Article by Rakesh Shukla:
It started with Sita. On a cold rainy miserable night more than an year back Sita found her scared way into the gates of the community I stay in. Sita was a wrong ABC drop in our locality and took refuge within the large gates of what she felt was safety from the large no of strays on the road. Much to the dismay of the security guards & residents. But inside too she was scared witless and would being chased by the security guards and she’d desperately try to come back every night. One day I ‘smuggled’ her in, told all the security guards that, put a collar on her – and she found a home in the park within the compound, and I found the routine of feeding her twice a day. I had Sita vaccinated and she was very friendly with children. It was their parents who’d mostly ‘freak out’ on seeing a ‘stray dog’ in the children’s park. The only way out was making sure that Sita become friends with all the children and I went about doing that systematically. The park was Sita’s home for almost an year. The 1st 2 friends she made were two sisters Ananya & Akanksha. Thereafter due to some circumstances I had to move Sita out and now Sita lives with me as part of our office gang of Chotu, Motu, Mama, Gita, Cleopatra, Amy, Chintu, Bhalu, Amy and Chiu (in no particular order).
Over the last few months as ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’ started (my 2nd simultaneous full time job), time became even less and I almost stopped going to the park. On occasions I’d meet Ananya and Akanksha and they’d tell me about various dogs around, at school etc. I shared Shamalatha Rao’s wonderful book on Chutki’s Experiences with them, as both education and acknowledgement of their effort and concern.
A week back they told me about the litter of JLo. JLo is this beautiful girl who had someone found her scared pregnant way inside the gates and had been ‘adopted’ by the who gang of girls! And they’d taken care of the food – water – security aspect of JLo all the while! JLo had littered 7 healthy pups about 2 weeks back – and had just opened their eyes when I saw them first
Ananya, Akanksha & the gang of friends including Shravan, Ankita, Himanshi & Sowmya not only feed JLo they run a roster of duties that include:
- A constant vigil with all the security guards who might try to remove her and the pups (we’ve written and asked for permission to be allowed to keep them in for now), they get their mothers to part with utensils etc to feed.
- Checking after every rain-shower that the pups are dry
- Gathering newspaper and cleaning up where the litter stays so they have a clean place
Ananya, Akanksha & the gang are planning to:
- Find the pups homes
- Take care of the de-worming and 1st vaccinations
- Collect some money to give to a dog charity
- Get JLo spayed once she stops feeding the pups
Ananya, Akanksha & the gangs are a great example of what awareness about stray dogs can do. That they can indeed live among us. It is only the disconnect between people and animals that need to be bridged in the urban environment – where it is very wide indeed.
Ananya, Akanksha & the gang are The ‘little’ Voices of Stray Dogs, and I’m glad for it. So’s JLo!