One morning a little more than 3 months back I get a call from friend Ranjan. He asks me if I know of any Social Media forums for Caravan Hounds and he tells me that some students have rescued an abandoned Caravan Hound, he also added that she looks just like Magic, However she is in a bad shape due to dog bites and she has hundreds of ticks on her body. I said; Please, send me some snaps asap, I would like to have a look. The snaps came to me soon enough, I had a quick look at them and forwarded them to partner who was in another country…. asking her What do you think ? Partner is a silent supporter of animal rescue causes. She said let’s take her in for now & then see how it goes. Will M & M give her an entry ticket ? How will the new one react to M & M ? Will we the human companions actually be able to give the time to all three of them. Financially can we manage all the added expenses ? There were so many questions.
In the meantime I shared the snaps with a friend in our neighborhood, he is Nikhil and he is very knowledgeable about Caravan Hounds & Saluki’s. He said he had seen this dog a couple of times and once stopped his car and tried to catch her, however he couldn’t because packs of street dogs were chasing her. He also added that the dog looks “good” & needs to be rescued. Since that came from a known Hound expert, I took his word. He also said if managing three dogs is going to be difficult, he can definitely find a home for her. In the evening my friends called me back again to check out if I want to come and have a look at the dog. I said there is no need, just bring her to our home.
As soon as they reached I went down to receive them with M & M. Mia had a look at her & looked away, whereas Magic was very eager to go closer to this dog and smell her. She was shivering in fear and as Magic came closer to her she snapped at him. I without any hesitation took the new one and she followed the smells and walked straight up to our door, had some water and within 5 minutes has collapsed into a deep slumber. In the meantime we were thinking what to call her, after some suggestions from son, nephew & partner we settled for “Laila”. Credits for this name goes to another Caravan Hound companion and friend Keshav, who also has a Laila.
During our first few walks it was easy to realize that even though Laila was very weak, she was a fighter. Surviving on the streets of India isn’t for the faint hearted. She was afraid, she was malnourished, She had bucket loads of muck & grime on her body, must have been sleeping in gutters. Ticks kept reappearing on her body everywhere. The Vet had a look at her and said she is malnourished and underweight, let her recover first then we can give her all the required vaccines. I thought of giving her a bath myself, but she was so dirty & mucky, I thought I wouldn’t be able to clean her properly. Actually it was not only the cleaning job, but one needed to get the ticks & fleas out of her. So I took her to our neighbourhood dog & cat Spa. Shona and her enthusiastic co-workers spend more than an hour in getting Laila clean. First time I saw the use of a vacuum cleaner on a dog, not only just to dry her, but also to remove the fleas/ticks. With all the parasites out her body, as we walked back home, one could see a marked change in her, there was a small spring in her step.
It took a while to establish some trust. The first couple of days when I tried to put a tablet down her throat she would growl and try to snap at me, from the third day she started to let me put her tablets down her throat. She was having three full meals a day, then again suddenly she became weak & was refusing food. A visit to the Vet and a blood test confirmed that she was having “Tick Fever”. As she was recovering from Tick Fever she started her periods and a Cytology swab test told us the exact dates when she would be receptive and more importantly the days when we have to keep Magic separate. Also when she went to her heat cycle she became moody and temperamental especially with Magic & Mia. Mia just couldn’t stand the sight of Laila & Magic was quite frustrated that we kept him away from Laila, to add to the pandemonium Laila was having a go at both of them. Somehow we pulled through that difficult period.
When Laila came to us in early Oct 2016, in my mind I had given 3 months to see how everything will go. Would Laila be happy with us ? Magic & Mia came to us as pups, so we grew together with them, whereas Laila is an adult dog, would she be able to understand our communications with her and vice versa. Now that 3 months have passed, one can take an emotionally detached observations about all that has happened.
About Laila the general impression is that she is about a year and a half old. A few clues can be taken from her body postures and general behavior with other people and other animals
- She was kept tied up for long periods in a small enclosed space
- In her enclosed space there may have been a wall of around 4ft, where she would stand on her hind legs and manage to catch a glimpse of the outside world. I am saying that because she can stand up on her hind legs like a “Meerkat”, actually it is not natural for a hound to be able to balance on their two hind legs like Laila
- She was beaten up quite a bit by humans and her body language shows that she is scared of people. In a likelihood of any conflict; dogs with confidence do make themselves look taller and bigger & the tail will never go between their legs (Magic is an expert in this tactic), Laila was actually making herself smaller and lowering herself
- She was not given proper food & nutrition, actually she was starved and malnourished, so her growth as a pup got messed up & retarded.
- The reasons for indifferent looking tail : When she wanted food or if she wanted to do her toilet jobs, or if she was waiting for some human to come & take her out of her loneliness she was made to wait for long periods of time and while waiting she would assume the straight sitting position for long periods of time. Actually hounds find it very uncomfortable to sit straight for a long time, so they actually don’t sit on their hind legs for not more than a couple of minutes. The fact Laila was made to sit for long periods in waiting for some morsel of food can be seen from the unnatural shape of her tail
- In her frustrated state she must have bitten people a couple of times and that must be when her so-called human companions must have decided to abuse her more, however she must have got a chance to escape & she decided to run away
- She has lived & survived for a while on the streets. You can see her gravitating to any dustbins when we walk, which showed that she used to scavenge a lot for food
- She cannot tolerate any other dog (other than Magic & Mia), she can bite really nasty, which means she has had absolutely no socialization & also has had quite bitter experiences while living on the streets
- She doesn’t know what PLAY is, that she can run with us, poke us, nibble us, allow us to chase her, to fetch things, chase each other, talk/communicate with us humans. During her first couple of months if anyone of us decided to lie down next to her, she would get up and go away, looking very puzzled
If we put together the above in “human vocabulary” then Laila is a victim of Child Abuse.
After 3 months we can see that her journey to recovery has really begun. Her health has improved, she has become quite a strong dog, she responds beautifully to all four of us (her human companions), between Magic & Laila a lot of play has started to happen, between Laila & Mia there is much more tolerance, her body language has also improved dramatically, she stands up much more upright, even though she has started to trust humans more, she guards her territory like her own fortress, she runs like a wind, if a squirrel or a cat comes in her way, then one can see the eruption of the lightning speed which is so synonymous of sight hounds.
If we were restricted to the confines of our apartment, it would have been impossible to integrate an adult (hound) dog within our lives because of Magic & Mia. These two have a very close bonding and a terrific communication with each other. They are a strong team. Within the space limitation of an apartment with Laila’s entry, egos would have clashed & clashed very badly indeed. Right from the beginning I had noticed Laila enjoys the car drives, standing near the window and soaking in the chaos outside. She is always ready to go out, has a sense of adventure, has a maverick streak in her.So, going back & forth between our farm and our apartment in the city was not going to be a problem. More importantly, staying on the farm for extended periods really helped to thaw a lot of those ego clashes. Now every time we come back from our stay in the farm, we can see about 10% improvement in their relationships
Lets hope the trend continues
From dawn to dusk she is really active and keeps great vigil on every movement.
And if one assumes that she will be tired & collapse to sleep in the night, then she proves one wrong. There is no half measures from her, nor any sluggishness from her as she patrols her territory brilliantly. She has really taken the onus on herself as a working dog & is making her presence felt in a serious manner.
Peace & Love