CUPA: A-dog-tion

On 25th November, seven year old Teddy found a new family after his year and a half stint at the second-chance adoption centre he had learned to call home. Like many of the other dogs at this centre, Teddy was a trauma rescue case. He’d been rescued in Kerala by animal welfare worker Sushma Prabhu, who sent him over to Bangalore, where Teddy found his way to the capable hands of Sanjana Madappa and the rest of her team at the CUPA Second Chance Adoption Centre. A part of the trauma and neglect that Teddy had faced included maggots that had eaten away at his entire left hind paw. The entire pad of the paw was missing, and when he came to the centre his bone was actually sticking out of his foot. Amputation was required, but as Sanjana described it, “this boy’s a miracle kid”. He recovered well enough, and for anyone who has visited the centre in the past year, he’s been a common, lively face there.

Teddy became the office guard dog at CUPA, as he could most often be found sitting in the office with centre manager Osha Shetty. He’s an intelligent, reliable dog, and once you earn his trust you can be sure that he’ll remain protective of you. Guarding the office as he did brought some aggressive Rottweiler instincts to the surface, however, and they worked with a trainer to ensure that those could be kept in check. Teddy’s fierce loyalty meant that he sometimes showed aggression towards anyone who he thought was a threat to one of his loved ones, and occasionally he had bitten people out of mere pent up energy and enthusiasm. He was more wary about males, but the training helped to make him far better behaved even with strangers. He had to be specially conditioned, and trained to be comfortable with a muzzle, and while all the regular CUPA volunteers were involved in this training it was Osha’s pet project. She describes her relationship with Teddy, saying “I can put my hand in his bowl, pull his chew toys from him, pet him while he eats… now that he’s so comfortable with me, Teddy would never bite or be aggressive towards me.”

When Teddy’s adoptive family first came to the Centre, they were unclear about what sort of dog they wished to go home with. When they finally did express an interest in Teddy, there was much discussion on whether the pairing would work, but in the end it all turned out perfectly. He gets several hours of alone time during the day which suit him just fine, and the family is happy to report that he has got along with all of them very well. He’s even made friends with all the neighbours, and it’s most gratifying to see how this dog with his traumatic past keeps finding new safe spaces and people to love and be loved by.

This is one of the main things that the people at the CUPA Second Chance Adoption Centre aim to do – rescue, rehabilitate and rehome all those dogs who need it. At one time, the Centre can house roughly 28 dogs, although they find themselves overpopulated all the time. Often, they find themselves hearing of cases where dogs could do with rescuing, and as far as possible they don’t turn away anyone in need. Dogs come to them from various sources; those rescued off the side of roads who have escaped from abusive homes, injured dogs in accidents or as a result of neglectful owners, those rejected because they turned out to not be purebred, and some who come from families with pure intent who are unable to house them, for whatever reason. Google, for example, had to be given away as one of his family members ended up having an allergic reaction to his fur, while the St Bernard Po was given up simply because he fell sick and his family could not cope. Dogs like Buddy and Xena have faced traumatic pasts, and over here they have finally learned to trust people once again.

One of the first lessons I learned from the time I have spent at the Adoption Centre is their stand on adoption versus breeding. Many people would assume that both are equally good options, and favour breeding as it ensures them a healthy dog of a good breed – or so they believe. In reality, several breeders are known for mistreating their dogs as they are in the profession for purely monetary means, and we do not think it is fair to put these dogs through the trauma of living in closed quarters and being forced to part with their puppies. Instead, all the dogs at the Centre are neutered or spayed to ensure that they cannot be mistreated by people for this reason ever again, and for those who still favour puppies, the options to adopt are numerous! There is such a vast variety of dogs at the shelter always, that there is never a difficulty for people to find a suitable pet for their family.

Having been to the Centre on numerous occasions, I’m familiar with a lot of the faces I see there, and also have got accustomed to going there and finding that one of them has been adopted. This always hits me with mixed feelings, as I’m incredibly happy for the dog for having found a new home, but struck with the realisation that I’ll never see them again. On thinking about it, I realised how much harder this must be for the daily volunteers and staff.

Osha herself spoke to me on the subject, saying, “it can be hard to say goodbye to dogs you have looked after for a long time. It should be the best part of our job, and sometimes it is, but you miss them a lot when they leave. We often have a lot to say in who gets to go home with whom, and watching them leave with the ideal family really helps soften the blow.” This noble sentiment echoes the entire ideology behind what they do and why they do it.

Further details on the above can be found at:
http://cupabangalore.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvNNRLWZ2Sg

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