Story Of Amdavadi Freagles: From Numbers To Names, From Labs To Laps

When 21 beagles were recently released from a laboratory-run kennel in the country, they had already spent more than 6 years of their life in a dark cage. They had never seen sunshine, never ate home-cooked meal, never sniffed flowers, and never chased squirrels. 5-days into a free world and some of them still don’t know how wonderfully they can utilize this freedom. The smarter ones of the batch are busy exploring mud and the adventurous ones have taken to swimming like they are amphibians, but a few shy ones still run away when they see a human. They are currently living in a dog boarding center in Ahmedabad, their temporary home, till all of them find good homes. They still don’t have names – as for the laboratories, they were only numbers such as 8654378.

Freagles – the free beagles – as they lovingly called, are special dogs. Special because they don’t have the inherent characteristics that you might expect from a dog. They are afraid of noise, don’t know what to do with toys, and don’t know how to express love. As 6-years of their lives have passed into enclosed cages, freedom to them almost means re-birth. So, basically, they are 6-year old puppies who need to be toilet-trained and leash-trained. They need to be showered with love and allowed to be feasted on the tastiest home-cooked meal. They need to be given time and space to understand that they will eventually get a chance to choose their favorite human in the world.

When Richa Singh Choudhuri, an ex-corporate girl and, now, the owner of Bowsome Retreat, the boarding center hosting these 21 freagles, adopted Dexter, a 2016 batch freagle, she didn’t know this boy will change her life forever. Dex, as he is lovingly called, is now a 12-year-old bully in the pack of 9 dogs and 2 humans. He came as quiet dog and within 1.5 years of his adoption has become the most demanding, opiniated, and intelligent dog in the pack. He rules the pack of 9 dogs with an iron paw. Dex follows his mom, Richa, like a shadow everywhere. Richa proudly says, “No one on this planet can love me more than Dex”. Dex and his pack member, Duster, another freagle, taught Richa the compassion towards freagles. She says that “Freagles, once they taste love, reciprocate love in a manner that a human has never experienced”. Richa says that each freagle parent has a unique story to tell, but all of them would voice the same opinion “A freagle teaches you the meaning of love and freedom all over again”.

The 21 freagles, currently at the boarding, have slowly started coming out of their shells. They are currently being given the requisite medical attention and the time to grow into the real character that they are. Once they start showing their real nature, they will be given new names and then, they will leave past the identification number that once defined their existence. Once the medical check-ups and basic behavioral observation of the freagles are complete, they will be put for adoption to suitable families. For this batch of freagles, adoption is open for three states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Delhi. Freagles of India (FoI), a registered trust, with the objective to rehabilitate and re-home animals released from testing laboratories in India along with Bowsome team is involved in facilitating the adoption of these freagles through social media outreach.

If you are considering adopting a dog and can spare few hours for few consecutive months to train them, you must consider these freagles once. You never know you might meet your soulmate in this freagle batch and a freagle might find his/her forever human in you. As a pet parent, I can tell you, these matches are made in heaven and cherished in heart forever, you just need to start your search from the right place.

To apply for adoption of these freagles, please fill the form here.

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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.

 

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.