About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The amazing destiny of Maya and Chicca

Sara Casapulla is from Italy. She adopted two beautiful Indies while posted in India on work.
Here's the story of Sara, Maya and Chicca:

I moved to Kerala (Kochi to be exact) in June 2010 for a work project.

I have always been an animal lover and living in a rural area of Kochi made me see the real interaction between humans and animals, for beautiful or ugly as it might be. Day after day, something was changing inside of me, an overall awareness. I didn't see any more the world I was living in as a beautiful and heavenly place, all I could see and concentrate on was the fate of the animal world in the hands of humans.

Cows and buffaloes in congested trucks being brought to slaughterhouses, chained elephants used to serve Gods and tourists, chickens kept in tiny cages waiting to be sold and cooked...But what struck me the most was the condition of stray dogs, which
is sadly the same all around the world.

The streets of Kerala are filled with stray dogs, who I found later from personal research are often INDogs or aboriginal pariah dogs, and they are the oldest breed in the world. Most of them live off human garbage, some of them are lucky to be fed by street vendors or roadside butchers. Only a few find real homes, as nowadays the upper classes like to show their social status by buying expensive breed dogs and consider INDogs a second-class breed...

I decided I wanted to help them and I wanted to start by adopting a stray. So I went to see a shelter in Kochi run by a British lady
(Maddogtrust), and asked if she had any abandoned dog for adoption. She showed me dozens of dogs, puppies and grown-up ones, abandoned and neglected. It was very difficult and painful to choose as all were desperately looking for human affection and somebody who would take them home...But I had to make a choice.

Among all the dogs, I noticed a three-month-old little white girl, whom Penny (the owner of the shelter) had found a few weeks back abandoned on Fort Kochi beach. She was tiny and skinny and very shy. She was all white with black patches on her belly and and a black nose, sweet as honey.

I decided I would take her home with me and I named her Maya.

When I brought her home she slept for days, as she was obviously exhausted. We already had a dog in the house who "fathered" Maya from the first moment he saw her, and they became best friends in a span of days!

The tiny shy girl blossomed into a healthy capricious princess and became the ruler of the house!

She would cry to come inside, bully her big brother Pallu, who was triple her size, and be moody the whole day when the vet had to handle her. She became my joy and happiness. I understood the real meaning of pet love and started to be compassionate with other animals day after day.

My house was right on the backwaters where tiny strips of land were inhabited by fishermens' huts. I could often hear dogs barking and crying from the houses and with the help of binoculars I could see chained pets kept outside the huts. I could not sleep at night when the howling was too desperate or atrocious. I tried to ask for help in order to free the dogs, but there isn't a law there which protects pets...I tried to talk to those fishermen but as we could not communicate, I had to give up. All I could do was watch those poor dogs with my binoculars hoping to see the fishermen feed them or free them for a while.

One of them had a female dog with her pup kept on a tiny strip of land where he used to fish at night. Even if the mum and pup hadn't been chained, they could not escape from that strip as it was surrounded by water, they were prisoners for life...I was wondering why the fisherman was keeping the pup, as the mother was already guarding his "property" and he didn't really need a second dog...But at least they were together and did not suffer a lot in their imprisonment.

Six months had passed since I adopted Maya and one evening I heard a pup crying not far from my house. Fishermen used to abandon their unwanted pets in the area. I had already treated an abandoned pup affected with mange, who was luckily adopted by a local family once he recovered.

My heart started beating fast, I knew that somebody would have abandoned another unwanted puppy...I took a torch and went out into the deep vegetation, trying to locate the cry. It was coming from the river banks, and finally I saw the pup hiding and howling in fear in the bushes. With horror I recognized the pup, he was the fisherman's pup.

The fisherman had separated him from his mother, who was calling out for him on the opposite side of the river. He must have waited for the pup to be big enough (he was around three months), put him in his small wooden boat, ferried him across the river, and thrown him out like an old thing.

I tried to rescue him but he was too scared and wouldn't let me go near him, so I decided to bring him some food and wait for the following morning to have the daylight in my favour. Fortunately he must have fallen asleep soon after I left as I didn't hear him crying during the night...

At dawn I woke up and ran to the pup who was still scared and did not let me approach him. So I dropped him some more food and went to ask for forces. I called Maya, who immediately ran outside and went to rescue the little one!

The pup was a she. I took her in my arms and brought her inside the house.

From that moment I have never heard her crying again.

Maya and big brother Pallu took care of her from the first moment she stepped in the house and never let her alone for a single moment. I decided to name the little baby Chicca.

My happiness only lasted a few days as I could not keep her forever. I already had Maya and was going back to Italy one day, I couldn't bring two dogs with me for different reasons...So I contacted a local shelter that could take her in, and decided, heartbroken, to take her there.

When the day came I was completely devastated, my heart broke in two when I left her at the shelter. I could not eat any more and cried for days. I could not imagine her staying in a crowded shelter with other dogs, she did not deserve this kind of life. I had to take her back.

Ten days had passed but when we went to pick her up, she recognized us immediately and gratitude was written in her tiny black eyes.

Maya and Pallu were excited when they saw her and ever since she has been part of the family, the most joyful and happy being I have ever met, she has never been capricious or cried, as she could understand where she had come from. I always say that she is an ancient soul...

The stay in India is almost over, a few more months or maybe a year, all is still uncertain but all I know is that Maya and Chicca are coming back with me. I would never leave them here, they are part of my family and I would climb mountains and cross seas to bring them with me.

The procedures are very long and expensive, I had to have their blood tested and send the samples to a laboratory in Europe for rabies antibodies detection. I am now waiting for the results and if they are positive, they will be able to travel after three months from the date of the blood test. They will have to take first a domestic flight from Kochi to Delhi, and then an intercontinental one from Delhi to Rome. I have bought the appropriate IATA approved crates and Bach Flower Remedies to calm them down during the flight.

All is set and ready for their new life in Italy!

Story: Sara Casapulla
Photos: Sara Casapulla  



Urja Baggins said...

I am not easily moved to tears, but I was, while reading the heartfelt and eloquently told story of Maya and Chicca. Thank you, Sara. I know these little ones will be a source of joy to you in the years to come.

When we moved Puppy from Delhi to Calgary, he seemed to have handled the REALLY long flight a lot better than we did. The handlers from Lufthansa did a great job too - they must have fed him well during the stopover at Frankfurt. Puppy was as bouncy and perky as ever, and promptly proceeded to mark the Calgary airport as his territory as soon as we let him out of the crate!

- Swati Chavda

Npoyyayil said...

Ciao Sara
Hope you continue to post about your lovely dogs after reaching Italy. Wishing all of you a good and safe journey. I know, the procedures are not so easy and particularly dealing with some local officials here might go beyond the limits of your patience. Please remember that you need an export certificate from India before leaving the country and that the same is valid for just one week, so you would have to get it issued once your flight date is finalized.
All the best! Nicole

Cherida Hivale said...

Sara, beautifully written, heartfelt account of Maya and Chicca :). I'm so glad you found each other.

Minna said...

I'm glad others are willing to go through the ordeal of taking their adopted pets back with them. I'm sure they will bring you happiness and joy for the rest of their lives :)

On another note though... as I'll be needing to send blood samples to Europe as well, I'm curious about what method you used to send yours?

Sarah said...

Thanks for the story Sara. I had found out about a pup on this blog by Rajashree and was fortunate enough that the Canadian woman, Lisa Warden, who found him and took care of him was able to do the leg work to get him to Canada. It seems to be much easier than Europe, no needing to send blood samples away for testing. We live in Ottawa and Pete flew with Lisa from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and then on Lufthansa from Mumbai to Frankfurt (where Pete apparently got some good love, scratches and some out of crate time) and then from Frankfurt to Toronto. We drove the 5hrs to Toronto that morning and anxiously awaited out new little family member. He bonded with my Canaan dog immediately and there isn't ANYTHING I wouldn't do for him.

Although I didn't experience the stress that trying to export a dog can involve, we really just had to make a few phone calls and arrangements, I can imagine the challenge but it will be so worth it in the end.


Rajashree Khalap said...

US and Canada seem quite simple compared to EU countries. Minna, there are a few other Indy-owners who might be able to guide you. Nicole who took a dog to Switzerland, and June Basar who took one to Denmark. Last year a Mumbai dog also went to Finland.

sara said...

Thanx everybody for your support and advice, it is going to be a very long process with all the procedures, certificates etc etc but I will make it at any cost! The most difficult thing has been done,the serum test..I am waiting for Chicca's results as the first test come out negative as her immunity was very low, so I had to do it again...Hopefully this time it will be ok...I should have the results by next week.
Minna, as for the method to send the serum to the lab in Europe (in Sweden to be exact)I had it done in a private vet clinic in Kochi, but as fedex and other private couriers dont seem to be very fast there, I didnt want to take any risk so I brought teh serum with me to Delhi. I put the serum tubes in an icebox with dry ice and put it in my check-in luggage along with a certificate signed by the vet stating that the serum was not infected, in case they would have checked me, but they didnt. When I arrived in Delhi, I brought the samples to my vet (Dr Choudhary, who helps with all the formalities and certificates, you need to contact him if you are staying in Delhi, he can do all the work for u!), who sent them to the lab in Sweden. Once I'll have the results positive, I'll have to wait 3 months from the date of the blood test before travelling with the dogs. You will also need to buy IATA approved crates and book with Lufthansa, the best aircompany in dealing with pets transportation. Please tell me if you need more infos...Where are u based in India?

Minna said...

Rajashree, can I find them through FB? Either via your page or via the club page there?

Rajashree Khalap said...

Minna, I'll put you in touch with all of them via email.

What Remains Now said...

What a wonderful and interesting story. Please keep us updated on life in Italy.

Sara said...

Hello, just a quick update on my babies: they are not flyingfrom Kochi to Delhi anymore because I am too scared to put them on a domestic flight so we are going to make the journey by train, 38 hours! Booked a first class compartment for all of us! Wish us a good journey!!! :-)

Rajashree Khalap said...

Great :-) :-) Bon voyage!!