THE INSPIRING STORY OF KARIYA – A COMMUNITY PET WHO TAUGHT ME RESILIENCE

Many of us would have come across a common fixture in our locality – that of the Indian Mongrel. Sometimes referred to as “Strays” because they don’t belong to any one home, they are taken care of by a few animal-loving members of the neighborhood. We too had a community dog called Kariya, who we buried a year ago. 

When I moved into the apartment complex in 2013, Kariya and his sister were prominent members of the community. It was clear that they were born within the compound; probably their mother was brought in by the construction crew as is a common practice. They were approximately 2 years old at that time. While his sister was friendly and trusting, Kariya was always wary of humans. His sister passed away suddenly in 2014 after eating something poisonous. He lived on for another 6 years and passed away a year ago, today.

Kariya was very different from the other community dogs that I have come across. His mistrust of humans was deep-rooted, maybe because of some trauma during his childhood. He had this knack for identifying people even at a distance and adapting accordingly. He would go into the “stealth” mode whenever he spotted the guards or someone who did not like him, merging himself so well into the surroundings that you could pass within one feet of him and not realize that there was a full-grown dog there. It was because of this that he was sometimes fondly referred to as “Shadow”. 

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While he was never the tail-wagging kind, he did not run away from people who liked him and sometimes even allowed a few the privilege of sharing his space – always at a few feet’s distance. After years of meeting him daily and letting him choose his space, he had started allowing us to sit next to him – but never touch him. My pet dog Scotty too seemed to accept him and freely shared his treats during our morning meets.

Kariya was the exemplary example of community living, practicing the “Live & Let Live” philosophy. So much so that many people did not even realize that we had a resident community dog for over 10 years. He quietly went about his business every day, snoozing for the most part of the day in different chosen spots like the cool mud of the lawn, the shade of the pergola or a friendly parking space. He never chased or attacked the spirited kids, residents or their pet dogs. He was also self-toilet-trained in the sense that he would do his business only inside the bushes and never on the lawns or pathways. 

His romps outside the compound resulted in many injuries. But he was a thorough fighter. Once, his front leg was severely injured. I was out of town when it must have happened and upon return, I became worried when I didn’t see him for 2 days in his usual spots. After searching the 24-acre property, we found him in a corner of the basement. His leg was in a bad way and it looked like a vehicle had run over him. It took a lot of coaxing and the help of professional dog catchers to secure him and temporarily house him at an NGO so that a vet could treat him on a daily basis. Initial diagnosis hinted at an amputation. However, we did not want to give up hope and make a hasty decision as it meant that the quality of his life would be compromised. The community came together and pitched in for his treatment. Kariya too proved he was a fighter and showed great cooperation with the surgery and recovery. After multiple surgeries and a month-long recuperation at the NGO, a very plump and healthy Kariya returned to his home, albeit with a slight limp initially. He went on to live a peaceful life for another 3 years and passed away due to cancer. I am sure he is now running freely in a better world across the rainbow bridge.

Here are a few life lessons that Kariya taught me

  1. Life is beautiful when you learn to co-exist because it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around.
  2. Establish your boundaries and respect those of the others.
  3. Take it easy. Chill in the warmth of the sun – it can do wonders to your well being.
  4. Be resilient – there is nothing that can’t be achieved if you put your mind to it.
  5. Be wise when you choose your friends.
  6. Learn to trust your instincts.

If you are a caregiver to a community animal, here are a few tips you can follow

  1. Understand that the animal belongs to the community and enlist the help of like-minded fellow residents. You cannot bring it up alone.
  2. Make the effort to win people over. Remember, not everyone likes or understands animals. It does not make them bad people – just ones with different viewpoints from yours. Some battles can be won without arguments and animosity.
  3. Take the initiative to ensure that the animal is vaccinated. This not only keeps it healthy but also prevents the spread of diseases to other pets within the community.
  4. Similarly, get the animal neutered to avoid breeding and adding to the stray population.
  5. Keep the surroundings clean so that it does not become a nuisance to other residents, some of whom may not be animal-friendly.
  6. Keep yourself updated about the laws – both of the community as well as the government.

Do you also take care of community animals? What are your experiences and advice? Would love to hear from you!

 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events.

60 Comments

  1. Beautifully written!
    So sad that these beautiful, loving creature have to suffer so much in hidden silence.
    The image of him hiding in some corner of the basement with his leg injury just broke my heart.
    He was lucky to have all of you who took care of him. Imagine the lakhs who suffer without any love and care and pass away on pain.
    💔
    Animals deserve so much better. 😢

    RIP Kariya.
    I never knew you, but I love you ❤️

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  2. Well written Vasu!
    Kariya lived on his terms and was lucky to have humans who cared for him.
    We have two strays who own our street, one of whom is a cancer survivor. A couple of us pitched in for her operation and the post operative care, She kept falling ill for a few months after that but has recovered well. As you said it is really nice if a few like minded people in the street decide to care for the strays in which case most of them will not go hungry.

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  3. Heartwarming and inspiring vasu. I always feel gifted or rather lucky to be able to understand these loving ones and give them the little comforts which v could afford.The happiness v get from their indefinite love is something to be felt and feel blessed……RIP Karina😘😘

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  4. Yes animals taught us so many beautiful life lessons in simple way. and I am amazed with your observation regarding kariya’s behavior and non trust issue with human. end tips were really useful to raise a community pet.

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  5. This post is filled with warmth and love. Animas (let me cake them “mook prani”- thats what we term in Marathi) teach us so many things. Who says that they don’t have civic sense? Kariya is an example of that.

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  6. Beautifully narrated…we missed to meet the holy spirit in our community but hope wherever the great soul is – he is happy…God bless all my voiceless friends a happy and healthy life….Amen

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  7. Karia… Shadow…

    How synonymous… means the same as Shawdows are always seen in Black! Bodily he lies buried in Mother Earth and is also buried deep in our thoughts with many a pleasant memory.  He lives on and stays as our Shadow till we are bur…

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  8. Very touching post indeed. Your love for Kariya is evident in every line you composed. We also had a stray that adopted us. He name was Kaali. She was a mixed breed and her owners had left her in the colony when they moved. Kaali adopted us. She will scratch our doors for sleeping inside at 3 am in the morning after she had completed her night shift of howling at other dogs in the locality. In a good mood, she we let us bathe her, and she sometimes would show her affection by licking my feet. Municipal workers caught her to get her vasectomised. Something went wrong. Kaali died of internal bleeding. She was a good dog.

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    1. Oh that is indeed unfortunate. ABC programs done by agencies on contract from Municipality….a few of them are very careless. There are no clear & stringent laws for stray/community dogs that will help us fight for them. RIP Kaali!

  9. Beautifully written Vasu… Kariya was such an amazing independent animal requiring so little. The love and care and trust which he grew to have was amazing.
    The life messages learnt were so apt..

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  10. Such a beautiful post Vasu. I got to know about him through u. He we indeed a quite soul. Never troubled anyone. He is free and happy now I am sure. God bless u for taking care of him. He definitely knows he was loved

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  11. Very well written, Kariya like community pets never get a eulogy.. you’ve honoured him with beautiful instances and learning’s.

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  12. Beautifully written post with great message. I loved your life lessons and agree with them totally. Animals are the great teachers and are more loving and giving than humans.

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  13. Saddened to know about this dog. But felt nice to read about it. We too have two community dogs which stay in our neighborhood and all the neighbours take good care of their food and shelter, never mess the surrounding and also guard at night. Usually never let the outsiders enter. I remember a few days back one of them got severe infection but survived due to proper medication. Your tips are going to help. Thank you.

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  14. I am sorry but I am no pet lover. But my daughter recently adopted an Indie stray., named Vodka And i must say that she loves her to distraction. She is a great stress-buster for her and I am very happy about that.

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  15. This is heart-warming! You have presented Kariya so beautifully. I have never read a post before that describes qualities, learnings, and shares a message from a community animal’s life. Kudos!

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  16. Wow, Kariya is very lucky I would say. Since mostly the communities will never agree to support the local animals. It happened with our local dog called Brownie and now only we take care of all his treatment and expenses.

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  17. Your love for Kariya shows in every word written here. Sometimes animals teach us values and principles that humans can just dream of. Very heart wrenching post and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  18. That is such a beautiful naration. I love dogs I always feel that they have greater lessons to teach us than any human can. I have many strays that I take care of and there are a few Kariyas in that. Loved your article.

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  19. Honestly, I am not an animal lover, but surely a person who owns responsibility towards every stray animal’s well-being. The story of Kariya and his well-behaved manner literally made me cry. What wonderful lessons he made us learned through his life.

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  20. Very touching one. Learning something from pet is really wow. I am not so cool type animal lover, i dont want to pet them but still i feel no one should harm them. Everyone must know their responsibility towards stray animals. Yours is a great post.

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  21. This was such a lovely post. I am all for adoption than buying. It breaks my heart too see pedigreed dogs left on the streets by the owners when they move. And those were great life lessons. Reminded me of my own Sandy who was quite a diva otherwise.

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  22. You remind me of a dearest friend of mine. She is a animal lover and does everything to support the community to raise pets and so called strays. She once found a little kitten at her building gate injured by some vehicle and though she was a dog person all her life she adopted that little kitten immediately. She called me up and we arranged everything for her. She is the one who taught me all the tips that you just mentioned above. you should be sharing more about it. nowadays we all want to have pets and your tips and guidance could come in handy ! – urvashi

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  23. God bless you and we need more communities like these; we also pet few darlings in our colony compounds and they are our family now. God bless Kariya’s soul, such a fighter ! I wish each one of us; could reciprocate love to these beautiful angels on earth .

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  24. Animals should be treated with dignity but what about those who roam freely in society and bite your kids . I m an animal lover but it hurts that as society we don’t take responsibility to get them vaccinated .Kariya was amazing dog and fighter. Hope people can start vaccinating stray dogs and let them co-exist

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  25. What a heart-touching narration Vasu. I must say Kariya was indeed very special. Dogs do teach us all so many things in life. It’s always so painful, after you loose your pet. Despite of being a community dog, Kariya has carved a special corner in your heart. The ending tips are so useful. Thanks for introducing us to Kariya.

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  26. Animals also teach us the life lessons , if we obserb them deeply. Yes, in my strèet there are four dogs and everyone in our society take care of them. Oñce a dog fell ill so we call the doctor and he treated that ill dog. These stray animals see us as a member and takes the responsibility to take care the street where we live.

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  27. Hi vasumathi
    I was very you touched by your narrative. I would like to meet you. Please let me know when it is convenient for you.
    Vasanthi

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Vasumathi

Vasumathi

Blogger, Content Creator, Knowledge Facilitator, Hobby Photographer & Mom To A Naughty Dalmatian.