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Interviewed & Edited by Disha Ramanan
Dog mothers pour their love, time and effort into their fur babies as much as their human babies. Whether it's taking days off from work to look after a sick dog or their phone galleries being full of pooch's pictures (and subsequently showing off their fur kid to almost everybody they meet), all dog moms are true moms - supermoms, actually - and are as deserving of celebrating Mother's Day as any other mother!
To commemorate all you dog supermoms & dads on this beautiful day, we decided to talk to a few of the amazing dog moms who decided to do things a little differently.
Let’s meet them…
Chinthana Gopinath, Bangalore
“I am a mom to a brood of 7 dogs, who came to me at various ages & from various circumstances but are thriving today. They really are the axis around which the rest of my life is designed. There are two aspects to my work life. One part of it involves retailing all-natural products for dogs based on what we use for our own dogs, as we believe in a holistic approach being at the core of our caregiving principles. The other part of my work revolves around rehabilitation & rehoming of rescued dogs. I have worked with the CUPA Second Chance Adoption Centre team for years now & in the last couple of years have been additionally working with Freagles of India which focuses on the rehabilitation of beagles released from research testing laboratories across the country.
“The first rescue dog who came into my family was a 4-year-old beagle who had been a subject for testing drug toxicity in a pharma laboratory all her life. Her only identity before she came to me was a number 8699640. She now lives the life of a queen as Sasha. Watching her transform from a scared, anxious dog unsure of her surroundings into a confident, demanding girl was a life-altering experience for me. She was the catalyst that made me want to be a part of the stories of many more rescue dogs. This line of work is emotionally draining on most days but if I'm able to make a difference to the lives of even a handful of dogs, I will continue to do what I do. I will always be an advocate for adoption of rescue dogs for they are not broken or damaged, they just had a rough start in life & all they need is a fair shot to be the truly wonderful creatures that they are.”
Follow Chinthana on Instagram at @chinthanagopinath
Mitali Salvi, Mumbai
“Let’s go back eight years from now. Ali and I had just started dating and he was dropping me to my hostel on a rainy night. On the way, we found a puppy outside a shop. She'd apparently been there for over 2 days. We picked up the puppy and decided to put her up for adoption (since I was living in a hostel and Ali still lived with his parents). I sneaked her into my room in my backpack so the guards wouldn't see her. Little did I know this little one would change my life completely.
“We tried hard to find a home but days went by and the sneaking in and out got harder. We then decided we needed to name her. Ali always wanted a dog named Chaddi so we decided to stick to a quirky piece of clothing. The next day I came back from college opened my room door whistling to call her and she was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly I see this tiny li'l head pop out of my roommate’s laundry basket covered in underwear and bras running towards me. Our little Panty pretty much named herself at that point. Growing up we had a lot of dogs at home so I started to train Panty in my own ways for toilet training and a few tricks.
“One day her vet saw me with her and insisted I do a basic dog psychology course and try my hand at training dogs since he thought I was a natural. I did the course and started training part-time in my second year of college and the rest was history. Panty became my little assistant. I got more and more clients through word of mouth and till date I’ve trained up to 500 dogs in Mumbai.
“Our baby had to be a big part of our wedding and trained her to get the wedding rings and all her outfits matched mine and Ali's and were made from the same material as my Lehengas.
“Panty is the reason I found my dream profession.
“Two months into our marriage we rescued a tiny kitten with a badly hurt and infected leg. The plan was to treat him and leave him back or find him a home (like we do with all our other rescues). The infection was so deep-seated it took seven months to heal and by then we had decided we had found our second baby.
He's the perfect fit and adds an extra element of crazy to our family.
That is Chaddi!
“Panty is my calm, patient, understanding daughter. She’s also my travel buddy and assistant but most of all the best daughter in the world!! Chaddi is my naughty, full of surprises, entertaining but also the most loving and cuddly baby!
I couldn’t have asked for better kids and feel truly proud and blessed to have them walk into our lives and complete our family.”
Follow Mitali on Instagram at @mitalisalvi
Freny & Shenny, New Delhi
“Animals have always gravitated to our home ever since we can remember. Our mothers were both animal lovers and cared for them to the best of their ability. Dogs were fed, sick ones attended to. But it was not only dogs, we've had lame horses and donkeys, blind and injured cows, sick cats, birds. All this in Connaught Place which is hardly conducive to large animals.
"Time passed and though work took over, the dogs were always around. At least 8 were fed daily.
"Over time titbits and biscuits gave way to food, 8 became 10, 10 became 20, 20 became 50 and suddenly every evening was taken up lugging cans of food and feeding dogs! First aid and basic medication became something we learned along the way. Although we hired a young lad to help with feeding 3 hours a day, that too got difficult because the numbers began increasing substantially. We then decided to get a van, and thanks to the generosity of well-wishers we got one.
"We now feed around 200 dogs a day. At any given time we have around 10 dogs in medical boarding. Thanks to Anjali Gopalan of All Creatures Great and Small, Divya and Karuna of Tails of Compassion, and Vandana of KAW, our senior and handicapped dogs are living out their days in comfort. Thanks to Friendicoes, we try to get at least 20 dogs sterilised a month.
"It is an ongoing and uphill task. There is a great deal of heartbreak and deep pain of loss. But when the dogs come at you with wagging tails and wide slurpy grins, nothing can be more rewarding.
We have finally formed a trust - Dogmatters - that has an 80G certification so that we can raise some money. But this is our life, this is our work, and our streeties are our children. We hope we can create something, however small, for others to take over and continue.”
Shreela Debi, New Delhi
“Up until 2 February 2015, I was like any other Dog Mother to my two babies at home. And today I have a Trust that goes by the name of Leela's Place Foundation where I have 107 furbabies babies.
"When they come to me they become my children and share the same privileged life as the two children I have had with me for some years.
"I make sure that they have a supplemented diet according to their needs. They go to the same highly respected vets that my two at home go to. There is temperature control inside according to the season. And they live in a squeaky clean and highly sanitised home.
"We have a caring staff who have instinctively bonded with them.
"At any point in time, there are ten wonderful girls and boys looking after my babies. In addition, we have a driver who helps us bring home babies who are desperately ill. I have the greatest regard for the person who supervises all the caring. He takes them personally to the vet and gives the medications advised in the complicated prescriptions.
"My babies at Leela's Place are my very own.
"The only reason I can't keep them with me is because I would need a huge house with a very large outdoor space, which I don't have, so I've taken a large enough house on rent.
"The younger ones become exuberant and amusing. And the older ones become placid and find their own comfort zone. The company of the young bring back the sparkle in their eyes. Here. I must express my gratitude to the vets who care for my babies in spite of my running up huge bills that I have no idea when I'll be able to pay.
"The other question I get asked often is how I can afford this all. And the answer surprises them as it does me as well. We are a hundred per cent dependent on donations. People who've never met us send us money, food, sponsor winter clothes, blankets. Even the Maruti Eeco we use for the babies was donated to us.
What was my inspiration?
"I think it was always a seed in my mind. Until I saw the photograph of an old abandoned dog picked up by the headlights of a car, sitting desolate on the pavement. There were some glucose biscuits next to him, but he wasn't interested. This was on a cold winter night.
Joy came to me within thirty-six hours after I'd seen his photo.
The seed had become a sapling.”
Divya Dugar, New Delhi
“I've rescued my dogs over the years. Tigress was my first rescue, almost 8 years back. She was in Nizamuddin West, and most of the time she was in my office. She was fed there, she slept there. So when the office closed, she was in shock - she just didn't move from the door. I took her in, with another dog called Pondy. Then I discovered that Pondy was pregnant with Marco Polo. Now I had these three with me, and then I rescued a litter of five. Thankfully I managed to get them all adopted!
“This was a stage in my life when I was jobless and without a house. I asked my former boss if I could live in the office for 6 months. Slowly, I managed to find homes for the puppies. At that time, I had no job and it wasn't possible being able to rent a house where three full grown dogs were allowed. My dogs helped me stay positive through all of this. I had a very strong motivation to do well for my dogs as they would have nowhere else to go. My family was never very animal-friendly.
“Then Pondy passed away two and a half years ago when she had a cardiac arrest. That's when we realised life is so short, and we really wanted give them different experiences and adventures in their all too short lives. That's when we decided to start our travel through the Indian Railways. Our first trip was to Goa two years back and now we've been on 38 trips with our fur babies. We've been all over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, the Western Ghats, Goa, the mountains and hills of the north - we keep travelling. They're spoiled now. They go to very fancy places. They just love room service!
“The last entrant to our family is Pari, who came into our lives just six months back. I found her bloody and highly abused. It wasn't a dog fight, it seemed like a human had abused her. She wouldn't trust us for so long. Then we could slowly approach her, feed her and medicate her. And now she's a part of our pack. It took us a long time to get her adjusted with our other two dogs, but it was completely worth it. We've been making some wonderful memories together and at the end of the day, they're my children. I want to give them a great adventure in the limited time they are here.”
Follow Divya on Instagram at @dugardd
Here's wishing a very happy mother's day to all the wonderful dog and human mummies from Team LANA Paws!
Thank you for making this world a better place each day.