Geoffrey and Ellen Foster-Taylor of Villa Ambra, a five-bedroom, five-bathroom, beachfront home in Canggu, Bali, have loved dogs their entire lives. They’ve had dogs at their home in England for over forty years!
However, having Villa Ambra and sometimes spending more than half their year there, they missed having dogs around. They resisted the urge to adopt dogs at first – after all, guests stayed at Villa Ambra during the high season of July-September. How would they feel about sharing their space with someone else’s dog?
Well, in 2016, Geoffrey and Ellen decided to stop fighting their love of furry friends and have since adopted four gorgeous pups! As a team of dog lovers, we just had to speak to Geoffrey about his experiences.
Read on to learn about the dogs, the circumstances that brought each of them to Villa Ambra and how you too can have a puppy cuddle in Bali.
What made you decide to adopt Alice, your first Bali dog?
Well, one day in early 2016 I was at lunch with friends and was told about a pair of very young puppies which were found on a rubbish pile on the beach. A boy and a girl.
Ellen had been pushing to have a dog at Ambra for some time and how could I resist?! I said I’d take the girl (we’ve always had female dogs in England), and it was arranged that my friends would bring her over to Ambra later that afternoon.
Ellen, of course, was overjoyed by this surprise and very quickly named the puppy Alice. Nothing was going to be too much for this puppy!
The extraordinary thing was that, as soon as we put her on the ground in the living room, she ran off about 5 metres to the grass outside and peed! So we came to learn that Bali dogs, like cats, don’t need house training!
Even better, all the staff fell in love with her too, so we had no worries about her well-being while we were away! Some of them even got rescues of their own, directly as a result of knowing and loving Alice!
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How did the other three come to be a part of your family?
Amanda: Well, about a year later, while we were in England, Ellen spotted another rescue needing a home on Facebook. Ellen couldn’t resist the ears, so we arranged for her to visit for a sleepover and see whether Alice would accept her. Happily, Alice did accept her and very politely so!
And so Amanda joined the family. She was extremely nervous and skittish, just hiding all day and jumping at shadows. We guessed she must have been abused. It has taken two years of patience to gain her trust and build her confidence, but now she’s 99% there. She’ll bark for a few minutes at strangers, and then settle down once she knows they’re welcome visitors.
Lilly: Villa Ambra is one of five villas comprising the Pantai Lima Estate. By the estate’s main entrance is a parking area where staff park their motorcycles. In that area there lived three scruffy dogs. We took them under our wing, feeding and watering them, putting on collars with our phone number, and doing all the medical stuff including spaying.
Then, one day, a fourth dog appeared under one of the motor scooters – a very young, drop-dead gorgeous puppy whom one of our staff immediately christened Lilly.
A few days later she was gone, apparently stolen. We were in England at the time, so, the staff distributed flyers locally and advertised a reward – not too big though as otherwise, all the dogs would be in danger of kidnapping. Another week passed until nearly all hope was lost, and then she appeared on a bicycle. Of course, we couldn’t leave her at the main gate again, so Lilly became the third member of Ambra’s dog family. And what a lovely addition she is!
Lulu: Lulu was one of the three gate dogs I mentioned earlier. She was in a very sorry state when we found her, having lost a litter after being unable to feed them. So, we were feeding her up. One day we spotted her and her back end was covered in blood. The vet diagnosed her with cervical cancer, which is not uncommon in Bali, but unheard of in the West. She had to get an operation and a course of chemotherapy, but the prognosis was good. Lulu suffered fortnightly intravenous drips which made a terrible mess of her arm, but she took it all stoically.
With all the visits to the vet, poor Lulu then developed kennel cough, which is extremely contagious. For a time we had to keep her isolated from the other dogs and had to ignore her bleating. The staff spent as much time as they could with her.
Thankfully, Lulu got through it all. And after all that, we just couldn’t put her out again.
Would you adopt any others?
Lulu, I think, is the fourth, and last, member of the Ambra pack.
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How have Alice and the dogs adapted to life at the villa?
Alice, and, of course, all the dogs, receive only the best medical treatment and are clean and in the peak of health.
Alice has grown from being a gorgeous puppy to a wonderful three-year-old. Having been an only child for the year of her life, she now rules the roost over the other three that have since joined the family. They all get on and play beautifully, but Alice makes sure that they know who’s boss!
You’re right on the beach. Do the dogs ever go on excursions? If so, do you know where they go?
The dogs will interact with guests pretty well, as much or as little as they wish. They spend their time around the grounds and common living area. They don’t leave Ambra except on leads and when they enjoy their morning walk.
What has the general reaction been from guests regarding the dogs?
To our great surprise, guests have welcomed the Ambra family dogs almost without exception. Most seem to have dogs at home and love to have them on holiday too. Of course, children all love them, and the dogs love to play with the children, which allows the parents more relaxation!
We’ve also had some guests fight over which dog they will have sleep in bed with them!
Is there anything you’d like to tell future guests of Villa Ambra about your dog family?
If you like the idea of our dogs sharing your holiday a little, you will adore it at Ambra. And the gang would love to see you too!