We are happy to share that an article written by Animal Aid’s Manager Laxman Singh Rathore about how street animal rescue has made him a better parent, using the example of the village boy Sohan who helped save the life of an injured street dog, was published in a newspaper in Srinagar, Kashmir, India.
The article is part of a series of feature stories focusing on the importance of street dogs in our lives to ease tensions between Srinagar residents whose fear of dogs has led to mass dog killings in Srinagar in the past, and the threat of more. The series is an initiative of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
Many of you may remember the heartwarming story of the 9 year old village boy named Sohan who helped rescue a terribly wounded dog. Buddy made a fantastic recovery as you can see in the newspaper article!
We Care Srinagar
Street Dogs in Udaipur Have Helped Me Be A Good Parent
By Laxman Singh Rathore
Teaching children compassion is one of the most important lessons we parents face. When I took a job working in an animal shelter in Udaipur (Animal Aid Charitable Trust) I had never been very involved with animals, but I wanted to take a job that could give my life meaning and make me proud in front of my children who were very young at that time.
Animal Aid has 250 animals with many new ones coming in from rescues every day and most of them are dogs. Ownerless Indian street dogs who have never set foot in anyone’s house, have never had the luxury of clean water or specially prepared food.
But I am amazed today, as I have been amazed for 10 years working with street dogs by now, that almost each and every one becomes friendly and loving within a matter of days—even within hours. As soon as they realize that they are in a hospital where they will be peaceful, treated gently, fed nutritious food and spoken to kindly, they drop all their defenses and melt with enthusiasm and relief.
My children were afraid of dogs before Animal Aid. They were surprised when I brought home Romy, our street dog who was adopted from the shelter. He was a typical Indian pup, short hair, curled tail, looking for every opportunity to make mischief in the house. It didn’t take long for Romy to become a member of the family. If we are sitting on the bed watching TV, Romy is in the middle, watching with us!
Over the years we have made many school presentations to try to talk to children about the safest ways to play with dogs, the importance of calling our rescue line if they see any animal with a problem, and how to tell the difference between a dog that may be frightened (barking or growling) or a dog that wants to play (her ears are back, her tail is wagging, she might bow or lay on her back with a big smile on her face.)
Do our messages sink in? Do the kids really learn from these school presentations? They sure do! One of our favorite examples happened a few months back when a young village boy hailed the Animal Aid ambulance as it passed near his school.
This 8-year-old boy led our staff to a dog who had a shocking head injury and was probably hours away from dying. Our staff carefully lifted the dying, suffering street dog and brought him to the hospital to begin what would be two months of treatment. We named the dog “Buddy” and, with medical treatment, food, and love, he thrived.
Why is he alive today? Because of Sohan, the 8 year old boy who had learned from Animal Aid, and from his teachers, that all living beings have value, are important, and deserve protection, care and love. An 8-year-old village boy who is very poor and goes to a government school, whose parents can’t read or right, acted with compassion and imagination to take action.
We put his story on facebook and more than 100 people from all over the world sent Sohan messages of gratitude and love. “You’re the hero for my own kids,” said someone from Denmark. “Sohan you make me proud to be part of the human race,” wrote someone from South Africa.
When Sohan visited the dog in the hospital, it was amazing to see that this dog, who had only seen Sohan when he was half-conscious, seemed to fully remember him and greeted him with so much love.
That’s what makes me most proud of my work as the shelter manager. I am proud to see the staff, the many visitors and volunteers who come to our hospital to see compassion in action, and I am extremely proud to know that young kids in my city are changing.
They know about street dog rescue. Many of the know about the importance of street dog sterilization and why no dogs should ever be removed from the neighborhoods they consider “home.”
All the religions of the world talk about compassion. But how many of us can teach compassion to animals through the examples of our own behavior? To love wildlife, to care for the animals who share our neighborhoods—the dogs sleeping in the shade, the cows munching leaves by the side of the road, the goats and pigs scooting around here and there. The animals of the streets are as beautiful as the wild parrots, the hawks, the foxes and the leopards. They belong to the earth and so do we.
That is the most precious gift I can give to my children, to understand all animals, from the elephant to the mouse, has sensitivity just like my children have. Our street dog Romy reminds them that every day, and “Buddy,” together with Sohan, his hero, are living examples that showing kindness to animals brings the magic of strength to the saved and the savior.
Buddy is now a happy, sterilized street dog in the village of Badi, where he came from, and he is often fed by the teachers at Sohan’s school, where the photos of Buddy and Sohan are proudly displayed in front of the principal’s office with a sign that says in Hindi, “Karuna.”
Laxman Singh Rathore is the Manager of Animal Aid Charitable Trust, (AACT) in Udaipur, Rajasthan. AACT rescues about 450 ownerless street animals every month, including 300 dogs who, in addition to receiving medical treatment, are sterilized and inoculated against rabies. Animal Aid’s involvement of the community has helped Udaipur become one of India’s top cities, per capita, for street animal protection.