Street dogs are often labelled wild and mangy and the idea of adopting one, completely daunting. In truth the animals are loving and smart, as Laura and Zaid discovered when welcoming street dogs into their homes.
Looking down from his balcony Zaid Moosa watched ‘Lady Babous’, the street dog, disappearing into a gutter to feed and protect her tiny eight puppies. Her efforts were futile. Within weeks all but one had died. It was at dusk on a hot day that the remaining pup, Nausicaä, bounded up the stairs having decided to be adopted into Zaid’s family.
She is one of the lucky stray dogs with a safe home, ample food, and security.
Only 19% of street dogs survive to breeding age. “The streets are incredibly dangerous. Dogs are poisoned, kicked and too often malnourished,” said Laura Wheeler, foster mother to ‘Lucky’ the former stray.
After moving into a quiet street in Sanchaung, Laura joined the community in feeding the local dogs.
There was one dog who took a particular liking to her. He’d sleep on her doorstep and bounding up for a cuddle at every opportunity.
Last May the dog disappeared leaving the street a lonely place. It took three days for him to return with a horrendous injury. “The locals said he’d been sleeping when a car ran over his leg and left him for dead,” said Laura.
To get to a vet he needed transportation by taxi and it took the whole community working together to corner the terrified dog.
Today ‘Lucky’ Laura’s dog, is pain-free, but that’s after four surgeries, months of hospital care, being paralysed for weeks and finally, amputation.
During his recovery, Laura adapted her lifestyle and family to enable the disabled dog to feel comfortable at home.
But the cat hated him, the puppy adored him too much, and it was clear household dynamic was unworkable. Lucky needed to leave.
“Street dogs are extremely intelligent, as only the smartest and luckiest dogs survive,” said Zaid.
Lady Babous’s, playfulness was a joy to observe. Every night she’d sneak across the road into another gang’s territory to play with her new friend, and so came to life the tiny Nausicaä.
Lady Babous made no fuss when her one remaining puppy left her care and disappeared up Zaid’s stairs.
Even so, safe in her new home Nausicaä hasn’t forgotten mom’s survival lessons, and number one is that Food Is Life.
“I had a Golden Retriever growing up and part of their training was to give them a bowl, then take it away, so the dog isn’t defensive about food.”
“I’d started food training Nausicaä. At first she was tense and over the weeks she became anxious and snarly”.
In desperation, Zaid sort professional advice and the problems resolved. “I had it all wrong, it turns out it was me who needs training.”
At dinner Zaid now sits and pats Nausicaä. Food is now a pleasant and intimate time.
Nausicaä life is settled and there’s been the best news for Lucky.
Lucky is soon moving to Bahan, to live in a house with a huge backyard, a sister street dog and a whole new family.
As Myanmar adapts to a new world of pet ownership there’s a strong call. “Don’t buy a husky – an Arctic dog. Please if you are looking for a pet; adoption is best,” said Zaid.