Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A piglet named Pocket

Hello dear friends!

One of the lovely things about life here in Goa is that the domestic and farm type animals are in the main entirely free-range. It's quite normal to encounter cows, buffalo, goats and pigs just roaming wherever they choose, and having a very sociable and entirely more natural way of life than most people from the west are accustomed to seeing. It's quite charming to share the roads, markets and even the towns with animals just freely wandering around foraging for food and looking for something of interest to occupy their day.

Pocket the pigletBut sometimes there's a heavy price to pay for this freedom, and Pocket's poor mother became one such casualty. She was killed in a road accident and it's not clear what became of his brothers and sisters but young Pocket was found close by his dead mum.
Mercifully someone thought to bring him to the IAR centre. Poor little mite was just too tiny to be all alone and fending for himself.

Luckily for him, the terrified but otherwise healthy little piglet was taken under the wing of everyone here at the centre. He was given a safe pen and some clean old clothes to snuggle into. But he was still trembling and scared and found sanctuary by burrowing into the pocket of some trousers and just hid in there, only coming out for food.

Pocket the piglet now safeThe staff and volunteers took it in turns to sit with him and encourage him to feed and relax a little after the awful trauma he'd suffered. I stopped by now and then too, to show him he was among friends. But if Pocket were to have a chance in life we all knew he'd need a special person to care for him and bring back his confidence and joy of life.

Then, as often happens in similar uncertain situations at IAR, a perfect solution presented itself. A visitor who'd brought her pet dog to the outpatients clinic was introduced to Pocket. The lady was so enchanted by the little pig and moved by his sorry plight that she came up with an idea.

Her friend has a restaurant (of course strictly vegetarian) where there are always plenty of leftover vegetables and fruit and lots of other lovely things for a growing young pig to munch on, and importantly also a secure place where Pocket could live safely.

So sweet Pocket, with help from IAR, not only found a loving home but also a great career as a live waste disposal unit... he truly landed on his trotters!

That's all for now... until next time!

Love from me,

Olive x

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Datia's incredible journey

Hello hello!

My story today is of Datia the traveller: a little dog that has gone further in his short life than most Indian people go in an entire lifetime - let alone most other stray dogs, however bold and adventurous they may be! His life began miles away from Goa in the north Indian town of Datia in the state of Madhya Pradesh about nine months ago.

Datia as a puppyMeanwhile at the same time Swedish couple Elvira and Kotte were soon to embark on their adventurous motor cycle tour of India. The last thing they envisaged was a little furry passenger who would become their constant companion for the next few months. But early in their travels they came across an abandoned pup of only a few weeks old and with no one to care for him, so what could they do? They named him after the place he was found and all three set off into the sunset.

Datia was loved and cared for and, from his safe position seated between Elvira and Kotte on the bike, saw more of India than most of us can ever hope to. With the couple's devotion Datia thrived and grew to be a healthy confident pup that would have otherwise surely perished.

Datia and Dorothy meet, thanks to Elvira and KotteSome months later the trio arrived in Goa. But Elvira and Kotte's time in India was drawing to a close and they knew that Datia had to find someone else to love and care for him. Whilst they put up posters and searched for such a home, Elvira and Kotte had Datia wormed and vaccinated at IAR Goa and asked for their help. I know as well as anyone that rehoming animals is a constant issue for IAR as there are far more needy cats and dogs than there are good available homes. And not all of them can be as lucky as I was to find a loving home among kind people who understand dogs and know what we need to keep us healthy and happy.

But elsewhere in Little Vagator there are a group of neighbours who live in a quiet residential area. Here IAR had recently managed to successfully home several pups and kittens to loving families. Another local neighbour Dorothy, seeing these lovely cats and dogs with her friends, thought that she too could offer the right dog a home.

So Dorothy was shown some photos of the handsome pup who came from so far away and had travelled most of his life through India. Next day Elvira, Kotte and Datia went to meet Dorothy to see how they all got along.

Datia all grown up!They need not have worried, it was love at first sight, and when he was put into Dorothy's arms Kotte managed to snap a photo of Datia's first typically enthusiastic kiss.

So it was with much sadness but extreme relief that Elvira and Kotte said goodbye and left their little friend with his new mum.

Dorothy and all the other local people who adopt a rescued animal will receive free support and medical treatment from IAR for the first year. Of course Datia, now a typical naughty adolescent, has since been sterilised and is settled, healthy and happily living in his new community.

We can never know how much of his epic journey Datia will remember, but it's certain that he is now in the best place he could ever have dreamt of thanks to a caring couple of travellers and everyone at IAR Goa.

Thank goodness for the kindness and generosity of the human race (well some of them at least!) Without their donations IAR simply couldn't continue to offer this aftercare for the adopted animals they have managed to find homes for.

Good luck Datia - stay in touch!


Olive x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Finally a forever home for two boisterous brothers!

Hello hello,

It's a sad fact that from time to time animals end up back at the IAR centre here in Goa for reasons that are beyond everyone's control. Ronnie and Reggie are two such animals. They are brothers and came back to us at about five months old, when the lady who adopted them as young pups became disabled and was no longer able to care for this lively young pair.

Reggie and RonnieThis put the young dogs into a category known as 're-homers' - not good news for many animals. If a dog or cat has been a household pet, he or she cannot then go to live in a feral environment, so if another home can't be found there's no long term place for them to go. And as large, feisty, half grown pups Ron and Reg were not the kind of pets that people usually adopt: most come looking for cute puppies and kittens.

But back in Vagator there is a restaurant that is open year round and an animal-loving chef named Sunil works there. IAR's work controlling the dog population is massively successful in the area and consequently there are few pups around that can join a naturally depleting, non-breeding pack. Sunil found that he had far more spare food than was needed to feed the existing beach pack that he is caretaker of: so right at the time when we were all hoping for a miracle to save Reggie and Ronnie, the centre was asked to supply two healthy, sterilised, vaccinated young dogs to join the Vagator pack.

Reggie and Ronnie's new familyAs Reggie and Ronnie had already had so much disruption in their short adolescent lives, it was agreed that a transition period would help them before they were let loose into yet another new environment. The brothers went to spend some time in an IAR-approved foster home where they could be socialised and observed to ensure they were absolutely fit and healthy and wouldn't disrupt or infect the healthy Vagator pack.

Some days later the boys were at last introduced to Sunil, the other dogs and their new home. They were confined for a while, until they associated this, yet another new place, as home. Then the brothers were released into what must be any dog's idea of heaven.

Reggie and Ronnie enjoying their new lifeThey have a wide expanse of beach to run freely on and explore, a new canine family pack headed by the alpha female Khali who was instantly accepting and protective of them. And they have food and shelter as and when they desire it provided by Sunil who in turn has the support and back up of IAR should he need help with any of the dogs.

So Reggie and Ronnie at last have a forever home, albeit not a conventional house but as members of a happy, healthy pack, with the continued care and love of a human caretaker and the IAR centre. A well-deserved happy ending for the two boisterous brothers, and I couldn't be happier for them!

Love from me,

Olive x

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Raising Alexi

Hello friends,

I feel sure you'll like my latest story: recently a man presented himself at our outpatients department with a small sick bird that was in need of help. It was a poor young parrot of only a few weeks old, unable even to stand or feed itself. I saw him for myself and a sorry sight he was!

Alexi the baby ParakeetIt is illegal to keep any indigenous wild animal or bird in Goa, so this baby was taken into the safe custody of the rescue centre.

The vets identified him as an Alexandrine Parakeet, not a native bird of Goa but originating from elsewhere in India where this baby was probably stolen from its mother.

His future was uncertain but the team was determined to do all they could to nurture this parrot and help him survive. He was named Alexi and all the staff, but particularly Manik and Abbey, took turns to feed and give him water at very regular intervals. Alexi soon began to grow and thrive but his appetite and social demands grew with him! He proved seriously high maintenance!

Alexi gets a helping hand with feedingSo at present he is being fostered at a safe home nearby where his needs are catered for as closely as possible to mimic the relationship he would have had in the wild with his parents. They would normally be in attendance for up to three years, the age when an Alexandrine becomes mature and independent.

After weeks of being hand fed, Alexi is now helping himself to his favourite foods, which are at present mango, guava, chillies and lightly poached dahl with peas and carrots cut into Alexi-beak sized pieces.

Alexi is growing up healthy and strongHe just loves to be touched and likes to climb, chew, flap his growing wings and bounce and chuckle with joy at bath time.

As Alexi is not a domestic creature it would be lovely eventually to release him into the wild, but there are no others of his species here in Goa and he has become tame and domesticated as a result of having to be hand reared. So his future may be in a suitable sanctuary where he could live happily for as long as the next four decades.

One thing's for sure, he wouldn't have lasted much longer without the treatment and care of the team at the centre. I hope things continue to go well for Alexi, he's a bright little bird with a real zest for life now he's in good hands.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The centre gets set for tough times ahead

Dear Friends,

Olive drinking from the watered plants potThe season has drawn to an end here in Goa and most of the foreign tourists have gone home. The weather is getting hotter and more humid and it takes its toll on both 2 and 4 legged creatures. All us dogs here at Animal Tracks are queuing up for the best places in the shade and if you’re not fast someone else will have taken your favourite spot. With so many centre dogs around there also tends to be a line for the water bowls so I like to nip round the front court when the plants have been watered and have a drink there... no one else likes that idea so I’m left in peace.

Puppies awaiting adoptionAs always the coming of the monsoon means extra work for the staff at the centre. When most of the beach shacks and restaurants shut down along the tourist strip many dogs that have been well fed during the season are left without food and they therefore take to the villages in search for something to eat. Here they get into fights with packs of dogs already occupying the territory and sometimes they inflict terrible wounds on one another. Without proper food females become weak and unable to care for their pups and whenever possible families are brought to the centre to be cared for until the pups are old enough to be put up for adoption.

It is a pattern which repeats itself every year and luckily it is anticipated so resources are set aside to cope with the increase of starving, injured and orphan dogs during the coming months. Homes are found every day for abandoned pups which would have stood only a slim chance of making it on their own and vets are working tirelessly at sterilizing the stray dogs so the numbers don’t increase. Every so often some new members are added to our centre dog gang and we always welcome new arrivals. I just hope that one day no dog living on the street will have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

Lots of love,

Olive x