CC: Keisha

To: Pup-lovers mailing list; Cubbon Park Canines mailing list

Subject: All-Of-It | Requested blog post for the YODA FB page 2015 | CC Keisha

Dear pet people,

Thanks for your texts and for responding to my musings so far! As you’re well aware, my obsession with my dog has taken over my senses over the last few years. I’ve finally organized this obsession into a series of anecdotes and letters. These turned into emails to myself on busy days and each one began to begin with ‘CC: Keisha’ for a moment of fun within the work-

day.

Selected writings have been submitted for use by YODA (Youth Organization in Defence of Animals, Mumbai) who rescued and partly rehabilitated Keisha before she was adopted.

Please find pasted below a copy of the selected notes from this collection.

This one is from 2015, when she had only just adopted us! As a note of thanks, I sent in this note to YODA to acknowledge her recovery and to make it easier for other families to adopt differently-abled pets.

Dear Keisha,

Dr-B was the first veterinarian who took charge of your troubles, the complete package — the corneal pathologies, the intestinal cocktail of infections, the entire palette of skin issues, the al-mighty uterine upsets and the earfuls of yeast. Oh yes, there was also the hip dysplasia and later, the displaced knee. All-Of-It.

All-Of-It needed frequent follow-ups. I remember carrying you to and from his clinic every week, fending off street children on the way who wanted to play with your ears or pet your paws. I also remember fending off a German shepherd and a multitude of tomcats who arguably wanted to do the same.

The first meeting was a memorable one. The pawsome four that were huddled over your reports were namely Dr-B, his wife and super-woman Kashmira, me and most strangely, you. It’s difficult to say with conviction that pugs routinely peer into their own medical reports, particularly when certified vision-free. Your single-minded interest in the reports made it impossible for any of us to actually read them. Furry heads and floppy ears are rarely of see-through quality and hence not recommended to be placed in-between the reader and said documents.

After the sniffing-bit and before the chewing-bit, we separated you from your medical records. Kashmira became your fun-aunt-Kash very quickly while Dr-B helped me navigate the essential supplements, the other supplements and well, the potential supplements. And then we discussed the remaining supplements followed by previously prescribed supplements.

We were concerned about over-medicating you or topping on anti-biotics at the cost of creating antibiotic resistance in your physiology — this would mean that with every infection, a higher dose of the medicinal mocktail would be required for recovery. Eventually, the home-made pro-biotics had deep seated action and the precision of supplements selected changed the health of your joints.

The damage to the uterus would take longer to heal, with the help of laparoscope-wielding humans who would help you wake up from the inevitable surgery with a shot of honey and a bowl full of broth.

___________________________________________________________________

TO: Dr. Shradhdha Shah

To: Pup-lovers mailing list; Cubbon Park Canines mailing list

Subject: Stem-cell Therapy & The-Wriggly-Bum | CC Keisha

Dear people of the pets,

This piece is dedicated to all pets who suffer from visual impairments and the trials we chose to tread for them as humans. YODA publishes these snippets from time to time for fund-raising and such. This one refers to the procedure for treating corneal problems. Shall be happy to receive feedback!

The corneal ulcers in her eyes were thick, grey and multiple. While the lens was un-fragmented, there were black opacities in both eyes that made it impossible to examine the insides thoroughly with any optical instrument.

Her navigation was improving slowly but surely. The fog of pain and medication from the pre-adoption days had lifted and she was as alert as ever. We had talked of, read about and obsessed over stem cell therapy for over 6 weeks now. By ‘we’ I mean the humans that lived with her at the time, who found themselves jostling her tiny body away from the computer screen to actually read, scroll and mark noteworthy aspects; rather than watch her sleeping across the keyboard and creating doggy codes over erased MS word documents.

Finally, the day arrived. We felt rather self-important that a family member was going to participate in a form of analogous stem cell therapy for her cornea right before our very eyes. Years later, as I type this while looking at a stick figure drawing of her by a then 5-year-old artist, it seems both innocent and special that we should have prepared so; particularly when it was and continues to be the most effective, commonly administered method of treatment for corneal ulcers in dogs. We paid a shocking total of INR 250 for the procedure. The vet waived his consultation charges on three counts — a rescue dog, with blindness and adopted by a family of doctors. We donated some supplies anyway for the self-owned, self-adopted indie pups that he treated as a call of duty.

Step One: Blood-collection

There cannot be a more alarming sight in this world, than a desperately wriggly pug pinned down by two much-too-kind veterinarians trying to extract blood through a pediatric needle in a small clinic (as clinics go) in the heart of a honking, sweltering city like Mumbai. Blood was lost (and collected), sweat poured through the pores of determined vet furrows and a squealing pup was finally transferred back into the arms of her human mum.

Step Two: Centrifugation

The centrifugation of my patience and of Keisha’s blood sample would have been an easy enough affair except that no taxi agreed to drive us to the laboratory of choice. We walked. Which really means that I walked on hot afternoon pavements that emitted steam and the attention deficit tendencies of the city municipality. The fur child snuggled in my arms for 3 kilometers, against my neck while I trudged on without a cap or sunglasses or a drop of absolutely unhealthy street-vendor-strained sugarcane juice, for fear of having Keisha mauled by street dogs who were curious, hungry and otherwise.

The door of the laboratory finally dangled into sight through a film of perspiration and fifth grade curse words that always fill the void left behind by unnecessary adversity.

Once inside, all we did was flop into their waiting area and wait for the blood cells to be separated from the fluidy plasma in the sample. This vial of plasma was the elixir that would transform Keisha’s eyes into an ulcer-free zone, relieving her of one of four pathologies of vision. I glugged down cold water and then hot coffee while the receptionists cooed over the ever-innocent Keishu. I nursed my aching soles by watching them fuss over her.

Step Three: A top up of antibiotics

The simplest part of the procedure was now due. I injected a few drops of a broad-spectrum antibiotic as recommended by the vets into the plastic tube of plasma. Plastic tubes trump glass vials for this stage of mixing, just like gullible humans trump other kinds for unadulterated pampering of pug pups. The needle slid easily into the tube and the only ever dose of an anti-biotic for the pup was deposited inside safely. As I shook the tube lightly, I felt a thrill run through me. It had been an exciting day for the wanna-be veterinarian inside me. A fragment of my 16-year-old-self surfaced from the recesses of my consciousness to congratulate my 31-year-old-self for this day of several firsts.

Step Four: Administer one drop per eye, twice a day for 15 days.

And it was done.

One momentous drop at a time, the fully formed ulcers receded into curious non-existence like Brad Pitt in his role of Benjamin Button.

Even after several years of treating humans for long term health conditions, this felt like an exceptional miracle to me. Keisha was the Pug-Who-Lived and we relished her celebrity status through the pages on Facebook that YODA on.

She was, after all very brag worthy.

Blood collection with Dr. Brijesh Raj & Dr. Vedpathak.

___________________________________________________________________

To: Pup-lovers mailing list; Cubbon Park Canines mailing list

Subject: Travel Bugs| Submission for Buddy Life (a magazine for pet lovers) | CC Keisha

#TravelBugs

*all puns intended.

Pet travel is nothing short of a course in obstacles in India. Perhaps, if the stars are well aligned, the planets agree and Saturn has made peace with her moons, the trip will be less of an adventure and have a higher leisure quotient. A single trip, once in a Saturn’s moon is well within the destiny of a pet-loving parent. However, for a chronic traveler such as myself the process is an interminable test in patience. It is often a spiritual practice in self-compassion, self-reliance and blind faith in the many Gods of India. I can truly attest that it is during the hours of pet-travel that my oneness with the Divine deepens, since all else is far from predictable.

My pup has been with me for 2 years now — she was adopted from a shelter with multiple infections and no vision. (Yes, love can literally be blind. And blinding).

#TravelPlan101

Keisha was all of 10 months, a small-ish pug still recovering from mal-absorption from her pre-adoption days. I was pre-scheduled for a month-long seminar trip to the south of the country. The travel plot included the following segments:

#WhatActuallyHappened

We arrived at the Mumbai T2 Terminal after a thorough search for pet-friendly taxis (there were none) — this was the first cosmic indication that we would be relying on the kindness of strangers for the weeks to come. Taxi-drivers are afraid of scratch marks, pees and poops, dog-bites, distractions in driving, dogs jumping out of open windows, fur fall and allergies of future customers. However, we waited for the ‘right’ taxi. Eventually, we explained the situation to a kind-looking cabbie and he rose to the occasion with faith in our earnestness.

At the airport, the airline was unclear of the policies of in-cabin pet-travel available for small breeds. We were ushered into the check-in queue, the excess baggage queue and then the payment-for-excess-baggage queue. We then returned to the check-in queue to confer with the duty-manager. We were to wait until the pilot of our flight landed at the Mumbai airport. He would inspect the animal for aggression and then give us the necessary permit for travel. Our baggage was retained at the check-in counter and was poised to be sent in after this permit was issued.

Keisha dozed, snored even and people turned around, and wondered if I was the source of the sounds.

At some curve in the time-space continuum, we received the permit. Incidentally, this was exactly 15 minutes before the scheduled time for take-off. An official from the airline escorted us through a detailed security check followed by a brisk run to the departure gate. Keisha was now awake and gnawing at her raw-hide calcium bone inside her fancy IATA-approved carrier. The duty manager, his assistant and I were having a no-one-approved experience.

In truth, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

The trip that followed helped Keisha in overcoming difficulties that arose from her inability to see.

#WhyHelpPets

Differently-abled dogs often thrive on travel, since this is their way of experiencing new people and new soil. The pets’ inherent system allows them to sleep well since flights can be quieter than most public places.

Most pets have no interest in disturbing others; they are content beings who are over-the-moon-happy in just being with their human.

To understand a pet with disabilities brings its own set of simplicities. In this, I’m reminded of the quote on Keisha’s travel-bowl, “Love does have four legs and a tail after all.”

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Shradhdha Shah

Shradhdha Shah

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Keisha’s Human + Medic (Hom.) + Loves longitudinal studies ❤