Leslie at Work.
Blessings and Greetings from India, dear People.
Another New Year. Another opportunity. May all of Us, without exception-- known, unknown, rich, poor, young, old, virtuous, unvirtuous… truly without exception--may All of Us be blessed in this coming Year…With more compassionate understanding…With guidance…With protection.
This has been a special, special period for us. A lot of activity. Construction. Rescues. Clinic. Adoptions.
Those of you who’ve seen past Reports know that we’re very crowded, inside. An excerpt from our last Report:
The Precious Ones, dogs and puppies, except for special circumstances (injury requiring restricted movement, illness, quarantine, etc.) are not kept in cages but run free and are happy. They are in two main areas: The Veranda which is for puppies, younger dogs, and creatures that don’t need a lot of space to run around. It is covered by a roof and consists of two large pieces--23ft x 23ft and 11ft by 11ft. And the The Garden that has a lot of room. Including the retaining cages along the sides that are usually open, it is an area of 40ft by 150ft.
It’s in the Veranda that the crowding is so evident. There’s a miraculous quality about it. Because of the crowding, one would expect there to be continuous fights, and intense energy. But it is just the opposite. Chants are playing continuously. And our devoted Staff, about whom I could write a book, so beautifully cares for them. The Voiceless Ones still feel safe, cared for, and loved…AND are happy. They still play, but they can’t run around freely with abandon like they used to do.
Getting into a larger facility is our Number One priority. In the meantime, though the Precious Ones still feel safe, cared for, and loved, and are still happy, it is stressful for our beloved Staff, and I am worried about them.
So we've just finished a major construction that will mitigate the crowding on the Veranda, where it was most intense. It will ease the pressure until we can get into a new facility.
There was a 10' x 25' ugly cinder block building alongside the shelter. Vishwa totally transformed it--tiles, re-did the walls, a 5' x 10' picture window, sliding glass doors, fans, florescent lighting, electricity, wash basin, cabinets. Two rooms, we made the larger one the new clinic, the smaller is the new office.
That freed room up inside the Shelter where the old clinic had been, and together with extending the Shelter wall 35 feet a lot of space was generated. Vishwa tore down walls, created additional doorways/gates and laid more tiled floor. That increased the room that the Veranda dogs had by 200 to 300 percent.
(See photos, below, of the new clinic…and the space for the Veranda dogs and puppies after the expansion.)
It's a work in progress. The energy is different. The Precious Ones are running around and playing as they used to. And they LIKE IT...A LOT. It'll be a couple of weeks yet, before the energy settles down. There's so much more space...and it's so different. They have to find the new places they like to rest. Get into new activities that involve running around, chasing and wrestling. Develop new relationships. Basically, they have to form their new community. And we protectively, without interfering, will give them the space to do that.
We had a meeting. Me. Dr. Raja. Vishwa. Elaine. Dr. Ramakrishna...I'm concerned about my beloved guys. It's not only different for the Voiceless Ones, but it's a change for everyone...AND it's going to take a lot of conscious/aware adjusting....It's important to talk nakedly and openly about the stresses.
Meanwhile the other activities are going on. Monthly: 50 to 100 sterilizations…600 to 700 visits to the clinic for treatment…80 to 110 emergency rescues (These are cases, over and above clinic visits, where we go out to rescue the animals-almost all during the day, some at night. Remember, we have 24/7 emergency rescue. If a creature is hurt during the night, we will be there in 20 to 30 minutes, and our vets are on 24 hour call.)…1,200 to 1,500 in-patient treatments…10 to 20 adoptions.
We only take puppies that are in trouble. They either lost their moms when they are too young to survive on the streets, or they’re sick or injured. But once we take a puppy in, it is no longer a street dog. It doesn’t learn survival techniques from its mother, and can’t be put back on the street.
I think many of you might know that in most Indian shelters 80 to 90 percent of the street puppies don’t survive. They haven’t got immunity from their Moms, and there are a lot of germs in the shelters. We have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate, and thus have a lot of puppies surviving. It would be very bad for us if we had them growing into healthy adults that we couldn’t adopt out and couldn’t put back on the streets, and had them for their entire lives. So, for us, it’s critical to find homes for the puppies. And it is very, very difficult to find good homes for them.
Vishwa has developed an adoption program where he sends out college students over 100 kms looking for good homes for the puppies. Then he goes out to interview the people and inspect the physical circumstances. About 40 percent are good homes. The students get 500 rupees for every puppy placed. He always tries to place two in the same home so they’ll have each other to play and grow up with…Unbelievably, he has placed over 900 puppies in good homes.
The recent increase in the number of puppies coming to us has made it important to significantly increase our sterilization activity.
One of the major things we are known for is that our Precious Ones are not kept in cages but run free AND ARE HAPPY. Over thirty years ago my Guru told me that the physician heals with the Heart. So the core of all our work is demonstrative love—hugging, touching, reassuring, and yes, kissing.
All our Staff have been told how important their work is. That deep healing will not take place unless our Precious Ones feel safe, cared for, and loved. It’s been made clear to them that it’s not Dr. Raja, Dr. Ramakrishna, Vishwa, or myself that give them that love. That they are the ones with them continuously that give them that love. And it is vital to what we do.
They’ve been told that no one can tell them how to express that love. They have to find the way from their own Heart. The animals can tell the difference between someone being very, very nice to them…and someone who is real and really cares. So they have to find their own way of expressing and caring. But it has to be real. I, personally, am a hugger and kisser. But that certainly is not The Way. And no one can tell me how to express it….And they have all found their own way.
They’ve also been told that they don’t have to look busy when I come in. That no one can perform at peak, from the Heart, continuously. And that they shouldn’t “push it” just to be always busy…That it’s important to stay close to their Heart. And “lay back” whenever they have to. I told them that I know how things are going as soon as I walk in. I feel the vibration. The spaciousness. The love. And that even though I may not be looking at them directly, I am very aware of each of them.
They’ve been told that unless they stay connected with their Heart it will become an awful job. If they aren’t aware of the suffering they’re lifting, the joy in the Precious Ones, it would be an awful job. But with that Heart connection, it’s truly uplifting and expanding.
You can see the inside energy working on the Staff. Often, when they start, their eyes are dull. There’s no shakti (energy) coming thru. And as time passes, light starts coming thru…and their eyes get brighter and brighter.
It’s truly a fluid happening as the day unfolds. It’s not unusual for an animal lover to get teary when experiencing our beloved Shelter for the first time, because they didn’t know a place such as ours existed. It’s called Heart. It’s palpable. It’s experienceable. And it’s alive.
I sometimes tell visiting people to close their eyes for a minute, and just experience the place. It’s soft…And it’s sweet…I tell them that that softness is the Grace…and all this that is unfolding is happening within it.
Our Staff is simply wonderful. Sometimes I want to throw myself at their feet out of sheer gratitude. They’re special. I couldn’t do, what they do. Om Namah Shivaya.
I also tell my Staff of the full importance of what we are doing. The relationship between the animals and the people amongst whom they live day in day out has been transformed. Each year it gets better and better as the community’s Heart opens to them. It’s very observable as you walk around.
To fully uplift the quality of life of the homeless dogs, that relationship must be transformed.
The question of the central importance of the relationship between the homeless dogs and the people with whom they live day in day out is not discussed on the national scene. Necessary and critically important programs…population control (sterilizations), eradicating rabies, shelters, clinics, emergency rescues…are discussed.
But to truly uplift the quality of life of the Voiceless Ones you have to transform that relationship. Otherwise the effect of these critical programs is really limited. If it doesn’t profoundly change, they are exposed to the same indifference, the same absence of protection when they are in harm’s way, the same absence of help when they are injured or sick, the same indifference when they are hungry, thirsty, or simply cold, wet, or too weak.
Another way of viewing this is to say we, the Shelter, cannot do it alone. The human population of Tiru is 580,000, the homeless dogs number between 4,000 and 5,000. We, at the Shelter, are a mere 25…and we can’t care for them without the active help of the community.
We became aware of the power of that relationship in the second or third year. We were seeing that all the dogs seemed to be doing better, and most we had never seen in the Shelter. It took a while to realize that people, generally, were being kinder to them…Then the question arose as to why?
The main thing was in the catching of the homeless dogs for sterilization. It’s the most penetrating contact a Shelter has with the community. Ultimately, we’re trying to catch all the dogs. Almost everyone sees a “catching” once, or twice. We were catching differently than other municipalities. A third of the dogs were just coaxed with a piece of cheese or meat. For those that had to be chased down, as soon as we caught them we’d start stroking and reassuring them that they were going to be okay. That we were good people and would not harm them. We had someone in the lorry that was there just to reassure them so they wouldn’t be left alone.
Many people saw this and it reached their Heart. They had never seen anyone giving love to the street dogs, and the dogs responding with love. I call that the “Teachable Moment”….We’ve found that giving talks, putting up posters, and other methods are mostly soon forgotten…But something seen in the Teachable Moment stays….You can see the Teachable Moment operating in a crowded place like a market or train station. If you’re bending over tenderly caring for a poor creature…dozens of people gather around. They don’t think you’re crazy. They’ve not seen anything like it and are moved…AND they don’t forget…And it somehow shifts them a little on how they view the Voiceless Ones.
It’s a complex subject, but we feel that’s the main thing that’s fostering the transformation of the relationship. Om Namah Shivaya.
This is a quote from a letter written by the Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, “They are one of our Nation’s best animal sanctuaries, veterinary clinics, rescue shelters, and hospices….They are especially known for profoundly transforming the relationship between the human community and the homeless dogs…They are lifting enormous amounts of suffering. If some of the methods they use become broadly adopted, it will help lift suffering across the Country”…
But the effect of our Work is not limited to the animal kingdom.The nature of the Heart is not directional. If it opens for one thing, it simply opens and it’s a little more open to everything. Mahatma Gandhi in his famous statement, “The greatness of a Nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” is a comment on the Nature of the Heart…If the Heart of the community is open to each other, then it follows that people are kinder, and more open to animals. And it works the other way, if it opens to animals, people will also be kinder to each other. It’s not directly observable, but it’s definitely there. And the Tiruvannamlai community has definitely been uplifted...and people are nicer to each other. Om Namah Shivaya.
That brings forth an interesting possibility. We humans are so complicated, that it’s difficult to uplift a community by trying to work with us directly. On the other hand, it’s relatively much easier and doable to open a community’s Heart to it’s homeless dogs and other animals, thereby uplifting the community in the way they relate to each other.
In a lighter note…Here are some Shelter Heart Stories and vignettes.
Puppy-Mama. Puppy-mama (supervisor Raja named her) was a street dog that was hit by a rickshaw. We were called by a caring lady who saw her lying at the side of the road with her six puppies. She was unable to move. Pandi went out to get her. The lady kept and cared for five of the puppies. But one little guy was very weak and came to the Shelter with his mom.
She was paralayzed and in pain. Dr.Raja gave her an anti-inflammatory spinal injection, a painkiller, and an i.v. for nutrition to boost her nervous system. X-rays revealed that Puppy-mama’s back was broken, but that her spinal cord was intact.
After a week, Dr.Raja started massaging her spine. Slowly, day by day, she improved. After another two weeks, blessing of blessings, she started standing…and then walking.
The ending for this sweet girl is a happy one…after two months she was returned to her territory with her “happy and healthy” puppy.
Baby monkey. Vishwa went out on the call. A three month old little one was lying on the ground. It was near the big Shiva Temple. He was very weak, and Vishwa was able to simply pick him up and bring him in.
Dr.Raja said he only had a mild head injury. Still, the speed of his recovery was impressive.
He was released one week later, and bolted away in search of his mother and the family.
Puppy with life-threatening intestinal condition. This little guy had what’s called an intestinal prolapse. He was only three months old and was in a lot of pain when he came in. Dr.Raja gave him a pain killer and anti-biotic injections right away.
It happened suddenly. The owner and another fellow brought him 50 km. on a motor scooter so that Dr.Raja would be the one to treat him.
The condition was life threatening. In three or four days he would have died if not treated. And the operation was a dangerous one that lasted two hours.
Dear Dr.Raja kept him a week, treating him post-op with i.v.’s having pain killers, anti-biotics, and nutrition. Supervisor Raja and Sekar gave him a lot of caring and love.
But he was unhappy, and missed his owner.
When his owner showed up…he sprung into joy, knowing he was going home.
Orphaned baby owl too weak to fly. She was only a couple of weeks old, and too weak to fly. Someone brought her to us.
We had her for three months. We kept her in a small cage that we put in the operating theatre. Surpervisor Raja gave her caring affection during the day, and would let her our out of the cage three hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon.
We couldn’t release her because she didn’t know how to hunt for food, and we didn’t know how to teach her. So we contacted a lady in Bangalore, five hours away, who specialized in the rehabilitation of birds.
And I gratefully tell you, that she took over and moved her into a life of freedom.
Let’s simply call this one…Loving, Vishwa saw her walking near the Shelter. Barely walking. She was in really bad shape, and had that post-distemper twitching. She was six years old. We named her Shanti.
She just laid on her side in one of our holding cages on a bed of straw for three days. Not eating. Not moving. Dr.Raja supported her thru i.v.’s that provided nutrition, anti-biotics and vitamins. On the third day I tried to infuse her with energy and pull her out of depression. And respond, she did.
We decided to move her to the veranda where she would be snuggled by puppies and be closer to the “action”. She picked up immediately. Started eating within several days. Standing and walking on the tenth day. The sweetie died after a month and a half.
Her final time was one of feeling safe, cared for, and loved. The alternative was being on the street…Suffering. Frightened. And dying alone and uncared for.
We put her on a Red Tara prayer list. Every morning before dawn for 49 days Tibetan Buddhist practitioners said prayers for her and sent her guiding and protective energy. Red Tara is the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess of Compassion.
Parrot. A compassionate person brought her to the Shelter from the big Shiva Temple area. She was lying on the street and couldn’t fly.
Dr.Raja said she must have fallen down into a pool of oil. He cleaned her. The first time we tried to release her she couldn’t yet fly. We ended up keeping her three days and released her in the same area.
A dog named Ramo. This guys name was Ramo. His territory was around the big Shiva temple. I was riding by one day and spotted him. Called Vishwa. Stunning how Vishwa is able to catch dogs and reassure them so quickly. The energy coming from his Heart is like a blast from a large furnace.
Ramo was in really bad shape. Had a skin condition called Mange which is mites under the skin, and also a fungal skin condition which is more difficult to treat, and he had some bacterial infections that were bloody. That poor guy really must have gone through it. He had little hair left.
We gave him injections, pills, anti-biotics, medicated baths…and a whole lot of loving. We kept him over two months. He became “one of the guys”. Playing, chasing, wrestling, snuggling, sleeping.
But he was joyous when Vishwa released him back into his territory, which I had mentioned earlier was around the large Shiva Temple.. There’s a lot of commerce there. A lot of stands selling their wares…little statues, pots, pails, flowers, puja items, photos…and on and on. And he was loved by the people with the local business stands. It was almost unbelievable for them. He had almost no hair when he left. His coat was now full. He’d put on a little weight. His energy was strong….And they showered him with love when Vishwa went around telling them it was Ramo…and he’s back..Om Namah Shivaya.
Well Dear People...This brings us to the end of this Report.
Hoping that each of you is doing excellently…That you’re unfolding beautifully and strongly, inside. My Baba said that nothing is gained without some inner austerity. I sometimes think of it in worldly terms for myself as, “Growing up ain’t easy”.
As in previous Reports, I’ve included a collection of photos. Hoping you enjoy them. Remember…The theme is simply LOVE.
AND DEAR PEOPLE...REMEMBER...DONATIONS
THE PRECIOUS ONES NEED US. AND WE NEED YOU.
Recurring donations, even quite modest ones, are best for us...Please...Keep your support coming.
With love, blessings, and wishes for all things, good...Happy New Year...Leslie, The Ageing Expatriate Warrior
Here she is. The new clinic that Vishwa built.
And here's the front section of the new Veranda.
This is the side section of the expanded Veranda.
The new Veranda back section...The dogs love it!
Dr. Raja with the magical hands.
Mooji, Vishwa, and lucky Bhakti
Shirdi-A very serious mange and fungal skin case.
Shirdi-After 3 months treatment. Yep! Same dog.
Dr. Raja on emergency rescue.
Our beloved Elaine, the veterinarian nurse.
"Yes Little One...What is it?"
She loves you, Shivagami.
Two "Young Uns".
11th anniversary puja.