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By Padmasandhya Srikanth

It was the seventh and final visit by the Mobile Hospital (MoHo). Shero was back in the game as he caught the ball mid-air. Only a few weeks ago this had seemed impossible.

It all began when Shero set out to play with the young humans on a fine summer evening. The sun and her orange wings made way for the calm allure of the full moon. The birds serenaded their lovers with a sweet spring melody. Children spilled into the streets of Adambakkam, armed with cricket bats and makeshift cricket stumps. It was time for Shero to join them. He loved to run after the ball and fetch it. He was an integral part of the playing twelve!

As he galloped eagerly to the playground, he stopped, only for a moment, to admire a feathered friend settled on a tamarind tree. Before he even knew what had happened, he blacked out. A motor vehicle had hit him.

Shero was hurt, and he had a difficult few days. He crawled under a car where he felt safer.

Just when he was about to give up, he saw his favorite human, Varghese, drop to his knees and peer under the car. He was going to be saved!

In a few hours, Blue Cross of India’s spanking new Hospital-on-Wheels arrived. Dr. Silambarasan looked grim when he saw Shero’s leg. He was given several injections to combat an infection.

Mr. Ramachandran drove the Hospital-on-Wheels regularly to Adambakkam along with Dr. Silambarasan and Dr. Naveenkumar till Shero’s wounds healed completely! The Hospital-on-Wheels was donated to Blue Cross by the Austrian organization, Vier Pfoten, or Four Paws, who do outstanding rescue work in many countries. The MoHo, as it is called, is enabling Blue Cross to provide top-notch care to animals right where they are, without having to transport them back and forth to the Blue cross shelter, away from their neighborhoods. This makes a tremendous difference to the well-being of the dogs and other animals being treated.

Caring for Shero was a long recovery process, spanning over seven visits of the MoHo. Each time, Shero showed improvement. First the infection was curtailed. Then, the wounds healed. Slowly, he started using his leg again.

Today, Shero is happily a member of the playing twelve again! He is back in action. And just like so many other street dogs, he has learned to be extra aware of potential dangers. Safer now that he is extra cautious, he loves running and playing!

Street dogs develop uncanny abilities to navigate their surroundings safely and to live out their lives in freedom. There are many, many millions of street dogs in India. It has never been part of Indian culture to kill or to harm them.

While it can be a bit of a rough life, their life has many joys as well – including the freedom to run and play.

They are not adapted to living indoors – either in a home or in a shelter, and as long as they are spayed/neutered and given all their shots, they are well adapted to living their lives in the neighborhoods where they live. They can live on well into old age and enjoy their lives – among their friends and playmates, both animal and human.

The healing of Shero is a testimony to the number of lives the MoHo has helped save. Just two months since the inauguration of the mobile hospital, and we have been able to save so many like Shero!

Shero has barked the good word to his friends about the MoHo, which is here to serve them!

Photos: Velu TM

Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand

Bird of the Day: Stork-billed Kingfisher — Organikos

By Keerthana Nithyakumar

“Oh, my God! Is that Brook? I couldn’t recognize him. Look at his gorgeous fur!” one of the Blue Cross volunteers exclaimed while all heads turned to admire the transformation of Brook, the once mange-infected dog.

You could see the look of pure joy and satisfaction on the volunteers’ faces. Indeed, nothing matches the moment of witnessing the result of a job well done!

Flashback to a few weeks ago when the same volunteers met Brook and his friends for the first time, things were polar opposite. With patches of hair loss exposing his skin, he looked uncomfortable.

The volunteers jumped into action with an unspoken single-minded resolve. While one gently caught hold of the startled dog and comforted him, the other started bathing him with medicinal shampoos. This way, like clockwork, the purpose-driven volunteers started treating the mange-infected dogs, one at a time, with utmost gentleness and compassion.

While a few of the dogs were happy to bask in the attention and care of the volunteers, most of them, who seemed traumatized, came around in their own time. Pacified, bathed, nourished, and cared for, all they needed was time, the great healer, to make the real magic happen. As the days filled with diligent efforts and patience rolled by, the progress was so subtle that everyone was happily startled that day when Brook pounced on the gates, anticipating the arrival of volunteers to show off his sprouting fur, visibly blossoming into a new life inside out!

Sadly, mange is a skin disease common in street dogs and puppies, caused by malnutrition and the stress of street life. They all appear beyond hope, but as we have witnessed in the many miracle dog stories like Brook, even serious cases can be treated effectively.

This is not just wishful thinking but the firsthand experience of Blue Cross, India’s largest animal welfare organization, located in Chennai, in the south of India. And with the dedicated caregivers and diligent volunteers by their side, Blue Cross of India is working to create a better life for these fur angels, one Brook at a time!

Photo: Velu TM, Blue Cross of India

By: William E. Simpson II – Ethologist & Founder-CEO Wild Horse Fire Brigade Org Ethologist Michelle Gough seen studying and photographing free-roaming wild horses in a remote wilderness area. Photo Courtesy: Lisa Hicks Michelle Gough is an Ethologist and member of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade Advocacy Board. Michelle’s natural connection to native American wild […]

Wild Horses Benefiting From Dr. Jane Goodall’s Leadership and Work — Straight from the Horse’s Heart
Bird of the Day: Ruddy Shelduck — Organikos

Kothli Hills, Uttarakhand

Bird of the Day: Yellow-breasted Greenfinch — Organikos

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By Sriya Narayanan

When Sudeep* first came to Saraswathy Kendra Learning Centre with a history of problematic classroom behaviour, the staff at the special needs institute knew that they needed to look closely – and that underneath a child’s ‘troublemaker’ label, there usually lies a secret trouble whose weight has become too much for tiny shoulders to bear. Additionally, the boy, who was around 12 years old at the time, was a poor student.

“We didn’t observe any learning disabilities,” recalls Niraja S, Chief Psychologist at the centre, who reveals that one day, during a national discourse about women’s safety on the news, the boy found an opening to talk about what was bothering him. “He said it was something personal,” says Niraja, adding that the child had not confided in his classmates about it either. It came out that he was being abused by someone very close to the family.

Niraja allowed Sudeep to express his deep-seated rage and sorrow that were finally given the opportunity to erupt. “He wanted to be validated,” she says of the anger management work that they did together during the therapy process. Niraja encouraged Sudeep to cry, write down his feelings freely – including any abusive language he wanted to use – on a piece of paper and shred it, and also gave him a bag to punch. She received Sudeep’s permission to have a joint meeting with the latter’s mother about the issue, so that he could be safeguarded in the future. “The mother was shocked,” she says, adding that the boy’s father was also subsequently informed.

The young boy’s pain, that had been trapped inside, only to be manifested in relentless mischief, took several months of hard work on both his part and Niraja’s to work through. “It takes a minimum of eight months to a year,” says Niraja, referring to the need for multiple issues with any child to be properly addressed since they sometimes pile up and have a compounded effect. The duo had a little help from the school’s therapy dog, Tulsi – “Whenever Tulsi came in, he used to run to her and have her all to himself,” chuckles Niraja, who is glad to note that the boy soon adopted his own dog.

Over time, Sudeep’s behaviour and academics improved to the point where he amassed a sizable group of friends and passed all his subjects. His parents heaved a sigh of relief that they no longer had to worry about either his general well-being or academics. Sudeep also showed himself to be a budding artist and made the school a stunning work of art to celebrate when it reopened. “He eventually decided to stay on in this school,” says Niraja, clearing up the misconception that every student in a special needs setting has the goal of later moving to a mainstream school. Niraja observes that the only thing that matters is where the child feels at home and most capable of realizing his potential. She also draws attention to the fact that students from Saraswati Kendra have gone on to study in reputed colleges in the city.

Niraja firmly resists any credit given to her solely for success stories such as these. “We are a team where everyone puts in their hard work,” she says, outlining the role of teachers who make note of peculiar behaviour and provide helpful information in the process of diagnosing and treating children. “Our average class has a 1:10 teacher-student ratio,” says Niraja who explains that it is in sharp contrast to regular schools where teachers – who are constantly overworked and understaffed – have neither the time nor space to sense individual issues, let alone unravel and treat them. “Schools need a team including psychologists and special educators,” she says of institutions that want to retain children with learning or behavioural challenges. These students often fall through the cracks in the absence of the right system. For as one can see in Sudeep’s journey through trauma and rehabilitation, it really does take a village to heal a child.

*Name and a few details changed to protect the identity of the child.

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Bird of the Day: Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher — Organikos