Some ‘MOTHERLAND’ This…

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As I started my drive back to Chandigarh from Delhi last week I saw a person urinating by the side of street within 2 minutes. Before I realized what was happening I found myself tapping on his shoulder before he had a chance to zip it up.

Some excuses and minor preaching later, I realized that there are just two types of people in India.

  1. Those who urinate in public.
  2. Those who stop them.

If you aren’t one- then you must be the other.

I’ve been the other for way too long. So I decided to stop and interrupt every man’s urinary bliss for the rest of the drive.

They kept coming.

…And kept coming.

 

…And coming.

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And I kept stopping them.

73 of them in 4 hours and 250 Kms.

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Seventy three !!!

Wow…

This is us claiming that dahrti hamari maa hai (our land is our mother)… Or is it really our whore, our mistress (as a vegan I DETEST even typing such words….or worse).

At what point do we think it’s okay to urinate in public.

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But the truth is since I never stopped anyone before today. I am just as guilty of allowing someone to urinate on my mother—unless my country is my whore too.

So let us decide if it really is our mother.

Then we will be the people who will stop others.

Because I know when stopped, they all either say ‘You are right. I am sorry.” Or they say the one thing that justifies all bad habits in the world.

“Everybody does it.”

Well I don’t.

And I won’t let you.

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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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I Lost Myself to Find Love, in India.

18:43

The amber readout of my Garmin watch flickers on my wrist. “Jeannie, don’t you stay out on the streets after dark in that country.” My husband’s words ring as clear in my mind as my doctors warnings, “Don’t you eat anything that the infamous street-vendors sell, Ms Baca.”

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I hold up the saffron coloured Jalebi against the setting Bangalore sun and bite into the crunchy goodness. A burst of sugary heaven spiced with saffron explodes in my mouth. My salivating tongue feels the gritty texture of fried dough dipped in syrup. Take that, Dr. Whatley.

The yellow and green Auto-rickshaw driver appears more nervous that I do of the fading sunlight. “Madam, let yus go to Yotel. It’s getting dark, No?”

“Relax, Anand.” I lick the syrup off my fingers.

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The soft January breeze teases my short hair. The gentle tuk-tuk of the scooter rickshaw lulls me into thoughts. I’ve always been a risk taker… When they offered me to do an assignment in India, I jumped at the opportunity. This mystical land; Nothing in India is kind to your senses- The colours are bright, the noise is crazy, reality is stark, people feel deeply- I mean anybody who has to ‘FIND THEMSELVES’ come to India- the land of–”

Screech…..

The rickshaw comes to a sudden halt. That’s when I first see Sita– “She’s dark brown and black. Nothing spectacular about her, but she’s run onto the road to come between the rickshaw and her three puppies.” She’s confident, fearless and not worried about herself-

She’s a mother.

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Her hip bones protrude from her severely emaciated body. Then she looks directly into my eyes.

No, Jeannie, don’t even think about it. DO NOT…this is not your country, there is NOTHING you can do, You have a conference call in 20 minutes, your flights leaves in less than 30 hours. Don’t even think about it, just ignore–

She nudges her face against my palm. This is probably the first kind touch she has received in her short painful life.

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Her pain is over- Mine has just begun.

She is now mine. Just like all the other animals in this world that have nobody, have me. She’s mine. I just have to find them a home and love—something all of us deserve.

As I sit back from the drab conference call, my mind races. What can I do? Who can I call for help? Who will help me in this foreign land? And Why?

My fatigued mind can’t think anymore so I put out a post on social media and close my fatigued eyes.

Ding Ding Ding

A series of messages jumping on my screen wakes me up. I rub my eyes in amazement as I read the screen. Facebook has been working while I slept.

Fate;

A man who is a friend of a friend of a friend is traveling to Bangalore from Chandigarh to day and is going to be in Bangalore for a few hours. He just happens to have a friend who has a rescue in Bangalore and can keep the dogs there safely while we figure a way for them to get to the USA.

“It all seems far too convenient,” says my best friend over the phone.

“My gut says, I can trust these people.” I tell her. “I just know I was meant to find Sita and her puppies. “Gosh, Sita even has a best friend called Nandi– wonder if they will agree to take her too?”

So I ask.

So they agree. It’s as simple as that.

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The rescue organization called Voice of the Stray Dogs (VOSD) picks up the stray dogs the very next day. Unfortunately one of the puppies has died. The person who came from Chandigarh works for an organization called Peedu’s People. They collaborate to save Nandi, Sita and her remaining two puppies.

*****

My risk taking ways paid off.

I lost myself in belief of humanity and found love in India. The love of Nandi and Sita and her two puppies.

Now we all need your help to get these puppies to the USA so where we have homes already for them.

These poor dogs who have never known love or kindness deserve the same love I found.

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Delhi’s air is wretched. My city’s air is getting horrible too.

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Almost 10,500 people die each year prematurely in Delhi owing to the omnipresent smog that has encapsulated the city for more than a decade now. The Particulate matter levels in Delhi are above 3 times the danger limit.

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So when the Delhi government tried to implement an odd even formula for private vehicles (Allowing cars on the Delhi roads on alternate days only) the whole region went up in arms about the ‘inconvenience’ it would cause them (safety/business/recreational- etc etc; the laundry list is endless).

The issue is that we all talk a big game. But when it comes to actions and doing something to help there is just one question we need an answer for – WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME?

This is the one question any NGO, Revolutionary, Activist (animal or environmental), 501 3C, Rescue group etc have a very hard time answering.

We expect people to change because of the lecture we are so handily giving them while they are just thinking the same thing-

-What the heck is in it for me?

-Why should I change?

-Why should I listen to this buffoon who thinks he knows more than I do?

3

We will crib about it but won’t act.

-We will say no to plastic until we need a drink of water/soda or a pack of potato chips.

-We will not carpool because it’s not convenient.

-We will detest animal cruelty but we will continue to eat animals for variety/flavor.

-We will cry about an unsafe city but we won’t stop to help a person in need.

-We will clean up our house/shops and leave the trash by the roadside.

-We will wait for our city’s air to be as horrible as Delhi before we act.

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We all change because of fear.

-Fear of the law.

-Fear of personal loss.

-Fear of someone else gaining more than us.

-Fear for OUR loved ones.

There is JUST ONE other alternative; Negativity out, Positivity in.

  • Show them what is in it for them. A better life, more involvement. Add personal stakes to education.
  • The ONLY hope is our future generation. So let’s make such things a part of their curriculum and not just lectures/seminars.
  • Grade them on it. Give them prizes and rewards for such work (much like sports and studies).

5

Over decades we’ve been making the same inputs and expecting different outcomes. That is the definition of insanity.

It’s time to answer that one question; even for the children.

WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME?

A Million in One

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Every creature fights for survival.

This dog gave up to ticks. Millions of them. In clusters all over her. Her soft skin invaded by clusters of them. The armpits, the ears, the toes, the neck. In my eight years in rescue and animal cruelty investigations, I have never seen  dog with so many ticks.

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Someone tied her amongst tall grass and left her there.

She must’ve tried to get away.

The missing fur tells us that at some point she chose to bite them off.

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Then she tried to break her leash.

Then she gave up.

To die a horrible death.

This dog was anemic beyond belief. Her gums were bleached. She wouldn’t have made it through the day with those ticks sucking away at her emaciated body.

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So I sat down on my knees and started picking them off her body. 2 people working for 30 minutes or so got maybe 25% of them off her. Nothing grosses me out more than clusters of ticks but this dog needed relief.

We doused her with chemicals and took her to the Vet -assuming she will need a transfusion. The good Vet told us that as long as she eats- she will be fine. So I opened some wet food for her and even before the dish hit the floor she had scarfed down almost all of it.

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Then I wrote “Very Gentle” with a sharpie across her disposition paperwork. That means she will have 3 days. The compassionate Vet smiled at me for the work done to save her and marked her for spay surgery. That would mean she won’t die immediately. That she will have a shot at life.

While I was putting her back in her cage she wagged her tail and for the first time in her empty eyes I saw a spark. A chance at life- hope.

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As the ticks dropped off her continually- due to the medication I wondered if my touch today was the first loving touch this dog had ever known.

Her survival chances are up to her luck now. Maybe (post spay) in the weeks she has at the shelter a family would see through all the dried scabs of blood and see a priceless soul. Maybe she will finally get the love that we humans owe her. Maybe she’ll be able to give her love to someone.

She was one with a million ticks on her.

Today her survival chances are one in a million……

…But one is a number.

Will you be the one to make her your ONE and ONLY?

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The Grandiose Hopes of a Road-Side Romeo

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As an A.C.O you get called out to some calls that make your head scratch and leave you in a desperate attempt to hold back your laughter.

A stray male Shih Tzu is reportedly digging under the fence of a homeowner and getting into the yard  in the hopes of impressing their dog.

This is the face of the Hapless Shit-Zhu

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And this is the pretty face of a fully grown female…

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This is the two of them together.

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Some GUYS JUST DON’T GET IT… She has barked at him and turned him down several times. Homeowner has blocked every dug-up pit with wood/stones and returned the dog to the street.

Doesn’t prevent this bugger from making new holes.

She is clearly wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy out of his league.

He’s a 1.5, she’s a 9 (at-least)

But he doesn’t get it.

As an A.C.O- I can’t laugh- but I really really really want to–

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Preferential Treatment

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Sarcoptic Mange is caused by the parasite Sacroptes Scabiei. While it can infect and grow in humans too- it prefers to grow in dogs.

The kind of preferential treatment they can absolutely do without.

Because we can help ourselves. They can’t.

We have sprays. They have neglect.

We have money they are destitute.

We control out destiny. They have been robbed of their destiny because we domesticate and breed them.

And this is what it does to a ‘once vibrant’ Great Dane. His legs are swollen to three times the normal size. His walk is so painful that he shuffles inch by inch. Standing up is so excruciating for him that he eats lying down.

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In a world where shelters are overcrowded and animals  get put down for perceived aggression or a minor kennel cough, what chance does this poor neglected boy have?

Who was the human that let the neglect go this far. At what point do you stop and say- I think my dog needs help.

So what did this human do??

He abandoned this dog on the street in almost 100 degree blistering hot Texas sun. A skin so sensitive it cannot endure human touch was found lying on a burning hot pavement.

Now that is preferential cruelty.

To Steal or Not to Steal ?

 

Dinggggg

Dinggggg

But I’m watching the playoffs.

Dinggggggg

 

“OK OK, I’ll look.” I yell at my laptop.

You have been tagged on a post. I take a deep breath.

2 Pit bulls- Possibly will be sold for drugs to become bait-dogs. Please help.

I click on the post. There are 57 comments. People in rescue and concerned humans commenting over and over about “Hope someone can save these poor dogs.”

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Don’t do it, Inder. Just don’t . It’s the same dance.

My fingers type these words. “I’ll get them.”

Darn it.

It’s a drug-den and I’m new to Dallas. I’m somewhat familiar with the dingy underbelly of Houston. This is new. I need a lookout person.

“Can someone go with me to steal these dogs?” I type and wait.

No response.

It’s the age-old dilemma. We want to save dogs but we want someone else to save them. It’s always someone else.

ME

 

There’s just one person I know in Dallas and I ask her. A 30-year-old Vegan woman who just loves animals and is a kind generous and lovable soul. She is very slightly built- but she doesn’t hesitate. “I’ll go with you.” She types.

Together we go through the rigmarole. A pair of new box-cutters at Home Depot. Gloves, leashes, treat. And we are off.

The things to determine are

  • Is it a prized fighting dog? In that case we are screwed. He will be aggressive, and expensive and well protected.
  • Is it a bait dog? He would be timid and injured.
  • Is he a dog that’s just neglected?

 

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My strategy to steal or report cruelty or buy will depend upon that.

I check for dog-fighting paraphernalia; none. I approach the dog to check for friendliness. He is in a dog-house in a vacant lot. There is filth all around him and he comes out slowly. He has a giant chain around his neck with 5 locks dangling from it. His gait is labored, his neck is lowered, his shoulders are hurting from the heavy chain.

Gosh.

I extend my hand to him. He comes close and sniffs it. Then he just drops to the ground and throws his legs in the air. He want’s human contact- any contact other than a human striking it.

I rub his belly. He moans and groans. I’m his new friend.

I’m just about to remove his chain from his neck when I hear a voice behind me.

“Is there a problem?” An extremely thin, older man walks up to me. His hands are placed on his hips.

“Plan B, Plan B, Plan B”

I try to get him to give up his dogs and negotiate a humane release for them. But he just wants some money. His missing teeth confirm my doubt for what he wants money for.

My life is a struggle to prevent drug use, but I am pro-life. Just pro-dog-life. He wants a 100$ apiece or he will report me to the police for attempting to steal his dogs.

I threaten cruelty and tethering citations. But he’s played this game a hundred times before. He calls my bluff.

I offer him 80 $ and he agrees right away.

Five minutes later two sweet pit bulls are on their freedom ride. In an air-conditioned car after years of being in dirt and filth and the elements, within a minute both are snoring.

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That’s how I almost went back to stealing. The sweet woman who was my lookout driver had type 9-1-1 on her phone already and her trembling finger hovered over the green button of her phone. She had told me she hasn’t stolen anything in her life. I promised her that I would try and keep her record intact. And we did.

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Two dogs got another shot at life or a shot at a humane death.

And I almost stole again.

But some crimes are worth it- aren’t they?

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Officer- There’s a dog in my car !!!!

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I got called out to a police call today where a man was complaining about a dog in his car who wouldn’t come out.

Strange?

Well, he was changing the license plate stickers and has left his door open. When he got done- a big German Shepherd sat in his car and refused to get out.

So he called the cops.

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So the cops called me.

I asked him to come jump in my truck and he didn’t even think twice. He jumped out the car and into my truck.

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Then he licked my ear the entire ride back.

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And at the shelter he wants to be walked and demands treats. At almost 140 Lbs a few treats don’t even whet his appetite. He needs a handful. And then he wants to thank you with a spatula like tongue and he can shake your hand with his giant paw.

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What an adorable dog. He is somebody’s pet for sure…even if he is a tad bit grey around his muzzle…surely nobody would’ve abandoned such a majestic and intelligent dog.

I hope not…

..So stay posted…will update his progress.

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The Messenger of Death

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Death;

That’s the final frontier.

Nothing is more definite.

Nothing is more final.

Nothing is more irreversible.

Then why do we take a life?

Why do I?

If Dr. Kevorkian can be punished for human Euthanasia, what is my punishment for killing sixteen cats and nine dogs with reasons ranging from upper respiratory infection to perceived aggressive to simply – “un-adoptable because they’ve been at the shelter too long” scribbled clear across their charts.

A red tag around their collar as I walk him to his final walk. The chocolate brown big-pittie wags his tail wildly as I pet his pretty face. He jumps up and down the weigh-scale ready to play his game with me.

  1. The amber read-out of the scale flickers. That would mean 8cc of the Blue-juice. My gut tightens.

The vet-techs check his vitals and I tranquilize him. Then we put him in the cage and the vet techs cover it with a blanket.

“Why do we do that?”

“So he can’t see what’s going on outside.” He says to me and re-starts his banter with the other vet-techs.

Having been here for a week has taught me how to read between lines. Having worked in rescue for years has taught me how we veil our fears and feeling. It’s not because we don’t want them to see outside. It’s because we don’t want to see inside.

So I peek behind the blanket. My pittie is swaying his head from side to side like Stevie Wonder does when he sings. Drool is dribbling out of his mouth.

I can barely hold his chart up with my trembling hands. There must be something wrong. He is so healthy and happy. I go over every line again. It still says Upper respiratory tract infection. I could’ve sworn I never heard a cough or anything.

They pull him out and lay his limp body on the table. His muscles are quivering involuntarily. He must’ve figured out what’s coming.

“Why don’t you do this one.” My supervisor points to me.

“Me?” I look behind me. Nothing. Gosh.

My mouth runs dry. I gulp a few times and pick up the syringe. I draw 8cc’s of the blue liquid and grab the pittie by the elbow and twist my wrist slightly.

His big vein pops up willingly, eager to please me very much like him. Always obliging. Always ready to give happiness, joy, love and now even his own life; The true spirit of a dog.

And the true spirit of man.

I point the beveled end of the needle up and dig into his skin, feeling the vein. I draw out a little blood to ensure I’ve hit the vein and then I plunge the syringe as deep as I can.

A sudden urge to vomit overpowers me. I’ve just pushed death into the body of an animal that I had sworn just to give life to. I had chosen death.

“Good job, officer.” My supervisor spins on his heel and leaves the lab.

My knees hit the floor. I run my hand over the pitties head repeating the words SORRY SORRY , Please forgive me. I am so sorry, big guy.

His eyes glaze over they are staring into nothingness. I put my face right in front of his eyes. I want me to be the last thing he saw. I pet his head and kiss his nose till the heart jab injection tells me he has passed.

I force myself not to cry in front of the vet techs. I force myself to appear professional but my heart broke into a million pieces today. But it has broken several times before and it will as long as I work in this field.

Today I am the messenger of death. We in rescue call this by different names- we try to ease the pain and cutify death. Lab Limbo (stalling going to the lab by doing menial things to delay killing), The Rainbow Bridge, Going to meet Jesus, Going night-night… It’s still death; Final and all encompassing.

I trudge over to the wash-basin.

Boraxo, Industrial strength hand-wash. An orange bottle over the basin reads. Removes paint, grease, tar, ink and oils.

I pump some on my hands and scrub the grainy gel as vigorously as I can. Yes but can it remove DEATH too?