Rescue Saga - The Little Damsel In Distress

25 Nov 2014 | by | Posted in: Adoption


The Call…

It was a hot lazy Sunday afternoon, the only day of the week that brings some short lived momentary solace for a professional working in the private sector in a metro city. When it comes to holidays, I prefer solitude because it’s like a detox for all the topsy-turvy chaos & jingbang  we’re subjected to in the so called civilized and developed world that we live in. It was around noon and I was at my home in South Delhi, looking forward to a paranthas brunch with a laidback attitude, when my cell phone  rang. It was my younger sister, I answered and before I could say a word, she yelled ‘ a puppy needs help, it’s an emergency step out right now, hurry!’ . Me & my sister are poles apart in personas, but there’s one trait we share. Both of us are avid dog lovers.  When it comes to a canine rescue or adoption mission we become a relentless team with lots of grit and sand, getting along very well, to the surprise of our folks.  Simply put, both of us can’t imagine the world without dogs. We aren’t very fond of the word ‘pet’ & consider our pooch as family.

black mix breed

As I sprinted outside of my home, I saw her standing outside the gate of a shutdown factory across the road from my house, fiercely waving me to hurry. I was a few feet away from her when I heard it. I am well acquainted with dogs and can fairly judge the situation from a mutt’s body language & sound. Puppies yelp, all of them do. But this was different, this was a sharp & piercing spine chilling shriek originating from desperation & excruciating pain. It froze me for a split second, but I snapped out of it and crossed the road as fast as possible. I could clearly see that my sister was in a state of panic. I asked her what was wrong and she pointed towards the factory. As I stood close to the gate, looking through the small gap trying to figure out what’s happening, there came another cry from inside. This one jump started me and I started climbing the gate, a man standing nearby tried to warn me that the property I am about trespass is under scrutiny, sealed by government’s orders and it is forbidden for anyone to enter. However, at that moment I would have barged into POK  if  necessary. I landed in and walked to origin of the sound and that’s when I saw her.

The Damsel…

Probably a few weeks old, no bigger than my shoe. So skinny and weak you could make out every single rib on her body. She was all black from head to tail, breathing very faintly as I could make out from the  feeble movement of her abdomen. Other than that, just desperate eyes that seemed to looking at a very far off object. I tried asking the bunch of people standing & watching (to my bafflement, this category of people, who just watch with apathy, indifference or superficial pity are always present, always) ‘it  fell from the roof’ ‘ it got hit by a car’ ‘it was attacked by other bigger stray dogs’  I asked ‘did you see it happen’  to figure out if I could administer appropriate first aid or ascertain the best way forward. Blank frowning faces. I understood that I was wasting my time talking to them and got down on my knees to check on her, she let out another cry, each time she did that the tiny thing would have a spasm & contort in a very unsettling way.

The thirty minute drive to the dog shelter cum clinic was tense. I drove the car as fast as I could and my sister was sitting next to me with the puppy in her lap. She was trying hard to pacify the puppy by gently petting her, trying to get some reaction.  An occasional movement of the eyes was all that we would get. Amidst the usual everyday commotion & hustle bustle of the dog shelter, we walked towards the main clinic. I understood and accepted long back that things will never ever be easy for those who want to do some good in this world. Trust me, it’s easier to be prepared for it, rather than trying to resist it. The dog shelter people  are always short on resources and manpower, struggling to keep up with the never ceasing inflow of injured & sick animals. It’s sad but true, those who hurt have always outnumbered those who try to heal. The doctor was examining her while I filled up the necessary form, had to put in my contact info and a name for the animal. Never got to think about it, I just looked at her for a second and put in ‘Blacky’.  Because she was black, like disappear-in-dark-ninja-black.

While I was holding Blacky and the doctor was running his diagnosis I had this sudden realization. Being born & brought up in Punjab, I grew up in a culture where courage and fortitude are a way of life. By the age of ten or so, we boys look forward to flaunting nicks and bruises and  feel super cool when we can go to the doctor and take the needle without flinching. So yes, I was very comfortable with pain and had been used to ignoring it. But I couldn’t stay unaffected when the vet had to put the syringe into little Blacky’s leg. I was wondering if I could tell them to not draw so much blood out of a life so fragile.

The Bad News…

Finally the vet called us in for the diagnosis. Blacky was infected with  distemper (An almost evil, ruthless & deadly virus that takes  away most of the puppies it hosts. Universal verdict on this disease is that, prevention by vaccination is the best cure) The vet had her on IV for fluids and started administering antibiotics. I was googling the drugs being given to Blacky (I always need to know what my dogs are being given & why).  The vet’s choice of medicines was fine, which was the most preferred around the globe. However, I also read that very few lucky puppies survive this infamous disease. So we were told that all that could be done has be done, now they would be observing her (at least for two to three days) to see if she responds positively to the treatment and gives any sign of hope.  We said we would be calling & visiting to check on Blacky.

black mongrel

The next two days were hard to pass. Even at work, among peers I had this feeling at the back of my head. Wondering, will she survive, hoping they’ve managed to numb her pain.  On the third day we got a call and learnt that the vet wants to see us. This doctor was experienced, well reputed and met all criteria by which I would establish credibility. He asked us to sit, and did his best to break the news in a gentle way. Blacky had not responded to the treatment, she was not going to make it. There were two options, we could let her die a slow & painful death this way, or we could opt to put her to sleep and save her from the horrible pain she’s in. The vet asked us to think about it and let him know.   While I was discussing this with the vet, I could feel my sister gazing at me with infuriated eyes.  As much as my heart wanted to beg them to try again, my mind knew he’s right, Blacky’s agony is amplifying with every hour that passes. While my sister was in a state of denial, for me it was time to knock on the sky. Babaji, please guide me, what would you want me to do.

The Farewell…

After a silent (only on the outside) moment, I went back in. To say goodbye to Blacky.  And to tell her that we’re really sorry. I took her tiny paw in my hand and gently stroked her with my finger thinking, forgive us little damsel in distress. The tiny beady eyes looked at me and I felt some connection between us. And I prayed, requesting the Almighty to take care of a soul that’s heading his way, a soul that’s endured much more than its fair share of suffering. The vet did what had to be done. In today’s age we don’t always get to choose between good & bad, we have to live with choosing lesser of the two bads.

On the way back, my sister didn’t speak to me & kept looking the other way. I thought, that at least she has the option of blaming me or the vet. Till date, thinking about Blacky at times leads to inner turmoil, that leaves me wondering, what good were all those efforts when we couldn’t save her.  The feeling of ‘could I have done something more’ still haunts me sometimes.

I believe that the scriptures & history of our motherland is like a mine full of wisdom. I came across the fact that the great tenth guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, after each battle, encouraged his people to take drinking water to those who lay in the battlefield, dying. He also insisted that the same gesture must be extended to dying soldiers of the enemy, without any prejudice. Those who would understand this would agree that this is one of the finest examples of kindness and compassion.  It’s indisputable that for a dying soldier in a battle field, passing while holding someone’s hand & listening to a few words of comfort is far more dignified than dying alone & scared. And this made think. For Blacky,  dying alone & abandoned in that factory  and passing away in a clinic with several people doing their best to save her were two different scenarios. I hope she went with the feeling that she was not abandoned, someone did care about her. Isn’t that the only thing we crave for often, someone to simply and genuinely care, which I believe can be felt, even without words. A weeping toddler calms done the moment he or she feels the mothers touch, even when the baby doesn’t know any language.

The Appeal…

With that said, I intend to leave you with a thought to ponder over. There are many more Blackys out there, who need someone to care. I’m a man of faith, unsubscribed to coincidence. I would bet my life on the fact that the world is not random. Behind all the disorder, there is a purpose. If you come across another Blacky who is in need, and the voice in your heart tells you to do something about it, believe me my friend, it’s not by chance. You may have been chosen, handpicked by providence for the privilege of doing something, of experiencing a feeling I can’t describe in words. For this, you would need two most essential elements. Given that you’ve read  this tale till here, I trust that you possess the first one – heart. The second is ‘knowledge’. You would need to be well informed in order to make a difference. You would need to know ‘what to do’, so that you can deal with ‘how to do it’. There are lot many good websites & social media communities that act as an open forum for dog lovers to connect, share info, advise  and inspire each other. Why not have the advantage of being connected to fellow dog lovers and having the possibility of getting support in a dog’s hour of need. Also, finding a dog shelter or a society that’s dedicated to ‘lending a helping hand to a paw’ in your city (trust me, those who care may be outnumbered, but each of them is an indomitable spirit, you’ll find more help than you think) could also prove very useful. Something as simple as giving a bowl of milk or a handful of dog food to a weak dog suffering from malnutrition, could mean a lot to the animal. And I can sign it in my blood and give it to you, in return make you feel special and loved in a way that even I can’t describe in words. But I can tell you, it’ll be worth your time and effort. I learnt a long time ago, that sometimes you may think you’re helping or saving someone, but actually it’s you who is being redeemed, being saved. Above all, listen to the little voice in you, you may end up being surprised at what you’re able to accomplish.

Me and Blacky would be eternally grateful if this account contributes in helping even one animal in despair.

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