As I walk to the monastery daily, I see many sights very foreign to my western eye, many of which I have shared with you earlier on this blog from Napal.  One such sight, which as you already know is so difficult for me, is the Street/Stray Dog population.


One day as I was returning from teaching, I glanced at a heap of garbage by the side of the street (one of many due to the garbage strike), and uttered a groaning gasp as I witnessed a small dog and one very different from the average street dog, desperately digging for any morsel of food.


She was missing ¾ of her fur and what was left was so filthy one could not be sure of the colour.  Her skin was rashed and wounded and it was obvious that she had had a litter of pups not too long ago.  The vast majority of street dogs are male due to the fact that females keep having litters when they are sick and malnourished and therefore die off more quickly.  I took this video of her.


The following day it was raining as I slogged my way to classes.  And there, in the same general area as the day before, stood this wee, soaking wet, shivering dog. Both days she looked at me with sad, helpless, confused, pleading brown eyes and my tears spilled.  She never left my heart or my head.


Later that day as I showered off the sweat (you still sweat even when it rains!), I had an epiphany.  I scare myself with those dang epiphanies!  The last one was when I said to myself, “I’d LOVE to go to Nepal and teach English to Buddhist monks!” This one said, “I HAVE to rescue that dog!”


And so the dye was cast.  I hardly slept that night what with worrying that I would not find her again.  I did not see her on the way to classes next day.  Coming back she was not in her usual area.  I began pleading really hard with the angels.  About a block later there she was!  I had already named her “Atma” and that was the first word the shot out of my mouth. 


Keeping one eye on her I ran to a shop and asked for a cardboard box and was emphatically turned down even when I explained in Pidgin English what I wanted it for.  Never daunted, I went next door and pleaded for a box.  This time I was rewarded by a kind hearted man.  I had brought food and placed it in the box as I sat on a step beside her and talked soothingly.  She let me stroke the top of her head with one finger as I watched a flea population the size of Kathmandu race over her bare body parts and thinly covered areas with what I now realized was white fur.


Now I’m thinking, if I try to pick her up and put her in the box she may bite me and the flea situation made me cringe.  There appeared Nepali angel.  A man of senior years managed to ask me, through sign language and unintelligible words, if I wanted the dog in the box.  When I finally understood and vigorously nodded my head he just picked her up and put her in the box!  Nothing to it.  Better him than me.  We closed the flaps and one would have thought we had captured the Tazmanian Devil!  We needed rope…fast!  He skittered off, came back with some plastic twine and with much grunting and dexterity we managed to finally tie the flaps in place and looked at each other with big grins.


By now we had quite an audience and I managed to make it known that I was going to take her to an animal hospital.  Someone hailed a taxi for me and with plenty of jabbering between bystanders and driver, he managed to understand where I wanted to go.  We struck a deal on the cab fare and off we went. 


This animal hospital could only give me prescriptions for what she needed and I was to take her home and administer them.  I’m looking at the flea colony and shaking my head adamantly.  Seems they had no facilities for keeping her there.  And by now she’s figured out the box flip lid equation and this little head keeps popping out with a body desperately wanting to follow.  I could only stop this by dumping a bundle of newspapers on top of the box and leaning on them.


I was given an address of another, this time ‘private’ clinic, and yet again a cab was hailed for me, I make a deal for the fare once more and we are off across the city for a second time. I wonder if the first clinic ever missed that new bundle of newspapers?


The potholes and broken pavement make for a rough ride with me desperately hanging on to a slipping newspaper pile. The appearance now and then of a frightened eyeball through a space between the flaps tells me I’m not too successful.


We arrive at the Animal Hospital & Research Centre of Kathmandu where I juggle a wiggling box and rapidly flying newspapers into the reception area and gratefully plunk down gasping with effort.  The popping head emerges once more from the box placed on the floor and the whole thing strikes me hysterically funny whereupon I simply have to video Atma’s Jack-in-the-box antics with her defiantly rumpled appearance, box, newspapers et al.


This time the exam by a vet trained in the Netherlands, shows that her skin problem and resultant lack of fur is a dermatitis produced by the fleas easily cleared up with medication.  When I tell him I am in a hotel, he orders a flea and tick bath to do away with that problem, she has two shots to prevent any flea return, do away with any worms, heal her skin and help with the need to scratch.  Spaying and vaccinations can be done ten days later if her health is good.


I’m given a ‘clean’ box which she vigorous fights and we end up in the cab going home as a team of thoroughly disheveled woman and triumphant dog, head free of the box.  We struck a deal, but she thought she had won.


Why the name ‘Atma’?  It is the Nepali word for spirit/heart/soul and she is all of that and more.


There will be much more on Atma because I am bringing her home, but know that I will be looking for a Canadian Forever Home for her.  I never, ever want to take the chance that she will end up on the streets of Nepal again.


I will be accepting applications, interviewing her prospective parents and inspecting her prospective homes!  Yah, I know she is not a human child, but after what she has been through I want a guarantee that she will have a of life of excessive spoiling and endless love.  I’ve had her for a week and she is a very special little spirit!

Signing off and Cherrio!