Friday, 21 December 2012

A Christmas message from Olive at International Animal Rescue in Goa

The Improbable Love Birds 
Hello dear friends!
Today I bring you a heart-warming tale for the festive season.
The shy pigeon
Recently at Animal Tracks we observed the development of an unlikely but enchanting friendship between a fledgling crow and a young pigeon. Unfortunate circumstances had led to both wild birds being separately admitted to the centre: the immature crow was still unable to fly and the pigeon weak and exhausted, both had been rescued and handed to IAR as they would not have survived in their natural habitat.
The two birds were placed in recovery cages side by side within a larger enclosure used at the rescue centre to house cats, kittens and pups and other creatures at various stages of recovery and convalescence. Both settled well and soon began to flourish in the protected shelter. The pigeon quietly feasted on a diet of seeds and grain whilst the crow greedily devoured anything and everything offered to him. Possibly realising that, now they were safe and were fed regularly, no harm would come to them, they both relaxed and became comfortable in their temporary confinement.  They began to unmistakeably converse with each other, nattering away together from their adjacent separate cages, cheerful raucous calls from the crow and soft warbled cooing from the pigeon communicating in their own private language.   
The handsome crow

As time passed and the feathered friends improved and grew stronger, the doors of the cages were left open so that they could freely move around the high spacious animal house during the day and to encourage them to stretch their wings and attempt flight.

The pigeon was the more advanced and soon fluttered to the high rafters of the enclosure where it surveyed the crow cheekily hopping around and inspecting the other temporary inmates while constantly keeping a watchful eye on its friend. When one bird moved to another area of the enclosure the other would instantly follow, both gaining confidence and strength and a sense of well-being from their unlikely allegiance. The crow would tilt its head back with open beak and gesture the pigeon to feed it just as it would have done with its mother in the wild. Encouraged by his friend’s flying the crow soon began to flap his wings and take his first tentative flight into the air, joining the pigeon on the rafters where they curiously observed all the rescue centre goings-on beneath and around them. Then a few days ago the veterinary team decided they were ready to be released and the external door to the outside world was left open for the duo to venture out in their own time. Before long off they flew into the surrounding wooded countryside together.
Love birds
We shall never know if the two friends will continue to remember each other or remain in contact, but both of their young lives have surely been enhanced by the special bond forged during their stay at Animal Tracks. The shy and peaceful pigeon is maybe still around yet unobserved but the crow is spotted regularly and visits the centre each day to check on his old friends and hopefully grab a free meal.
If asked to name an appealing or endearing creature, crows and pigeons would probably not be the choice for many, both birds are considered by many to be universal troublesome pests to society.  But having recently witnessed the joyous unreserved acceptance of each other’s existence demonstrated by these two very different birds, free from any acquired malice or prejudice, maybe we could learn a lesson from them in dignified behaviour and coexistence.    

Firm friends
These two innocent young birds, free from the predisposed suspicion and discrimination customarily learnt from family and flock, have shown that nurture is indeed as important as nature, they intuitively disregarded the differences between them and simply accepted and absorbed the best from each other. At Christmas, the festive season of goodwill when thoughts of compassion, peace and joy are particularly evoked, it is not necessary to be a Christian or even religious to hope that we may all extend that benevolent attitude to all the creatures of the world and learn from, protect and cherish all the birds and animals around us.

So that’s all from me for 2012. Have a very merry, cruelty-free Christmas and I look forward to bringing you more news from Goa in 2013!

Love from Olive x

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Olive's Diary comes to us from International Animal Rescue in Goa

From porcupine quills to pickle jars
Hello, hello!
The variety of work here at the IAR Animal Tracks centre in Goa is vast and the team never know what they are going to encounter next. Along with the hundreds of relatively routine vaccinations and sterilisations each month there are regular calls to assist animals in unusual and potentially life threatening situations.
Countless hazards can beset Goa’s animals, particularly feral dogs that live by their wits and learn from experience if they are to survive in an often harsh environment. Amongst the numerous dogs that arrive daily at Animal Tracks, this week there were two emergency admissions that had both come to grief but through very different mishaps.
The dog prior to release
One poor dog had got his head well and truly stuck in a pickle jar but, thanks to a caring young boy who spotted him and made a telephone call to IAR, help was dispatched immediately. When Sarvesh arrived on the scene the dog was so frightened by his own unsuccessful and prolonged attempts to remove the jar he ran away and managed to avoid capture.  The consequences would have been horrendous for him with the jar tightly jammed around his neck, unable to drink, eat, see or even breathe properly. Another IAR team consisting of Manoj Gokul and Abhinand made a return mission to the area and this time soon found the dog sitting exhausted in the shade of a banana tree, head still firmly trapped in the jar. This time he was more than willing to be gently apprehended and taken back to the rescue centre where he was swiftly released from his suffocating plastic prison.
What a relief for the poor animal!
So please, wherever you are in the world, take heed of this incident and dispose of your waste empty containers safely and mindfully. Any thrown out empty vessel can be a potential trap for some creature. Food fragments will attract birds and animals that can easily become trapped in plastic or wedged tight in cans and containers only to die a slow, wretched death.
Marine animals and sea birds as well as land creatures are often found dead or with horrific injuries after becoming ensnared in the discarded polythene that holds together packs of canned drinks. The inconsiderate disposal of so many of our everyday items is potentially lethal for any domestic or wild creature.
But fortunately for this dog he was successfully rescued and freed from his torment. He’ll have a few recuperative days in the Animal Tracks shelter to get over his trauma, then he’ll be sterilised and vaccinated and returned home before too long.

Happy, but no doubt a bit shaken by his ordeal

The second incident involved another dog that had been horrifically impaled in the throat by a porcupine quill.
Porcupines are relatively slow moving creatures that dispense with predators by backing into them using the quills as weapons which are painfully embedded into their pursuers. The expelled quills then regrow to maintain the porcupine’s highly effective armour.
The quill was firmly stuck in the poor dog's throat
Having survived the injury, but still with the sharp quill implanted deep into his neck and painful infection setting in to the wound, the poor creature had sought sanctuary on the balcony of a local school. The concerned children alerted the office staff who called for IAR assistance and Krishna and Sanda were sent to the scene. The highly efficient defence mechanism of the porcupine would so surely have proved fatal for this poor dog had it not been for the prompt and expert veterinary treatment he received on his admission to Animal Tracks from Dr Manik and vet nurse Maruti. Together they carefully removed the 9 inch quill that was embedded 4 inches into the throat of the dog!
This dog will of course need to stay at the centre for a time while his deep infected wound heals with the administration of regular medication in the clean kennel environment, but then he too will be sterilised, vaccinated and taken home.
This dog is lucky to be alive
We’d like to hope that both dogs have learnt from these near death experiences and will consider carefully the consequences of messing with a porcupine or jamming your head in a pickle jar!
But if not help will always be at hand from everyone at Animal Tracks and the caring people who alert the centre to animals in need.
That’s all from me for now!
Love Olive x

Monday, 12 November 2012

What A Difference A Month Makes

Hello my friends
World Animal Day on 4th October every year is a global celebration for human beings to acknowledge their fellow creatures.  It was established in 1931 by ecologists in Italy to heighten the awareness of endangered species. Since then animal lovers around the world identify 4th October as a day to display their compassion and united support for the plight of all animals, whether they be companions, support, or simply wild creatures in need of our protection.
World Animal Day is an affirmation of our appreciation of how all animals enhance the lives of us humans.
Ironically a young male German Shepherd was found by the Animal Tracks team after he had been abandoned close to the rescue centre on 4th October. He was hardly recognisable as a German Shepherd, he was in such appalling condition. He had a chronic skin infection, sparse patchy fur and was malnourished to the point of starvation. Of course as always IAR sprang to his aid and took him into the kennels where he received intensive care and kindness and the nutritional food he had so obviously been without.
Poor Bruno was in a sorry state when he was taken in by IAR Goa
We can never know the torment and neglect that the poor creature suffered before he was rescued but what we do know is that he has found his human. A lovely local man called Gopi agreed to adopt him and named him Bruno. Needless to say IAR Goa will provide the obligatory back up and support and the first year’s free veterinary care should Bruno need it.
Bruno is now recovering well with treatment from
IAR Goa and a new loving home with Gopi
Tragically there seems to be an ever increasing amount of pedigree dogs that come to be abandoned and in similar condition: these dogs are bred purely to be sold as a commodity and satisfy the greed of man. Why breed dogs and cats when there are countless wonderful animals already born? Pedigrees are not nearly as hardy, economical or easy to feed and maintain as the indigenous Goan dogs who thrive on affection and would be your friend for life given half a chance.

Of course Bruno has been saved and his future welfare will be observed but there are countless others out there who are not so fortunate.

Animal Tracks has a constant flow of cats and dogs for re homing, all seeking the salvation of a good caring local home. The photographs of Bruno were taken just five weeks apart and are undeniable evidence of how rapidly healing can occur when we open our hearts to embrace a rescue animal like Bruno.
That’s all from me for now!
Love Olive x

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Alfie gets a glowing progress report

Hello hello

After suffering a horrible setback when he was only three months old, young dog Alfie and his brother Race are reported to be healthy happy hounds enjoying the best that life in Goa can offer, including the love and care of the local community. Some people can’t tell the twins apart, but we dogs have no such trouble with our canine friends – it’s not about the look, it’s all about the smell!  Alfie now lives with his former foster carers Jan and Nigel, but spends hours on the beach with his brother and the rest of the pack.

Not everyone has heard the story of Alfie’s earlier misfortunes, so let me fill you in. And even if you are reading it for a second time, you may need to have some tissues at the ready ...

Like two peas in a pod!
Alfie and his twin brother Race enjoyed a seemingly safe and almost idyllic existence within the small semi-feral pack of dogs that live in the vicinity of a cluster of quiet guest houses nestled between palm groves behind the dunes of a large expanse of unspoilt beach. All the dogs were happy and healthy. Alfie's mum Lemon had recently been sterilised and vaccinated and the entire pack's welfare was being monitored by IAR Goa. When the time came the twins were also scheduled to be vaccinated and sterilised.

But one day when they were only about three months old a proprietor of one of the guest houses, who had recently happily adopted an IAR rescue cat, called to alert IAR that one of the pups had been involved in an incident and had a severe facial injury. IAR volunteers immediately went to investigate and found the poor terrified pup in a horrible state. They took him to Animal Tracks where he was seen immediately and given shock reducing and painkilling injections, he was then examined and X-rayed which revealed his jaw had been broken in three places, through both sections of his chin and again at one hinge joint.
Poor Alfie's broken face

No external wounds were visible but his teeth were smashed. The conclusion was that the damage to Alfie's bones must have occurred through a heavy impact aimed directly to his jaw. The awful fact dawned on his rescuers that this was not an injury sustained by attack from another dog or even a road traffic accident, but that Alfie had actually been hit in the face by a person most probably wielding a heavy stick or some other implement.

But at such a young age the vets knew it was still possible for the growing pup's soft bones to heal, despite the extent of the damage, but to immobilise his jaw in order for this to take place would involve prolonged and intensive aftercare. With a massive amount of animals in need of care constantly arriving at Animal Tracks each and every day this degree of round the clock nursing would be very difficult and time-consuming for the busy staff to undertake, so two long-term volunteers very kindly agreed to take on the case and care for Alfie at their home.
Skilful work by our fantastic team

Alfie was anaesthetised whilst his face was put back into position, stitched through the jaw bones and firmly bandaged and taped up. In order to medicate and feed him without the use of his mouth, an incision was made and an oesophagus tube inserted through Alfie's neck and the arduous healing process began.

The most difficult part of the task would be to ensure he received enough liquidised food to sustain him through a long period of crucial growth and healing. Alfie was fed and medicated by slowly and frequently syringing the processed mixture into the tube, ensuring he received small sustaining amounts at regular intervals. For the first few days he was heavily sedated with pain relieving drugs and antibiotics and put up little resistance to his new situation and was a willing and cooperative patient.

Despite having been attacked in such a cruel and brutal way, Alfie strangely did not appear to fear his human carers, it was as if somehow he understood why this was all happening and that it was necessary in order for them to help him live.

Voiceless, Alfie’s only means of communication was through the expression in his sad eyes, the rest of his face was swathed in bandages and surrounded by a plastic Elizabethan collar all stitched to a body harness to ensure his jaw was kept clean, protected and immobile. Gradually the bones began to mend and Alfie's regular check-ups at the Animal Tracks outpatients department showed he was healing well and gaining weight despite his very restricted and unusual feeding programme that bypassed his mouth and went straight to the stomach.
Heavily sedated after his operation

Poor Alfie could not understand why he could not chew and taste and poke his nose into everything and all the other things an active young pup would normally do. But he became quite a celebrity amongst the local community, receiving many well-wishing visitors at his foster home who were all eager for the pup to recover and interested in the healing process.

Finally, after 28 long days and nights, the long-awaited appointment came for the bandages and tube to be removed and for the first time Alfie's sweet face was fully visible. Most of Alfie's human friends had only ever seen him shrouded in bandages and the ever present restrictive but essential protective Elizabethan collar. Despite losing a few teeth, Alfie's profile was amazingly perfect, entirely thanks to the care of the entire Animal Tracks veterinary team, particularly expert renowned orthopaedic surgeon Nikhil.
Alfie after his bandages and cone were removed

And so the young pup that had spent a great portion of his short life restricted from using his nose and mouth was able to enjoy solid food, drinking and freedom for the first time in weeks. Soon he began to gain weight and play and interact with the other neighbourhood dogs and animals at his foster home almost as if the awful trauma had never happened.

But sadly the weeks away from Lemon and Race had been too long for him to be reintegrated back to the semi-wild pack, Alfie's dependency on human care had become such that he has been taken as a permanent member of the foster household where he healed. But as it's close to his old canine family he still gets to visit and run with his old pack on the beach and now bears few mental or physical scares from his ordeal, apart from having an understandable terror of anyone holding a stick.

Alfie and Race enjoying some beach time with a friend!
Seeing Alfie and Race tumbling in the surf, play biting and fighting and simply revelling in each other's company is a joy to behold, especially as neither Alfie nor countless other dogs would be alive at all if not for the intervention and care of the wonderful IAR Goa team and volunteers.

That’s enough from me for now!

Love Olive x

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Double Trouble for Chutki

Hello my friends

Today I bring you a sweet story which illustrates just how much we dogs in Goa depend on humans like you to look out for us and step in when things go wrong.

There are literally thousands of stray dogs living in Goa: indeed I was one of them until IAR saved my life and gave me a home.Thankfully, just like me, a massive proportion has been treated by IAR at various stages of their lives and many have been sterilised, vaccinated and returned to their area. These feral dogs do not necessarily desire or need to be treated as pets and can lead a contented, social existence amongst their small or extended packs and usually keep within the laws of canine territorial boundaries that govern how things work in the world of dogs. This is an alien concept to most of the western world where the idea of stray animals is synonymous with human abandonment or neglect. Of course if humans offer a helping hand by giving food or providing some shelter from the elements, this is an extremely welcome bonus. But if the animals are not sick or breeding out of control and fighting for territory, life as a free dog really can be a good one. And to coexist within your pack amongst a tolerant human community is not such a bad place for a dog to be.

Some prefer to avoid the close company of people whilst others enjoy the relationship and choose to live alongside their human friends. These social dogs are widely accepted as an enhancement in many communities and are happily tolerated without actual encouragement. The dogs offer protection from intruders and alert communities to snakes and other potential dangers in exchange for a little food and shelter.

A street dog named Chutki is one such animal. She has no owner or specific human companion but is viewed as a friend by many local vendors and semi-permanent seasonal workers who make a living selling food, trinkets and artefacts to the tourists drawn to the scenic clifftop location where she roams.  And these locals look out for Chutki and feed her. So when she developed a large swelling on her side, the locals were quick to alert the IAR volunteers living close by who they know to be associated with Animal Tracks and would offer help to any creature in need.

Chutki was contained within one of the small shops, making it relatively easy for the rescue team to catch and admit her for treatment at Animal Tracks. Chutki was examined by a duty vet and diagnosed with a fast growing and potentially dangerous haematoma. Often these blood- filled swellings will burst and become infected with potentially lethal consequences. Lucky for Chutki, she was given the necessary drugs and the swelling responded quickly and favourably and began to recede without the need for surgical intervention. Within a couple of weeks she had recovered enough to be returned to her patch and was welcomed home by all.

Poor Chutki with her injury
But then only a matter of days later she was in trouble once more. The same IAR helpers were asked to take a look at Chutki after her friends reported that she had sustained a gory injury whilst chasing a cat. During the pursuit through the undergrowth she had managed to get herself virtually impaled on a jagged tree stump. The impact had torn a deep hole in her side which would certainly have led to a painful and lingering death if not for her human friends who alerted IAR once again. An animal ambulance was called in order to transport the injured and bleeding Chutki gently  to Animal Tracks. For her own safely she was contained within a travel cage as is the norm for a wounded animal.

On arrival at the centre she was examined by the duty vet and injected with medication to help ease the pain and shock. The deep cut was fresh but contaminated by splinters and debris. Immediate surgery was necessary to clean and close the wound, as without prompt action infection would have set in and threatened Chutki's life. In the tropical Goan environment untreated wounds can fester and become poisoned in a few hours.

Luckily she recovered well
After the emergency surgery the long healing process began, but this time Chutki knew that she would be returned home eventually as she could recall positive memories of her previous recent stay at Animal Tracks. Chutki knew she was in good hands and was a cooperative patient resigned to another enforced captivity whilst she recovered.

And before too long she was returned home to yet another warm welcome by canine and human friends alike. The warm relationship that has developed between this street dog and the humans with whom she coexists has saved her life twice within a very short space of time. Let's hope that  after these recent incidents Chutki manages to stay out of harm's way from now on, but if not there will always be caring watchful eyes looking out for this fortunate dog who is owned by no one but befriended by all.
Look at that beautiful face!

That’s all for now!

Love Olive x

Monday, 24 September 2012

Axle the Accidental Adventurer

Hello my friends!

When Mr Shabudin Emeti started up the engine of his truck early one recent Sunday morning for the round trip from his home in the market town of Mapusa to Panjim city, he was oblivious to the secret stowaway he was taking along for the journey!

He parked the vehicle in the city and was away on some business matter for only a few minutes. On his return some bystanders who’d witnessed him arrive alerted Shabudin that they could see a dog beneath the truck cowering and balanced on the fuel tank between the body underside and the driveshaft (or rear axle), and that the dog had been there when he arrived.

The dog cowering on the fuel tank
Obviously the dog must have been there since his departure from Mapusa, he had probably climbed to a dry space to sit out the previous night’s monsoon rain.

Shabudin was concerned as to the condition of the dog: after the ordeal of the unexpected treacherous excursion, had it sustained some horrific injury? Was it likely to be in an aggressive state? Could it be sick and dangerous? The only solution for the safety of all would be to seek help and luckily for “Axle” Shabudin knew of International Animal Rescue and Animal Tracks and decided to take his vehicle and its uninvited passenger to the rescue centre and seek their help.

Using particular caution to avoid any potholes that might jolt the suspension that was so close to Axle and could have crushed him, he drove at slow speed, hoping not to inflict any further harm on the poor dog in his self-imposed precarious perch where he’d been positioned for at least 35km.

On arrival staff at the centre at once prepared to remove and help the dog, anticipating that he would most probably be badly injured. Gently Gokul, IAR’s kennel manager, tried to coax the terrified animal out of his hiding place huddled amongst the mechanical components beneath the vehicle.

Axle being extricated with a catchpole
But Axle was not about to come out easily, he was so terrified and traumatised from the ordeal and had no idea that these people were trying to help him. So Gokul had no option but to slip a catch pole loop gently around Axle’s neck and slowly extricate him from his hidey-hole beneath the truck. Still fearful and in obvious shock, Axle was taken to a kennel and examined for injury.

Amazingly there was not a scratch on him: he was covered in oil and grime and wet from the monsoon puddles lying on the roads, but otherwise completely unscathed.

An amazed Shabudin returned home after giving IAR staff exact location details for Axle’s return. Axle is not sterilised, so after he recovers from his exploit in the safety of the Animal Tracks kennels for a few days, he’ll have the surgery, be vaccinated  and then taken back to his home territory.

Axle safe at Animal Tracks
Next time he’s looking for somewhere to shelter from the rain for the night, he’ll no doubt choose a permanent spot that doesn’t move on in the morning!

That's all for now!
Love Olive x

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Orphaned squirrels come on in squeaks and bounds!

Hello again!

Here’s a sweet story about some special squirrels: three tiny orphaned Three-Striped Palm Squirrel pups arrived recently at the Animal Tracks centre and, being too young to survive without their mother, their care was immediately undertaken by IAR's Abby who has a wealth of experience in successfully rearing a variety of rescued wild baby creatures.

The pups are thriving
The three little pups soon settled into their temporary home and eagerly thrived on Abby's regular feeding regime of chickoo, papaya, banana, custard apple and cerelec (a dietary supplement often given to orphans of many species that are cared for at the centre). Time has passed and the pups have grown stronger and more inquisitive: one in particular seems to stand out as leader of the gang, being more active, naughty and adventurous than the other two. Now, as they've reached about seven weeks old, it has become necessary to build them a larger cage in which they can exercise and play. Their new enclosure will eventually be hung outside in a tree: it has a little flapping door which will be released allowing the pups to come and go as they please, easing their transition back into the wild when they feel ready.

Three's a crowd at mealtimes!
In the wild they would be weaned at about ten weeks old. But for now their new purpose-built house will provide them with a safe, dry shelter where they can return for food and sleep until the day eventually comes when the three little squirrels become confident enough to take their final leap into the big wide world away from Animal Tracks, bidding farewell to all at the centre, with particular thanks to nanny Abby! According to ancient legend, Three-Striped Palm Squirrels are closely associated with the Hindu deity Lord Rama, giving these little rodents a sacred and protected status throughout India. So they really are very special indeed. That’s all for now!

Love Olive x

Friday, 31 August 2012

Chain reaction

Hello hello!

It’s a fact that, over almost a decade and a half, International Animal Rescue in Goa has had phenomenal success helping tens of thousands of stray dogs and cats. And, even when these animals are returned to their home territories, their lives are still protected by the ongoing support of the charity. Recently our rescue team was called out by a compassionate individual who had witnessed the plight of a dog in one of the nearby tourist resorts of Calangute and knew that IAR would help. The young male dog had a heavy chain tightly attached to his neck which was causing him much distress and discomfort. The caller reported that he'd been seen in the locality for some time. Although he was dragging a chain leash he didn’t seem to have an owner.

Dog with neck wound
Apart from the evident friction wound caused by the chain rubbing on his neck, the dog appeared to be in good health. Possibly the chain had been attached while he continued to grow, becoming tighter as time passed. The dog welfare team, led by Krishna who has years of experience and a natural talent for calming and rescuing strays in trouble, set off to rescue the dog who evaded them for some days. However eventually he was safely in their care and transported back to the rescue centre.

Dog after treatment
On arrival at Animal Tracks he was sedated and examined by duty vet Nikhil. He already had the "V" shaped ear clip which is IAR’s easily visible indicator that strays have been sterilised and vaccinated, along with a unique ear tattoo which is an individual record of identity, enabling IAR to monitor an animal's previous history and also a means for lost and found animals to be reunited with their owners. The IAR system check revealed that the dog had not been officially adopted, only that he had temporarily passed through, like thousands of others. But for some reason someone had attached the heavy chain to this dog's neck and secured him, possibly as a guard dog. He had been well fed and was in good condition apart from where the chain had worn away the fur and cut into the skin around his neck, causing a superficial but calloused wound that would have gradually become infected and increasingly painful.

We will never know what had actually happened and how he came to be trailing the heavy chain, but thanks to prompt intervention by a member of the public and our own IAR team, this lucky dog was freed and his wound easily and effectively treated.

That’s all for now!

Love Olive x

Monday, 16 July 2012

Buffalo jam!

Hello my friends!

Here’s a tale you won’t hear every day, luckily for my buffalo friends! I must say when I heard it I couldn’t help being amused – and relieved too of course at the happy ending ...

The indigenous Asiatic buffalo has evolved to become a vital source of livelihood for many rural farming communities throughout Goa and other regions of India. Buffalo milk is particularly nutritious and yields the highest fat content of any farm animal. They can thrive on even the poorest foodstuffs and are valued and cherished members of many farming families. They grow to huge proportions, particularly the males who can often weigh up to 880kg. The sight of these powerful creatures with their massive, majestic swept back horns and glistening wet bodies ploughing the flooded fields is a typical rural scene throughout the countryside.

Buffaloes adore being in water and are particularly suited to working the monsoon paddy fields. In the dry season entire family herds return each day to their favourite ponds and river places to cool down and totally immerse themselves and escape the fierce heat, a pair of wide, flared nostrils or the tips of their horns is often all that can be seen above the water.

Recently we received an emergency call at Animal Tracks from a local man about a buffalo bull who had got himself into big trouble. The adult male had been ambling about the neighbourhood of Saligao enjoying his "off duty" time when he happened to catch a tasty delight as he sniffed the breeze.

The typical ecological practice of disposing of vegetable and fruit garbage by leaving it out to be eaten by any passing creature results in many free range animals cruising around the lanes ever on the look-out for tasty dietary supplements. The bull had come across a pile of jackfruit waste, a particular seasonal favourite with both man and beast, and set about devouring his treat oblivious to anything else.

The feast took place outside a family compound between the garden wall and adjacent mango tree. In his enthusiasm to stretch and reach every morsel the bull managed to get himself completely stuck in the small gap. His alarmed cries alerted the householder who called Animal Tracks for assistance.

The IAR rescue team was soon at the scene and found the huge creature wedged tight in the too small space between wall and tree. Completely trapped, but panicked and distressed with his thrashing hooves and sharp horns, he was still capable of inflicting serious injury on his would-be rescuers. But the IAR team is highly experienced in working with large frightened animals in distress and they swiftly and calmly chipped away with hammer and chisel at the masonry, freeing the huge relieved buffalo.

Despite the ordeal and with protection from his thick leathery hide he had sustained no injuries at all and was none the worse for the experience.

So I’m pleased to report that on this occasion a damaged wall and a bit of dented buffalo pride and embarrassment were the only casualties of this successful International Animal Rescue mission!

Love Olive x

Friday, 15 June 2012

A little white bull

Hello dear friends

I can only offer my opinion from a canine perspective, but I imagine that most cattle living in the western world of intensive farming might feel envious if they knew how cows and other domestic animals in India are mainly free to roam at will and live a relatively free existence.
But freedom usually comes at a cost and some local cattle have quite a hard time living here in Goa.

Nandini's poorly leg
With progress and the passing of time the once quiet roads and lanes where, not so long ago, the heaviest traffic was probably nothing more than an ox cart, conditions have changed dramatically. The roads are improved and coated with hard surfaces that enable modern, powerful vehicles to transport people in the constant rush of life nowadays where everyone wants to get somewhere fast.

Nandini the cow was already having a tough time - she was very undernourished and heavily pregnant when things became even worse for her. Night time is even more dangerous on the roads for dark-coloured animals that are not visible in poor light. One evening Nandini was hit by a car and sustained a broken leg.

But thanks to the rescue team at Animal Tracks help was swiftly on hand. Nandini was gently transported to the centre in the purpose-built cattle ambulance. The medical team splinted her broken leg and settled Nandini into the safe sanctuary of Animal Track's goshala where numerous cattle are taken care of whilst they recover from illness or injury.

Although she was comfortable, well fed and safe, the team were nevertheless concerned for the unborn calf and its mother. With Nandini's poor condition and the stress and trauma of the accident, there was concern that the calf would not survive.

But one morning soon afterwards the staff and all of us resident animals alike were overjoyed to discover that Nandini had effortlessly delivered a perfect bull calf during the previous night.

Stella keeps guard over the new arrival
Much excitement ensued as we all wanted to greet the new arrival and welcome him into the world. Resident dog Stella was particularly attentive, somehow understanding that Nandini was in need of some extra help caring for the calf with her own restricted mobility while her leg healed. Stella took on the self appointed role of minder for young Nanson and vigilantly kept watch, staying protectively close to mother and calf and ensuring the other animals didn't become too enthusiastic with the new arrival.

And so, whilst Nandini recovers with plentiful food and shelter from harm, the young Nanson thrives within the safety of his extended family of human and animal friends at Animal Tracks where the only life he's known so far is secure from trouble and stress.

Of course the day will eventually come for mother and son to leave Animal Tracks and resume their place in the world. Let us hope they both keep safe and healthy - and at least with Nanson being a little white bull, he'll be visibly easier for speeding traffic to avoid in the dark.

I'm a dog with a charmed happy life which I truly appreciate, but may I ask you please to consider and keep an eye out for all the other creatures that are out and about and vulnerable in the darkness when you're travelling through the night.

Love Olive x

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blackshe learns that there’s no place like home!

Hello my friends

My story today is something of a cautionary tale for any bold young pup tempted by the call of the wild!

The De Souza family had recently lost Blackie and Simba their teenage brother dogs: both died from old age and within a short time of each other. Both had been some of the very first family owned dogs to be sterilised at Animal Tracks, and throughout their long and happy lives the dogs had been occasional outpatients at the rescue centre with routine ailments and for vaccinations. The three children of the family had all grown up with the brothers and, as many of you will have experienced, a home that's recently lost the presence of a beloved canine companion is a very sad place to be. So Willy, their father, asked his friends from Animal Tracks to look out for a suitable young pup to join his depleted family.

At the very same time a rescued young black pup that had been staying with an IAR foster carer was just at the right age and ready to move to a new forever home. So the lucky little pup was taken to meet the De Souza family, they all just fell in love with her and decided her name would be Blackshe.

When a pup or kitten is adopted from Animal Tracks we advise all adoptive owners to keep their new pets temporarily contained for the animal's safety while they become confident and familiar in their new surroundings. Blackshe, was given a new collar and leash, a nice soft bed, food and water and was secured on the sheltered veranda of the family home. She was left there in peace to settle in. But Blackshe's skinny little puppy neck was just a bit too small for her new collar and she slipped out and ran off, eager to explore.

The De Souza's home is surrounded by dense jungle which slopes down to the next village and then rises to high cliffs, then onwards to the ancient historical site of Chapora Fort. Very soon Blackshe realised she'd gone too far and had no idea in which direction to backtrack to her new home. Darkness fell and the frantic family searched and called out to the lost pup in vain.

After a worried, sleepless night the search resumed at first light including IAR volunteers, friends and neighbours from both villages and local school children, all enlisted to find the missing pup.

Luckily somehow she’d made it through the night and there were several sightings of a lone black pup in the distance high up near the fort and also on the low lying surrounding rocks and beaches. But Blackshe was just too frightened and spooked by her overnight ordeal to go close enough to a stranger and evaded her rescuers, not understanding they were all trying to help her. So she continued to roam, all the while dodging dangers and getting more and more lost.

Gradually reports of her being seen became fewer and far between and as the days went by all hope was lost for the vulnerable little pup out in the jungle with no food, water or safe shelter and wild animals like snakes and feral dogs to contend with.

Over three weeks passed and everyone was resigned to the fact that she was gone. But then a definite sighting of a solitary hungry black pup was reported very early one morning on the beach by Chapora jetty: she was looking for dead fish or anything vaguely edible washed up by the tide.

By the time rescuers arrived at the scene the sun had risen and Blackshe had disappeared again back into the jungle, chased away by packs of local territorial dogs who will not permit an intruder on their patch.

But with renewed hope and a plan, a couple of IAR volunteers who Blackshe knew from her days in the foster home went down to the jetty before first light the following morning, while all was silent and the sea mist was swirling around and most dogs and humans still slept soundly. They quietly sat and waited softly calling encouraging words into the jungle from their location on the beach near to the Hindu Dog Temple, where Blackshe had been seen the previous day.

Two fruitless hours passed and the would-be rescuers were reluctantly forced to give up, sadly making their way back towards their scooter parked by the jetty. Then within literally a few moments of riding away they heard a faint whimper alerting them to turn around. Following them, exactly a month to the day since she'd gone missing, was an exhausted, skinny, dirty, ravenous but otherwise unharmed Blackshe, more than ready by now to be scooped up, seriously hugged and taken home to safety.

Apart a skin infection and a stomach upset from scavenging on whatever she could find to survive, amazingly Blackshe was in relatively good condition, despite her month long ordeal alone in the wild. Proving just how clever, instinctive and resourceful even a young animal can be when faced with adversity.

Very soon she fully recovered and settled into life safe within the bounds of her overjoyed human family and these days she seldom strays much beyond the family compound.

She's more than happy just to be a cherished home-loving pet and has no further desire to be an intrepid adventurer. Blackshe is of course fully vaccinated and now at six months old has just been sterilised by IAR, ensuring there will be no litters of De'Souza pups who might get lost in the wilderness.

Little Blackshe has learnt two crucial lessons at an early age - that it is indeed a jungle out there, and that there really is no place like home!

Love Olive x

Friday, 20 April 2012

I’m forced to "toe the line"!

Hello dear friends,

Readers of my diary entries will be familiar with me telling a tale of some creature whose life has been touched by the kindness of our rescue centre here in Goa. But this time my story is of an autobiographical nature.

As one of the senior members of the resident Goa pack I know that it's my duty to set a good example for the youngsters to follow. But I still like to have fun and, although I'm now considered by some of the young pups to be a mature old lady, I can still never resist the opportunity to join in with a race around with the others.

But recently one such escapade made me realise I'm not such a pup anymore and I've sadly paid the price. I'm usually the one to tell the others to keep their high spirits under control and I've learnt now that I should have listened to my own advice.

The incident occurred when a gang of us were joyously chasing through the jungle that surrounds the Animal Tracks centre. Then suddenly I got my paw snagged on a tree root and realised I'd really hurt myself. Luckily I was able to limp back to reception and receive prompt medical attention from the veterinary team. My paw was badly injured and an xray revealed the toe was broken.

So I had enforced kennel rest while the injuries healed and had to temporarily hand over my meeting and greeting duties to Peggy, but she's really not one to take anything too seriously and would sooner be out and about the centre looking for fun and mischief.

For what seemed like eternity I was confined to kennels to aid my recovery and keep me clean and relatively immobile. Despite the first rate medical attention and regular visits from everyone, I was bored and restless. I could not resist the temptation to chew at the dressing on my paw and it became infected and even more sore. So the vets put me in a ridiculous Elizabethan collar so that I couldn't reach to interfere with the injury. (I've banned any photos being published of me wearing such an unflattering outfit.)

But it did the trick and eventually the day came when the doctors decided I had healed enough to be discharged from hospital and resume my duties and my place amongst the Animal Tracks resident pack. I was warned that I must curtail my enthusiasm for the team games and sit on the side lines while the others played and I got back to peak fitness and allowed my still weakened toe to heal.

However I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I didn't heed the good advice and was soon tearing around again with the others. A painful lesson learnt as the toe quickly became fractured again and the prospects for its recovery were pessimistic, and the thought of further weeks confined to kennels too much for me to handle.

An emergency team consultation was called and we all decided that the best option for my recovery would be to lose the toe. So I had a relatively simple operation to amputate the offending digit and was back on my paws in no time at all.

As you can see it's hardly a disfigurement and it hasn't slowed me down at all. I could maybe use a little help with typing my diary but I won't be asking for Peggy's assistance - I've enlisted one of the IAR humans as my temporary secretary instead!

Olive x

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nano the calf hitches a lift to safety

Hello, hello

Here’s a story of a tiny white calf just a few hours old that was spotted by two local youths in one of the outlying villages.

She was crying piteously and roaming around obviously calling for her mother. This continued for some time and the calf was in a state of panic and would have soon encountered danger, so the kind young men felt they must try to help her. Much of the culture here in India is of the belief that the cow is a creature to be revered and protected – luckily for the calf!

They toured around the locality with the crying baby sitting between them on their scooter and all the time she cried out for her mum. The boys offered her to every cow they encountered on their three hour quest but none was the mother.

Worried as to what to do next, they went to the house of a lady in the neighbourhood who they knew always looked out for any animal in need of help. Luckily this lady is actively involved with animal welfare and has a long association with IAR.

Dusk was falling so for the calf's overnight safety she was settled into the confined security of a bathroom where a bed was made for her and she was fed milk from a syringe. Early next morning it was evident that if she was to survive much longer the calf must get to Animal Tracks where the staff have had experience with small orphaned cattle. But the long journey would have been arduous on a scooter so the baby was gently cradled in the back of a tiny Tata Nano car borrowed for the journey.

On arrival there the tiny calf was warmly greeted by all of us animals and humans alike and every possible measure was taken to ensure she was kept warm and bottle fed enough milk to sustain her.

But, whilst she relished all the attention and affection, the little calf missed her mother so much that we all feared the worst: despite staff and volunteers cuddling and feeding her, she was still not doing too well.

Within animal welfare groups there is a great camaraderie and through friends Animal Tracks knew of a goshala, a sanctuary where cattle can live and grow in a peaceful, natural environment, and where orphaned calves are successfully raised. And maybe there would be a resident cow that would prove a suitable surrogate mum for the youngster. The goshala agreed to take Nano, Animal Tracks staff escorted her on the journey, but this time not on the rear seat of a tiny car but in one of the IAR animal ambulances.

We are all exceptionally pleased and very relieved to report that Nano is thriving and is clearly happy and healthy in her new home. She will remain there permanently in the safety of the sanctuary and maybe one day will help nurture casualties and orphans such as herself who may come to need a bit of love, kindness and a helping hoof!

That’s it for now – until next time ...!

Love Olive x

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Sally's fall from grace

Hello my friends

Here’s a cautionary tale if ever there was one!

It's not just stray and wild animals that come to Animal Tracks, we also have a busy outpatients department where the public can bring their pets and domestic animals for the full spectrum of treatments, vaccinations and of course sterilisation.

Sally a beloved pet came in to the centre after sustaining an injury to a front leg in mystery freak accident. Renowned as an adventurer, Sally has even been known to climb trees and scale high walls so her owners are quite used to her getting into trouble. But this time she'd hurt herself badly.

After examination and X ray it was found that Sally had a really severe fracture to her leg and there would be no option but for her to undergo major reconstructive surgery.

Led by IAR's expert orthopaedic surgeon Nikhil, the operation took more than three hours as he painstakingly repositioned the broken bones using external pinning. Sally and numerous other animals are really fortunate to be treated at Animal Tracks as this advanced and complex surgery is not widely available.

Then came the long recovery process whereby Sally had to be contained despite her natural desire and instinct to be out and about exploring. Not an easy task for her owners knowing she would still try to get into mischief despite her leg being shrouded in metal pins!

But Sally seemed to understand that custody was necessary in order for her to heal and she got used to sitting around  in the safety of the house and not going on her daily walks and joining in the fun with the other household dogs.

After a few weeks she returned to the centre and further X rays showed that the bone was mending well and a couple of the six pins were able to be removed in a second slow and intricate operation. Then more weeks of rest and healing before the final surgery to remove the remaining steel frame and pins.

Many weeks later and still under special care and observation Sally continues to recover but is probably already planning her next adventure. Let's hope she's learnt from this experience that, although she's agile, unlike cats, dogs do tend to come down to earth with a bit of a bump!

Love Olive x

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Madame Muriel

Hello dear friends,

Life for an abandoned pet is always hard but here in the tropical climate ‘breed’ dogs have a particularly difficult time.

Muriel is a Pomeranian Spitz
We local dogs have developed and adapted to be of a more robust constitution, enabling us to survive and thrive even with minimum assistance from mankind - although here in Goa IAR's vaccination and spaying programme has helped thousands of strays to have a viable existence.

Sadly discarded breed dogs do not usually fare so well physically or mentally. Muriel, of Pomeranian/Spitz ancestry, was one such dog and she found herself cast out and alone just before Christmas last year. Luckily Muriel arrived at Animal Tracks in the nick of time: she was very sad and desolate and obviously could not comprehend how her life had changed from being someone's companion to becoming another unwanted statistic. Muriel was probably cast aside because she had developed a chronic skin condition that could easily have been controlled with the minimum of care and expense, but it was not to be.

Muriel was suffering from a skin condition
By the time poor Muriel found her way to IAR her condition was very poor and her spirits low. But with the veterinary expertise on hand and loving care from all the staff and a handful of volunteers – not to mention the concerned attention of her new canine friends - help was at hand.

But Muriel was still desperately unhappy and, as a lady who'd always been able to rely on her looks, she now looked so bedraggled that the chances of her being adopted seemed slim. So once again IAR supporter and dog lover Fionna stepped in and took Muriel to her home to recover with her large happy pack of mainly temporary foster dogs. “Half way" houses such as Fionna's are invaluable to IAR and the animals. Without them scores of abandoned dogs and cats would not have been able to be successfully re-established into permanent loving homes.

Muriel looking so much happier!
As the weeks progressed Muriel settled and her glamorous coat was restored to its former glory thanks to a safe environment, much loving care, good nutrition and medication.

Although in good health once more, there was always a sadness about Muriel and she was always a little apart and aloof from her housemates and walked around with a tragic air that resembled a French Madame who had once been pampered and used to all the finer things in life but whose tragic circumstances had led to her decline in status.

But a solution was on hand and Fionna heard of a lovely local lady who had experience with the Pomeranian Spitz breed that Muriel belongs to. When Meera heard of Muriel's situation she decided to meet her with a view to adoption if the two of them hit it off.

Muriel and Meera
The moment that Muriel first saw Meera there was a complete transformation in her demeanour and if there was ever any doubt that a dog can smile, check out Muriel's grin in the "after" photographs... it's proof that they can!

The two ladies bonded instantly and finally that brilliant lustrous fan of Pom/Spitz tail began to wag with uncontrollable joie de vivre and has not stopped since. We were all so happy at the centre to be able to bid Muriel “Au revoir” and “Bonne chance”- she deserves it!

That’s all for now!

Olive x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Louie’s gluey mishap

Hello my dear friends, here’s a tale that will ruffle a few feathers!

We all know that throughout history owls have been renowned as creatures of wisdom, but Louie's flight into a fly glue trap was not such a wise move …The unfortunate owl became firmly stuck on the hanging trap designed for flies and mosquitoes and, had it not been for a kind human who brought him along to Animal Tracks, he certainly would have perished there.

owl rescue goaParts of Goa are still steeped in folklore and tradition and the haunting call of a male owl, or, as they are locally known, “ghughum”, is believed to be a premonition of the birth of a boy child or herald misfortune or even death to someone close by. When hearing the owl cry certain local people say the silent prayer "I believe" in order to avert the bad omen. Or others will throw salt into a fire in the hope that the owl will get a sore tongue and hoot no more. So because of fear and superstition sadly the presence of these beautiful birds is often unwelcome despite them being a natural form of vermin control.

goa owl rescue from glue trapEven more bizarre human behaviour and another Goan remedy believed to avoid impending trouble after hearing an owl is to remove all your clothes, turn them inside out then get dressed again.... perhaps not to be advised in public! And people think we dogs have strange habits!

Thankfully it's just humans that have such odd ideas and most of us animals just live in the present and are grateful to have a helping human hand from time to time when the unexpected occurs.

It's always a worry that wild birds will simply go into shock and die after a trauma so no time was wasted. The glue was gently removed with extreme care so as to not damage Louie's feathers or cause him more stress. Gradually he was cleaned and his plumage restored to its former glory.

So fortunately this particular ghughum's gummed encounter turned out well in the end thanks to help from the IAR team. Aren’t they just the best!

That’s all for now.

Love Olive x