Thursday, 24 October 2013

And then there was Jim...

Hello dear friends, Olive here!

Sorry it’s been some time since I’ve been in touch, but it’s been a frantically busy monsoon here at Animal Tracks, especially because of our involvement in the huge success of Mission Rabies throughout September. Over 60,000 dogs were vaccinated throughout selected rabies hot spots in India, including here in Goa an incredible 6000 plus - myself included - and of course all the other Animal Tracks permanent residents.

During the monsoon from my duty position on the bench near the reception I witnessed an old dog arrive as an outpatient and by the sorry look of him we all thought his time was up. But how wrong we were... 

One day in early August while the monsoon raged and the rain barely stopped all day and night, a mangy old dog close to death’s door came staggering from the cliff top in hope that the people he saw in the distance might be the ones to save him. His coat was drenched and filthy and sticking to his sides, showing every rib on his emaciated body. His skin had erupted into painful infected sores and evidence of an old sickness, probably distemper had left him with a head twitch, lolling tongue and unstable gait.

His rescuers were IAR volunteers out surveying the terrain and stray dog population for the forthcoming rabies vaccination campaign. Maybe the dog instinctively knew that out of all the people he might have dared to approach they could be the ones who would help. Around his skinny neck he wore a faded old flea collar which would have once cost a considerable amount of money: someone at some stage in his life must have cared enough for him to give him this. What sad misfortune had led him now to be so lost, alone and hungry?

Trusting these people, he followed them to a nearby cafe where they had a friend Mira who they knew would provide shelter for them all and where the dog could rest a while and get dry. Mira covered him in an old sack and offered bread and milk. But he was too exhausted to eat and just lay beneath the covers unable to stop shivering. 

As night fell and the storm still raged the animal rescue volunteers knew that to take him to Animal Tracks centre so late in the day and admit him to a kennel would be even more trauma for the poor old guy, so they made a call to another friend. Savio runs a popular beach road bar and restaurant, Tin Tin’s, and feeds and cares for many local strays, some of whom have become semi-permanent residents on the premises. Without hesitation or even seeing him Savio agreed to let the old boy stay a while providing he did not upset the balance with the other dogs. The old dog spent his first night for a long, long while in a warm, dry and safe place with plenty of food.

He had been probably been as close to death as an ancient old boy could have been, but a twist of fate had decided this was not to be his time.

The following morning is when Savio decided the dog should have a name, Jim Beam or JB for short. Jim had rested and eaten and looked a little better but sadly the other dogs were not so happy to have him there - probably because Jim was quite defensive, had a lot to say for himself and his loud vocalizing was causing some disturbance!

The rescuers came to visit with a friend, also a long term supporter of IAR Goa and she was instantly was touched by the plight of old Jim. She saw beyond the surface that Jim was indeed a beautiful soul with whom she made a deep and instant connection. Carol decided that although her house was full of many other IAR rescue cats and dogs she had the space and could offer Jim a temporary sanctuary whilst his future was decided and his condition improved. So Carol became Jim's official IAR foster carer. With help from her friend Savita and of course from IAR, the team set about the task of bringing Jim back from the brink.

His condition was assessed by the IAR medical team and his sores and wounds treated, then a heavy schedule of medication and supplements was prescribed. But old Jim Beam proved an easy and grateful patient and happily succumbed to regular baths with medicated skin healing shampoo and obligingly ate his tablets concealed in the regular small nutritious meals of the finest foods a dog could ever dream of. 

It wasn’t long at all before Jim was looking heaps better and had established himself in the home and more poignantly the heart of was decided by the two of them that for the remainder of his days, however long or short that may be, Jim would become a welcome part of Carol's permanent animal family. Carol is not a passing tourist but has a permanent secure home here in Goa and can therefore offer long term stability and commitment which most other foreigners cannot. 

To add icing to Jim's already unbelievable cake a tiny orphaned rescue pup that Carol has successfully reared from just a few weeks old has also now been permanently adopted as Jim's official canine companion. Poppy and Jim at opposite ends of life’s journey have struck up a lovely friendship, each learning from the other and together basking in the glow of a wonderful home where they need never worry or be hungry and frightened again.

Good, genuine short term foster carers are a vital part of IAR Goa's volunteer programme. Offering one on one care to a young or recovering animal alleviates the pressure from the busy centre and IAR staff and prepares an animal for its eventual release or rehoming. If anyone visiting Goa long or short time can offer this help, the rewards will be immeasurable. This would be a much better option for an animal or a person than the disturbing practice often adopted by some temporary visitors who consider themselves animal lovers, of taking in a pet and then abandoning it or thoughtlessly dumping it at IAR when the time comes to leave. 

Animal Tracks is not a sanctuary for abandoned companion animals, the centre's purpose is to rescue, sterilise, vaccinate, rehabilitate and release as many animals as possible. With the help of genuine foster carers and volunteers there could be so many more needy souls who get a second chance at life.

But rarely are a couple of dogs as fortunate or as lucky as Jim Beam and his little friend Poppy, who gently carved out a forever future for themselves with a wonderful lady in the best home imaginable.

Now isn’t that the best of happy endings!

Bye for now,

Olive x

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