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Idly Goes to America by Tracy Ann Curtis

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. — Mahatma Gandhi

It’s hard to believe that I have lived in India for a decade. And while I have seen and experienced many of the remarkable changes across Bangalore during this timeframe, there sadly remains one constant: the distressing stray dog situation.

Despite the well-intended efforts I witness on almost a daily basis, more needs to be done. I believe that each of us can do something small each day to start to shift the fate of the Indian stray dog.

How to Shift the Fate

075Organizations like CUPA: http://www.cupabangalore.org/ make it possible for each of us to easily get involved and take better care of our stray dog neighbours. One call to CUPA and someone from the organization will meet you to collect the stray dog or cat and ensure they are neutered or spayed. There is no charge to you to do this – all you have to do is meet the CUPA representative when they come to collect the animal and meet them again when the drop the four-legged friend back off in the same location.

Did you know that a dog or cat can have somewhere between five to eight litters in her lifetime, producing multiple puppies at a time. One phone call to CUPA has impact!

You can also informally sponsor a dog or cat. By sponsoring the animal you commit to feeding them on a daily basis. To keep them healthy you can call a local vet to come and administer annual vaccinations. And if possible, I also like to find an open area in the garage where the animal can hide to avoid the monsoon downpours.

One highly recommended Veterinarian is Dr. T. Papanaik, V.V.Sc., M.V.Sc, from Precise Pet Clinic, Indranigar, Bangalore. Dr. Naik and his son Dr. Champak Naik are exceptionally compassionate and have been active in treating and caring for many stray dogs andcats.

Commit to Action

I have seen and know many activists committed to the health and well-being of stray dogs. My assistant Rajan, and my cook Esther feed approximately 50 dogs a day. Esther prepares the food and Rajan delivers it to each of the dogs on a daily basis. Rajan will also organize puppies needing to be neutered or spayed as required. And, about a dozen of these dogs receive all the necessary vaccinations on an annual basis thanks to Rajan working with CUPA and Dr. Naik. The most joyful intervention was finding and picking up my own dog Idly in Indranigar.

Bringing Idly Home For Lunch

IMG_0024My dog Idly has traveled a long way since being found as a little black and white bundle in the middle of 100 Foot Road. She could have easily been killed or injured as the traffic was typical and she was alone – sadly no sign of a mum or other pups. She was shaking, afraid, and a dirty mess. When I saw her, I immediately jumped out of my car and without thinking put her into my gym bag. She was little – less than 1kg.

I called my friend Amit to tell him that I was “bringing someone home for lunch” and he knew immediately that I was talking about a dog! He asked me, “Just one?” – afraid that I had befriended an entire litter.
 Dr. Naik told us the pup was about five weeks old and that her eyes had just opened. He gave her the appropriate vaccinations and suggested ways to care for her as she settled into the rhythm of our life.

We named this little female puppy Idly.

It’s been a long journey since 100 Foot Road as today Idly is in America!

Her first flight was from Bangalore to San Francisco via Frankfurt. She landed safely after being in cargo for over 28 hours. Upon landing in California she immediately visited friends in Half Moon Bay and took her first sunset beach walk. She then visited the vineyards in Napa Valley, and the beaches in Carmel. She also spent American Independence Day, The Fourth of July, at the Westin Hotel – where upon arrival, they offered her a down-feather dog bed and organic wheat-free dog treats. Only on the West Coast of America!

Undoubtedly Idly is still trying to figure out what happened since boarding the plane in Bangalore because after a brief visit in the Bay Area, of California, Idly’s second flight was from San Francisco to Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii – where she now lives.

Since arriving in America, she is a curious and easy-going expat. While she misses her walks with Rajan and her home-cooked meals by Esther, she has fun exploring the beaches and hiking trails of the North Shore of Kauai.

Traveling to America took incredible planning and organization, all of which was coordinated by “Dr. Naik” at Precise Pet Clinic. Dr. Naik ensured Idly had the required number of health checks, and given that the state of Hawaii is rabies-free, he also worked with us to have her to pass a Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization (FAVN) test, which measures the response of an animal’s immune system to the rabies vaccine. This FAVN test is required by rabies-free regions in order for dogs (and cats) to qualify for entry into rabies-free states, countries and/or regions. It’s truly a miracle that Idly passed all of these tests given her unchartered history as an Indian street dog. And because she passed all of these tests, she was fortunately released at the airport as a healthy Kauai canine visitor and soon to be resident.

Amit and I have had many breed dogs and we agree that none have been as adaptable, playful, curious and clever as Idly. She is healthy and sporty. She can figure things out and anticipate situations (although we doubt she knew what was happening when she boarded her first flight), which means her high-energy nature also keeps us alert and challenged.

Given that Idly spent the first weeks of her life on the streets of Bangalore, she continues to be more nervous than most dogs, yet with lots of affection she is learning how to trust, adapt and relax. Essential for all of us.

People often ask us about Idly’s breed – commenting on the curl in her tail, her long lean body, and her proud stance. We share her story and all agree she is a lucky dog, although we like to think of ourselves as the lucky ones. Adopting Idly was a simple act that has made us smile and laugh each and every day. She reminds us how to play, be grateful, adapt and trust.

Our one wish is that all of us can find a way to take care of just one stray Indian street dog. Because each of us has an impact on how stray animals are treated.


Dr. Naik can be reached at: +91 9845172689
[email protected]
Address: #485 & #485/A, 8th cross, Leevan Bheema Nagar Main Road – Near 80ft Road,
Indiranagar, HAL 3rd stage, Bangalore (Phone: +91 9845172689 (080) 25213048).

His son is Dr.Champak Naik B.V.Sc., vet and Animal Behaviour expert can be reached at: +91 9900001562 / [email protected]

Written by Tracy Ann Curtis

Tracy Ann Curtis – www.tac-global.net – has lived in Bangalore, India since 2004. She and Amit Heri www.amitheri.com have taken care of many stray street dogs over the years and are committed to making a difference whenever than can. Tracy Ann and Amit shuttle between Jayamahal, Bangalore and Kauai, Hawaii, USA with the company of their sweet dog Idly.