• Tara B. Vasi

Day 27 Sri Lanka: The Stray Dog Project, Kandy Road Trip

Today is Friday, December 20th.

My morning begins with instant coffee and my puppy rounds. Could there be a better way to wake up?

Then, I teach the three German volunteers yoga on the rooftop for sunrise. Seriously, could there be a better start to a day?

I began our class with an entry from Journey to the Heart and it couldnt have been more relevant. It was titled, “Discover Common Bonds”. Beattie reminds us that there is love between you and people that you haven’t even met yet. That there is universal love between every being and that we are all apart of a larger family. She reminds us that no matter what we are going through, we are not the only ones and to open your eyes, open your heart, and share your stories. Share your hopes, fears, and joys. You have common bonds with everyone. You are not alone.

I ended class holding globe mudra ( fingertips touch, palms separate, like you are holding a ball, or the earth) and the loving kindness mantra.

“May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and ease. May you be happy and find the root of all happiness.” I always like to have them begin by imagining someone that really really love, then repeat the loving kindness mantra. Then imagine someone whom they may not connect with so much, then repeat the loving kindness mantra. Then imagine the whole world, and repeat the loving kindness mantra but changing “you” too “we”.

Today is the Stray Dog Project and I am so FUCKING excited to finally help the stray dogs in the village. Seriously, we drive passed so many strays each day, and each time, my heart breaks a little, so I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to show them some love.

The plan is to make a large vat of food and feed the stray dogs in the village.

So, first, we have to make the food. We wash the rice and lentils and put them in a big pot. Then we added herbs, carrots and sweet potatoes. We add whole little fish, salt, turmeric, and oil. I was surprised they added herbs and spices, but hey, they little love bugs deserve a little flavor too, and turmeric has so many health benefits.

We build a fire of dried coconut shells and put the pot of food on cinder blocks. We cooked the dog food for a few hours, stirring occasionally. The air smells like fish and herbs and all the dogs close enough to smell it go a little cray.

While the food cooked we bathed all the dogs, except Castro, because he’d eat us. Each puppy has a different reaction to being under the water spout, getting lathered up, and then drying off and it was cool to see each of their different personalities. We noticed the majority of the puppies had ticks in their ears, so we applied some tick medication hoping to clear them out. When the dogs were waiting to be bathed and drying off they were playing together in the large fenced in area around the pool. We learned that Mogus is in love with one of the puppies. He constantly tried to have sex with her, by holding her close with one paw and then biting at the back of her neck and pulling her down. He was way too big and it was never going to happen, but he still tried. Take a hint Mogus, she’s just not that into you.

When the food was cooked through, it was obviously VERY hot. We laid down a bunch of old plastic bags so we could spread the food out to cool.

Some of the puppies went through the fence to get to the food. They couldn’t wait long enough for it to cool, so they probably burned their mouths but there was really nothing we could do about it.

Even though some of the dogs are food aggressive, for whatever reason, they all chilled the fuck out and ate together peacefully. It was really sweet. Awww… family togetherness.

After we situated our own dogs, we stocked up for our jaunt in the village. We filled a bucket up with food, grabbed a coconut spoon, snapped some leaves off a nearby tree to use as plates, and were on our way . We saw some hungry strays right away. Each stray responded differently. Some were confused by the food. Some ecstatic. Some ran away. We saw strays with one ear, mange covering their bodies, broken back legs, infected nipples, open wounds etc etc.

There were many dogs that smelled the food, took a few bites, and then looked up at us as if to say thank you with their eyes. Thank you for the love. It was truly an amazing thing to be able to at least give these guys a meal. We saw a kitten and she seemed very grateful for the snack.

We were walking towards town and I spotted a puppy on the side of the road. At first glance, I thought he was dead. We walk over to it and it can barely lift its head off the ground. She was covered in bugs and was laying in a pile of her own urine and feces. A man walking by tells us that the dog was hit by a car. I can’t believe how many people have walked by this dog and just left it here to die. Or that the person that hit it, just drove off and left it to die. Fucking assholes.

We gave her some food and water. Using her arms, she lifted her head to eat and drink, so it appeared her upper body is doing ok, but was is quite apparent that her lower half was either shattered or paralyzed or both. We flipped her from one side of her body to the other and her legs lifelessly dangled in the air in between. She doesn’t make a noise, though we can see she is struggling and suffering.

I tell Chamara we have to take her home and help her. I tell him “this” is the stray dog project. This is what I am here for. This is what I am meant to do. We have to help her.

I know he wants to help her too, but says he will think about it.

We leave her to finish our task of feeding the stray dogs, but I know we will come back for her. I just know he wont be able to leave her there.

We walk to a local temple. There are SO MANY strays at the temple. Stray dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. I couldnt get even 1/4 of them into one photograph. We ditch the leaf plate idea and I scoop and splat food for the strays right on the concrete. We don’t have enough food. There are too many mouths to feed.

The dogs follow us and our empty bucket out. They want more. I feel so bad leaving without being to feed them all or feed them well enough. We pass by the sweetest little lady and its like she smiles at me and says, “Please, take me with you”. I tell her “I am so sorry I couldnt get to you this time, but I will come back for you.”

We walk back towards the villa. Chamara dips into a store and comes out with a cardboard box and rubber gloves and I know that means that we are taking the broken puppy home.

She was right where we left her. We scoop her up. We load up in a tub tuk and go back to the villa. We bathe her… thoroughly. She doesn’t say a word. We pinch her feet and she pulls away. This is good because it means she has feeling in her back legs. We learned this trick back when Peanut was paralyzed. He never pulled away.

We take her to the vet almost immediately. The vet gives her an antibiotic injection, pain killer injection, and vitamin injection. He says that she is not paralyzed but probably has a shattered pelvis and her spine could be severed somewhere, not to mention nerve damage, etc etc… Her front legs seem ok and when we hold her up, she definitely wants to walk forward.

She pees on the vet. Poor lady cannot control her bowels. He says that she needs rest to heal.

There is really nothing we can do. He says to come back in 5 days.

We thank the vet so much for his help. He came into the office specifically to help us. He brought his son. I had gummy bears in my bag that I gave to him and now we are best friends.

We take her back to the villa and give her more food and water. We put her by the pool area in her own room. We wrap her in a towel and let her be.

We planned to head out of town for the weekend, and because there is nothing more we can do to help the puppy, we pack up our belongings and roll out. Chamara’s mom and uncle are in charge. I worry she won’t make it through the weekend, but of course, hopes she can pull through.

We drive 6 hours to Sigiriya, mostly in the rain. I told myself I wouldn’t go on another road trip because of my horrible motion sickness, but I really wanted to hike LION ROCK and check out Kandy, so I knew I had to deal with it. Plus I talked to Chamara about slowing down a little bit, and maybe not weaving in and out of traffic so much?

We arrived at the hotel around 10pm. It was DOWNPOURING. They walked us to our rooms under umbrellas. The three German ladies had a room. I had my own room, and Chamara stayed in a tree house. We are in the jungle.

My TV didnt work, so I went right to bed. I had dreams about feeding dogs. I couldnt stop thinking of the puppy. She was lucky that I saw her there on the side of the road.

I used to bartend back in the day and would often have bartending nightmares. I still have a restaurant dream every now and again too to be honest. You know the ones, restaurant friends, where the ticket printer just keeps printing and printing and you’re making drinks as fast as I can but nothing is in the right spot and on top of that there were new people coming in the bar and sitting in dirty areas and needing menus and why are they ordering drinks I never heard of and where are all of these people coming from anyway hahaha If you have ever worked at a bar or restaurant, you have definitely had one of those dreams…

My dreams about feeding the dogs was similar. I kept feeding the dogs and feeding the dogs, but they kept coming and coming. I’d feed a group and turn around and there was another group that needed to be fed and then I’d turn around again and there were more entering the area. So many hungry dogs that needed to eat! It was interesting though, because in my dream, I never ran out of food. I was never stressed out. No matter how many dogs showed up, I fed them all.


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