A mother to 500 streeties! #Mothersdaystory #adoptnotshop

By the time the volunteers come back after feeding all the dogs for the day, the preparations for next day’s meal has already begun in Sulakshmi’s kitchen.

When I ask her about her routine, she says that every morning around 5:30 a.m., she sends the first lot of food out for the dogs in the surrounding localities like Chittaranjan Park, Kalkaji, G.K-I and G.K-II. The final lot goes out at 1:30 p.m. for far off areas like Govindpuri and Okhla. By the time, the final lot is out, she is busy with the next day’s preparation. On an average day, she prepares about 90-95 kgs of rice and 50 kgs of chicken and mutton. It takes about 7-8 hours to prepare the meals and the day generally starts with mixing, packing and sending out the first lot of food.

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Giving food to the streeties is not the only responsibility she has taken upon herself, she also keeps a check on the sick dogs and the weak dogs regularly to ensure that they get their share of meals and medicines. Then there are accident cases – which are to be reported, taken to the veterinarians, fostered till they are healthy enough to live an independent life.

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When I ask her, how  does she manage so much in a day? “I am always behind my schedule.” she replies with such sincerity and modesty that makes me embarrassed about the endless complains that I make in a day when my 2 dogs fight or misbehave.

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There is not much of a support system that she has. “It’s a constant struggle.”, she says when asked about how she makes the humongous task possible every day. There are unhelpful and angry neighbors because they think she is encouraging the ‘dangerous’ stray dogs in the area. Then, there is a constant struggle to find regular volunteers. She has hired some people for help and pays them from her on own pocket. “There can’t be a day in the whole year that the dogs can go hungry. Be it a bandh or a public holiday, the dogs have to get their share of meals.”, she says with a sincerity in the tone.

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When she tells me that she has been feeding these dogs for the last 15 years, I can’t stop myself from asking what keeps her going (I am sure she has been asked these question umpteen number of times. But I can’t hold back my curiosity.). “Ek Junoon hai bus. Call it “Passion” – though I know it is a hackneyed, commonplace, overworked, banal, stock phrase.”, she says without a hint of tiredness or irritation in her voice.

In the last 15 years, there has not been much support from the local authorities as well. “One out 100 local authorities might come for any kind of help. People mostly have complaints even when we diligently clean up the area every day after feeding the dogs.”,  she says and this is the first time in the entire conversation that I sense despair in her tone.

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Sulakshmi takes care of the vaccination and neutering with the help and guidance from certified veterinarians. “I am 66 years old and it’s getting difficult for me. I have sold off my jewelry, ancestral property and, financially, it’s becoming challenging.”, she continues in a tone of despair. She has started a crowdfunding campaign on www.desiredwings.com/feedstrays to get some funds to manage the ever-growing needs.

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Sulakshmi also facilitates adoption of dogs. She says adoption depends on the luck of the puppy. Sometimes some people are taken in by the unconditional love and attention that a stray puppy has to offer; however, people mostly prefer buying pedigrees. “But we keep trying”, she says and I can sense the optimism back in the conversation.

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When I ask her if there is any particular dog that she loves the most, she quotes her mother to make a point about a mother’s unconditional love, “See all these fingers. None of them are same. But they all are equally important. Mother’s love is equal for all.”, she signs off on a note which makes me wonder if one single day in a calendar is good enough to celebrate a mother’s unconditional love.

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About Swargasaathi Charitable Trust (Regd.): The Swargasaathi Charitable Trust (Regd.) has been set up by Sulakshmi Dasgupta to support and take care of multiple stray dogs in New Delhi.

The trust is now open to charities, and cheques can be drawn out in the above mentioned name. For more information, one can write an email to swargasaathi@gmail.com or contact them at +91-9910576883.

 

5 things that make me woof woof (uff, uff!)

I love my dogs. Trust me, I do. Nobody appreciates my cooking the way they do. I have never seen a human (read my husband) respond to a humble breakfast of two boiled eggs with so much of enthusiasm and love. When I serve them boiled beans, carrots and chicken for lunch, they wag their tail, do this little gig and look at me with so much of appreciation. They ensure that every single day of my life, they appreciate me for my exceptional culinary skills. They tell me, through all possible gestures, that I boil eggs, beans and carrots tastier than anyone else in the world. Dog swear.

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So, you must be wondering with so much of love and appreciation, what are the 5 things that make me woof woof (with red eyes) at them in return.

#1 Morning Love

Every single day when the clock strikes 6 A.M., they fall head-over-heels in the love with me.They lick my face. They lick my head. Get inside my blanket. 10 minutes of all this and they are hungry and then, they pull my hair, jump on me and bite each other. There is no way I can ignore them beyond 6:20 A.M.  This happens even on Saturdays and Sundays.

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#2 After-play hours 

The play time never ends. I take out time to play fetch with them every day for one hour. But after the play hour ends, the after-play hours begin. And the after-play hours include games such as bite-bite, I-cut-your-mobile-charger, I-chew-your-chappal, I-tear-your-pillow and I-pee-on-the-door. I stare at them. They stare at me. Love.

#3 No home-alone 

I can’t leave them alone for even 15 minutes. I have done that twice and the results have not been very pleasant. Both the times, I went down to get groceries and when I returned, I saw my neighbors standing at my door, trying to frantically call me because my dogs were howling and knocking the door making them worried about my safety. Well, I have guaranteed, there are no home-alones after these incidents.

#4 Hygiene 

Pluto, my indie, is in love with the bathroom mug. He adores it. He carries that mug with him almost everywhere in the house – sometimes even on my bed!!! I ask Pluto to get down from the bed, he follows the command like a gentleman, but I throw the mug down from the bed, he barks like a mad man. I got him a new mug – same color, same size. It’s still the bathroom mug he loves. Did you say “hygiene”? I choose to ignore the “h” word now.

#5 Poop means protest

It’s all good till we three, Mars, Pluto and I, are cordial in the house. But dare I get annoyed and raise my voice. My stern voice is reciprocated with poop in all corners of the house. You should look at their happy faces when I am wiping off their shit. They almost say: “You can shout, we can poop, woof, woof.”

 

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Pet Parenting tips for the first-timers

There is no feeling more awesome than an unadulterated dose of love. Pet Parents are therefore the luckiest people on this planet because they are showered with a healthy dose of pure love every morning by their four-legged buddies. However, with this love comes oodles of responsibilities because after all these buddies are kids. If you are a first-time pet parent, things are a little more complicated for you because you don’t know where to begin. Here are a few quick tips which will make pet parenting easier for you.

#1 Take your pet to a veterinarian

Even before you get your pet home, book an appointment with a veterinarian.  Let the vet examine your pet. The vet will advise you about food, deworming, vaccinations and grooming. Take a note of everything that the vet tells you and ask questions if you have doubts.

#2 Arrange a comfortable and warm place for your pet

You can buy dog crates and beds available online. The crate/bed should be bought keeping in mind the size of your dog. Crates are a preferred choice because they are durable. Place the crate/bed at a place where it’s easier for you to keep an eye on your pet.

#3 Start Potty Training from Day 1

There are several videos available online about Potty Training your pet. Watch these videos, start training your dog as soon as you can and have a lot of patience. Potty training for pups, who are very less than 40 days, can be a little difficult but don’t lose hope.

#4 Stick to the diet prescribed by the vet

Don’t feed your pet anything from your plate. What’s healthy and tasty for you might be poisonous for your pet. Read online about foods that might be dangerous for your pet.

#5 Be on schedule for vaccinations

Vaccinations are important to assure a happy, healthy life for you and your pet. Here is a generic chart. Consult your local veterinarian for details.

#6 Give your pet toys according to the age and temperament

It’s a very good idea to get some toys for your pet but be very careful about the toys you give to your pet. Before you buy a toy, consult with the shopkeeper about the kind of toys you should buy for your pet. While a tennis ball might be good for some dogs, I have heard stories of dogs chewing up and ingesting tennis balls causing too much trouble for themselves and their parents.

 

Give the best to your four-legged buddy. Happy Pet Parenting!

Post script:

Adopt not shop 

Once you have made up your mind to get home a four-legged darling, please adopt a pup/dog from a dog shelter. There are so many organisation which will facilitate the adoption process for you. Check out the lovely pups at CUPA, Friendicoes and similar organizations in your city.