I’m a dog. I’m a survivor. I’m alive!

I have been terribly busy this month. I have a wee pup at home who is taking over all my time. I have been visiting CUPA during weekdays to work with troubled dogs there. One of the days, just as I was finishing my work, the guys at the shelter were standing around a little black mound and discussing how to transport that mound. I had arrived in a car and offered to do the honours. The mound turned out to be a listless little pup – the smallest pup I have ever seen. I gingerly picked up the pup and rushed the pup to a vet. At the vet, when asked the name of the pup I just blurted out Cher. When the vet later read it, he pronounced it as Sher and said he was suffering a gastro intestinal infection and gave him some medication. He recommended some special food for his condition and just as was about to leave the vet said “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine”. He? Cher’s a boy? That’s how Cher became Cher Khan.

Cher Khan came home and slept most of the time. He barely ate that evening. I used a syringe to force some water and glucose into him. Next morning he ate a little. After another visit to the vet, I went back to CUPA to drop him off. I spend two hours every visit, working with the most stressed of the dogs there. After a particularly draining, but rewarding session, I was about to leave and went to say bye to Cher Khan. The shelter staff came to see me off. As we were discussing how tiny he was, she pointed to a wound on his head and said that since he was so tiny, other pups were dragging him around by his head. That was it! I could not leave him there. I promised to fatten him, strengthen him before leaving him back there and brought him straight home.

Cher Khan cuddles with Nishi

Cher Khan slowly started gaining strength. But during this time, his spirit started shining through quickly. He barely had strength. He had a lower respiratory infection that was causing him to cough all the time. He was so weak that when he sat he found it hard to hold himself up for too long. But he walked around the house like he owned the place. I have a 40 kg boxer and a rather feisty Indian dog at home. He showed no fear of either of the dogs. He walked up to them and curled up against them for warmth and slept peacefully. He took his share of food boldly, from right under the snouts of my dogs. He truly lived up to his name – Sher Khan!

A few days ago, I watched him sleep. He was still quite weak and I asked my husband “How long do you suppose he will live?”. My husband shook his head. Soon the lil guy, all of 1.5 kgs, woke up and started terrorizing my boxer, asking her to play with him. My husband and I laughed and shook our heads. That’s when my husband suggested that I should write about him.

Tigger and Cher Khan engaged in a carefree game

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event, about the supreme ability of dogs to overcome immense physical and emotional challenges. I spoke of how they are survivors. Cher Khan was showing it to me all over again. Even a few days ago he looked like he was walking the thin line between life and death and yet he walked it in style and full of oomph. His spirit said just one thing “I’m a survivor! I’m alive!”.

Over the next few blogs I want to talk of the different stories of dogs that overcome supreme challenges and show us how they are fantastic survivors. I would love to hear of more stories. Dogs inspire me and I will greatly appreciate inspiration stories.

Cher Khan, as of today, if hale and healthy. He is ready to get adopted. Every year, between Diwali and New Years, I run a little program called Wag it Forward. The idea of the program is for all participants to step out of their comfort zone to do something towards the welfare of community dogs. All participants then write in about their act of kindness and grant themselves points. We tally the points at the end of the season and the next year we try to beat our own tally from the previous year. The idea is to show ourselves much a community can make a difference by contributing a little at a time. It’s to motivate ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and do something for another. As my contribution towards this program I try to foster a puppy and find that pup a home.

Cher Khan being home is not easy for me given that I already have two dogs and need to make constant change in plans to accommodate a tiny little pup at home. It is taking me way past my comfort zone. But that is the spirit of this Wag it Forward program. The program aims at showing to us how far we can go when we step out of our comfort zone and how much impact can be made if an entire collective does the same. I request readers to participate in the program and help me find Cher Khan a loving home. I hope we can celebrate the spirit of the festive season with kindness towards these creatures that we so love. 

As I write this blog, I am watching Cher Khan prance around the house, terrorizing my other two dogs and acting like he is on a constant treasure hunt. Every big of cloth, paper or junk he finds, he does a little victory dance, picks up whatever treasure he has found and parades it up and down the house, looking at us with a look of triumph. Sometimes we joke that his joy is exhausting. He does not stop bring happy. He seems to have just two moods – happy and very happy. And this is from a dog, that just a few days ago, was at the presipice, looking at the end of his tiny little life on earth. This, my friends, is the spirit of dogs. They are survivors and their positive outlook on life is inspirational. We experience a bit of it, with our interaction with them and then we wag it forward to the next dog or person. One of my favorite quotes from my teacher is this “Learn the language of dogs. It’s the language of peace”. This season, Wag Forward the spirit of the dog, the joy of a dog and the cooperative instinct of a dog. Seasons greetings to all of you!

Fearless little Cher Khan

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