From the Streets to a Healthy Home

The summer of 2015 was an extremely special time in my life, full of surprises and life lessons. I had just got back home after a rather busy semester in college and was eagerly welcomed by a new member of my family- a four-legged ball of fur who had just made his way into our home a few days ago. Even though my first reaction after looking at him was, “I just want to squish him and cuddle with him for the rest of my life!” I did manage to look beyond his cute little paws, to the fact that he was slightly bruised and unkempt. After all the gushing, petting, and snuggling was over, I was told that he was a stray puppy rescued from a factory, where he was found living under one of the heavy machines along with 5 of his siblings. While his other siblings mysteriously vanished one day, he was the only one who remained, and since a factory isn’t the safest place for a one month old, malnourished pup to stay in, my father decided to get him home. I was more than happy about this decision.

Poofy, as he was named (this is what happens when you let your father name your pet), was groomed, fed, and nursed back to health in the following weeks and soon became as healthy and fat as a pumpkin on Thanksgiving. Poofy didn’t believe in subtlety- he didn’t just tear the pillow covers, he ripped them apart. My clothes and shoes weren’t spared either. This particular ‘stray’ dog also taught me a lot in the following months, apart from how to clean dog poop with tissue paper, and that leaving your brand new books in the same room as an unattended dog in his teething phase is a bad idea. He taught me how to be patient with a being who genuinely doesn’t understand my language, he taught me to be responsible, and he also taught me that a stray dog could be just as lovable, homely, and obedient as any other breed of dogs. Today, it’s been almost one and a half years since Poofy came into my life and he’s as loyal as a Cocker spaniel, as fierce and protective as a Bulldog, as destructively cute as a Labrador retriever, and as quirky and unique as every pet is for their owner.

I have always believed that your love for dogs should never depend on what breed they are. The fact that dogs are ‘bought and sold’ is something I’ll never be able to wrap my head around. Once you fall in love, it doesn’t matter whether your dog is a golden retriever, a mongrel, or a Pomeranian, all that matters is that it’s a healthy pet that deserves all your love and care.

I guess that’s the reason why the attacks on stray dogs in places ranging from Hyderabad to Kerala, and even the Yulin meat festival, have evoked so much indignation within me. It’s the inferior treatment towards stray animals in general that I find ridiculous and despicable. A stray dog being thrown off the roof of a building, mass killing of dogs in certain parts of the world, a festival to celebrate the consumption of dog meat are some of the brutalities that I have come to hear of in the past- and it doesn’t stop there. You will find plenty of stray dogs and cats on the streets eating out of public dustbins and sleeping under broken planks and shady bushes. The harsh reality is that a number of these stray dogs die either due to malnourishment, illnesses or by unfortunate accidents. If you ever visit an animal shelter, the first thing you will notice is that the number of animals far exceeds the capacity of the shelter, and that they struggle to make ends meet for their furry occupants.

If you have ever wondered as to what can be done for these stray animals, then the answer is simple- promote the adoption of stray dogs and cats. The fact that they were born on the streets shouldn’t change the fact that they deserve a healthy home, too. The lessons that I have learned from my pet are going to stay with me for the rest of my life. He has made me more understanding and accommodating and has been a silent friend in times of need. They say that dog is a man’s best friend. Who knows- you might just find your next best friend on the streets.

  • By Devisha Narekuli
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