Dropping by the other volunteer’s house to meet some friends for lunch, I found a tiny, sick and injured puppy wandering the street. Alone and without a collar she was obviously an orphan and not owned. She was also emaciated. Fur over bones with a bloated stomach full of worms. Covered in dirt with a section of skin and fur missing from her side revealing raw flesh, not yet infected. On either side of her head, skin was torn away from the soft folds of her neck just below her ears. The torn fur was matted with dried blood and puss and dirt. The wounds were infected. A pussy discharge trailed from the inner corners of both her eyes. On her cheek and on top of her head, more areas of exposed flesh was slowly healing. She was so small I estimated that maybe she was 8 weeks old. So young. Too young to be on the streets all alone without a mother.
She looked terrible, her wounds and layer of dirt a little repulsive but she was still gorgeous. This tiny little puppy with huge ears that stuck out from her head like wings. I touched her gently with my fingertips, trying to avoid her wounds, feeling the knuckles of her spine like hard lumps beneath her puppy fur. She lay down at my feet and rolled over to offer her tummy to my fingers. I wondered if this was the first time that a human had ever touched her with kindness. She stayed at my feet for twenty minutes as my friends gathered around and we tried to figure out what to do with her. To leave her on the streets would probably mean death. If starvation didn’t take her then infection from her wounds probably would. Knowing this, how could I leave her here on the street?
We contacted our local friend to see if he knew of a vet but by the time he responded, it was too late. The little puppy wandered back up the street. With nowhere to keep her and no idea of what to do with her, I let her walk away. Torn between wanting to help and the seeming helplessness of both her and my situation. I watched her walk around the corner, fighting the urge to chase after her and hold her safe in my arms. Flushed with guilt, I turned away, sending her a silent prayer, that she may stay safe and that we may find her once again.
Three days later, the incessant barking of a dog caught my attention as I left the IVC volunteer house, the last in a scooter convoy with my friends on our way out for dinner. As I drove past the barking, I spotted a small familiar figure standing in front of the gate of the large barking dog. I turned around, yelling out to my friends to stop, and went back. Behind her, another dog, a large male, limped over to her. Despite his lame leg, I sensed danger for her and I quickly scooped her into my arms. My friends came back to find me holding the emaciated, dirty, little puppy and they knew we couldn’t leave her this time. We locked her inside the gate of the volunteer house whilst we went out for dinner and tried to figure out what to do.
Returning home to check on her, we find her a little distressed at being locked up in a strange place all alone. Unable to leave her by herself, we stayed with her and I jumped online to try and find a way to save her. Ivy (named after after IVC (India Volunteer Care) because I found her outside their volunteer house), curled up underneath the one and only lounge chair in the house. She closed her eyes to sleep, but she found no peace. Her eyes twitched and opened at the smallest sound. I wonder if she had ever enjoyed a peaceful sleep. Perhaps this is the only kind she has known, on guard, ready to react and protect herself every moment of her life.
As she slept fitfully, I googled veterinarians in Pondicherry and emailed them asking for help. I googled for animal welfare organisations and found an address for the Blue Cross listed at a university in Pondicherry but I could not find it on google maps. So I look up Blue Cross India directly and found a listing for Chennai, phone number, email and address. I email myself the details and planed to contact them the next afternoon.
With no children at the Day Care centre until Wednesday given the long weekend, I wrapped Ivy up in my purple scarf and zipped her into my imitation longchamps bag, her little head sticking out of the small gap I left open so she could breathe and see. Carefully placing her between my feet on my scooter, I slowly drove the short distance home, regularly glancing between the road and my feet, in case she tried to jump out. She sat still, placid and seemingly unperturbed. Her big ears flapped all the way home.
I took her to the outside area at the back of the house, her temporary home. Using a plastic chair, bucket and dust pan, I blocked off the stairs to the second level to keep her in a confined, safe area. With a good night cuddle, I put her down and watched her curl up on the step. At least for one night she was off the street and safe. Unsure if I would be able to find an option other than returning her to the street, I wished for her at least one good night’s sleep and prayed that help would find its way to her via me tomorrow.