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Neighbourhood Lives
A reader’s account of his experiences with a stray dog and her seven puppies

Next to my apartment, there is a small commercial establishment in half rectangular, 'L' shape.

Out of nine single floor establishments, three establishments are open - meat mart, grocery store, and a medical store. On a typical day, thousands of feet step in and out of the commercial establishment.

Public buying grocery, electrical, eating food in the restaurants, and crowded coffee circles after evening work. In the middle of March, just before the country-wide lockdown, a one-year-old, brown and white-coloured country dog, delivered seven puppies.

At the intersection of the two sides is the car repair shop with space to parallel park three cars under a roof. When the lockdown kicked in, the mother along with seven puppies was in front of the repair shop. The mother had rashes all over her body since it was three months old. It will surprise anyone that a two feet tall moderately skinny dog delivered seven puppies.

When I go in the evening to feed the mother, initially puppies were afraid of me, and they ran away to hide behind the stones and debris. I offered biscuits, milk, and once in a while, a few chicken pieces to the mother.

Slowly, the puppies caught a lot of eyeballs. The puppies stayed in front of the car repair shop. Slowly the public started to feed the puppies with cow's milk, biscuits, and bread. The mother became stressed and ran away when all puppies were together attacking her for milk. The mother started disappearing in the morning and visited the puppies in the evening or at night.

In the meantime, the mother chooses a place, four hundred meters away from their home near a private hospital complex. The hospital complex was in front of the main road with an adjoining compound wall on one side. The other side was a public road.

The visitors parked their cars in front and on the sides of the hospital. The puppies are healthy in size, a mix of white and brown coloured skin. One or two puppies were scared of humans. Rest played freely with humans. They would run around the legs, bite the slipper straps, lick the leg and pull the handbag.

Now the mom found a comfortable place to isolate herself near the hospital. First few days, she was by herself. Later, the three puppies discovered the spot and stayed with her all the time. One day, I was feeding the puppies with milk in the bowl. The four of them were drinking from the bowl.

Another woman came with her daughter to feed the puppy. She asked me, "Are you in the pet care group?"

"No. I live in an apartment nearby."

"Oh, I see. We have a WhatsApp group and communicate in the group. Yesterday, the creator of the group, Kavalan, placed the cement water bowl. You can join the group, and the number is on the wall," she said.

"That's nice,” I said, picked up the bowl and left the place.

After three days, in one of the evenings, I was feeding the dog, and Kavalan, wearing a mask with a backpack and handbag full of Parle-G biscuits, introduced himself. He showed the details of the places, the group feeds in Bangalore, especially in Sarjapur road. The number of dogs, the group of volunteers feed are close to a hundred.

On Tuesday, 14th April, I was feeding the dogs next to the private hospital. Two dogs were drinking water and eating Marie Gold biscuits. The mother dog walked towards me, limping and shivering. At first sight, I assumed the mother was hurt. I offered the milk and didn't know what to do.

I never have seen a dog shiver before and walk in the posture. She drank a little milk, then she couldn't close her mouth, and saliva was oozing out. The two puppies surrounded her. She limped to the water bowl, drank water, and sat down shivering. I took the video of the dog and shared it in the Whatsapp group.

Kavalan, fortunately, was around the same streets and saw the scene. He spoke to the security guard in the hospital, and the guard informed us, the mother was shivering and troubled for the past three days. The members in the group replied in a few minutes, it could be heatstroke.

Within a half an hour, a group of volunteers came to the spot and took the mother to a veterinary hospital. The vet confirmed, the mother was running 106 degrees C temperature and suffering from hypocalcemia. She got drips for calcium IV.

One of the group members took the mother to their house and decided to foster her for the next three days. The photos of the mother in the group relieved a lot of members' worry. She was calm and relieved.

The next day, I went to feed the dogs near the private hospital. A puppy was around the usual place alone. I poured the cow milk in the small bowl. The puppy drank a little bit and sat without much interest to play.

The security guard with a clean-shaven face in blue attire walked towards me and started talking. "We fed the puppy in the afternoon."

"Oh, nice! What did you give?"

"We gave her milk and biscuits."

"By any chance, did you see one more puppy?"

"Three days back, a hospital visitor ran over a puppy while taking the car out of parking. The mother, along with the three puppies were here."

"What happened to the puppy?"

"It was dead in half an hour, nobody could save it,” he said.

“I went to the guy and asked him to take the puppy to hospital and save it. He said, it's a stray puppy, no one is obliged to save it. I further told him, it's unfair, but he didn't listen to me. He went inside and complained about me at the front desk that I'm rude and unwelcoming to the visitors. Then I had to explain the incident to the manager," said the guard.

I didn't know what to say further. The security guard was upset and angry. I talked to him about his work shift, thanked him and left the place with the puppy in one hand and half bowl of milk and the bag in the other hand.

In front of the closed car repair shop, the four puppies were playing by pulling a cloth from each other's mouth. One was hiding behind the stone. I dropped the puppy with the other puppies, the puppy went to the corner and sat. Then I walked back home.

If the dogs comprehend (can they?) how lethal is the COVID-19 virus, how will they save themselves?

(This write up has been sent to The Lede by Kracekumar Ramaraju. All opinions are the author's alone and not necessarily that of The Lede's.)

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