Atma and Lynn 
 
 
Nothing was more popular on my Nepal Adventure blog than the rescue of Atma.  I am receiving emails constantly asking about her and there is much to tell, so this post will give you the rest of her story.
 

 I left you with Atma and me getting back to the hotel after her flea bath and medications at the Kathmandu Animal Hospital. She was a sorry sight with no hair over 2/3 of her body and the bare skin covered in a rash, but none the less, she was introduced to my fellow volunteers and hotel staff, many of whom must have wondered what the heck I had seen in her.

 

But as the next few days went by, Atma wriggled her way into many of their hearts just as she had crashed into mine. What she looked like faded out of sight and all one could see was her amazing little spirit (Atma: Nepali word for ‘soul’).

 

We quickly discovered that she was not about to allow me out of her sight. The whining, barking, scratching and mournful dog language that echoed throughout the hotel when left alone in the room, made it very clear that she was going to be attached to me like gum on a shoe sole for my remaining time in Nepal.

 

So off we went to the monastery every morning to teach where she sat on a plastic tub chair and was every bit the lady with all her Monklettes doting on her. After class we trotted back the 5 km to the hotel, drank a small ocean of water while Mum showered and then out to lunch.  We chose outdoor, garden restaurants where she was welcome and due to the morning’s walking workout, she curled up on a seat beside me and never moved.

 

I learn that she is leash trained, shakes right then left paws, dances on her hind legs with forelegs making the ‘namaste’ position, wants to go outside to do bathroom duties and listens to me with much more attention than any of my kids ever did.

 

At night she popped up into her chair for sleeping and stayed there until I patted the bed after the alarm woke us, whereupon she leapt across the room, dove in beside me and wriggled in for a morning, pre-breakfast snuggle.

 

Aussie Charmaine took on the chore of pseudo-mama while I went on my pre-planned excursion to Pokhara and never have I had such a welcome home upon my return!  Face, glasses and hair all received a thorough little-dog-tongue washing.

 

Now it’s time to get down to the business of getting her home with me.  Talking to airlines, finding a proper leash, collar, food and transportation kennel would take one day at home.  In Kathmandu, count one week.  But I am a new mama and am not to be deterred! We traverse the city in cabs, spend much time on the phone, go through rupees like starving bunnies in a lettuce field, but at last all is done except a re-visit to the vet.

 

Time to be spayed and vaccinated.  I drop her off in late morning and receive  instructions to come back around 6 pm.  I promptly arrive at six and tiptoe into a room where she is lying in an old fashioned metal baby crib.  Still coming out of anesthetic, her eyes are slightly open but not focused and her tongue is lolling out of her mouth.  I speak quietly to the staff and the next thing I hear is “thump, thump, thump”.  She heard my voice and thumped her tail three times while absolutely nothing else on her body twitched!  Not even an eyelash.  It was so sweet, my throat lumped up.

 

Gradually she became more awake


 

 

 

And then everything changed….

 

The newspapers beneath her body absorbing her urine were being changed frequently by an assistant when suddenly the urine was showing pink and then red.  Atma was bleeding from somewhere.  Two vets and three assistants materialized instantly to assess. 

 

Having no history on a street dog, it could have been a blood condition such as hemophilia or a urinary cyst that ruptured, or, or, or.  Dr. Yadav checked for cysts, went over every detail of the surgery, looked at her gums which were white and injected her with iron and vitamin K.  At this point all we could do was wait.  The five staff members and myself stood around her, talking quietly, watching diligently for change and all saying silent prayers.

 

At one point I was alone with her for a few minutes.  I cupped her chin in my hand, leaned down and whispered in her ear, “ Atma, you have such a strong little spirit and between you ,me and the help of our friends here in the hospital we are all going to work as one to keep you with us.  You were meant to come home with me, keep fighting to stay with me and I won’t leave you.”

 

Within a half hour the bleeding slowed and finally stopped.  Everyone let out a communal sigh of relief at the good news and adjusted our prayers to asking that it not start again.

 

Even though within the next couple of hours I was assured that I could leave, every time I left the room Atma would fuss, move too much and exhibit her separation anxiety and I was worried she would start the bleeding again, so, true to my word, I did not leave her and stayed beside her for the night.

 

Atma and I were not the only ones in the room, we had a constant visitor!  Every time I put my head down on her bed to catch a few winks,…zzzzzzzwhinezzzzzwhine, a blasted mosquito started doing circles around my ear.  Could never find it due to the subdued lighting in the room, besides I didn’t want to smack the wall and disturb Atma.  The mozzie didn’t differentiate between my left and right ears either.  I wouldn’t see it for an hour but just put my head down and it was at my ear.  I smacked myself stupid that night hoping to smush it on the side of my head.

 

I finally did go back to the hotel about 6:00 AM to return about 5 PM at which time Atma was well enough to jump into my arms and give me the ol’ Atma facewash routine.  She had been given a 48 hour pain medication at the time of surgery so felt no discomfort.  And back to the hotel we went where she was spoiled by everyone, pampered by me and allowed to sleep in my bed cuddled up and happy.

 

Three days later she had a vet checkup.  The cause of the bleeding was attributed to poor nutrition while Atma was on the streets and her liver was unable to produce enough blood clotting material. She was given rabies, distemper and parvo vaccinations, said her thanks and goodbyes to some incredibly caring and talented Nepali people and she was given the green light to travel.  Big Sigh!

 

BRINGING ATMA HOME 

After several difficult goodbyes, Atma and I are in a cab airport bound.  As I look at the Kathmandu sights I realize they are the same as upon my arrival, but my perspective is 180° skewed.  Everything just looks ‘normal’!

 

We check in at Jet Airlines and I am pretty wound up about putting my new baby in the cargo hold. I’m holding up well until I have to put her in the kennel and she begins to cry, whine and scratch madly at the door.  So as not to embarrass myself I use every ounce of strength I have not to cry, but a couple of tears leak down my cheeks anyway.  A wonderful, older gentleman who transfers the luggage from the desk to the belt notices this and as I walk away toward security he steps out from behind the desk, looks at me and nods his head making hand gestures that everything is okay and she will be alright.  Bless his heart.  Well, I did get upgraded to first class too and that helped a little bit.

 

Next stop-Delhi.  Collect my bags and Atma for the 8 hour layover.  She was overjoyed to see me and not in the least upset with me.  It was wonderful to spend the time together.

 

Time to check in with Lufthansa for the trip to Frankfurt. It’s quite a process when you are also checking in a live animal.  It was a struggle, but I finally got her back in the kennel. To say she was reluctant would be a gross understatement.  She is quite the little gymnast what with all four legs going in every direction.  And the pitiful crying, whining and scratching begins in great earnest once again.

 

I’m now told I need to go to a different desk and make the payment to the airline for the dog plus pay my India exit tax.  The exit tax must be cash whereas the airline fee can be credit card. I have no Indian rupees but will use Visa for the airline then go to the ATM. 

 

#1 problem:  There is a hold on my Visa card.  I go to the ATM to withdraw all the funds I need.

 

#2 problem:  ATM card won’t work in machine (never happened in Nepal!)

 

Back to the desk.  What am I going to do now? I only have the one credit card.  I think I know the reason for the hold on it.  I had not used it since I left home six weeks ago until paying for Atma’s fare on Jet Airlines in Kathmandu.  This would have sent up a red flag as possibly stolen.  I share this info with the nice gentlemen on the desk and tell them I have to phone the credit card company.

 

#3 problem:  How do I pay for a phone call without a credit card?

 

The call is not toll-free outside of N. America.  Now I’m getting flustered.  Somehow I have to get my hands on 13,000 Indian rupees.  One of the VERY nice Indian gentlemen gives me his cell phone!  I dial the number and get a message that they do accept collect calls.  Why the blazes don’t they put that on the credit card along with the number!!!  But I’m on a roll now and the agent answers.  I’m not only flustered, but now I’m pissed and those who have seen me flustered AND pissed slink away quietly making a very quick exit in the opposite direction.

 

#4 problem:  I cannot hear the agent on the phone!

 

I keep saying, “I can’t hear you could you please speak up.”  All I hear is “I can’t do that ma’am” and the rest of his words fade out. I holler “I’m in Delhi, my card has been cancelled and I wanna know why!”  Can’t hear his reply. I keep telling him I can’t hear him.  I try to find a more quiet corner where I sit down on the floor, plug my free ear and keep trying to hear him. No go.  Now tears of frustration prick at my eyelids as I listen to Atma nearby perfecting her cry, whine and scratch routine, and I yell at the agent, “I can’t get on that plane until my Visa card works and I have to get on that plane with my dog!!”

 

I switch the phone to my other ear.  Voila! I can hear his modulated, monotone voice. Seems I must have touched the volume control during the transfer.  He is saying, “Get them to try the card again”, they do, it works! OK, dog fare is paid.  Now all I need is rupees to pay the exit tax.  I try a different ATM…it works!

 

As I am trotting back to the desk with hot rupees in my hands, I suddenly realize, I paid an exit tax in Nepal, why am I paying an exit tax in India when I never even left the airport?  I explain this to the nice gentlemen and they say I don’t have to and when did I arrive in Delhi.  Eight hours ago and I show them my Jet Airlines boarding pass.  My trip was on two itineraries and I only showed the one from Delhi onward when I checked in at the Delhi desk.  Well why in heck would I show them the one I had just completed??!  Sheesh, don’t they all have ESP?

 

Problem #5:  Now I have a fist full of rupees I don’t need.

 

Over to the money exchange desk where I am ripped off exchanging rupees to US dollars that had started out as Canadian dollars 15 minutes ago.

 

They have finally taken Atma out of the check-in area, everything is looked after and it’s 2:00 AM.  As I show my boarding pass at the gate, I realize it is the same young man who checked me in at the desk and he says in a whisper, “Atma is aboard, she is doing just fine.”  Bless his heart.

 

I still have a long way to go.

 

Frankfurt 8 hours later.  Baggage and Atma checked in all the way to Calgary from Delhi and I have another 8 hour layover.  I pray someone is giving her water and food.  There is nowhere to sit in the Frankfurt airport except the gates and mine is not open until 1 hour before flight. Lordy, I am intimately familiar with every public nook and cranny of Frankfurt airport.  I don’t drink beer, but I thought, “While in Germany…..” so I sat down (phew!) and had a beer.  It was actually good or I was sleep deprived?

 

Once at the gate I am paged.  Nice lady asks me if I am traveling with a dog to which I give an affirmative reply.  She tells me the dog is here and doing fine.  They feel that for the 10 hour flight to Calgary she needed more room so they put her in a larger, loaner kennel and baggage tagged mine.  Bless their hearts.

 

Calgary. Arrived late, missed my connection. Wrestled bags onto a cart, found my ecstatic dog who I couldn’t take out of the kennel because we were clearing customs and she made it well known what she thought of that.  A simple wave of her vaccination certificate and we were through. Now to rebook a flight and put Atma and bags on Connections belt. Cry, whine, scratch.

 

Approaching security to get to my gate.  A pre-security check is done to ask if you have any liquids or gels.  My backpack has my toiletries and I have forgotten that in Canada one can’t carry any liquid or gel on board that is over 100 ml and they all have to fit into a miniscule ziplock bag provided by the airline. 

 

#6 problem: My toiletries break the rules. 

 

They were ok-ed through five physical and three x-ray checks in Nepal, Delhi and Frankfurt. It is suggested that I can check in my backpack at the Air Canada desk.  So I trot off to do that. 

 

#7 problem: It will cost me $100,

 

Seems I have already checked in two bags, which is the allotted number for my distance and any more I have to pay for.

 

Now I’m thinking, I have some small empty bottles in my toiletry bag.  Off to the washroom to transfer product into them.  Quite a job when the tap at the sink will only stay on for 5 seconds at a time.  OK, done.  Everything is 100 ml or less and I get it all to squeeze into that ziplock bag (with a bit of stretching).

 

Back to pre-security.

 

#8 problem: The nice man who suggested I check-in my backpack has been replaced with a stern-faced woman of large proportion and a BADGE

Dum de dum dum

 

I proudly show her my ziplock bag.  With a puffing out of her chest (the easier to see the BADGE) she tells me one of the bottles is too large.  But it’s half empty and has less than 100 ml in it, I reply.  No matter, the bottles can’t be larger than 100 ml.

 

#9 problem:  She doesn’t realize that I have been awake, crossed 5 time zones over the past 30 hours and am dizzy with jetlag. 

 

Buried deep within my small stature their lies my “Beelzebub Bitch” who I only allow out under certain circumstances.  No sleep for 30 hours, worried about my dog and jetlagged IS such a circumstance.

 

I argue.  What’s the difference, it’s just air in the bottle with the CREAM, it’s not liquid or gel, its CREAM!  This is expensive stuff and you are going to make me throw it out!?  It was just fine with Jet Airlines in Nepal, Lufthansa in Delhi and Air Canada in Frankfurt!  Can’t you airlines get it together and have some kind of consistency!!! Why is it ok with Air Canada in Europe, but not Air Canada in CANADA?????!  Screw it, take the damn thing and enjoy!

 

And I stomp off. Yeah, I was ripped.

 

She calls after me, “We don’t keep them ma’am.”  I toss a bitchy reply over my shoulder, “There’s a garbage can right behind you, so throw it in there!”

 

I was expecting a platoon of security agents to haul me off for ‘questioning’, or at least to get tazered. Guess I went up to the wire, but didn’t cross it.  Well, I got my blood boiling and my adrenalin glands pumping and damn, I was feeling better!

 

Arrive in Kelowna.  It’s 8:00 pm and the sun is still shining. Atma is first off the plane from cargo.  I let her out of the kennel and the fastest tongue and tail in the west go into action. Greg meets us with dog food and water and dishes.  Smart man.  She ate, she drank, she ate, she drank. 

 

A very happy puppy, a worn out Mummy (with ‘Bitch” safely chained back in her cell), a man happy to have his family complete again, and a mound of luggage pack into the car for the short drive to HOME, SWEET HOME.      

 THIS IS ATMA TODAY

I love my pillow

 I Love my PillowMe and my new  friend Sid the cat

 

Me and my new friend Sid the cat

 

 My hair is getting long enough to part! Next....braids.

My hair is getting long enough to part! Next….braids.
We Three

We Three

Our local newspaper did a recent article on my time in Nepal and the rescue of Atma.  You can read it below:

 

Vernon Morning Star

Making a spiritual connection

My Monklette Class_1_1_1

 

 

 
Lynn Moore with her students at the Sangye Choling monastery in Kathmandu, where she spent six weeks as a volunteer English teacher.

photo submitted

 

By Cara Brady – Vernon Morning Star

Published: July 02, 2009 6:00 PM

 

From the moment she saw the short article in the Investors Group magazine, Lynn Moore couldn’t stop thinking about it. It read, “Find Your Zen While Teaching English to Buddhist Monks in Kathmandu,” and gave the contact for i-to-i, a travel/volunteer organization.

“I thought I’d love to do that. Buddhism is a very peaceful, compassionate religion, and I’ve always done teaching in my work,” said Moore, recently retired with a background in sales and life coaching. “Then I thought, ‘If I’m meant to do this, how can I make it happen?’ It just wouldn’t leave me, and my husband agreed that I should do it.”

That was in June 2008 and she made her plans, including taking a teaching English as a second language course. By the beginning of May, she was in Nepal, staying in a Kathmandu hotel and walking five kilometres each way in 35-degree heat to teach at the Sangye Choling Monastery.

“The city was very busy and noisy but the monastery was quiet, and everyone was so appreciative that the volunteers from around the world, most of them students, were there to help. I had a class of 25 six-to-10-year-old boys and another class of 16-year-olds. We all sat on the floor cross-legged and it was a challenge because they were at different levels of English. The monks want to learn English to use if they travel.”

Moore found out that boys will be boys anywhere in the world — they would tease and push each other and the older boys were caught texting in class, holding their cell phones under their robes. In Buddhism it is considered a privilege to have a son educated at a monastery. The boys enter the monastery when they are five and at 18 they can make the decision to go on to train as monks or to leave.

“It was fascinating to learn about the religion and the culture and to travel in the country. The people want change but it is difficult with more than 16 political parties and how hard it is to make any progress or get anything done,” said Moore, who stayed for six weeks.

She got used to the life of the city, even the stray dogs, which made her feel sad. One day, one of the dogs rummaging in the garbage looked her straight in the eye.

“I just knew I was meant to save that dog. It was like going to Nepal, what I call an epiphany, an emotional and physical reaction to a thought.

“I didn’t see her the next day but then I found her and took her to the animal hospital to get cleaned up, get her shots and get spayed. The cook at the hotel helped me feed her and she walked to school with me every day. She wouldn’t be parted from me. I call her Atma which means spirit connection,” said Moore, stroking the small white dog in her lap. “I had no idea she was going to be such a perfect dog. Her hair is growing back in and she looks so much better now.”

After a lot of phone calls to air lines and 36 hours of travel, Atma was welcomed to her new home. Moore loves her new friend but because she and her husband travel a lot, Atma is going to a forever home with a loving family in Armstrong where Moore will visit her often.

“It was all an incredible experience. I would definitely do some more volunteer work — maybe with helping animals. Retirement is not just sitting around waiting for happy hour. I’ll know when I’m ready. I think anyone, whatever their age or situation, can find some way they can help, in the world community or in their local community.”

 

Please continue to post your comments.  They are much appreciated!

 

Cherrio!

Lynn