Saturday, June 12

Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight?

Introducing George!
George (so named for George Bailey, the despair-filled, yet redeemed, main character in It's A Wonderful Life) was found lying in a road, unmoving.  He had been hit by an auto, fell down and, having gone into shock, refused to get up.  The VSPCA SOS team was called in to rescue George and they brought him to the shelter.  For more than a week, George continued to lie down, did not move, would not eat and was terrified of anyone coming near him.

But now, many months later, he has recovered and is a happy and engaging fellow!
As I was taking pictures of him, he continued to preen and engage with me, making faces and sniffing me out with curiosity!
George is a Water Buffalo and has many friends at the VSPCA shelter, all of whom were rescued from injury or some cruel environment.  At the shelter he has a terrific life in the large animal area, with both a covered area of stalls and a large back field in which to roam outside.

Pothuraju is one of George's Buffalo companions, although he is still in his early stages of recovery and was *not* so eager for me to come close and snap his photo:
A few months ago, Pothuraju's mother was walking down a road when a milk van sideswiped her, breaking both of her right legs.  VSPCA came to her rescue, having no idea yet that she was pregnant, and transported her to the shelter.  The very next day Pothuraju was born at the shelter!  Sadly for his mother, due to the shock of her trauma, her broken legs and the birth of her boy, she died during the birth.
Having no mother to feed him, Pothuraju was bottle-fed by Ramarao, the man pictured here:
Ramarao has been at the shelter since he was a child and his parents brought him here, and has dedicated his time and love to the cows and buffalo, nursing dozens of the babies from a bottle!

Here are some of the truly happy cows that Ramarao looks after:
Rani and her daughter are particularly entertaining to all the staff because they are the cleanest cows at the shelter.  Rani is pure white and keeps herself exceptionally clean:
Look how clean her feet are!!
Rani cleans herself every day and is very careful to lie down for rest only when the dirt beneath her is dry.  She will not lie down in the mud!  In comparison, here is what a less conscientious cow looks like (no offense intended to this guy, of course!)
Among her quirks is the fact that Rani refused to dirty herself by allowing her calf to nurse.  So Ramarao had to bottle-feed her baby for her.  Her daughter inherited the "neat gene" and is beautiful like her mother.  She is the golden brown cow here:
Last among the cow and buffalo friends whose stories I recently heard is Baddu:
Baddu's mother was Gowari, a very smart cow owned by a caring man in town.  One day, some thieves from a slaughterhouse came through town and stole Gowari and many other cows.  The man, discovering that Gowari was missing, went into the street and called her name everywhere as he walked.  Gowari, from inside the truck of her captors, heard her human calling her and began to call back to him, mooing and stomping her feet.  The man called the VSPCA to report her theft and the shelter rescued all the cows inside the truck, saving them from illegal slaughter.

The man was so grateful that he gave Gowari to the VSPCA so that she would be safe and have a nice place to live out her days.  Some time later, her daughter Baddu was born.  I guess it must be very hard on cows and buffalo to give birth because Gowari also died during the birth of Baddu.  But Baddu has been able to grow up with the friends of her mother who were all rescued that day by VSPCA!

Here are some of the staff of the large animal section, hard at work keeping the stalls clean:
And here I am getting to know (carefully!) some of the cows in the field!
As with all the animals at the VSPCA, each of these cows and buffalo is available for sponsorship.  Please go to for more information or to make a donation to assist VSPCA in continuing this terrific work.  If you are interested in an animal not yet pictured on the Sponsorship page, please email me:

Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, June 10

It's a Dog's Life at the VSPCA

The VSPCA shelter is very special in terms of the landscape and spaces for all the resident animals.  The staff work very hard to keep all the areas clean.  The dogs who are lucky enough to call the shelter home have free run of the acreage.  There are fences and gates to add some order to the land, but the dogs come and go freely anytime a gate is opened.  The only times they are in kennels is for feeding or when they are preparing or recovering from surgery.

The shelter is online at and there are many more pictures there.  The animals who live full-time at the shelter are all available for "Sponsorship" for $20 per month and this is an important part of fundraising for the VSPCA, which is supported entirely through donations and grants. If you would like any more information about any of the dogs pictured below, please let me know!  Please also visit to make a tax-deductible general contribution!

Here are some pictures I took of the happy resident dogs at the VSPCA:

This happy dog has a very good story.  Her name is Muthi.  She was found on a train track, her jaw was broken and mangled.  With successful surgery at the VSPCA, she has a metal pin in her jaw and has made a full recovery:
Sotta has the most beautiful eyes!:
Naveen is a very happy and playful boy, like a puppy:
This beautiful girl is Rani, she has amazing coloring and loves to play.  In fact, she tries to get my full attention my gently nipping at my pant-legs:
I think Yanna is the perfect demonstration of the sentiment above her:
This poor fellow was dumped at the shelter by some people who bought him from a "breeder" and who expected him to be a "Dalmatian."  When it was clear that he was not a Dalmatian, they didn't want him anymore.  He is looking for a home and is a perfect candidate for adoption.  He is very sweet and adorable so it is no surprise that his name is Sweety!:
This smart dog is escaping the afternoon heat in a tub of cool water!!:
Brownie is watching us unload my suitcase full of goodies that I brought to the shelter from the US.  My friends donated lots of items (more about all the stuff in a later blog!):
This is Teena, she enjoys this cool, quiet, shady spot near the duck sanctuary:
Leelli is an older dog and is blind, but he has a wonderful life at the shelter with all the caring staff who are careful not to startle him:
"Little" is not sure if she wants to try the chewy:
Tichy wasted no time getting into his chewy!:
I spent the whole day at the shelter on Wednesday and, among other tasks, gave dog baths to many of the resident dogs:
They were mostly very agreeable to the bathing and waited patiently for me to read the directions!:
It was a team effort as we bathed a second dog while the first one was sitting already shampooed.  That's Jessie on the right hanging out with us after her bath:
This little cutie was especially fun and sticking his tongue out!:
The dogs were very happy once it was all over and they ran and played, and dried off almost immediately in the Indian heat!

Wednesday, June 9

Already in love at the VSPCA

There are so many things going on at the VSPCA here in Vizag, India.  The staff work very hard all day long, and the animals have clean spaces and lots of love and attention.  Yesterday I spent the whole day at the shelter and have many stories and adventures to tell.  It is hard to sit down and attempt to write about everything, so for now, I will start with my favorite little girl dog whose story captures so much of how I feel about the VSPCA.  Her name is Jessie:
Somehow I missed meeting her on the first day, but on the second day she came running up to me as soon as I got out of the van.  Actually she wasn't running.  When she gets really excited, she scoots.

This little girl was paralyzed when she came to the shelter.  Her hind legs are damaged.  But Jessie is one of the luckiest dogs because at the VSPCA she learned to walk!
Here she is playing with her friends:
and resting!:
Her hind legs work very well.  Her back knees seem to be where most of her injury remains so she can't bend her back legs the way a fully healthy dog can. She can sit and lie down, and then to get back up she hoists herself upright with her front legs:
And once standing, her hips work fine and she can move her back legs and run around.  She's off again:
In fact she moves so fast that it is hard to take a picture in focus of her!!:
Jessie is so sweet and loving and has the happiest demeanor I have ever seen in an animal.  Can you see her smiling here?:
Here she is hanging out with her buddies Namam (on the right) and Naveen (on the left). 
Jessie is totally unafraid of falling down, which does happen.  When she gets really excited she goes too fast and her back legs sometimes slip out to one side.  But she doesn't even slow down, she just keeps going as fast as she can with her front legs.  And she is fast even when she is scooting!  When she has a minute, she stops and gets all the way back up again.

Of course she was one of the lucky ones yesterday to get a bath!  Here we are:
Jessie's story is a very happy one.  Were it not for the VSPCA, she would have suffered on the street with her injuries and would not have survived.  But here, she is strong and happy.  She does not even seem to know that she is different.  The vets and staff have worked hard for her and she has worked hard to recover.  The result is a happy happy little dog who shares her love with everyone.

Sunday, June 6

India First Impressions: People, Trains, Traffic, and Animals

Before I traveled to India a few days ago I had heard my friends talk about this place with varying degrees of imagery, warnings, eagerness, and despair.  What I now know is that India cannot really be captured with words.  I can understand why my friends speak of it with enthusiasm, often searching for the right word, usually a suitably extreme adverb, and find that none seemed to fit their memories.

As I walked down this street, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement to finally be in a place unlike anything I had ever seen:
It seems to me that India is a place of extreme conditions.  Though I knew that it is a country of 1.2 billion people, it is impossible, as a Westerner in general and an American in particular, to have any inkling as to what that might actually look like.  To say that it is crowded does not convey a clear picture.  Waiting in line to buy a train ticket yesterday from the Santa Cruz station to CST in Mumbai, there were lots of people in line, people milling about selling things, and the general hustle and bustle of a train station.  I am certain that I looked confused.  I also looked very non-native, being white, blonde, and several inches taller than most locals.  So I was only mildly surprised when, as it became my turn at the ticket counter, a woman snuck up on my right, money in hand, to cut in front of me and buy her ticket before she had to wait behind my fumbling questions and delay in the general efficiency.  She was pushy but her eyes conveyed an apologetic explanation that she simply did not want to wait behind me.  In most things in India it seems that if you wait, someone will cut in front of you, whether it is at the train station, at the airport baggage claim, in a car, at a restaurant, even buying water from the local kiosk.

Here is the car I eventually got into:
 And a woman enjoying the breeze (somewhat dangerously, in my opinion!) from the moving train:
Given all the people here, India does seem to be remarkably efficient.  For example, there are a ton of cars here in Mumbai and traffic ought to be a mess.  But in both the auto-rickshaw and a regular taxi, my driver has been able to sneak, amble, zoom, and bully his way through a seeming mess to get me to my destination surprisingly fast, often in a sea of honking.  I'm not sure if these signs accomplish their goal:
Here is what the standard taxi looks like:
And this is a very tame image of driving in Mumbai:  Lane lines are for sissies, I guess!
Crossing the street as a pedestrian is probably the most dangerous adventure I have undertaken thus far.  Just now, on my way back from a terrific late lunch, I waited for a nice break in traffic to cross the street to my hotel.  But before I was even half-way across, a car was bearing down upon me, laying on his horn the whole way.  I don't think there has been a crossing yet where I have not dashed at some moment.  And the rule seems to be: "Pedestrians, get out of the way!"

Here are some photographs from my first day exploring Mumbai:
 I visited one tourist attraction, the Gateway to India:
Here is the inscription:
This field offered a nice change from the congestion of the city and I settled in to watch a pick-up cricket game.  I did have to get up rather quickly at one point as it suddenly became clear that I was sitting in center field!  
In the distance of the cricket match is a tower which turned out to belong to the University of Mumbai.  I managed to snap these photos from inside the University before a guard told me no pictures were allowed.  What is it with the Indians and their government buildings?  At the airport they made it very clear that no pictures would be tolerated.
This awesome gargoyle was the last one I took before the guard interrupted me.
After that, I did not even question whether I might take any pictures of the High Court, which is right next to the University.  (Plus, the armed military personnel out front at regular intervals dissuaded me from even pausing.)

In my wanderings I came across a Catholic church that looked pretty, so I wanted to explore it and thus very nearly crashed a wedding in progress.  If I had been paying attention, I might have noticed this getaway car parked out front!
In my wanderings I have obviously been meeting lots of animals.  The dogs are quite friendly and come to me when I make my go-to-move kissy noise.  They put their ears back and wag their tails, grateful for the kindness and attention.  More than one person has stared at me with surprise and skepticism as I greet the dogs, and I am hoping that my actions will wear off on the locals.

Here are some of the first-day-wanderings animals:
This kitty has a very nice life in a park and I caught her hissing at a crow before she lay down for the nap:
The farm animals, cows, oxen and goats, seem to have a bad go of it in the city.  The cows are often tied to something on a very short rope so that they cannot turn around and can only lie down right where they are standing. And they often cannot lay their heads down because of how they are tied:
This poor fellow was standing in his own urine, so I am sure he was not looking forward to lying down:
For the dogs, there is some progress being made toward adoption of street animals, as evidenced by this sign which gave me a lot of hope:
There is also an effort at a cleaner environment, something drastically needed in India:
Overall, I must have walked miles and miles yesterday and tired myself out completely.  But it gave me a chance to rest today and compile this blog post!  That's all for now.  Thanks for reading.  Please comment or ask any questions!