I will give you a hint..There are six sleeping dogs in that muddle of blankets and rugs.
This is the only picture that was taken during those 12 hours of surgery, 2 days of holding onto our free spirited dogs, 30 hours of strange singing and sighing from doped/desperate canine patients. Few pictures, but the experience will remain etched in my memory for all time.
This foursome have adopted our apartments for the past year and more. Bruni, the largest and the youngest, had to watch four of her pups being taken by the leopard…Choti, our three legged girl, has had a litter too. The boys, Meow-Meow and Mystery, are aggressive defenders of the road and field and attack any intruders who stray into their area.
Much as I love dogs, I was worried about this pack and its implications. The number would increase with each litter, the dogs could bite or injure passing kids, complaints would pile up at my doorstep…..something had to be done.
Neutering dogs just doesn’t happen in the hills. Vets are few and far between and they have enough cows and goats on their hands. The stray dog population is kept in check by the Big Cats. Humans shrug and sigh and carry on….Nothing was being done.
It takes a whole village to neuter dogs. The surgeon was invited from Delhi by the Rameshes, good friends with gigantic hearts. The operating table was loaned by the hospital. Daughter+Neighbour , Madan + Kundan ( our guards), Saawali + Hema ( our working women) did the million chores which go into a sterilisation camp. Friends supplied blankets, food, heaters and support. I assisted in the surgery after 2 decades of staying out of the operation theatre, but ( like cycling), it all came back–the incisions and the layers of tissue, the ligating and the suturing, and everything else in-between.
10 hours of non-stop surgery, and we had nine post-op dogs to show for it.
The surgery was the easy part.
The challenges were something else…Keeping dogs without food and water for one night and half a day, keeping post op doggies warm and comfortable, watching over them while they wailed and snored in their blankets… tottered and collapsed into sleepy heaps… fell into bowls of food and sucked up the rice stew without opening their eyes…attempted to walk and dig holes for their potty jobs…and finally, sitting down on prickly thorn bushes to clear their bowels!
Its the third day today, and things are finally settling down. The sutures are fine, the appetites are ravenous, the desire to escort me for the morning walk remains unchanged, the romping and playing and happy wagging is happening.
I breathe out my relief, and I list down some pointers for anyone who wants to jump into a similar adventure.
- Stray dogs are not accustomed to leashes and collars. Collar them first–they calm down, and you will have something to hold on to.
- Get as much help as you can. Every little bit helps. Dog lovers can fondle and handle the confused and doped post op dogs. Home lovers can ensure that there is warmth, cleanliness and calm. Food lovers can arrange for tasty meals in which tablets can be hidden. Walk lovers can push and pull the reluctant patients into fresh air.
- Warmth is important. Old blankets, newspapers, curtains–they are vital for the recovery phase. Food is important. Rest is important.
- After ensuring the points noted above, take a deep breath, get the procedure done, wait and watch for recovery, take another deep breath and let go.
These free spirits are watched over by a much bigger Presence than you and me.
They thrive and survive, inspite of nasty and nice human beings.
They will be fine.