Dr. Ramakrishna and some of our beloved Staff.
Good Morning Dear People,
Yes, it’s morning as I start. Actually, I’m fond of the beautiful Indian greeting, ”Namaste’”—"I bow to your Innermost Self"...So..."Namaste".
In the West we don’t have stray dogs. In India, it is an enormous problem, and they can suffer, deeply.
Early 2006, after forty years of Municipal slaughtering, we managed to stop the brutal killing of the homeless dogs in what was an unsuccessful attempt to cull the population - but with the caveat that we establish an effective population control program.
Things were really bad when we opened January 2007. There were well over 5,000 homeless dogs. Perhaps over 6,000, or 7,000. The population was out of control. Starving. Fighting. Diseased. Injured. There were 350 suffering and dying animals on the streets. Mostly puppies and dogs, but among them were stricken cows, monkeys and others, too. The relationship with the human community was terrible. There was much abuse. There were many aggressive dogs. Many bites. Rabies. There was no small animal vet within 70 km. And no facility for treatment. There was unbounded suffering. It was the worst situation I’d seen and it was awful.
Eleven years now since we opened…and this has all changed. Thru December, 2017 we have done:
- Emergency Rescues……………5,094
- Dogs Sterilized…………………..6,954
- Anti-rabies injections…….........14,422
- Clinic Visits……………………..44,573
- In-Patient Treatments……… 120,356
- Animal Adoptions……………… 1,041
- Non Dogs Treated……………… 4,239
- (1,169 cows & calves, 1,072 goats & sheep, 635 cats, 200 monkeys, 768 birds, 150 rabbits, 23 squirrels, 30 donkeys, 19 pigs, 27 peacocks, 34 parrots, 3 eagles, 53 horses, 6 bullocks, 18 deer, 6 snakes, 6 turkeys, 2 owls, 12 ducks, 2 mongooses, 3 chameleons, 1 turtle).
Today it is different. The homeless dog population is decreasing for the first time in forty years, AND it is rabies-free. There are no more suffering and dying animals on the streets. There are 10,000 fewer puppies born each year, almost all of whom would have suffered and died. There is no more widespread abuse, and thus very few aggressive dogs, and only a small fraction of dog bites.
The most important thing that has happened is that the relationship between the homeless dogs and the people amongst whom they live day in, day out has been totally transformed. Without that transformation, the impact of whatever else is done is significantly limited—the animals would be subject to the same indifference, the same absence of protection when they are in harm's way, the same unaided difficulties in their ongoing search for food and water. The same absence of affection.
One can experience the change when walking on the streets. Each year, street conditions get better and better, and Tiru is amongst the very few municipalities of size where this has happened. In the poignant words of a longtime Tiru resident named Dev, made at the fourth anniversary puja…”Public memory is short. Few can recall the rampant stray dogs everywhere, young and aged, starving and diseased, scavenging in the garbage heaps, fighting amongst themselves, ignored and abused by the human population, while remaining a menace to all including themselves. In four short years, the roads are more peaceful, with few strays to be seen, and the naturally loving relationship between humans and animals restored to its true state.”
- We are doing 40 to 100 Sterilizations
- Giving 70 to 125 anti-rabies injections.
- Going out on 60 to 120 emergency rescues.(Almost all of whom are “homeless dogs”, but others, too.)
- The clinic is busy. We are getting 550 to 700 out-patient visits, most of whom are “owner dogs”.
- Giving 1,200 to 1,600 treatments to in-patients, almost all of whom are “homeless dogs”.
- Placing 6 to 15 puppies in good homes.
- Treating 30 to 75 animals other than dogs.
Things are going excellently. The expanded space for the Veranda dogs is fully open. It has two to three times more room. The Precious Ones love it. They're running around chasing, wrestling, and playing games. They're finding new places to rest, and to snuggle, and to bask in the sun. They're hiding under the stone benches, cuddling in the baskets and, one of their favorites...sitting in chairs. We purchased a dozen more chairs for them, that we occasionally use, too!
The new clinic is very, very busy and we need a third doctor. Fortunately, and this is a real blessing, there’s a young woman who was with us for six months, two years ago, who left to do her postgrad work in Surgery at Madras Veterinary College. She’s finishing in June and is going to rejoin us. Her name is Dr. Heera. She’s a solid clinician, and her energy is like the rising sun. Om Namah Shivaya…In the meantime, a young vet who recently finished her post grad work and wants to teach at the college needed temporary work, and she is going to be with us until June.
I want now, to take a little time to tell you about the love in which our beloved Shelter is immersed. We are all connected thru the Heart. Whenever I show up I'm simply swallowed in the mutual gladness of seeing everyone...And, blessing of blessings, our Precious Ones bask in that energy.
First and foremost, there are Dr. Raja and Vishwa. They're such incredible Beings, that I deeply feel they were yogis with significant attainment in a prior life. (And I very, very seldom experience or talk about prior life things.) That such incredible souls were sent to me...that I was entrusted with being their teacher...is humbling. And, of course, I'm no longer their teacher. They are on their own legs now, with their own strengths, and have taken things beyond where I feel I could have taken them, even in my prime. They are running things. I am overseeing. Distantly though. I place my head at their feet.
We meet very early every Monday morning for several hours at the Sparsa Resort restaurant for our regular weekly meeting-- Dr. Raja. Vishwa. Elaine. Dr. Ramakrishna. And myself. There is such Heart in the meetings. The discussions are so imbued with feeling, insight, and compassion. They are so productive.
And yes, Elaine, our beloved veterinary nurse, is back! We're not the only ones who are happy. The Voiceless Ones, too.
She told me a nice story about two young women from Europe who volunteered for three weeks. They were a little anxious about being so close to "all the pain" when they first started...and cried when they left...because the Precious Ones were so happy.
The shakti inside the Shelter is simply uplifting. People visiting us, now with the expanded space, are deeply moved. Some, who are animal-lovers, get teary because they didn’t know a facility like ours existed. Wish you could come visit and experience it.
On a lighter note…Here are some Shelter Heart Stories and vignettes. Have heard from a number of you of how much you enjoyed and were moved by these stories…Several of you said that of all the things I write about, this section was, by far, your favorite…and asked me if I could expand it…Well, dear people, I’ll try.
He was an awkward, gangly "teenager" in the dog world. He had yet to grow into his long legs, large paws, and oversized ears. He limped into Shivani's house with open mange sores, fleas, and smelling. He had been heavily abused on the street...and, no one wanted him.
He must have sensed a kind stranger in Shivani, for he immediately laid down on one of her cushions and slept and slept.
Shivani brougnt him to us, where Dr. Raja treated him with medication and the Staff gave him a special bath for his skin condition. After four days, Shivani picked him up and got his medication. It seems he had found a home. He has adopted Shivani! He is now called Ranjeet Maharaj.
The regeneration of young, forlorn Swetha.
We got her when she was a little over a year. She'd been an "owner" dog, but was simply abandoned when they left. Vishwa got reports of her for several weeks, and finally caught her.
She was scared and confused. The family probably had children whom she loved. They just dumped her…And left. She lost everything that was dear to her. Without any understanding, it was just GONE.
We gave her a lot of love. A lot of stroking...and kissing.
The beauty of it is how quickly she bounced back. She was absolutely joyful, and bounded around wrestling and chasing. She adored supervisor Raja! I named her Beauty. But someone else named her Swetha, which is what stuck.
She was a joy to watch. She played so hard, that she would sometimes drink enough for a camel to make a desert crossing.
We got a call from someone who found a home for her in Nilgiri, which is seven hours away by car. It’s a beautiful area. It was with an elderly lady who loved Dalmatians and had one whose partner had recently died. She had a lot of land, and a caretaker who really liked dogs. Swetha would have been outside on the land most of the day. Clearly, she would have been taken care of beautifully. But I told the lady that I felt Swetha needed a home-type setting, children, and a lot of active loving. And, that her situation, tho’ she would be taken care of beautifully, wouldn’t provide the essence of what Swetha’s super-affectionate nature needed.
Vishwa found a good home for her locally. She, in a sense, wouldn’t be given as much “care”. But they had two boys, four and eight, who were over the top at the prospect of getting her. They came to the Shelter several times…the father and the boys…It was a match made in Heaven.
(Om Namah Shivaya dear Swetha…We missed your joyful presence.)
He almost didn’t make it.
His owners brought him in. Only 3 or 4 years old. He’d taken in a lot of phosphorus pesticide. He was salivating. His breathing was forced. And, the upper part of his chest was convulsing. It was pretty bad.
Dr.Raja gave him two i.v.’s. First the antidote. Then one with an anti-acid and anti-convulsant, Neurobion for muli-vitamins, and a mega dose of vitamin C.
After an hour on the table, he slowly started making some relaxed moves. Gaining energy. And finally, safely making it across. But the lucky guy still couldn’t stand well. So Dr. Raja kept him overnight.
He got a good rest. A lot of loving. And while being examined the next day, gave a really solid sign that he was ready to go: he started barking at Dr. Raja while he was on the table. Dr. Raja told the owner to lift him down. And he was ready to travel.
Amu, the goat.
I was on my Honda Activa. A guy passed me on a TVS scooter, which had a goat, legs tied, straddled across the floor board. She must have really been suffering.
I pulled him over, handing him one of my official looking Shelter visiting cards, but fiercely said I was with the Animal Welfare Board of India (he only spoke Tamil). I called Vishwa and told him to threaten the guy over the phone and say he had a choice: either sell the goat to me on the spot…or, I was bringing in the police, who would impound her because of his mistreatment. He gladly sold her to me for 3500 rupees ($55US), which was a little more than he would have gotten thru slaughter.
He lifted her from his TVS and laid her on the ground. She was very, very weak. I gently stroked her, and kissing her, said, “Everything is going to be okay now, poor babe. We’re very good people and we’re going to take care of you, and you’ll have a full life.” The goat was beautiful, a golden color, with long ears that just hung.
I had the man untie her legs. She had a big wound on one of her hoofs. Vishwa showed up. He talked to the man, who said he had already hired someone to slaughter her who would have been there in ten minutes. Vishwa took her to the Shelter. Dr. Raja said the hoof wound was not serious, but it was slightly infected and would take time to heal. He cleaned and dressed it. Gave her pain killer and anti-biotic injections. She was very, very weak, and she was given an i.v. for some nutrition. Dr. Raja said she had less than a fifty-fifty chance of living.
Vishwa took her home with him. He gave her grass, oil cakes with water, and several other things. She ate voraciously. He lives outside of town and there are nice, grassy patches out there. He carried her to one (she was too weak to walk), and she foraged for six straight hours. He slept outside with her. (In the back he has a long open shed for cows that is empty.). The next day he took her to one of the fields and she ate all day long...She, the third day started standing...and walking. Then running a little...
Vishwa named her Amu. We were sure that she was going to live. But, sadly, there was too much damage to her organs, and three weeks later, she quietly died. Those three weeks tho’, were filled with love, joy, and happiness. We put her on the Red Tara prayer list, and protective and guiding energy was sent to her soul for 49 days.
Google, the calf.
Vishwa got a call at his house from some villagers 40 kms away. A cow had been bitten by a snake. He told them to bring her to the Shelter and called Dr. Raja to let him know.
They called back fifteen minutes later. The cow had died. She had a baby calf just nine days old. They were going to sell it for slaughter…4,500 rupees. Vishwa told them he would buy it…and shot out there with the car.
The poor sweetie. Bewildered, scared, hungry, and not knowing what happened to his mom, he came back in the car with Vishwa, who took him to his house. (Vishwa lives in the country. There’s an open air space with an overhead roof behind his house where his auntie used to keep 30 cows. There’s space on both sides, and beautiful open grassy fields that aren’t being used by anyone.) For the first several days, just like he did with Amu the goat, Vishwa slept outside with the calf.
When I first saw him, it was hard to believe he was only nine days old. He was black and white. Tall. And absolutely the most beautiful calf I’ve ever seen. Vishwa is going to keep him. He's named him Google. Google loves Vishwa. (And Vishwa loves him) And he’s possibly the most joyful calf I’ve ever seen. He’s free most of the time. While I was there, he went galloping off about 100 meters into the field. Then out of sight. And came charging back. Happy. Happy. Happy! Happy! Happy!
He took to Amu (while she was alive) the beautiful goat I'd rescued the week before. She was at Vishwa’s house, too, while her hoof healed. (She was also big and beautiful). They slept side by side. And he often came up and licked her up and down.
As I’m writing this, Google is now 2 ½ months old. I haven’t seen him since he was three weeks old. Vishwa tells me he’s big, strong, handsome, and happy. I’ll try to get out there in the next several days.
Recently, Vishwa called me, late night. Someone had found a baby owl on Pradakshina Road. Alone. In trouble. They tried to find the mother. But the poor babe, about a month old, was really alone.
Owls are very difficult to help. It's a long time before they can fly. Maybe three, possibly four months. They're carnivores, and hunters. And it's the mother that teaches them to hunt. So unless you can teach them to hunt, you can't release them. We've had a few in the last several years. About two years ago, a baby was brought to us that we kept for two months. We kept him in a cage in the operation theatre. Twice a day, supervisor Raja would let him out of the cage for about an hour or two. He was just beginning to fly. We had been feeding him tiny chunks of chicken and beef, and some kind of "meat based" Pediigree jelly. But we didn't know what to do, because we couldn't set him free. After many, many calls I found someone in Delhi who was an expert in the rehabilitation of predator birds. But Delhi was too far away. Fortunately, they knew of one other expert who, was in Bangalore, which is only six hours away by car. And blessing of blessings, the Bangalore lady said she would take him.
Vishwa called the Bangalore lady, and she will take him into her sanctuary. Prem Kumar just took the babe to her the very day I’m writing this Report.
This is an older story written a while back. But a beautiful story.
Mani found Mira lying on the side of the road near the Shelter. The poor baby was only four years old. She was post-distemper. Twitching. Couldn’t open her mouth. Starving. And near death. She was an “owner dog” who had probably been abandoned. Lying there alone. Having lost everything. Not understanding. Miserable. Frightened.
Dr.Raja started giving her i.v.’s with neurobion for nutrition, a liver booster to stimulate the liver, plus antibiotics (for the first three days). Vishwa had the Staff give her a lot of loving. And on the second' day by attaching a thin rubber tube to an i.v. syringe' he was able to start getting a little milk on her tongue in increasing amounts, which she swallowed.
We had her in a large retaining cage that didn’t have a lot of direct sunlight, and with only one other post-distemper dog. Neither of them could walk and they were both almost “mutedly conscious”. On the fourth day Leslie went in and spent time lying with each of them. Holding them. Kissing them. Softly saying mantras to them. And telling them I loved them. Their energy picked up and we decided they should be moved into the clinic on cushions, where there was a lot of light, affection from puppies snuggling them and lying close to them.
Her second day in the clinic, Mira started standing (she had been lying on her side and not moving around). Her twitching decreased in intensity. And Vishwa very, very gently was massaging her jaws. She was able to open them a little and started drinking a few ounces of milk from a bowl. And he started giving her little bits of food.
Also on the second day, she got her first bath and Vishwa gave her a haircut. She looked a zillion percent better. And it was as though vanity precipitated a change in her personality; she started to move in a totally different manner.
Now, this sweet girl moves around with the others...is affectionate. But she is so fierce around food and milk if any of the other guys get near her bowl, that we feed her in closet with the door closed!
So good to have you back, dear Mira. Welcome to Life.
May all beings benefit!
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.
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... May we all be blessed with more compassionate understanding,
Leslie, The Ageing Expatriate Warrior
Leslie at breakfast, at foot of sacred Arunachala.
This is one of the Precious Ones that need us.
And this is another...Sweet, sweet, soul.
And these two babes, also...Blessings Dear Ones.
This is one of the Street Saints who love them.
Every little thing, every little gesture...Helps!
It's important we truly care for each other
It's important that our Heart's are connected.
Dear Dr. Milin....What a blessing he was.
The Precious Ones experience our Heart connection.
You can't give too much!
You simply can't.
So many of them have been thru so much.
Vishwa...During a rescue.
Dr. Raja's magical hands...and beautiful Heart.
Elaine putting cream on Aurobindo's sore foot.
Sugana and one of our Precious Ones.
This one doesn't need words.
Now that's what you call real snuggling.
Thought you might enjoy these next three.
Good night...With love, Leslie