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Written by Disha Ramanan
Today is Father's Day and if you think it's a day reserved just for dads of humans, we're here to remind you that dads of dogs deserve every bit of love, celebration and adoration too!
In this article dedicated to all the wonderful dog dads out there, we've rounded up three of the best super dog-dads we know - true heroes in their own right. So along with celebrating the dog dads in our own lives, we'd like you to say hello to these doggie heroes and share their inspiring stories!
Kicking off this list is Robin - a successful entrepreneur turned full-time animal rescuer and sustainable farm owner. Growing up in India, Robin says he was a happy-go-lucky person who loved taking care of stray dogs. After establishing and running a successful tech company in the US, at some point, Robin realised he was not happy. After mulling over it for a while, and after a couple of visits back to India, he realised he could find true joy only by doing something purposeful.
His journey down this path began in 2012 in Auroville. In 2014, nestled in a small village near Dharamsala, he established Peepal Farm, along with Joellen and Shivani, as a no-till organic farm, a women-powered small-scale social enterprise and as a place for animals to heal and be heard. The philosophy behind the Farm is to reduce one's suffering footprint - the suffering we cause during the course of our own living, and making our survival purposeful by doing good work.
With a clinic instead of a master bedroom, a cow shed instead of a swimming pool and space to organically farm, while reducing harm, Peepal Farm helps injured animals including stray animals such as dogs, cats, cows and mules and has space for people to visit, volunteer and get involved. They've had over 400 volunteers from all over the world - and that's a number that's still growing. Robin is clearly one of the best dog (or shall we say, animal) dads around.
Shravan is a superhero animal activist and rescuer based in Chennai. Aside from running the successful Hotel for Dogs, a high-end boarding facility for pet dogs, Shravan also runs a successful animal rescue shelter as well as fields panic-stricken calls from families all over Chennai, to rescue not just dogs and cats, but also snakes, wild cats, bats - you name it.
Shravan has worked with animals from his childhood. At the age of 11, he started volunteering at the Madras Croc Bank, was a part of Students for Sea Turtle Conservation (which he is a part of till date) and would be watching Discovery channel all day long. Dropping out of college, Shravan set up "Hotel for Dogs" with a friend. A first of its kind in Chennai, here, dogs stay in climate-controlled, sound-proofed kennels, enjoy splashing in the swimming pool and be pampered in a grooming parlour.
Being a commercial venture, Shravan uses a part of this money to run the Besant Memorial Animal Dispensary, along with a team of caretakers and doctors. Apart from public donations, The Theosophical runs the dispensary through their animal welfare fund. It houses all kinds of animals such as stray dogs, cats, camels, horses, cattle, donkeys and goats. Shravan has also rescued countless other animals such as snakes, blackbucks, jackals, pangolins, spotted deer, black kites and monitor lizards. Shravan is truly a superhero animal dad!
Rakesh Shukla, Founder – VOSD (The Voice of Stray Dogs)
For most of us, Rakesh needs no introduction. Fondly known as the "Dog-Father of India", Rakesh is a Bangalore based entrepreneur; a motivational speaker and runs a shelter for more than 900 dogs! "There's an idea implanted in our minds by society, that you have to be successful, and you need to make money. And while I was very fond of the things money could buy, I would always ask myself - what all this was for. From the day Kaavya (Rakesh's first dog) came, I never had to ask myself that again," says Rakesh.
Rakesh, who was already running his own successful company - The Writer’s Block (TWB_), also established the Voice of Stray Dogs (VOSD) as a trust and he never looked back since. Today, VOSD is sanctuary and hospital for more than 900 rescued dogs in Bangalore. VOSD is one of the World’s Largest No-Kill, Zero-Refuse dog sanctuary & hospital and is home to dogs from more than 30 cities across India. VOSD’s outreach programs extend VOSD’s support to other NGOs across India, thereby enabling even more people and organisations to be able to look out for stray dogs in India. During India’s Nationwide lockdown, VOSD garnered support to provide Grants to stray dog feeders all over India. Through this initiative, so far more than 8000 stray dogs per day, were provided food at a time when none was available for them. Similarly, VOSD also supports other NGOs across India with emergency dog rescue services through their NGO Grants program. VOSD is also a home for ‘Patriot dogs’ i.e. retired Indian Police, Railway and Army service dogs.
But, as they say, people throw rocks at things that shine. There was a phase when Rakesh was hit with a slew of civil and criminal cases from people trying their level best to defame him and his work, and TWB_ & VOSD took major hits. What ensued is a tale of true inspiration. Rising from the ashes, Rakesh built everything back up - from creative fundraising campaigns for VOSD to not just re-establishing, but also growing his company, TWB_ to be even more successful than before. Rakesh says even when the chips were down and with no one in his corner, he still felt like the most loved man on Earth because of his 900+ dogs. There truly is no one more deserving of the title of being the ‘Dog-Father of India’ than Rakesh Shukla!
We've rounded up three of the best animal and dog dads we know, but there are millions of unsung heroes (both mothers and fathers) all over the world that deserve equal admiration and love - not only on Father's Day or Mother's Day, but every day! We at Lana Paws would like to wish every single dog/animal dad the best Father's Day ever - whether you have one dog or a hundred, whether it's a pedigree or a desi - love is love. And none purer than the kind shared between a parent and their dog.