We screened the film Speciesism KhulaManch recently. It got me thinking about how we (Homo Sapiens) as a species have always considered ourselves a more evolved of the species, above all else, when we are on the path of complete self destruction currently.
In one of the systems we take rebirths till we are born as human beings and evolve enough to be enlightened which is when we no longer require to be reborn. If we do wrong we are reborn as a lesser being till we show progress. Further still, if one rescued a dog and brought it home and fed it, made sure it is warm and cozy there will be people who be really irked. They will be like, “There are 100s of human beings out there, dying of cold and hunger, you don’t get them home, do you?” How can you be compassionate to a lesser being and not feel for the fellow beings. One of my friends, says she likes animals better for many reasons. They are faithful, don’t bite the hand that feeds them or simply that human beings are the most evil of the beings. I am not sure I have figured an answer. Why am I even revisiting this rather inconvenient thought process? Below is an incident that still haunts me…
We are on a vacation in Wayanad, at an organic farm, where a couple is trying to restore a forest, conserving Rare, Endangered & Threatened Species (RETS). Visit Forest First Samithi to learn more about their work. Amidst the work on the farm, amazing food, stay in a mud house and some chores we run into this situation, one is happy to avoid. We are driving on this road and we notice a pup almost run across the road. There is a bike halted with a couple looking at the situation. We parked our car a little ahead.
We went to the spot to find 4 pups, one dead and the rest hopping around, clueless and frail. They looked like they were starving. The spot looked impossible to reach without being run over a vehicle. We wondered if there is a mother that would have gone looking for food. One of my friends checked the dead dog and figured it was cold and stiff. I haven’t seen too many dead bodies, not a single human dead body, so was slightly disturbed with all this. He deduced that the pup must be dead for quite some bit. Didn’t make sense for the mother to be away that long from starving pups. They looked no older than a month and couldn’t fend for themselves. Made a few calls to friends who might be able to advise if we should leave the pups there or take them with us, help _rescue_ them.
Meanwhile, 3 young boys walk by and get curious. Our friend who is a local, called some tribals to check if they could take care of the pups, but in vain. The young boys told us that there were around 8 of them and they have been around for a day or two. We figure the mother is not coming back. They correct us. It is usual that such pups are discarded at a distance as people are getting annoyed with the dog menace. The pups were good as dead on that spot. I wondered, “Evolved, my foot. How f$$ked are we as a species???” We have ruined the balance in nature and now we don’t up the situation. The easiest way to fix dog menace is to manage your waste (think meat shops), more on that in another post. Back to this situation. So now, there is nowhere these dogs are wanted in Wayanad to our knowledge. It is a cyst the dogs will not last if we leave them on that spot. Taking them to Bangalore was an option my good friend considering. The last time he rescued a stray dog he was hoping to foster a month, but he and his wife couldn’t find a person to the adopt this local breed. They raised the dog for 3 years before they found a land good to let go that dog, who was _part_of_the_family_. Now they are faced 3 such _unwanted_ pups. In my head, I am thinking if we should be migrating pups, the problem, from Wayanad to Bangalore. I also wondered if my thought of ecological balance was an escapist thought. I thought if we let the pups in the forest nearby nature would takes its course – they would either survive be eaten which would be ok. We did not have the heart to leave the dogs there. Seeing one dead pup there we knew what fate awaited them. My friend’s estimate was that the pups are a month old and will not be able to fend for themselves. My estimate was next 20-30 minutes they will get run over if left there. There was no signal to check with the Bangalore friend for any local contacts. After a lot of meditation, my friend said let’s leave them here. The look on his face made it clear it was a tough decision. We were getting late and didn’t want to keep our host waiting. When we started walking one of the pups started following me on the road. My friend walked back and decided we should at least we should move them across the road a little into the forest. While we walked towards this clearing in the forest my friend was wondering if we should take one of the pups to Bangalore. I was like it is not right to take just one, I hate playing God and making such choices. We just walked across a stream so they don’t run to the road. The pups were looking very scared and continued to follow us. I turned around and took a last pic to remind myself about this choice. We cleaned our feet in the stream as the area was swampy. The pups stopped at a distance. One of them squealed. I didn’t want to look back but I did. The three looked askance and my heart sank. This is not one of the fairy tales that ends well. We got in the car and drove off.
None of us spoke for quite a bit, shaken by the experience. We were told that dogs/pups are discarded like this often. We knew just taking one set of pups wouldn’t solve anything. We also knew if the people taking these dogs don’t neuter them then there will be more issues. But we were not at peace. We went to a place to eat a snack. The thought about the pups dissolved in our chit chat. Once I reached home I saw a message from the Bangalore friend that there is a govt place where they can take the dogs but the concerned person was in Bangalore. Wayanad district is huge and we were not sure this place would be. Going back didn’t seem like an option. We have gotten back to the mud house. I am thinking I should I write about it as I want to be able to look back and figure if we made a good choice. The trouble is the chill outside makes me wonder what happened to the pups. I conveniently avoid the thought. I wonder why can’t I catch a break even on a vacation!!!
The next day my friend spotted 2 of the pups again when pass the road. They looked fine. I was like why did you not pick them? Again the thought of taking them to Bangalore passed my friend’s mind, he admitted. He decided otherwise. I was like we now have a local contact we could have helped. He was like I have made a decision and I did like to respect it and not ponder if that’s right or wrong. Just be with it. This was beyond me!
In the whole episode I was required to do very little, perhaps just shut my trap. I didn’t need to take care of the pups, may be a call or two to find a home. That’s about it and yet I was not keen on taking the pups back. My friend who had to bear all responsibility chose otherwise. A tough decision. I still feel guilty about not wanting to help. I hope in future we take decisions more instinctively, like animals. If there is a boat with your lover, a granny and a little kid. Who would you save? Now let’s change the equation and put your pet on the boat instead of the granny. Would it count? Could you just go ahead and save one without much thought, calculation, etc?
I live with the thought and wonder what my reaction to this would be a few years from now. That we shall see…