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Melody of Memories

In times of tragic loss, several people reach out for their friends and family for comfort, while others keep to themselves. Teejay Raj writes a letter to his most loved Pixie to express his love and share the bereavement.

My heart throb Pixie, It’s been only a month since you left us and crossed over the rainbow bridge. I am writing this letter to try and let you go. For some reason, I am unable to find peace. Sometimes it feels like a dream, but I don’t know what kind, good or bad. Half the time it’s like I’m in the middle of a nightmare, but maybe I’ll wake up and see you on my bed. Or maybe I’ll look over right now and see you lying by my chair where you’d always be when I am home.

Sometimes it’s like you were just my imagination. I want to fall asleep again and hope that I re-start that same dream. Was it really nine years ago that I first saw you? We were supposed to have another two or three or even five years to hang out and go on walks, talk, travel, or play, or was that all just a happy dream?

I wept when you passed away, I still cry everyday although I loved you deeply, I couldn’t make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, Tiny little paws at rest. God broke my heart to only prove he takes the best. You came to my life when I was struggling with a shocking discovery of a lifelong disease with no cure in medical science. This hit me hard. It was difficult for me to come to terms with the unwanted developments. What was more dreadful was the fact that I cannot lead a normal healthy life anymore. My dependency on medicines, constant vigilance on day-to-day simple activities, brought fear and insecurity which gradually led to massive bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies.

During the whole process, I didn’t even realise when I isolated myself from the world. Eventually it led me to attract strong tendencies to hurt myself.

I still remember the feeling when I first saw you as a teenee weenie pup at the adoption centre in Delhi. With you, the conversations were magical – someday I might have to leave this world without getting a chance to tell you goodbye so I just want you to know that all my happiest memories are with you. Promise me, you will never forget all the time we spend together and promise me no one will ever take my place in your heart ever.

The day I adopted you, I found my missing piece – you completed me and made a better person out of me. Thank you for coming into my life and making me happy and content every single day. Maybe I wasn’t the perfect father for you- but I did everything in my power to make you happy.

In a world where everyone is overexposed- you have always taught me to enjoy life in private. If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes, only then would you realise how special you were to me. Time has made me realise, choosing you was one of the best decisions of my life. You made me believe in myself when everyone gave up on me. You taught me compassion, love without condition or boundaries and caring and sharing. Maybe someday, somewhere we will meet again.

But for now, I will keep you safe in my thoughts like a gem well-kept in a treasure. I will always see you as long as my heart beats. When I walk around the house, I feel like something is missing. You aren’t there to greet me, No tail wagging, no tongue lolling. Life will never be the same. It is a quiet empty home- my tiny little girl now sleeps peacefully. And it hits me at random throughout the day. I went over to the terrace of our block last Tuesday to look for something, and my dear girl, I was thinking of you. I had to sit down and gather myself before I could get back to looking. There’s something I wanted to talk to you about, thank you for the nine years of being the best girl. It was a joy to grow up with you and it still breaks my heart that I won’t be seeing you anymore.

I want to read you the best quote I have ever heard, “You don’t know what you have, until it’s gone.” Truth, is you know exactly what you have but you just never thought, you would lose it. You have given me all your love and for staying as long as you possibly could. I never thought it was possible to love someone so deeply and so selflessly. You’ve taught us so many things without saying a word. You’ve changed me into a completely different human being. and now that you’re gone, I feel so lost and confused about my very own existence.

As far as I can see, grief will never truly end, it may become less shearing over time. Some days the pain does feel sharp. Grief will last as long as love does forever simply the way your absence pains my heart. A deep longing, along with deeper love…..someday the heavy rains lash and the next day the tide may recede. It will be an ebb and flow, the constant dance of pain, sorrow and sweet love.

I don’t often ask for help; I handle my own healing. When I do need someone that’s when you know it’s bad and I am literally struggling emotionally and mentally. You were so little when we got you and I was so young. Your passing symbolizes the end of an era, the end of very sweet memories. I love you Pixie, may you find happiness and lots of time to run and play on the rainbow. I miss you so much already. I am hoping this last letter to you gets rid of my heartache but it’s not working. Hopefully, I will find you in my dreams and thoughts and heal from this loss. You will always be “Daddy’s Little Girl”. I promise to see you on the other side when the time is right.

Unexpected Goodbye Forever in My Heart my baby.

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Here’s to cute economy – for better, or for worse

The cute economy is not only a network of cute content that people participate in making, sharing and circulating but also a multibillion-dollar business

Was one of the last DMs you received on Instagram a video of ducklings wearing flowers for hats, or floating in a sink full of water? An overly zealous cockapoo dancing on the couch with his human? A husky throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn’t come indoors?

If sharing cute animal content is your love language, you’re not alone — you are part of a bigger cultural phenomenon called the cute economy. From Buddy Mercury the beagle, who stands on his hind legs while howling and playing the piano, to fat cats that are embracing their curves, there’s no shortage of animal accounts on the social media platform. How widespread are these sorts of accounts, for people who perhaps don’t understand what we’re talking about? They are extremely widespread. If you search on Instagram #catsofinstagram or #dogsofinstagram, with cats and dogs obviously being the most prominent, you’ll get millions and millions of hits.

The cute economy is not only a network of cute content that people participate in making, sharing and circulating but also a multibillion-dollar business due to creators’ ability to monetize their content.

What is the cute economy?

Media researcher James Meese defines the cute economy as the creation and circulation of user-generated content depicting entities (animals, babies, plants, objects, etc.) that are perceived to be cute. Still not clear enough? Well, let’s give the term a proper definition: the cute economy refers to revenue being generated off of content that features cute and adorable things – typically cats, dogs, or babies; not to imply that we consider any of these three categories as “things”, but let’s keep moving on. With cat videos having more or less made over half of YouTube’s lifeblood back in the early-to-mid 2010’s, and Instagram full to the brim with dog accounts, there’s a lot of love to go around. Of course, where there’s attention being paid, there’s an investor looking to cash in.

While researchers and journalists have shed light on this social media phenomenon, sharing cute animal photos is not new. Over 100 years ago, photographer Harry Whittier Frees was creating novelty postcards of anthropomorphic animals.

The cute economy truly formed after ad revenue became a more accessible and mainstream form of monetary gain. With nearly all social media platforms nowadays being venues via which users can make a living, Instagram accounts suddenly had more worth to them. With profiles focusing on cute entities rolling in followers and engagement, the ad revenue they raked in was amazing, and now everyone’s looking to get their pet celebrity famous. Our research focuses on the specific but sizable segment of the cute economy that circulates pet content. We find the cuteness of pet content is depicted through the following archetypes: goofy or silly animals, small (aka “smol”) or young animals, inter-species content, child-animal pairs, extreme sizes and ratios (very small or very big), unusual looks and animal behaviours that we construe as human-like. While some pet accounts have more followers than politicians and celebrities to generate their own virality — like Jiff Pom at 9.9 million, Nala at 4.3 million, Doug the Pug at 3.9 million and Juniper at three million — another catalyst for the circulation of cute pet content is meme or feature accounts that display curated reused content like Matt Nelson’s omni-platform enterprise WeRateDogs.

Much like mom influencers who create social media accounts for their human babies, pet parents have also been creating social media accounts to show off their domesticated companions. Given that people have been humanising their pets since before the dawn of the internet, a pet’s social media presence is a form of pretend play. Pet account managers humanise their fur babies visually by using clothing, accessories or props. They also humanise their pets textually, by providing them with a human-like voice.

The content creator will even add species-specific lexicon like cat speak, also known as meowlogisms, or infantilized speech such as lolspeak — the Internet slang originating from lolcat memes.

Still, cuteness has a threshold. Several participants we spoke to for our research explained that while anthropomorphism can be cute, if it appears forced or inauthentic, it becomes perceived as the opposite of cute.

And many content creators have caught on to this curation of cute and ensure their content doesn’t deteriorate into cringe. One of our interviewees (who manages an account for her tortoise) expressed her discomfort and uncertainty over creating captions. She says it’s hard finding “the balance there between, it being cringey and entertaining.”

What does consume and sharing cute content do?

Nurturing relationships: cute content is shared because it depicts a relatable experience to its appreciators. It also serves as a gift of care and a sign of closeness in a relationship. One of our interviewees knows her stepdaughter is a fan of horses, and specifically sends horse content to her. We find that this gesture signals that the sender truly knows what warms the receiver’s heart.

Aspiring for a future: Consuming cute content can also be aspirational. For instance, one of our interviewees hopes to adopt a dog when she moves to a pet-friendly building. She is dedicated to following accounts that portray her aspirational lifestyle like The Golden Ratio.

Vicarious interspecies connection: Cute content fulfils its consumers because it allows them to interact with animals from a distance, without the need to allocate any resources for taking care of them. One of our interviewees, an otter lover, insatiably consumes online otter content but does not wish or have the skills to domesticate one.

For a cause: Cute content can also serve as a medium of change. A creator or appreciator may share content to increase awareness about a cause or to change the opinion of others. For example, one of our interviewees manages her domesticated duck’s account which depicts her duck being friendly, loving and having a unique personality, much like any traditional domestic animal. Through her duck account, this pet parent aims to teach her followers about the harms of speciesism, and advocates for a cruelty free coexistence with all animals.

Cute for good: Research has shown that watching cute animal videos is good for our own mental health. Whether you are a creator, appreciator or both, cute content is a conversation starter and relationship facilitator: it breaks ice when people lack topics to discuss, or when they wish to let others know that they care.

Given people’s inability to get together as frequently and intimately due to the pandemic, we’ve been able to share our love from a distance using these small tokens of care. Society is fortunate that technology enables people to strengthen connections. But, because we can’t have nice things, there exists a dark side of the cute economy so be mindful of sharing content of animals who might have been exploited.

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Fostering reduces stress levels in dogs: Study

Research team tracked the stress level of 207 dogs.

Agency, April 7, 2019:  Is your canine friend nervous? Sleepovers and foster care homes could help reduce their stress level, says a new study.

The findings, published in the journal PeerJ, indicate that short-term fostering temporarily reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increases rest in shelter dogs.“We are trying to improve the lives of shelter dogs by helping them find loving homes,” said co-author Clive Wynne, Professor at the Arizona State University in the US.

According to the lead researcher, Lisa Gunter from the varsity, the sleepovers were like a weekend away from work as they provided a short break from the stress of living in a shelter.

Sleepover or fostering refers to bringing in a dog at home for a while with the goal of nurturing them. For the study, the research team tracked 207 dogs’ stress level by measuring cortisol before, during and after sleepovers.

Even though the five participating shelters were very different, the cortisol levels for all the dogs decreased during a sleepover. When the dogs returned to the shelter, their cortisol levels were the same as before, the team said. “It was an open question if it would be stressful for dogs to come back to the shelter after being away for a weekend but because of this study, we know a sleepover is a very welcome break,” said Debbie McKnight, Vice President at the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) in the US.

AHS was one of the five shelters that participated in the study. Because sleepovers reduced the dogs cortisol levels and increased their time at rest, shelters that do not currently have short-term foster programmes should give sleepovers a try, Gunter suggested.

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India Will Soon Get its First War Memorial For Animals

It will come up at the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College in Meerut.

Meerut, January 23, 2020: To give our country’s four footed soldiers their long overdue army is planning a war memorial for animals at Meerut’s Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College. This Will be exclusively devoted to service animals, mostly dogs but will also include horses and mules.

Country’s very first
This is to recognise heroics on the battlefield, devotion to duty and outstanding contribution to military service alongside soldiers. It is all set to feature a heroine who lost her life in counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir in 2016. Along with that, it is going to highlight few others who acquitted themselves creditably in the Kargil war India fought with Pakistan in 1999.

Somewhat like National War Memorial in Delhi
The project is planned in lines with the Delhi’s National War Memorial but on a smaller scale. The approvals from defense ministry are awaited after which it can actualize. Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College in Meerut has a significant contribution in raising the four footed army for nation’s security. The college breeds, rears, and trains dogs, mules and horses.

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Teenage Indian Fashion Designer is Aiding Dog Adoption by Designing Calendars

Dubai based Apeksha runs her own fashion brand Apek.

Dubai, January 6, 2020:  A Dubai-based Indian teenager, who is considered as one of the youngest fashion designers in Asia, has made a 2020 calendar with models in her creations posing with rescued and adopted dogs, aimed at spreading the message of pet adoption.

Owns her brand

Apeksha Binoj is just 14 and she has designed more than 200 outfits ever since she turned 10. She also owns her own fashion brand, Apek, with international models sashaying down the ramp in her outfits, Gulf News said in a report on Thursday.

She feels for dogs

Apeksha has used her “Gleam Cocktail Collection” to make the calendar with the theme, “Paws for a Cause”.The class 10 student decided to feature the dogs along with her muses after she learnt about many painful stories of abandonment and animal cruelty.“There are lots of dogs that were getting abandoned and were rescued,” Apeksha told Gulf News. “They were injured and starving. Many were caged for several months, with some eventually being put to sleep.”

Showcases rescued dogs

Shot by international fashion photographer Vipin Hari, the calendar showcases different shades of glamour blended with the innocence and elegance of the rescued and adopted dogs. The calendar, which will be gifted to animal rescue centres, welfare activists and others, also carries some inspiring messages that promote pet adoption.


-Story by IANS

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Pawsome Crusaders

Two Kolkata women deserve our respect and help for being immensely dedicated canine welfare crusaders and working selflessly on the ground without a care for personal fame, awards, titles, or acknowledgements


Kolkata, December 13, 2019: They might be years apart when it comes to age, but one thing that truly bonds them together is their love for human’s best friend: dog. They are both passionate for serving the canine cause so much so that they have decided to remain unmarried all their lives. Their decision might sound crazy to some, but for them it is their strong belief and dedication that has remained firm for the past several years. Meet Anju Chatterjee, 70, and Mamoni Das, 35, who live in Bagbazar area of north Kolkata.

Their houses are at a distance of about half a kilometer of each other but both have been devoutly serving stray canines in their locality for the past several years. Their daily routine includes cooking food for the strays and feeding them twice a day. They feed around 50 homeless dogs every day. Anju, a retired clerk from Kolkata Port Trust, says that her journey to look after strays began when she was a kid and saw her parents feeding the canines. “I was around eight or nine years old when I used to see my parents preparing the food and serving the dogs. I developed a liking for them. Slowly, it turned into a daily routine to assist my mother while she went out to serve them food,” she says.

Anju can’t remember the exact day or year when her love for the four-legged reached such a point that she decided to remain unmarried throughout her life. “I don’t suffers from diabetes and complains of joint pain, her day starts early. She wakes up at 5 am every day and straightway rushes to the market to buy cooking items for the dogs. “My age has failed to come in my way in serving them. I wake up early in the morning and head to the local market to buy food for them. I then come back and cook in my kitchen. Around 50 stray dogs are served with vegetarian and non-vegetarian food twice a day. We (she and Mamoni) have often carried the ailing dogs in our arms and rushed them to hospitals but it feels sad when some of them can’t survive despite our best efoorts,” she says, sharing her deep bond with the dogs. She admits that the expenses burn a hole in her pocket because often it becomes difficult to balance between buying medicines and their food. “I also suffer from joint pain which worsens during winters but still I continue with my work and go out to distribute food. I have to manage everything within my meagre pension and it becomes difficult to balance everything,” says Anju.

Mamoni, who has been like her assistant for the past 15 years, says that she was moved by the plight of the animals on streets and decided to work for them. “I was appalled when I saw innocent animals being abused and hurt by some of my own neighbours. I started by feeding dogs and then slowly it became a routine,” she informs. The 35-year-old hails from a poor family and can hardly arrange two square meals a day. She says that sometimes she has to work as a domestic maid and do odd jobs to arrange money for buying food for the dogs. “I have to work very hard to arrange money because I belong to a poor family and don’t have a source of income. Sometimes it becomes too tough. I have to do odd jobs and even work as a domestic maid for money,” she says. Mamoni makes it clear that she doesn’t have any plans to get married in life. “I will never change my mind and remain unmarried. I have been scolded a numerous times by my family but I have refused to yield to their pressure.

My decision is final,” she adds. The duo admits that financial constraints often prevent them to send dogs for birth control surgeries. “We can hardly afford sending three to four dogs for surgeries every year because of shortage of money. We strongly request people to come forward and help us in our noble cause,” says Anju. Dr Samir Shil, secretary, Calcutta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA), praised their initiative. “We normally send ambulances in their locality for picking up the wounded dogs and also for birth control surgeries. It is really a commendable initiative by the two women who have dedicated their life to the welfare of dogs. It is rare to see somebody so passionate for the cause. They need constant support of the society to carry on with their initiative,” he says. True, the society needs more
people like them.

-Exclusive story by Buddy Life Magazine


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Why Are Some Dogs More Aggressive?

Understanding and preventing dog aggression could save lives, both human and canine. A new study shows two hormones may play a role in scary canine behaviours, says Carrie Arnold


New Delhi, December 12, 2019: Dogs might be humanity’s best friend, but that friendship isn’t without a few bumps. Wagging tails and slobbery kisses can become barking, growling, and biting. Some dogs make this transition more readily than others, and Evan MacLean wanted to understand why. MacLean, a psychologist and anthropologist at the University of Arizona, believed that hormones could help explain this difference. In a new study in Frontiers in Psychology, MacLean and colleagues reveal that levels of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin influence canine social behaviours and aggression. Service dogs, bred for their placid temperament, have significantly higher levels of oxytocin in their blood than the average pooch.

Those dogs that were more aggressive towards other dogs, however, had more vasopressin. “This is the first study that looked at vasopressin and aggression in dogs, and the work opens up novel treatment opportunities,” says Sue Carter, a biologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, who co-authored the study and has studied these hormones for several decades. Under the right circumstances, most dogs can show aggression. The usual triggers include threats to their food and even just seeing other dogs and/or humans. It’s a common problem for dog owners, explains Julia Meyers-Manor, a canine expert at the University of Minnesota, who used
to help train dogs at the Twin Cities Humane Society and wasn’t associated with the recent study. “Our classes were always full,” she says. Being on a leash can be especially challenging for some dogs at first, Meyers-Manor says. “They feel trapped, like they can’t escape. And sometimes the best defense is a good offense.”

The result is 4.5 million dog bites in America each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aggression is also the leading reason most dogs are surrendered to shelters. Understanding and preventing dog aggression could save lives, both human and canine. Like many behaviours, aggression is a combination of both nature and nurture. Early life experiences can shape adult aggression in dogs, but so can the dogs’ temperament, a characteristic partly controlled by hormones. Carter began her career by asking whether oxytocin, known for its role in childbirth and mother-baby bonding, could also explain why prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) mated for life. Indeed, levels of oxytocin spike in prairie voles after they build a nest and begin mating. But Carter also noticed something unusual.

After mating, male prairie voles became aggressive towards other voles (their partner accepted). Further experiments revealed vasopressin as the culprit. Block vasopressin and the male voles shifted back to their more peaceable selves. Other scientists showed similar results in a variety of species, but no one had yet applied them to domestic dogs. MacLean began considering oxytocin and vasopressin after a search of the scientific literature failed to reveal a strong candidate. Researchers proposed high testosterone levels as an aggression culprit, but neutered male dogs weren’t always less aggressive than intact ones. Researchers also found mixed results for serotonin, implicated in anxiety and depression. But the effects of oxytocin and vasopressin were similar across a wide range of animals, which gave MacLean hope.

He began by recruiting dogs that showed unprovoked aggression towards other dogs and matched them with non-aggressive dogs that were identical in age, sex, and breed. The researchers took blood samples to measure vasopressin and oxytocin levels before the experiments began. MacLean then had their owners walk the dogs by one of three different stuffed dogs to measure their responses, followed by another blood draw. Not surprisingly, the aggressive dogs growled, lunged, and barked more at the stuffed dogs than their non-aggressive counterparts. They also had significantly more vasopressin in their blood. In a separate experiment, MacLean and colleagues exposed assistance dogs to either a threatening stranger or an unfamiliar dog. In both cases, the service animals remained calm and had higher blood oxytocin levels than standard pet dogs. “Before we can work to alter aggression, we need to understand its basic biology. No one had even looked at these other hormones before,”

MacLean says. These results provide a novel jumping- off point, although MacLean cautions that it’s still not clear whether vasopressin is causing the aggression or is released in response to aggression. The work may not have told us who’s a good boy, but it might help owners
understand why Fido isn’t.

-Exclusive story by Buddy Life Magazine


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When The Dog Decides Where We Live

The day we brought Bullet home as a 45-day-old pup, we vowed to give him a good home. In other words, we needed a new house with plenty of room for him to roam.

New Delhi, December 9, 2019: Apartment-hunting Delhiwallas have their wish lists — a view, a formal dining room, a roof deck — and their roster of must-haves — a modular kitchen, a powder room, marble flooring, a bedroom that can hold much more than a double bed. But for a certain breed of pet owners, including us, the furball’s needs take precedence over their silly human desires.

Simply because for many people who don’t have children, they view their pets as their children, and they consider their pets’ needs in the same way others would consider how the schools or playgrounds are in a particular neighbourhood. No, it’s not funny. These are people who have a great deal of empathy, so they worry about their pets as they would worry about another human being — though some have been known to carry it to extremes. Of course, not all pet parents are so intense. As a consequence, these people give a wide berth to apartments and neighbourhoods they themselves might prefer, buy or rent larger apartments than they might otherwise require, and, in a few instances, take a big financial hit for a change of address. Like when we got Bullet home as a 45-day-old pup, we vowed to give him a good home, freedom and companionship he would need.

First and foremost, that meant giving him all the space. In other words, we needed a new house with plenty of room to roam. It felt like the obvious thing to do for any loved one under my roof, four-legged or not. Here is all you need to know about the family dynamic: If the dog isn’t happy, we’re miserable. So we knew what we wanted: a penthouse with a terrace garden for Bullet to feel he had a yard to himself. We wouldn’t say we were ruled by our dog, but we have to give up a certain number of things because of him.

Family and friends suggested we take a ground floor, because elevators stop at every floor and when there’s an emergency and Bullet’s got to go, being able to get out of the building quickly was important. At the same time, however, we knew he would bark at people, especially kids who would pass by the house on their cycles or tease him from outside the boundary wall. We did consider the location of our vet, but thanks to the Expressway, it’s just 15 minutes drive from home. So we bought the apartment with Bullet in mind.

Definitely, it’s bigger because of him as we wanted to have more room for him to roam. But the day is not far when we’ll have condos and rentals responding to the pet-possessed with far more than a pet-friendly policy. For instance, the under-construction Omkar 1973 Worli in Mumbai plans to have on-site day care and dog-walking services and grooming stations provided by The Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa – the world’s most innovative and advanced pet care facility. Constructed at a height of 200 meters, the facility will provide an envious view of the Arabian Sea and will be the world’s first and only pet hotel & day spa inside of a super- tall building. Such devotion, however, raises an obvious question: When designing extravagant spaces for pets, is property value even worth taking into consideration? As adorable as some of these properties are, they often come at a hefty real estate cost.

-Editorial by Karan Verma, Buddy Life Magazine

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Dogs Turn Savior in Kerala Floods

When the flood waters rose, dogs guided the troubled animals to the higher ground.

Cochin, August 18, 2019: Five pet dogs owned by a woman of Nedumkayam tribal colony, near Nilambur, have survived the floods that submerged the colony, and given us one of the biggest lessons of coexistence and beneficence.The dogs took care of the 47 goats and a brood of hens reared by Janaki Amma. The dogs became the guardian angels for the flock of goats as the entire colony remained under water for four days.

Reports The Hindu, exposed to the elements, the dogs, goats and hens starved together for four days.When floodwaters rose, the dogs guided the goats to higher grounds.The dogs carried the four goat kids in their mouth to higher places to save them from drowning.

Janaki Amma and her family had to leave their house in neck-deep water when the rains opened their floodgates on August 8. She was forced to leave her 47 goats, five dogs, and the brood of hens back in the floods. But she left their cages open. When she returned home from the relief camp after four days, the dogs, goats and hens were seen huddled together. “All of them were very hungry, almost on the verge of collapse. Yet, they took care of each other, giving us one of the biggest lessons of camaraderie,” said Sally Varma, Humane Society International (HIS) outreach coordinator, who examined the animals and provided 100 kg goat feed and 50 kg dog food.

Janaki Amma’s son Kalesh said that his family had faith in their dogs that they would not only stay away from causing any harm to the goats but also protect them from the floodwaters the best possible way they could.

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Straying to Safety

In the devastating floods that hit Kerala on August 24, 2018, over 483 people died and almost a dozen people went missing. As saving human lives was a priority in the early days of the disaster, the pets were left behind in the flood-affected areas. There were several unsung heroes who battled rising water and arrived on boats to rescue the stranded animals. But what is interesting to note is that not a single stray dog lost its life in Chengannur in Alappuzha district, which was the most affected by the calamity. Post floods, the State Government came out with statistics that 8, 000 cattle, which included calves and buffaloes, 3, 297 goats and 47 dogs had died in the 2018 floods.

As per the State Animal Husbandry Department, each district has a cattle population between 75, 000 – 1 lakh. With landslides occurring in Kannur, Idukki and Wayanad districts and severe floods in Thrissur, more than 50 percent of the cattle and livestock were washed away with its carcasses floating around. Sajan Chacko, a 48-year-old textile businessman, a diehard animal lover and a rescuer, told Buddy Life that he had lost track on the number of stray and pet dogs, cattle and livestock he saved during the recent floods. “Fortunately, not a single stray dog died in Chengannur. They were adept at moving to a safer zone whenever the water levels rose alarmingly. It was the pet dogs, which met with a sad end as most of them were tied to their kennels leaving them disillusioned and stranded”, said Chacko, who went around the Alappuzha district in his Willys Jeep, which is water mountable


Initially, Chacko and his team saved hundreds of pet dogs in and around Chengannur. But he realised that things were not going to be easy as the flood water level was rising dangerously in Arattupuzha in the Muthukulam village of Alappuzha district by eight feet. This would result in Ranni town submerging in the flood as the shutters to the Pamba dam were opened. This led Chacko to head to the rural areas of Chengannur to save the stranded animals there. He recalled that many of the stray and pet dogs were famished as they had not had any food for five to six days at a stretch making them really weak and tired. Armed with hundreds of biscuit packets provided by good Samaritans across the country through relief camps in his four-wheel drive, Chacko saved the pet dogs and cats. Without any qualms of getting into the vehicle, they looked upon him as a ‘messiah’. Until then, it was the stray dogs in the Alappuzha district who knew their master. But now, the pet dogs and cats realised that Chacko was definitely a ‘godsend’. He still shudders when he thinks of the hundreds of pet dogs who were stranded on the terraces of several houses without food or care of their masters. “Even to this day, I feel so helpless thinking about the fate of a dachshund in Pandanad in Alappuzha. It was taken inside a luxury car of its master only to be washed away. A group of rescuers in a Taurus lorry managed to save the man in the nick of the time. But the hapless dog was washed away. The owner wanted to protect its pet and at the end, he couldn’t”, added Chacko, who nursed back a maggot infested Lhaso Apso, Scooby, from the streets five years ago which has since been his pet dog.