By Sharon St Joan
In 2004, on the day before Christmas, a catastrophe swept across the Indian Ocean, a tsunami that killed around 250,000 people. Countless animals also lost their lives.
Thanks to the immense dedication of animal groups in India and in other countries, thousands of animals were saved.
On December 26, 2004, four ambulances from Blue Cross of India headed south along the coast to save as many animals as they could. Each ambulance brought 2,000 liters of water and was equipped as a mobile vet clinic to treat injured animals in the devastated villages of the Kanchipuram, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts.
Public officials in these districts, Gagandeep Singh Bedi and J. Radhakrishnan, were grateful that someone was thinking of the animals, and they offered all the help they could. Mrs. Bhargavi Devendra, Honorary Secretary of the South India Red Cross instructed her chapters all along the coast to be on the lookout for animals in need of help. They did so, letting Blue Cross coordinator, Shanti Shankar – who during those hectic days lived and worked fulltime at the Blue Cross shelter – know where to pick up stranded animals – and in this way, rescue teams were able to reach thousands of cows, goats, chickens, and dogs.
People working with Red Cross and the Indian Bank opened their homes for Blue Cross rescuers to stay in and helped in many other ways.
Temporary fencing was set up for rescued cows near where they were found, and they were given food and water until their owners could come for them.
In the town of Vailankanni, right beyond the beautiful cathedral there, three one-week old puppies, their eyes still closed, were handed to a Blue Cross worker. Sadly, their mother, who had been tethered, did not survive, nor did their human family who had lived in a house quite close to the beach. The three puppies were swept inland on the waves, landing on top of a tall hedge and, amazingly, were still alive when a kind villager spotted them. He took care of them until Blue Cross rescuers arrived.
Dr. Chinny Krishna, one of the Founders of Blue Cross, recalls seeing the three tiny puppies right after they were turned over to Blue Cross in Vailankanni. A week later they had arrived back in Madras, and were taken first to the very large Blue Cross shelter. Because of the magnitude of the emergency, the shelter was at that time critically understaffed and overcrowded. So the three little puppies, who needed special feeding and care, were moved to Dr. Krishna’s factory, Aspick – a specialized factory with a global reputation. There, the three puppies were not alone, since Dr. Krishna has always invited street dogs to live on the grounds of his factory (his family house is also home to a dozen rescued dogs).
The three puppies were handfed by Mani, a longtime employee, and the other factory workers, who all love the dogs.
Two of the puppies were quickly adopted by Mr. Shashi Nair, then Editor of the magazine Buisness Line.
That left one puppy who the factory workers called Tsunami. Her name stuck and she grew up in the factory – much loved and well cared for. In fact, she ran the factory, or at least the dog brigade. She was the alpha dog of the whole team and kept everyone in line.
Now, thirteen years later, Tsunami has slowed down a bit. Having stepped down from her post as alpha dog – another dog is now in charge – Tsunami enjoys napping a bit more – sometimes .
Tsunami’s eyesight isn’t quite as good as it was, but her hearing seems fine. She’s had a tumor on her chest that’s been treated twice, but she seems to be doing okay. She spends time hanging out with Tyag, the CEO of one of the group companies of Aspick.
A lot of her time is spent inside in the conference room – attending important meetings. At noon, she joins the workers for lunch, and then goes up to Dr. Krishna’s office to have a chapatti (Indian bread).
Her job now is giving a happy greeting to all the factory visitors – and at night, she still keeps a protective, wary eye out for any intruders who shouldn’t be there.
Soon, Tsunami will need a bit more shelter and some extra care, so Blue Cross is building her a house at their big shelter at Guindy. There she’ll have lots of company – community dogs who live on the streets can live a long time, and there are others who need a house too, as they slow down and get a bit older. (Blue Cross has run a spay-neuter program for street dogs – the oldest such continuing program in the world – since 1964.)
Tsunami is looking forward to a lot of delightful naps in the shade during her retirement.
To help give Tsunami and her friends their new house, click here to donate!
Tsunami and her friends will send you lots of grateful hugs!
Top photo: Tsunami
Second photo: Tsunami with a friend
© text and photos, Sharon St Joan, 2017