About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier and birder. 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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Boo and Choco

Are puppies capable of rational decision-making? Do they intentionally seek the protection of certain humans? Or do they just follow those who show them kindness, without any thought of the future? 

We know for sure that Boo sought out her humans; what led her to do so may always be a mystery.

The story of Boo and Choco, by Caitlin Jackson: 

Boo was born a street dog on a beach in Varkala, Kerala, sometime in early 2014, to a beautiful elegant black INDog with large ears and a curled tail. She was born a near carbon copy of her mother, but with the long sporty legs of her probable father.

A few months later I arrived at the beach. The last two weeks of our three month trip to India were supposed to be spent relaxing, but instead they turned into a rescue operation.

I played with Boo's mother on the beach, as well as the other street dogs who hang around the resort. My boyfriend Chris spotted Boo later with her mother, and we were able to pet her briefly. She was thin and seemed weak and afraid. She cowered in the presence of adult dogs. A few nights later, Chris and I heard whining outside our cottage door. We opened t to find Boo there, whining and cowering. I sat down with her, and she crawled into my lap and fell asleep. Chris went and brought some milk for her from the resort kitchen, and later a resort employee brought a few pieces of bread with honey. She drank the milk and some water and ate a few bites of bread. She was so afraid. I knew right then that I needed to help her. While she slept on a mat beneath my patio chair, I began doing research on how to bring her home to Canada. The information was overwhelming. Go here, get those papers, don't forget to do this! I wasn't sure how I would ever be able to make it work. It was then that I found the email address of animal activist Lisa Warden, and emailed her for help and advice. Lisa had helped a Canadian couple adopt an Indian street puppy called Hugo in 2009, and also has Indian dogs of her own. 

When I checked my email the next day, I found that Lisa had emailed me back with the most encouraging message. She told me not to give up, that even though time was short, there was hope for getting Boo home. Later she told me, in an email that made me cry, not to forget that God loves all His creatures, and will bless our efforts to help them. There is always hope.

The next morning Chris and I came out of our cottage to find Boo's mother dead on the beach. We have no idea how she died but, unfortunately, Kerala has a history of violence towards dogs. She could have died any number of ways; by poisoning, from a rock thrown at her head, disease, infection, starvation or dehydration - the list goes on. Life as a street dog in India is not easy. Dogs may be beaten, poisoned, even shot by people who see them as vermin. In a country that is home to as many as 30,000,000 street dogs, what's the life of one dog? In some cities the lucky street dog is one who is not beaten daily. 

Over the next two days, Boo saw two different vets. She had a badly infected ear, large infected bite marks on her neck, and was severely malnourished and frail. We were also told that it's possible that one of her back legs had been injured before by a kick or even a thrown rock. 

We began Boo's treatment that evening by administering a deworming pill. The vet had told us to mix it with milk, and so we did. However this attracted the attention of the other dogs. One came up on the patio. She is a big white dog with a similar body type to Boo's. As soon as she saw her opportunity, she attacked. She grabbed Boo by the neck and dragged her across the ground, tearing at her with her jaws as she went. We managed to stop her only by hitting her, and a screaming Boo ran under a chair. When she eventually let me pick her up, I examined her and found that, thankfully, no skin was broken and she didn't show any outward signs of serious injury. She was terrified and shaking, so I wrapped her up in my towel and held her as she whimpered and cried and drifted to sleep. The resort owner came to see what all the commotion was about, so we told him. He informed us that the same dog had attacked Boo before, and that he thought the poor little pup was going to die. The wounds on Boo's neck were the remnants of a violent attack which almost claimed her life. Upon further examination, we found many other healed puncture wounds around her entire neck. The next night, Boo's attacker came back, growling and jumping at Boo, who was in my arms. A day later she came to our cabin door and tried to get in by scratching and pushing it. We started to keep Boo inside, for fear that when we were not around, her attacker would finish what she had started.

Bite wounds on her neck

I think the saddest thing of all is that we can't even blame the dog who attacked her, whom we called White Death. When food is scarce, older dominant dogs see the younger ones as a threat to their food source, and out of desperation and instinct will kill the poor pups. Baby Boo is a miracle dog. She should never have survived the attack on her life, but she did. She is a fighter. She is, for all we know, the only remaining survivor from her litter. But she knew she needed help, so she found us. And it was now up to us to fight for her. 

I typed up Boo's story and put it on Facebook, asking for help from my friends and family. I hated asking for financial assistance, but getting Boo home was proving to be more expensive than I had thought. With dwindling funds, we faced having to cancel our flight tickets and book new, pricier one way tickets and travel to Delhi by train in AC first class, for one thing. But this turned out to be the best thing I could have done! My family and friends were so incredibly generous. They saved us! When I think about it, I'm still overwhelmed by their amazing kindness.

We took Boo on a forty-hour train ride from Varkala to Delhi, and she was so brave through the entire trip! Once she got over her initial jitters, she was content to lie on the bed and cuddle with us as we read or slept or entertained ourselves on our tablets. 

Through Lisa I was able to connect with Dr Premlata Choudhary, an amazing veterinarian in Delhi. She agreed to take up Boo's paperwork and veterinary care. Hearing this was such a relief. When we finally made it to Delhi and met her, I bawled like a baby. It was just so relieving to be in her Delhi office after two weeks of stressful planning. Through a wonderful activist and Indy owner called Sara, I was also able to connect with Sukriti, who generously allowed Chris, Boo and I to stay in her Delhi apartment, free of charge! While staying with her we met Neha and her family, lovely people who insisted on feeding us every day and even took us to see some attractions in the city! Both Chris and I feel truly overwhelmed by the selfless kindness shown to us. I can honestly say that although we found Boo, these amazing people are the ones who truly saved her life!

Our two weeks in Delhi were spent planning, booking flights, and treating Boo for her frailness. She is very mischievous, and once pulled my purse off the kitchen table and ate a bag of banana chips! She vomited for an entire day, and we had to feed her anti-nausea syrup and vanilla ice cream to settle her tummy. 

With Boo and Choco in Delhi

Once all the arrangements were made, Dr Choudhary asked us if we would be willing to bring one more puppy home with us, and we happily agreed. His name is Choco, and he is a beautiful chocolate brown INDog-mix. He was found in the garbage by a little girl in Delhi when he was still very tiny. He was malnourished and almost completely hairless, and what hair was left was matted with filth. He had sores all over his body. The girl brought him to Dr Choudhary, and she treated him. He lived with a wonderful foster mama. She brought him to us when he was about four months old, and he is just an absolute delight! He has a very quirky personality and is very loving and playful. 

Choco and Boo were able to travel to Canada in the same crate. They flew from Delhi to Amsterdam on the same plane as us, and were cared for by the trained professionals at the KLM Animal Hotel during our layover. Then it was on to Calgary. When we saw them for the first time in the airport, they started to howl. People were looking over, wondering what the heck was going on! They made quite a scene.

And now they are here! Following a tentative tryout period, Boo and Choco have become best friends and love to run and play together outside. We think their time together as travelling roommates helped them bond. They are both loving and kind, and love to cuddle with us on the couch. Boo is an acrobat who climbs higher and farther than any dog her size should be able to! Choco is still a little bumbly and gallops around the house like a horse! They are both growing quickly and are happy and healthy. 

It is still surreal to me when I look at Boo and remember where she came from and how we found her. 

I believe that fate brought us to Boo. She came to us, and adopted us as her family. And now, through this amazing journey, we get to share our lives with these two beautiful souls. We love Boo and Choco with all our hearts, and are looking forward to many more years spent playing with them. 

Though getting them to Canada was a long and stressful process, I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

Story and photos: Caitlin Jackson

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Susmita said...

Speechless !

doggylove said...

hats off to you caitlin!! god bless u all, always!!

anita said...

Really u r cry kind guys v should take this as an example n should take care of our street dogs too it's always good if u do tht u vil see the result I too take care of my street dogs n it feels great