“I don’t understand” I tell the woman on the other end of the phone. It was a bad connection and the woman was either speaking English with a Tamil accent or speaking Tamil, I couldn’t tell which. “Wait, wait, I put you on to someone who speaks Tamil.”
I ran out of the bathroom where I had gone to make the phone call to escape the noise from fourteen orphan boys creating chaos in the volunteer house living room. “Manoj, Manoj, can you talk to this lady from Blue Cross about the puppy, ask if they can take her? I can’t understand her.”
Manoj took my phone. After a minute he hangs up. “No, they are in Chennai and can’t pick up the puppy here.”
It wasn’t exactly the question I wanted answered. I wanted to know if there was somewhere in Pondicherry that I could take her. I wasn’t ready to give up on the Blue Cross yet and decided to email them in English. The auto response I received acknowledging receipt of my email was in English. A drop of hope . I crossed my fingers and waited for their reply.
Ivy was dirty and her wounds needed cleaning and disinfecting. Partially filling a bucket with cold water, I dampened a cloth and dribbled the water over her, holding her still with my left hand. She obliged without complaint so to make it easier to wash her properly, I placed her in the bucket with her two little front legs dangling over the lip. She whimpered and moved her legs in a futile effort to escape but once I started massaging my Herbal Essences shampoo through her fur, she stopped.
After she was rinsed clean and had shaken herself off to dry, I tended her wounds, cutting away some of the matted fur and using antiseptic wipes from my first aid kit to gently clean them. She stood still the whole time somehow knowing that I was trying to help her. With no fat to keep her warm, she began to shiver. I wrapped her in my purple scarf and placed her in my lap to use my body heat to warm. Her shivering soon stopped. I gently stroked her through the scarf and watched her sleep fitfully, my heart aching for this little soul who so far, had lived all alone in the world, without a friend or someone to care for her, hunting for food, always hungry, unable to sleep peacefully, ignored, unwanted, unseen, living a rough existence without love, the only one she knew. I would not give up hope of a better life for her.
Before heading out for dinner with friends from the IVC house, I quickly checked my email on my iPhone. The Blue Cross had responded and with it came some more hope. They provided me with the name and number of a lady in Pondicherry called Marion, from an organisation called Dayakara. I quickly googled to find out about them. Dayakara is a trust run by Marion and her husband, both of German origin, who have lived in Pondicherry and run Dayakara using largely their own funds for over 30 years. More than 20 dogs, 3 horses, pigs, ducks and a goat live a free-range existence at Dayakara but the article indicated that they didn’t have capacity to take in any more animals. It didn’t sound like this would be the final solution but I crossed my fingers and planned to contact her the next day anyway.
The next morning, Marion contacted me before I could contact her. “Please bring your puppy ASAP” she emailed and text me. “You’re saved” I sang to Ivy joyfully, “you’re saved.”
I went home from my ayurvedic treatment to shower and take Ivy to Marion immediately. As I approached the back door, I already knew something was wrong. The cleaning lady had been whilst I was out. The plastic chair that I had placed outside to block the outside stairs was now sitting inside near the back door. Stepping outside, I looked around. Ivy wasn’t there. Anxiously I started to search and call for her. I checked the back steps. Everything I used to block them had been cleared away. Her water and food bowls were gone. I checked the downstairs shower and toilet. Not there. I climbed up the stairs checking the back terrace, toilet and showers. Not there. I climbed the next set of stairs to the locked rooftop and peered through the gate, calling for her. Not there. Crying, I ran back down the stairs and grabbed my keys to unlock upstairs. Maybe she had been put inside? Not there either.
I threw on my sunglasses and flip flops and walked along my street, an oily, crying mess. I looked down the side streets, I looked at each house and feebly called her name. I reached the end of the street. No Ivy. I walked back, crying, convinced she was gone and wondering why the cleaning lady would do this, she was just a little puppy and she was about to be saved.
The walk home calmed me down so that I was capable of talking. I rang Arasu, the director of my volunteer program and asked if he knew what the cleaning lady had done with the puppy. “She rang me this morning and said the puppy had made a mess. I told her to clean it up and leave the puppy there until you got home.” At those last words I started to cry. “But she’s gone, she’s not here,” I sobbed. “I’ve found somewhere to take her. Can you please call her and find out where she put her?” I asked.
Twenty minutes later ArasuAnja. “I’ve found her. Can you come with me to take her to Auroville in 30 minutes?”
Without knowing exactly where we were going, Anja and I rushed off on the scooter with little Ivy wrapped in my purple scarf held tight against my chest. Ivy loved the ride. Alert, she watched the traffic and scenery pass by and from time to time stuck her nose up in the wind. Content, she sat snuggled in my arms, going with the flow once again, surprising me with how easy going and cool she is.
Eventually, we found Dayakara, near Auroville but not part of it. Marion quickly ushered us inside to put Ivy on the table for examination. Wounds cleaned and disinfected. Toe nails clipped. Vitamin injection. One more injection that made Ivy howl pathetically in fear. “She definitely has a lot of worms” Marion told me. “We will need to worm her tomorrow.” Marion also told me that Ivy was probably around 3 months old and was a Doberman crossed with an Indian dog. With small paws, she would only be a moderate sized dog. We put her inside a cage distracted by a big bowl of food and walked away.
Ivy is now safe in loving, caring hands.
A week later, she has already gained more than 500 grams and her wounds are healing although slowly. Ivy has a guaranteed home at Dayakara with Marion and the rest of the animals but the ideal outcome would be to find her a loving home. The odds are against her as she is female and an Indian cross-breed. Both are unpopular traits in domestic dogs here as pure breeds are in fashion and males preferred because they can’t get pregnant. But regardless of what happens, Ivy’s days as an unwanted street dog are now over.