Hey! I am Srijana the owner & author of godlydogs.com and this is my story that has eventually (over a course of years) lead me to you through this website today…
Let me please begin with the formal but heartfelt ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ together. Firstly, allow me to express my sincere gratitude for your being here with me, for being interested in my tale and for taking out the time to read this extremely long piece which I am really sorry about in advance. This is going to be lengthy but I am going to try my best to keep it as compact as I can without compromising on the relevant details. With the assurance that you’ll not snooze before finishing it off, (after which you may, that’s not guaranteed given the effort 😛) I just can’t wait to share a few of the million reasons I think Dogs are Godly and I simply worship them, based on my personal experiences. But before I begin, one thing worthy of mention would be that at first which is until about ten years ago, dogs literally scared me to death! In fact one of my most ghastly childhood experiences has a dog story topping the charts. It happened when I was around ten and had accompanied my parents to their friend’s house. I reached there and comfortably settled on their living room couch without noticing much as my favorite cartoon show was on. Suddenly I felt a rush of warm air on my calves and on casually turning around to check, I literally froze! There was this huge German Shepherd Dog that was sniffing and checking out this tiny new intruder who dared to enter his house without permission! I was so petrified that I wasn’t even able to move, also because I was surrounded by the single seater couch on three sides and the ‘beast’ on the fourth I couldn’t have anyway. I was just convinced that the dog’s only motto of life was to kill and eat me and it was my last day on earth. But probably on noticing the paleness of my poor face and getting weary of checking me out, the dog finally decided to take pity on me and walked off to snooze inside as before…
I can so feel the chill till date, though it’s no more scary now just plain hilarious! I narrated this incident because I want my readers to know that I have not forever been a cynophile but have experienced both the sides adequately. Hence it’s not that I have been spoon fed by my family with counseling sessions about Dogs being the best, since forever, as is customary for kids who have had Dog loving parents. My parents had no idea what Dog-love was all about then, so I got the opportunity to get transformed into who I am today, purely by being touched by life experiences that have taught me what I had been missing so far.
So here begins my (summarized) story that lead me to this website today…
I was staying with a friend in Delhi, that’s when the turning point happened. My friend who was also my flatmate decided to get herself a puppy! I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea, but was excited as well. I accompanied her to the pet store and found our little black Labrador pup awaiting us as she had already spoken to the owner regarding her requirement. I saw him, found him ‘aww’dorable, but wanted to stare from a distance only, because I wasn’t used to this situation. While my friend was busy with the payment, the owner held him up to transfer him to me. But I declined, saying I am scared it might bite me. LOL! The next thing was a peal of laughter, as if that was the dumbest thing they had ever heard/ will ever hear in their lives! After getting done, they also cared to explain why they found it that funny, that a teeny-weeny one month old pup just cannot properly ‘bite’ even if he wanted to. I was so embarrassed, that in order to save my face, I just decided to take the baby and head off! And the most beautiful moment of my life happened right after! While I was descending from the escalator I held him most carefully, as I suddenly felt scared of what if I lose my grip of him or myself and fall! I was sooo slow and extra careful that my friend noticed and asked if I was well, while I was busy solely focusing on my step, wrapping the baby up in my arms securely, in case I trip only I get hurt, and he stays as safe and secure as I can manage. I literally felt like a ‘Mother’ that day! I had never felt anything like that before. Little did I know then that this was going to lay the foundation stone of my finding the very purpose of my life.
The next few months were indescribably amazing, with my taking lessons from my friend who was already a ‘pro’ as she had had several dogs before. I proved to be a dedicated quick-learner as she was clearly impressed with my mastering of her (Canine) course. The days spent with ‘Boozo’ (that’s what she named him) are always going to remain irreplaceable, no matter how many doggos I get to raise in future, because there is something about your first child. Undeniably this little monster would get on my nerves at times, such as when he would pee and poop in all the wrong places, or dig up the mattresses, or chew on my makeup and jewelry or just get bored at 2 am while we were asleep and decide to climb and sit on my face! But one look at his cute guilty face along with those puppy eyes and I would be kissing and caressing him instead of caging and yelling! Ha! Days passed by merrily like this and one weekend, I don’t remember what initiated the idea, but she decided to get home yet another puppy! This time a female yellow Labrador. The way Boozo bonded with her was beyond real and she reciprocated adequately with time. The two soon became inseparable soul mates. I have witnessed Canine selflessness in its purest form in them. I have to mention two such incidents briefly. One was when our baby girl was ill, she had an upset stomach and wasn’t very keen to play with Boozo. He got really worried when he noticed that it was dinner time and she didn’t even bother to get up to check out what I had served her in her bowl. Now it’s known to everyone how Labs as a breed are crazy about food, they love nothing on earth any more than eating whatever edible or at times inedible stuff they can manage to stuff into their mouths. And these two were no exception. As I lowered his bowl I was dumbfounded to find that he didn’t dive into it as usual but just stepped back and kept staring at her. After a couple minutes he went ahead and shoved her bowl closer to her with his nose hoping she would start eating! I was sold that day! Another incident where I discovered our girl returning the favor, happened when my friend had taken Boozo for his vaccination while I and the baby were staying back at home. That was the first time they were separated and as she wasn’t used to being away from him she got very upset and would just not let alone the main door awaiting his return which was something she carried on for the next six long hours! I tried my best to entice her with treats and toys so she stops whining and settles comfortably on the bed inside, where I sat reading, but to no avail. Only when Boozo returned, did she go back to her normal calm and composed self. This was probably the Canine equivalent of true love. Unfortunately though, my time to return home was to arrive within a few days, so with a heavier heart than words can describe, I soon left waving goodbyes to my cute little munchkins who stayed back with my friend.
The next series of events that followed happened once I returned home and for the first time could no longer enjoy my solitude that I once celebrated, as I so longed for a puppy’s presence now. My parents were totally adverse to the idea though, and the reasons were more than one. They thought of it as another huge responsibility, they would not be able to go for vacations as freely as before, the house would be a mess, what if I left home for studies or work or simply got bored of my new pastime and so on… It took a hell lot of coaxing to finally convince them but finally I made it! I got home my own little Spitz pup. They were totally new to this and I was the only caregiver to the baby for the first one month. But things rapidly underwent a change, a change for good. Soon I found my parents sharing my duties wholeheartedly! My Mom would add to his meal times and feed him little treats every now and then and my Dad started volunteering taking him outside for a little adventure every once in a while! They would baby-talk to him and even went on to try to seek his opinion on new things they bought! These little things literally made my day. Soon there begun arguments over who the pup is going to sleep with and who he likes most as well! It was such a transformation from the day he arrived to within 3 months of stay. At first my Mom used to freak out at the mere sight of his poop and would be mad at me for hours at a stretch, but now it had almost become something as usual as another piece of furniture to them, they would simply scoop and toss it as if it’s just a paper wrapper! Such amazing is the ‘puppy power’! Soon my pup too started reciprocating the love he was deprived of initially and started getting really attached to them. So much that, when I left for college and my parents left for work every morning, he would bark and whine non-stop. They felt so disturbed at this that it gave me a golden opportunity to coax them into getting him a friend for company, i.e, another pup. Ha! This lead to the arrival of our second pup, a Labrador this time. And luckily his arrival helped him immensely with his separation anxiety and he soon forgot his everyday-cry-ritual! We couldn’t have been happier.
Months passed by happily and one fine day I suddenly heard a dog screaming right outside my home. On reaching my rear balcony, I discovered a poor stray dog being tied by a rope on the neck, clearly trying his best to resist being taken by a group of slum kids. While they were pulling him, they were also hitting him with twigs so he would give in, while he continued trying to lay flat on ground holding onto whatever shrub or rock he was being dragged on. That was the first time I literally felt my blood boil. I screamed from atop (as I was on the fourth floor) and threatened them in whatever way I could. Soon they gave up and left. The dog totally understood that I was his savior and while still panting heavily looked up at me with a look I cannot describe in words. Probably that was their Canine way of expressing gratitude. That was when I realized the significance of the quote by the Turkish Nobel Prize (in Literature) recipient, Orhan Pamuk, “Dogs do speak but only to those who know how to listen.” That was yet another significant day of my life because that was when I realized, that not just the well groomed pedigree pooches but also these dirty, stick-thin, mangy strays are Dogs! They are all the same, inside their coats. The only difference is that they have no one to bathe and brush their coats, hence the matted, dirt and parasites ridden fur. They have no one to serve them nutritious food every few hours, hence the skeletal shapes. They also have no such thing as a safe shelter, and are attacked every now and then by other animals or humans, leading to the scars and open wounds, hence the ghastly appearances. Not that I did not ever hear a dog cry before, but I must have turned blind eyes and deaf ears on them, because I didn’t realise that there were souls just like me, my parents or my pups, inside of them as well. But that particular day marked the end of my visionless eyes, heartless heart and soulless soul.
I fed the poor starving dog and begun keeping an eye for him, so if I could see him again I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to feed him something. And soon I figured out that he stayed right there behind my house with a number of other dogs. With time I begun feeding him and his pals more frequently. Some times he would wait alone behind my balcony awaiting his meal and at times he would bring in his friends or family. It became our everyday routine as I slowly discovered who was whose pack member or family, which dogs were friendly and which ones were the loners, who was the alpha and whose baby was who. Which ones hailed from which gang, who were dominant and which ones were more towards the shy, submissive kind and so much more! At times I have had upto a dozen four legged visitors together as well. Each of them had a name too. My mum too soon took to feeding them alongside me! Yes it was financially draining many a times, but my parents have always been immensely supportive. I had begun sacrificing a significant share of my pocket money in order to fund their supplies towards the beginning but soon as their numbers increased, my supply would get exhausted within a week let alone one whole month, but luckily soon my parents took over and helped me keep up with my favourite hobby that I am sticking to since the past three years now.
These years have taught me numerous things about these stray pups, along with my own. Alongside animal psychology I have also learned about animal cruelty caused by men. I have lost one of my stray pups that I fed for months, due to the same. I have experienced the agony of watching his head being crushed by a few slum dwellers, for no fault of him obviously, but just for the sake of their ‘fun’. But before we could reach there, the men had fled and the Dog had died on spot. I however did whatever I could, which involved lodging an FIR along with a detailed handwritten account of the incident. Fearing my case would not be taken seriously, (as it’s ‘just’ a stray dog and not some wealthy, influential person who has been murdered) I also went to speak to higher police officials, which lead to action being taken by the local officers on being separately ordered to act on it immediately. I was lucky they came looking for the creeps, though it was too late and they could not trace them. Here, in India animal rights and laws do exist formally, but unfortunately they are neither implemented or enforced adequately by the government nor cared for much by most of the citizens. Also our government does not recognize the need to spay/neuter the strays or have shelters for them. There are a few non governmental organizations that try to do the needful though. But because they are very few in number and strength and lack considerably in fund, it’s an uphill battle for the few people who actually care. There is also not one such NGO in my town or even state, where I could join, receive aid or volunteer. Such is the plight of dogs and dog people here. And in many other developing countries as well. These are also a few of the reasons I took to creating godlydogs.com, hoping to raise awareness, bringing together people who care for the endless suffering of the poor strays, because isn’t knowledge supposed to give power and unity strength?