Around mid-November, I stepped out of my house, walked through the gates and looked along the alleyway to the main road. It took a moment to figure out what I was looking at. It turned out those funny unexpected shapes were two puppies, skin and bones, toying with a plastic bag. I scooped them up and brought them home. Crawling with fleas and stomachs swollen with worms, their eyes empty of life, they lethargically lay where I put them. Towels laid down, a bowl of water set and another bowl of food ready for them, I left to go to work. Over the course of the next few weeks, I watched them slowly, slowly get healthier, their fur grow and their bones cease to press through their skin.
There were times when I thought the little black one, I called him Wren because he was so small and bird-like, wouldn’t make it. It wasn’t until early January that he could use his back legs to walk around without falling. For an age, he moved around like a sea lion while his sister Tallulah lollopped about, happily pouncing upon him.
It’s not easy in Kerala to magic a solution to two homeless puppies. People here don’t see the point in investing time, effort or love into street dogs. Thankfully, through no small stroke of luck, I encountered a charity in Thrissur which goes against the grain. Desperate to find a place for Wren and Tallulah, I didn’t want to return them to the streets. In stepped a charity called PAWS which flies in the face of everything I’ve seen in relation to how people, generally, treat animals here. I want to mention and draw attention to PAWS because it’s a rarity.
After a couple of emails with the founder, Preethi, she agreed to take the puppies. Now, I’ll admit I had my doubts, especially after what I’ve seen here in India, even at the excellent Cochin Animal Hospital the efforts are somewhat slapdash to the European eye. I needn’t have worried. What transpired was a doggy heaven. I had the pleasure of a morning exploring PAWS and meeting Preethi as well as her family who founded and are responsible for this massive undertaking. http://pawsthrissur.com
With mewling puppies stashed in the back of the animal ambulance, as the driver navigated the NH47 from Angamaly to Thrissur, the puppies stopped crying and he said, “they’ve stopped crying because they know they are going to a beautiful home with friends and brothers.”
Rolling up to the painted white gates, the brilliant sunlight beams radiant off banana and coconut trees framed against a blue sky. Running around carefree are dogs, not pedigree but maimed dogs, three legged dogs, old dogs, mangy dogs, dogs with congenital bone diseases, rescue dogs of all varieties enjoying freedom in the safety of this extraordinary place.
On a day that fell in a week that had been quite a week as weeks go (more of this in another entry), this was the breath of fresh air that reminded me how Kerala is a place of extremes: from brutal levels of cruelty to extraordinary heights of selfless compassion. This is why I want to mention PAWS and to draw attention to the great work that is going on there. It’s being driven by only a handful of dedicated individuals who blew me away with their hospitality and vision for what life can be for animals. So, for all my doggy friends out there, for people who have dogs, for people who know people who may be able to assist, re-home, sponsor or whatever, this is for you. Please pass it on or share it not so much to raise awareness about cruelty against animals, I think we all know about this, but to show what individuals can do if they take the time and have the heart.