THE LEGEND OF LONG JOHN SILVER

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What do animals in pain need from us?

They need JUST ONE person too see them.

 

Amritsar Junction”, Cindy squinted her eyes to focus on the yellow board the train was approaching. She thumbed the well-worn ‘Lonely planet’, guide she had purchased from the Delhi airport 20 days ago. ‘The city of a pond full of divine syrup’ – the loosest translation of this North Indian City of Punjab. A holy city for the Sikhs which houses the magnificent golden temple, made of solid gold, surrounded by the pond of holy water. For centuries its been a city the most important site of pilgrimage to the Sikhs.

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Kindness and Compassion is the cornerstone of the 350-year old Sikh religion. Cindy is looking to expand her views about spirituality and diversity infused from her own sense of anti-speciesism. She is expecting to be enlightened.

As she steps out of the station she hears a low whine. A dog is lying on a mound of construction sand. His light brown fur is highlighted by spackles of blood. His black ears are curled backwards almost stuck to his big head. When she see’s his hind leg a sigh escapes her lips. All she can see is a stump. His leg is missing from halfway down with a wound bleeding, raw and infested with maggots.

She stops in her tracks and bends down to touch his head. He whines in pain. Cindy’s belief in humanity takes an instant hit. The lonely planet guide drops from her lifeless hand as she puts the hand to her trembling lips. “Who did this to you?” she forces back her tears.

In the next instant she gets up and shrieks, “Who did this to this dog? What has happened to him?” she looks around in a hysterical voice. “What the heck happened to this dog?” she shrieks till the station master comes running towards her.

After they’ve brought her a third glass of water the station master tells her of a story based on hearsay that a drunk person had come to the station one night and when the dog wouldn’t stop barking at him, he unsheathed a machete and hacked the dogs leg clear off his body.

Snot and tears dribble down Cindy’s face to her chin. The pain of an animal is not new to her – what is new is how people can just walk him by, oblivious to a dog in so much need. She wipes her tears and holds up her cell-phone…

77 animal lovers, 23 shares and 3 days later she finds an organization willing to help. Peedu’s People has the same beliefs Cindey has about veganism and kindness to animals. Inder sets off 300 miles away to check on the dog and gets the wound treated and maggots removed. 5 days of treatments later the wound starts to scab over and the dog starts to get up and eat copious amounts of food. He starts showing some of his quirky personality. He’s fun and wants to play, he has a girlfriend who has been sitting by his side and watching him heal everyday. He is pushy towards her and he starts being what we would later call- ‘ass-holey’. Once we save a dog- we name him.

An ass-hole dog, who loves to play and loves affection and has one leg hacked off- who else could he be but; Long John Silver.

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3 syllabus names are funny for most people- but when a dog gets a name like such- he gets more of a swag to his weird gait. Soon we have a happy and healthy Long John Silver (LJS) who is prancing on the same sand-pile with his GF and since she is such a darling to him- she gets the name, Clementine.

So begins the search of finding a home for LJS. For months Peedu’s People gets no response. Then one day, 5 months later, out of the blue shows up the ultimate savior, Niz Khan. She agrees to rescue and place him in the UK but after 5 months we do not know if LJS is still alive.

Peedu’s People take off on the task of looking for him. Tina and Inder drive the 300 miles and search every nook and cranny of the Amritsar Railway station but LJS is nowhere to be found. Tired eyes and straining backs are about to give up when Tina points to a spot on the platform. Inder turns to her, Tina’s eyes are wide and she’s trying to mouth something but no words are coming out. Inder stares in the direction she’s pointing.

There he is, playing with a 3-year old kid, rolling on the ground. His now pink stump in the air as he flops on his back. Tina calls out to him and touches his face with the kindest of touches. LJS is now all hers. Inder picks him up and puts him in the car.

“We found him…we got him”, Tina keeps repeating to Niz over the phone. Tears of relief roll down her eyes and all Niz can think of is, “Where’s Clemetine?”

Tina gasps, “She’s right here.” She focuses on Clementine standing atop a hand drawn cart.

“Let’s get her too.” Niz says.

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The two dogs have been snoring in the air-conditioned car. The harsh sun is beating down on the parched 45 degree celsius ground as the car races towards Chandigarh. The dogs are safe but a far way away from their ultimate foster-home in England.

6 months later, Clementine has been adopted. She is such a darling dog that she was sought after by several adopters. LJS, The ass-hole dog is still at the fosters.

But is he really an ass-hole dog?

The answer is NO.

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He is pushy to other dogs but that’s because as a handicapped dog he had to compete with healthy dogs on the streets for months. His pushiness has made him survive but he never bites another dog.

He got a lot of sympathy from passengers at the railway station but he got no affection. He lives for human affection. He will walk up to you on the tube in London and sit in front of you till you pet his brown head with cute black ears. His tail will wag till he knocks of some beer-mugs off the tables at the local pub. He will engage with every kid in the park. He is a drama queen for affection.

Imagine the pain and the fear a dog would have of a human if a human had hacked a leg off with a machete.

But LJS HAS FORGIVEN HUMANs for the sake of humanity.

He is still up for adoption and he is an excellent spokes-dog for his brother and sister strays that languish on the streets in India and elsewhere in the world. He struts his stuff on 3 legs everywhere in London. He is most at home in trains and at railway stations.

So if you are on the tube in London or national rail to Streatham Commons and you see an brown asshole, tripod dog sitting in front of you and wagging his tail for affection; please give him some because he really really really deserves it.

 

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Where Have ALL the Old Strays Gone ?

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The Indie dog is everywhere.

But you should challenge yourself to find an old indian stray dog.

They are young, they are omnipresent– and then they are gone.

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Never have I seen an old indian stray dog.

The Indie dog is sharp as a tack, wily as a fox, confident as a politician, nimble as a trapeze artist, loyal to a fault, territorial as a landlord but always young.

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Check their teeth; they are all under 2-3 years of age. If your city runs an ABC program or has an SPCA, take some statistics of their age and draw a bell curve.

Do they die young? Do they get shipped off for the Yulin festival? Its still a mystery to me.

The only sure thing is–

— POOF…they are gone.

 

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…MERE PAAS MAA HAI

 

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“Opossums in a Trap?” I tap the screen of the laptop in my truck.

“Yes two of them.” The voice over the phone crackles.

“O.K I’ll be there.” I assign the case to myself on the screen. Great, My second day on the job and I am dealing with Marsupials. Wasn’t this job all about Canines and Felines? Why am I saving opossums?

I press the button on my two-way radio. “10-4, Heading to trap #321.” I stare into the overcast Texas sky and quickly read my training manual regarding trapped wildlife. If wildlife gets trapped in our live traps set out for feral cats, they need to be released if they are healthy. If injured and bleeding, they must be euthanized in a humane manner as per Texas Health & Safety procedure 166.45-51.

Eight minutes later I pull into the maintenance building of the University and ask the complainant, “Two opossums in one trap? How?”

“This you have to see.” The Hispanic worker smiles.Snip20150425_3

I take a deep breath and prepare for the ghastly sight. Who cares for these ugly animals? I’m wasting time saving them instead some dogs or other cute…

Whoa. The sight in front of my eyes stops me in my tracks. A baby Opossum is wailing and whining inside the trap and its mother is outside trying in vain to reach her baby through the wire cage. A deep gash oozes blood from her nose as she desperately tries to reach her young

She stops when she notices me and then starts again, unafraid of me. In fact, in her world I don’t exist and my uniform isn’t valid, nor is my pole threatening.

 

I put her in a transfer cage with her baby and take her to a local vet. We dress up her wound and suture it. My job calls for taking her to the shelter and declaring her injured. However if I do so she’ll be put down and her baby won’t survive without its mama.

Snip20150425_4 So I break a rule on my second day at my job to save two lives I didn’t care for 2 hours ago and I re-learn the lesson of a mothers love for her child.

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Tonight I’ll just call my mom and listen to her voice—just because…Snip20150425_7

A New Sheriff in Town

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Que Sera Sera…

 

“When my foster Mommy, Sarah picked me up from the euthanasia list at the pound, I was fifteen minutes away from the pink stuff.” I settle in for the bedtime story Daphne, the Great Dane has been begging for. “In effect my life already is a blessing- and Sarah is my angel.”

“She’s my angel too.” Daphne perks up at the mention of Sarah’s name.

“And mine.” Pickles chimes in.

“Not mine- I’m her master.” Diesel licks his giant paw with his massive spatula like tongue.

“Unnhh hunnnh.” I take a swipe at Diesel.

“She picks up my poop, guys. That proves it.” Diesel’s bed creaks under his 165 Lb. weight.

I must say he does poop out mountains. “Anyways, moving on. Nobody wanted an emaciated black puppy with severe mange. But she saw something in me that NOBODY else could.”

“Yep, that’s my Sarah.” Daphne says. “She sees with her heart.”

Pickles interjects. “But what sort of a name is Wyatt? What the heck is Wyatt?”

 

Whatever will be will be…

 

Yes, she named me after an American hero, Wyatt Earp. I run my tongue over my sharp puppy teeth. “Although every day is a gift for me, I often wonder what I will be when I grow up.”

“Your name must indicate to Sarah what you might become.” Daphne says.

“Will I be handsome, Daph?” I lay my head on her paw.

“Absolutely, little brother.” Daphne licks my head.

“Will I be brave, Diesel?”

Diesel yawns. “Wyatt was a very flawed character. The sort that storywriters love. He was a sheriff—

Pow pow. I imagine myself as Wyatt the sheriff, badge and all- Sweeeeet.

“–He was a miner and a boxing referee–” Diesel adds.

Gentledogs, lets get ready to rummmmble.

“–He was a pimp and a brothel owner–” Diesel says.

A what?? “A pimp- OK. Maybe I can pimp you, Pickles. Wyatt the pimp-doggy; bling-bling.

“Hey, I’m a boy.” Pickles blinks rapidly.

Diesel turns over and closes his eyes. “But he was mostly a great cowboy who killed three outlaws at the gunfight at OK Corral.”

Wooohooooo.

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I asked my mamma, what would I be? Here’s what she said to me…

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Diesel and Daphne are lying on their backs with their legs in the air; the typical Great Dane, sleeping pose. Pickles is snoring through his snaggle teeth.

Sarah stares into some papers sprawled on the table. The incandescent light reflects off her brown hair. It takes me two well-directed jumps to land into her lap.

She runs her soft warm hand over my now full head of hair and kisses me between the eyes. “The long hours and these bills are killing me, Wyatt. Rescue work isn’t easy- but just looking at you makes it all worth it.”

“Mommy, thank you for naming me Wyatt. I will be the bestest Wyatt ever. I will watch over you and Daphne and Diesel when they becomes old.”

“Shhhhh. No barking Wyatt.” Sarah rubs my ear and speaks in more gibberish. “How am I going to live without you when you get adopted? My heart is sick from breaking over and over.”

Words are such a beautiful things if understood. “Did you hear what I said, Mommy; The best Wyatt ever. Ever, ever, ever times infinity.”

Sarah sighs. “…But break it must. Because you deserve a forever home. Someone out there will see what I see in you. The fun and frolic, the unfathomable amount of love you offer. The mischievous and lovable puppy that is just so thankful to be alive. Someone will take you and break my heart- and surprisingly I pray for that day to come everyday.”

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Sophie’s Choice

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“Capture their spirit with your camera, Inder.” My Grandfather had a standard answer for why my pictures didn’t look as good as his, as he peered through his top drawer lens on his Rollie flex camera.

Thirty years later, here I am; prostrate in the grass of a Clear Lake, Texas home- waiting for the dog to show me her spirit. How do I capture her spirit , Grandpapa? The ten month old tan and white pit-bull lies on her back, limbs akimbo; silly as a tart, goofy as a ball of yarn. Her mud brown iris that encompasses her black pupil enlarges as she locks her gaze through the camera lens into my eyes.

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Wait a minute; that is her spirit; a goofball.

A few months ago Sophie lived by the railroad tracks and a church in the Wayside area of Houston, Texas. A shattered front leg caused her to limp up and down the tracks but when Joel: a local factory worker showed her some love –she warmed up to him right away.

Joel and his colleague Danny brought her food and water and one day they took Sophie to a local Vet’s office. Such is the level of Sophie’s trust for humans that she willingly jumped into their car. Struggling to make ends meet themselves, Joel and Danny did what they could to get Sophie the help she needed.

The Vet was certain that Sophie would’ve been raised to breed bait dogs or a puppy mill mama when she was old enough, so he spayed her right away. He thought, when she had broke her leg (abuse or accident), she was promptly abandoned; discarded like garbage. Now she needed surgery to be a 100% healthy again.

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But she already is a 100% dog and 200% a puppy. She’s playful, careless, energetic and often forgets that her leg hurts. After being rescued by S.A.V.E  rescue coalition, Angela placed her with a charming family of fosters. Here she thrives amongst two other dogs, two energetic young ladies and a loving couple. They frolic and play in the lawn all day- and when they are tired; they frolic some more. In a few short weeks she will get her surgery and fully recover from it.

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That is Sophie’s spirit. Despite having to endure pain and cruelty, abandonment and starvation- she hasn’t forgotten how to remain a silly-goofy-puppy.

She’s a hand-me-down dog. A Sophie who wasn’t given a choice but her choice is very clear. She chooses love over hatred, a string of a sweatshirt over a dog-fight.

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Anyone who allow themselves to be touched by Sophie’s soul will be a part of her loving choice. The question is – Do you choose Sophie to give you a chance at her life?

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Erica- You’re FIRED. Humanity- You’re FRIED

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I swerved heard to the right and slammed on my brakes. “Oh My God, did you see that?” My car skidded sideways to a screeching halt. I looked over my shoulder into the moonless Texas night. “That dog didn’t even flinch when I almost ran it over.”

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There it stood – all of twenty pounds, right in the middle of the intersection- frozen in fear. I scampered into the road where the white poodle-mix stood paralyzed in fear. “Here little guy.” I whistled, but it didn’t turn its head as if the dog had no clue I was there. When I touched its head, it reacted to my touch. I cradled it and ran back to my car as it shivered in fear- dazed and confused and very scared.

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It took a bath plus some trimming of the matted fur under its belly to even figure out that the dog was a female. The cataracts in her eyes were dense and her hearing non-existent. Her thinning coat showed the discoloration where once a collar had been firmly in place. This dog had clearly been abandoned, the collar removed and had been left one the road to be run over.

She (now named Erica) probably found shelter and in a drain but the rain in Houston last week must’ve driven her out. Unable to defend herself or find food- Erica must’ve just wandered and waited for impending doom- A.K.A her destiny- to become Texas road-kill.

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The decisions those a rescue worked makes are in play again.

-It is impossible to find an old blind and deaf dog a home.

-Is it more humane to euthanize Erica with dignity?

-Would the local Poodle rescue group take her?

-Will I end up being a dog-hoarder if I keep on saving these dogs off the street?

-How much can I afford in terms of vet bills for these abandoned dogs?

-Is my time and effort better used in rescuing more adoptable pets?

Here is my decision for today.

-Get her checked out by a vet for health issues.

-Give her one week to find a home while I foster her.

-Then shut my heart down. Don’t let her love crawl grow into my heart. Be blind to her

blindness and be ready for putting Erica down.

Am I a horrible person? Or am I better than the people who loved her when she was happy and healthy. Who made her a part of their awesome life when they needed Erica and discarded her like a used tissue when she needed them? People who couldn’t find it in their hearts to put her down humanely but to assuage their guilt would have her starve to death or be crushed by a car.

Those people are who they are. I’m not responsible for their soul. I’m responsible for mine. Truth be told- I’m just marginally better than them because although I couldn’t abandon a dog like they did- I will shut my eyes to her pain one day- maybe within a week. I will shut down my heart… Unless…

–Unless you are a bigger and better person than I am… Unless you have the heart I don’t have. Unless you can keep her or try and find her a home.

Please find it in your heart to help her and help me. Maybe someone can still treasure her as she once treasured her humans.

Erica’s old and deaf and blind- and she’s looking for a new job.

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RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?

RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?

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         We all fail.

I’m carrying a brown and rust Doberman into the ICU. His nose is dripping snot on the floor as his head lolls back and forth on my arms. Having rushed Rambo to the Emergency Vet at Gulf Coast for the third time in the past three weeks has drained me of all energy- but I still have the one thing that drives all of us rescue workers- Hope.

His body feels like a sack of potatoes in my arms and I lay him on the stretcher. The compassionate workers at the Houston Area Doberman Rescue (HADR) have given all of themselves into saving this 18 month old Doberman. We all stare at each other with empty eyes as the doctors take over his weak body.

We gave Rambo our heart, we gave him our love, we gave him our blessings, we gave him our hope…His health recovered briefly before failing again. The countless compassionate donators who paid a part of his staggering hospital bill and his loving foster Cindy who showered boundless love and care to Rambo all keep their hope alive for Rambo.

And he gave us his love.

Our tired, sleepless eyes and confused minds try and make sense of the doctor naming Rambo’s illness- Ligneous Conjunctivitus. A condition so rare that six cases of the disease have been reported so far, five of them Dobermen.

“His body can’t sustain life any longer.” The vet pinches his nose under his thick glasses. “This could be a Doberman relevant disease and Rambo’s body will help his fellow Dobermen. We would like to use his body to research this devastating disease. If you could–”

“Yes.” Cindy blurts out. Then she puts her soft warm hand on mine. “That’s what Rambo would want, Inder.”

My legs stagger. His body? But he’s only a puppy—He has not known life yet. At a year and half old, he just started living a few weeks ago.

At the end of the day- that is all he had; his Body. That is all we gave him- taking from him his freedom, his puppyhood, his comfort and his shot at life.

We took his life- You and me- we did. Not just the vile excuse of a man who tied him to a tire and a cage outdoors for a year and a half, starving him. The only water he got was off a drain. We shut our eyes to cruelty too often. We let the perpetrators slip through the cracks too often. The reason why that man could do this is because he knew he wouldn’t be held accountable.

When the last dog the owner had (the boxer) died, he should’ve never been allowed another dog. But he got Rambo- and we didn’t care.

So we failed Rambo. You and I did. Humanity did.

I wow today that never again will Rambo’s owner own another dog. If he gets one I’ll steal it. If he gets another one; I will steal that too. I am a thief- so let it be written- so let it be told. I have no shame.

Here lies Rambo- ready to leave this world; ready to leave this body that has tormented his soul.

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        Today Rambo was Euthanized, his favourite toy duck by his side. He had just learnt how to play with it less than two months ago. Today his Duckie held his paw as he crossed the rainbow bridge. I had failed to say goodbye to my friend Cooper a few years ago. Today I didn’t turn my back on Rambo. My heart is broken in so many pieces today that I don’t think it will mend.

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But it will have to. It must- Just like it did when my own Speedy passed, or when I couldn’t bear to see Cooper be euthanized. Or when Tina found Mi Corazon crushed and flattened on the road in Phoenix or when Sadku was euthanized for no apparent reason.  My heart must mend because like anyone in rescue it the next one you can save that drives us and not the ones we failed.

Every bit of Rambo means love. To us humans; Love is selfishness. Love has thrashed the greatest of goals and desires into the most mediocre of fights (as I found out very recently). His love means giving and strength despite what we put him through.

Today Rambo closed his eyes for the last time.

Will we open ours?

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ROAD-MAPS OF THE SOUL- August’s tale

A human’s journey is complete when there is someone at the door to greet them when they get home. What is an animal’s journey? Some unfortunate ones struggle through the ups and down of a horrific world that we’ve created for them.

Dinggg. The amber light glowed on my cellphone screen. New text message from the Mole. I pushed the green tab. “One male black puppy. 8-10 weeks old. Rail-yard.

I gulped and quickly checked my watch. 7:47 PM. The fading sunlight in the Texas sky stopped me in my tracks. I was planning to go to the scariest part of town for picking up the puppy. A neighborhood where drugs exchange hands and possessions of guns and knives was the norm. The brutal practice of dog-fighting and killing of the weak bait-dogs was an everyday practice and this remote rail-yard provided the ideal backdrop for it.

Yet the puppy tied to the railway tracks wouldn’t make it till the morning. He was deemed too weak by the dog-fighting gang so they had tied him to the railway tracks for the train to crush him. I must get him from there tonight. I wore dark clothes and armed myself with a flashlight, a bag and a knife for protection.

I crouched low to the railway tracks and whispered, “Here, puppy puppy.” I whistled and strained to hear a sound in the darkness. My fingertips rested on the tracks and the shiny metal felt warm on my fingertips Gosh, has a train gone over these tracks recently? Is it too late?

I crawled down the tracks as they curved by the bushes and vanished from the view of the road. The beam from my flashlight danced on the broad gauge sleepers hoping I wouldn’t be spotted by the gang-members. My eyes squinted to adjust to the all-encompassing darkness.

           Aooor.I strained to listen again. Aooor.

I sprinted towards the sound. There he was; a little black puppy tied so close to the tracks that he couldn’t move more than two inches away from them. Just as expected he was a Labrador-Pit bull mix. Blood still oozed from the scar across his face. His legs had scars and his fur was matted with crusted over blood.

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“Don’t worry, little guy, you’re safe now,” I cut the rope and lifted him in the air. He was cowering and trembling but the moment I held him close to my chest, he stopped wailing.

Next morning, back at the animal shelter where I volunteer the 8 week old puppy played with the Labrador Retriever, Chevvy. He had been fed, bathed, given medicine and a new name; St. Augustine A.K.A August.

August stood up to Chevvy and teased him into playing with him. Even when he was pushed to the ground, he never backed down from a scuffle. One day when he and Chevy were playing with a tug rope. August got a little too bossy and Chevvy lost his cool, grabbing one end of the rope he flung August about six feet away. August got up, shrugged himself off and was back bothering Chevvy to ‘do it again’……

St. Augustine had boundless amounts of energy and he ran around in his small cage at breakneck speeds, the centrifugal force propelling him higher in the cage like a motorcycle in the well of death. The motorcycle gets higher and higher, the faster it goes.  It made such a horrible mess in his cage, that everyone thought he was un-adoptable.

I knew he was just burning his energy and being a rambunctious puppy. One day I caught him trying to bite his way out of the cage to try and escape, so he could play with the rest of the dogs.    It’s sad to see such a live-wire spend his puppyhood in a kennel.  August’s journey wasn’t complete yet, he needed a new home.

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Week after week of taking him to adoption events, failing to find him a home and leaving him inside a small cage every night made my heart bleed. I spent several nights staring at the ceiling, imagining his sad empty eyes behind the cold stainless steel rods, wondering if the cost August was paying for being safe at the shelter with his puppyhood was a fair one.

My friend, Navnit met him on one of her trips to Texas, fell utterly and completely in love with him and decided to give him a new home and a new name; Augustus Maximus.

A month later when I visited Navnit, August ran to the door to greet me. His tail wagged merrily and his butt shook in glee when his tongue licked my cheek. ‘All dogs are adoptable’, I thought to myself. We just need to give them a chance to succeed.

Augusts journey spanned being a lone puppy minutes away from being crushed by a locomotive engine, to finding limited joy at the animal shelter and finally an overabundance of love from Navnit.

The warm Texas breeze tousled my hair when I drove back that evening, worried about when I’d receive the next text from the Mole; my informant within the dog-fighting gang. How many more puppies can I save among the sea of cruelty all around me? A new puppy would be starting his journey soon.

August’s journey is now complete – he has found his road-map; now I need to find mine.

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FRIDA- Bella

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As I peel off my socks and groan the long day out, I run my finger over the mouse wheel.  My Facebook page races upwards and I pick up my re-heated sandwich from the Tupperware and take a big bite into the bland meal.

A piece of tomato escapes my mouth as I catch the image of a puppy, reposted from a page that sells goods. Puppy for sale. Will let it go for 100$. Several people have commented on ‘how sick they are with such posts’ and ‘how can FB allow people to post dogs in an item sale’. Some want to ‘kill the person selling it’, but most just say ‘how sad it makes them’.

Some parts of the rescue workers body function involuntarily. The brain gets put in the Tupperware along-with the awful sandwich and the heart kicks into over-drive. Ugggh. The long day is going to extend into a long night. I’ll need the nutrition. I stuff more of the sandwich in my face and crack my knuckles.

Its go time.

My desktop, laptop and cellphone are conducting Facebook searches, Craigslist scanning and I’m trying to rally a team to save the Coffee brown pit-bull puppy with a white butterfly patch on her chest. The freshly printed picture of the hazel eyed puppy is pasted over the portrait of my own beloved dog speed. Her eyes stare into mine asking me one simple question; will you save me?

Within half an hour my mind is saturated and my heart is overwhelmed by the number of ‘free puppy’ postings on Craigslist. All of these sweet pit bulls are headed to the dog-fighting rings that scour the underbelly of the American landscape. Why am I losing sleep over this one puppy out of all of these? I clasp a fistful of my hair and stare at my reflection in the TV screen. Because, she became mine when I looked into her eyes and saw a soul. Yes, there are countless others but today, right now- this puppy represents hope for all the other ones those will die this day. Her rescue will signify victory of good over evil. God, give me the courage to save her. The dog fighting rings are dangerous. I’m just one person. I touch the picture of Guru Gobind Singh – our tenth guru who gave his Sikh’s the famous line

“ Chirion te mein baaz tadaun,

Sawa laakh se ek ladaun,

tabhe Gobind Singh naam kahaun”.

(I will make birds fight hawks and win, one of my Sikhs will win against 125,000 of the enemy. Only then will I call myself Gobind Singh).

                By morning I’ve tracked down the puppy and his owner. Now it’s a matter of pin-pointing the house and stealing the puppy. Yes steal it. My money will not go to the dog-fighters. By instinct, I offer a hoodlum fifty bucks, give him the picture and show him the house. He leaps across the fence and I drive around the corner and sit and …wait.

My mouth is running dry and my car’s engine has been idling for twenty minutes when I he turns the corner scruffing the weak tan puppy and ducking across the street. I throw open the car-door and he dives in.

“Go Go Go.”

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I ran every stop sign in the wretched neighborhood, stopping at a local Walgreens and let the man out. He counts the money and gives me a homie handshake. “Aiiight, Lemme know if you want sumthin’ else, bro.” He adjusts hi crotch, “Pretty dog tho’. What you be naming her?”

Her pink nose has been on my mind all day. She’s as pretty as the first stroke of paint on a blank canvas.  “I’ll name her Frida Kahlo; after my friend Tina’s favorite painter.”

“Daaawg, who dat’ be?” He splays his arms.

“Thx Man.” I look straight ahead and gun it, driving till the yards are manicured and then finally I breathe. The puppy is sitting on the back seat and cowering. “Come here little, girl. You’re safe now.” Tears stream my face when I touch Frida for the first time.

She’s surprised by a kind touch and stands behind me on the car seat. She tentatively licks my ear and backs away. On her next lick I pet her head. She plants herself in my lap while we’re zipping on the freeway. She’s enthralled by everything; the steering wheel, the music, the air-conditioning vent letting out a stream of wonderful cold air.

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For the first time in my life I take a selfie, while driving with a dog in my lap. I don’t want to be unsafe anymore because now Frida’s life depends upon mine. The past is behind me and it’s certainly behind her.

In three minutes she’s snoring. After two baths and some food, we head to my newly found friends Jill and Dori from Dori’s cat rescue. They rescue cats but just like me they couldn’t close their eyes to this puppy. My hard work for the night is over and theirs has just begun.

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Within 24 hours she is transported to a foster and is even adopted. I know how hard these women have worked to save this one pretty dog. But I also know that in a matter of 24 hours Frida has touched the lives of all of us …and she’s just getting started. Frida has forever united me and Jill and Dori and Oktober into a cohesive team.

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Tonight the evil will be out in full-force again, money will exchange greasy palms and dogs will die. Tonight several rescue workers will be disheartened and overwhelmed. But our team will sleep peacefully- Just like Frida will.

Tomorrow I’ll be disillusioned by a fresh dose of cruelty. But tonight I sleep- with new hope.

The audacity of Hope.

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RAMBO- The Fighter

“Gosh, he’s the biggest Doberman I’ve ever seen,” I turned on my camera.

“And the most handsome one too,” Cindy tore a double-quilted paper towel from the roll.

The two-year-old 32 inch tall Doberman felt his way around the new house and stumbled towards me. His burnished-copper rust coat was dry and rough, his eye crusted over by mucus secretions. He turned his head to peep from behind the infectious growth in both his eyes.

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He bent his head in front of me, nudging his head in my hand. “This is the way he greets all strangers?” I caressed his head.

“Yep.” Cindy rushed at me with the paper towel held out, “Inder, mind the snot.”

My hand snapped to my nose but Cindy was gunning for the dog’s nose.

“I’m sorry, Inder. Rambo’s infection is terrible.”

“Rambo? Did I hear you right?” I held his face in my hands. “Nobody will use the word ‘Rambo’ and ‘snot’ in the same sentence, unless it is ‘Rambo punched the snot out of the bad guys.” I laughed.

I touched his nose. The sand-paper grit texture of his nose was crusted over by dried mucus. His eye-sores, his ears, even his penis has minor secretions of mucus.

“What is wrong with him?” my voice faltered.

Cindy sighed and slumped in her chair. “These are symptoms of Ligneous Conjunctivitis. He’s been abused badly and was kept tied to a tire for two years. He has been denied food and water…” Cindys lower lip quivered. “He’s never been a puppy. He’s never had human contact, he’s…” she choked on her words.

I followed Cindy and Rambo into the yard. Cindy tucked her coffee to her neck allowing the warmth to grow into her body. “The vet is trying his best to save Rambo’s eyesight but he might have a bigger problem.”

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I shivered in the hot summer Texas sun A two year old dog that’s fighting for his eyesight is not the biggest problem for the dog?

Cindy continued, “He might have Ligneous Conjunctivitis and need plasma replacement therapy. That can be very expensive and it will fix the problem but won’t cure it. He’ll need annual treatments.”

“Does that mean he’ll be put to–”

“–That’s the worst case.” She cut me off before I could use the dreaded word. “I hope it doesn’t come to that but it isn’t looking good” Cindy wiped the fresh lot of mucus Rambo had gladly rubbed against her blue shirt. “The woman who reported him will be devastated. She spoke to the owner, secretly fed him, thought about stealing him and finally called the SPCA.”

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“Why didn’t the SPCA take him away sooner?”

Cindy squinted her eyes. “There’s more cruel people out there than you can imagine, Inder. They are overworked and under-staffed, but thank god for them; they finally got Rambo. The abuser’s previous dog wasn’t so lucky.”

I splayed my arms, “What? He’s done this before?”

“Yes. His last dog was a boxer that died of thirst.” Cindy shook her head. “But now they have him black-listed. He won’t e able to abuse again. Let’s just hope we we’re in time for Rambo.” Her peridot-green eyes softened with love she has felt for Rambo in the one week she’s been fostering him.

Rambo walked around with a toy in his mouth. That was the first toy he’d known. As a puppy he’d never played. He wasn’t sure what he should do with the toy. Cindy’s other foster Doberman, showed him how to play but Rambo was just so excited about having a toy that he didn’t want to give it up.

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Rambo’s personality had just started shaping in the past week. He was not living before- he was breathing yes, alive yes—but he never lived. He is a two year old puppy. My heart bled imagining that he might be put to sleep in another week. A three week old, two-year-old Dobie. A life truly extinguished. I asked my own departed dog Speedy to put in a good word for Rambo to Speed’s good buddy; God.

Just then the bell rang and Rambo perked up. He dropped his precious toy and actually trotted to the gate. The woman who secretly fed him and showed him the only affection he’s ever known was at the gate. She dropped to her knees and Rambo dug his body into hers. She held his head and kissed his rheumy face. She apologized to Rambo profusely and he was stuck to her like he were velcroed to her.

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Tears stream down her face and she cried for Rambo openly. The tears she had shed for him secretly for two long years were unleashed. Cindy, after having fostered several abused dogs and the ones she’s been unable to save from euthanasia lists is hardened to pain. Even she couldn’t help shed tears for Rambo.

Rambo’s fight had become personal to her.

I pulled my face out from behind my camera and wiped the lens. The scene still looked hazy. Then I felt a big fat tear trickle down my cheek.

Rambo’s fight just became mine.

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