During my most recent trip to Delhi I had the pleasure of accompanying a friend, Anjali Gopalan, to her newly formed dog shelter which expanded to include other animals that she and her team ended up rescuing. Anjali is looking for volunteers so please read and pass this blog post on to friends or family that might like to join the fun.
Tucked away in the ancient Aravali Hills, the farm and dog shelter was all peace and quiet…until the dogs spotted me on the roof to photograph them! Highly unimpressed with my presence the former street dogs and abandoned dogs seem pampered and happy in their sheltered compound out of the scorching heat.
The shelter is about a two hour drive from Delhi, this is mostly due to the condition of the roads rather than the remoteness of the location. As we wound round hair pin bends and down some hills I couldn’t help but compare the beautiful scenery to Greece or Tuscany.
On the day I visit I am lucky enough to see how two dogs with paralysed hind legs take to their custom wheels… Khushi (happiness) in the clip above was a real natural and became used to her mobility and wheels the instant she was strapped in. Himmat (courage) below, however, took more coaxing and was unsure. Although Khushi was oblivious to her surroundings, the other dogs were terrified of her wheelchair and possibly her energy levels! When she wasn’t dashing around the garden, Khushi was digging holes in the mud.
Himmat was a little uncertain at first but she kept trying.
Khushi being held as she exercises her hind legs in the physio pool.
The wheelchairs were kindly donated by Anjali’s sister in the USA, which is where they are manufactured for each dog according to weight and height.
Ever tried Emu meat? No me either… except a few years back Emu meat was considered the Next Big Thing in India (translate: food fad) and vast quantities of these birds were imported and bred for the impending gold rush…which never happened. Disappointed breeders simply released the birds into the wild. Being non-indigenous to India many Emus starved to death or were run over by vehicles.
There are currently two Emus at the shelter with another two due to join them. A new Emu run is under construction to allow them to exercise and move more freely.
Emu run under construction. All the land beside it will be farmed to grow fruit and vegetables for the shelter.
Anjali with two rescued goats
The two adorable goats in the picture above (one of whom decided to chew my hair even after a huge lunch!) were recused by Anjali and her friend after they stopped an overcrowded truck on the way to a slaughter house. These two managed to escape and the rest, unfortunately, became kebabs. Talk about a different destiny….!
Animals being fed by Lisa, a volunteer from New Zealand and future vet! Lisa starts her first year at university in February 2014.
The shelter currently houses four abandoned donkeys. These poor creatures still instinctively wince when humans raise their hands. At the shelter hands go to pet them and stroke them but they’ve had a long life of beatings and violence. The donkeys that have been at the shelter longer seem to be a little more relaxed, things can only get better.
The bull in the image above was brought that day for treatment on his hoof, it had been smashed by a truck. The infection in the wound was treated and dressed. There is an on-site clinic and treatment room. The bull above was brought by a local farmer so news is slowly spreading that there is care available for animals.
Anjali chopping vegetables…some of the more enterprising dogs didn’t wait.
This adorable lab jumped into the pond to cool down and have a swim except he can’t get out as one of his front legs is missing. Anjali to the rescue… every day! Apparently this lab was loved by his previous owners but they couldn’t cope with him after his leg was amputated. A truly adorable dog.
This is the accommodation for volunteers. It is being finished to a really good standard and the rooms are airy with attached bathrooms. Anjali would like veterinary volunteers and other enthusiastic animal lovers to help out. Food and accommodation is provided, the volunteer’s only expense will be arriving in Delhi…the rest is provided.
Anjali Gopalan is the founder of the Naz Foundation. In October 2013 she was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by France for her life long work with both her foundation and fighting against injustice in India for members of the LGBT community.
Whilst I was at the ceremony for Anjali’s Legion d’Honneur award I discovered that my favourite french bakery in Delhi (L’Opera) donates all their left over bread to the dog shelter. How amazing is that? Lucky dogs…may I please recommend the coffee eclaires??
If any would-be volunteers are afraid of being around street dogs, I say this time and again, they are adorable. Street dogs are, in my opinion, far better behaved and not vicious at all compared to pampered pet dogs in India who are often very spoilt with ill manners.
The dogs are up for adoption, however, not many dogs want to leave the heaven they found themselves in. As a testament to the love and care the animals are given, some dogs have refused to settle with their new families and even go on hunger strike until they are returned to the shelter! How sweet is that?