Namaste! My name is Crusty, and the amazing humans at Dharamsala Animal Rescue saved my life.
When they found me in January, I was so scared and worried. It was cold and wet, and I was hungry and thin. My skin was very dry and itchy, and I had lost most of my lovely fur which made me colder. Humans didn’t want to touch me because I looked strange and they thought I was dirty or infectious. I felt terrible, all itchy and uncomfortable.
When the rescue van arrived and they picked me up I told myself ‘these humans are good and want to help me’. We drove to their clinic and I saw some really nice vets called Dr Nazneen and Dr Holly. They took skin scrapes to look at under a microscope to find out what was wrong with me. They did some blood work too, gave me my rabies vaccine and some parasite treatment. I got to sleep in a lovely warm kennel with a blanket, with a full tummy, and I finally felt safe.
I heard the humans saying that they had found something on my skin called ‘Demodex’. I wondered what this could be, and quickly found out. Demodex is a mite that lives in hair follicles. It’s not contagious to dogs or humans, which is great news. It’s very common in India as us street dogs have weak immune systems, and we don’t get medicines to prevent parasites because it’s expensive. Plus, we don’t have humans to care for us.
It spreads mostly over our legs and face and it needs quite intensive treatment, so I would be at DAR for a while. I had to have injections of a drug called Ivermectin to help. They gave me antibiotic tablets too, to get rid of any bacterial infections on my skin. They didn’t taste very nice but those nice humans hid them in some yummy meat for me (I hear protein is also important to heal from Demodex — a bonus for me!).
Learning To Trust
For the first week I was very nervous, even though these very special humans were caring for me. I was scared because sometimes humans aren’t nice to dogs and I find it hard to trust them. But when my skin started to get less itchy and moving didn’t feel so uncomfortable anymore, I knew I was getting better and the way they treated me helped me to trust more. I also felt stronger because they gave me plenty of food and I was warm and safe.
Day by day my trust in them grew.
I liked Dr Holly especially, because she spent lots of time with me giving me gentle cuddles and helping me feel more confident. Now we’re friends and I think she loves me. I made very good friends with the other dogs too, especially Champak who is a really fun puppy with only 3 legs. When it rained we snuggled together to keep warm.
My Road To Recovery At DAR
One day I got to have a bath, which was a bit chilly but refreshing, and made my skin feel good. They used some special shampoo which smelt funny, and afterwards they put some coconut oil all over me. Yuk! I looked all greasy, but the humans told me it’s very good for dry skin so I let it slide.
These humans are so amazing and I was very happy at DAR with my new friends. They monitor the Demodex infestation and see if it’s going away, which it is and they say I’m getting better. Apparently I need two negative skin scrapes before they know it’s definitely gone.
I heard the humans saying they thought I once had a home with a family because I was so sweet, and that maybe they got rid of me because I have bad skin and no fur. But I don’t dwell on that now that I have a new temporary home and friends at DAR.
In the end I had to stay at DAR for a few weeks until I finally got better. I heard that Dr Holly was leaving soon and one thing is certain — I would miss her a lot! The day she left we had a special kiss and cuddle. She was very sad and I was too, but I know she’ll remember me. A new nurse called Amber came who was very nice to me too and kept in touch with Dr Holly about me.
It’s very important for us dogs to be loved, feel safe and have humans we can trust because if we’re happy, we can heal.
Back To The Stray Life
I knew I couldn’t stay at DAR forever because they have to rescue lots of dogs like me who need help. It was time to go back to my street home. I was scared because it’s hard to find food sometimes, and the cars and bikes go zooming around. But on the bright side, some humans put out chapatis and rice for us, and now I have my rabies vaccine so I don’t have to be scared of that anymore. I’ll be able to tell my story to all the dogs in my area — I can let them know that if they ever get sick or injured, they can go to DAR too. I’ll be braver now because I learnt how to be confident and how to trust.
I’m so grateful to DAR for how they helped me and I’ll never forget my special friends there. It’s such an incredible place with incredible humans who just love dogs and want to help all of us. When you’re a stray dog on the streets in India, it can be a very dangerous, vulnerable, painful life. It’s like a tiny miracle that places like DAR exist — one that makes a huge difference to the lives of street dogs like me.
Editor: Vaila Erin Bhaumick
Images: Author’s Own