facial expressions and see whether their human is happy, sad or stressed. Even if we point our finger at something, a dog understands that it should follow the finger with its gaze – something that few other animals can do.

Biologist Brian Hare observed wolf and dog pups for years. He once hid their food in a box. The young wolves immediately tried to open it. They worked the box with their teeth and claws to get at the coveted contents. They paid no attention to the humans in the room. The dogs were completely different: they briefly tried to open the box, but quickly gave up. Without ever having practiced it, they looked at the human with a begging puppy look and said in no uncertain terms: “Help me!” Which Hare then did.

It is precisely because of this “begging look” that behavioral researchers have long perceived dogs as not particularly smart. However, they now know that this is not true – that the dog’s look is not a sign of helplessness, but an offer to humans to engage with and understand each other.

The chemistry between humans and dogs is right. This is also shown by the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, known for its role in the bonding of mother and baby. It is also released in humans and dogs when they look into each other’s eyes. The fact that the hormone is active across species boundaries is remarkable – perhaps even unique. Dogs and humans have influenced each other in their development. Experts speak of a co-evolution of the two species.

Dogs help us heal

We experience this close connection again and again in our work. Those who save a dog often also save themselves. Anyone who can observe and experience how a traumatized dog regains confidence will also regain confidence in themselves. It is life that heals!

Moving stories of how dogs and humans mutually heal and save each other can be found at

We also experience this connection in our work. Julia worked with us and summarized her healing in a letter to us:

Working with the dogs was incredibly rewarding for me and a life-changing experience.

First, I was lucky to find the book „The Sacred Matrix“ at a giveaway bookshelf in Munich, Germany in 2019. Reading the book, I immediately felt a strong pull to come to Tamera. I had never been to a community and I very much wanted to come and experience Tamera myself.


However, first there was Covid, then I had some major health issues and two operations: I have had two full hip replacements (2021 and 2022). I was still recovering and quite often in pain following the operations, kind of learning to walk again with the hip replacements.

Applying for the work study program in Tamera, I read on the website that Tamera had a dog shelter and the description on the website said, many of the dogs used to be held on chains and mistreated by their former owners. In the shelter the dogs learned to walk again properly and also to trust and bond with people. I read the dog shelter was a healing environment not only for dogs, also for people. This description very much resonated with my own story, learning to walk again. So I applied within the work study program explicitly for the dog shelter and was happy to be accepted.(…)

I loved brushing, walking, feeding and cuddling the dogs as I got physically fitter and healthier every day. Although I still had been struggling with pain when I started the work study program, after about three weeks my pain had practically disappeared and I was walking pain free. I still am painfree about two months after leaving Tamera. I am very sure that working at the dog shelter has greatly improved my healing from the operations and benefitted my general health. I feel much more healthy, physically and emotionally, and I am sure the dog shelter had a big part in this.


Witnessing some of the dogs’ transformation in a few weeks, from anxious and shy to trusting and happy, to me showed the power of love and compassion, and made me enthusiastic about getting better myself. This experience not only deepened my understanding of dogs but also instilled a deeper understanding of trust and community, making it a valuable chapter in my personal journey.


Thank you very much for making this unique experience possible for me!

Thank you Julia – and all the other helpers – for your loving and committed support!

Dramatic rescues and other events of the past year


The Introduction Video for the online course “Cooperation with all beings” shows beautifully our work in the dog sanctuary.


This year 2023 was – besides the great support – a year with some challenges. There was a dramatic rescue of a dog, now called Jace, who is living a happy life. He was spotted in Reliquias with a wire loop around his belly from a trap for wild boar, which are still used even though they are banned. People have seen him like this for weeks, he was shy and injured. Our team was able to catch him, remove the wire and take him to hospital. His wound was full of maggots. Since then, he has continued to heal. He still sometimes has a sudden inexplicable fear, no longer knows that he is safe – it is as if something dark from his previous life is suddenly active again – we are sure that with patience this remnant of his trauma will also heal and he will live the life that belongs to him.

Some of our older four-legged companians had to receive medical treatment this year – Shell even had a twisted stomach and had to be taken to hospital in Beja as an emergency in a life-threatening situation – and was operated just in time. Today he is “his old self” again, calm and quiet and enjoys his life with his group of dogs.

The past year was also characterized by the expansion and renovation of the enclosure. We were able to invest because we had saved donations from the previous year for this purpose. We have two new sections, one for Fred, our difficult companion, who now has a home right next to the dogs’ large living room. This gives him good and frequent contact, which is good for him – he too is a soul who wastes no time and uses every situation to heal.

An interesting “detail”: we discovered rabbit passages during the extension and then changed the fence so that the passages are outside the enclosure. Now the shy rabbits live in the immediate vicinity of dogs, the animals that we humans think hunt the rabbits. It seems that the rabbits have sought the proximity of the dogs for protection – sometimes we see them …

How you can support and learn more

These frequent cases have put a strain on our budget. As a result, we have gone three and a half thousand euros over the budget that we receive from Tamera’s basic budget. If you can help to cover this deficit – it is a big, big help for the work with the dogs and for Tamera! We give gratitude in advance to all supporters.

Please send your donation – with the keyword “for dog sanctuary” – to the following bank account:


Holder address: Monte do Cerro, 7630-392 Relíquias, Odemira, Portugal

Bank: Crédito Agrícola Bank, R 25 de Abril 8, 7630-611 São Teotónio

Account number: 40181786558 IBAN: PT50 0045 6332 40181786558 45


Another possibility to help is to adopt one or more dogs from our sanctuary and give them a new home. We facilitate adoptions for our dogs when they are ready. They are presented on this website – we would especially like to find a good home for Baloo and Chica together very soon – a good and playful team!

A beautiful offer for deeper study: One of our team members, Lee von dem Bussche, has developed a great online course “Cooperation with all beings“. This is a fruitful way to deepen the topics of cooperation. The dogs are also introduced in this course, see this sweet clip!

We thank the dogs for the unconditional love that they always show us and we thank you for reading, for being there – and for your support!