The story of Mia
Few days ago, a stray dog followed us as we walked home from the beach. She seemed scared but decided to trust us and follow us home. We fed her let her take shelter to rest and sleep on our terrace. She was restless at first and would startle at every louder sound, but after a while, she relaxed. She had something funky on her ear so we called the local Dog Care Clinic to see if we can bring her in. They said yes, but a while later, a loud noise from the street scared her and she ran away. I had to teach but my friends went to the clinic to show the photo of her ear so we know what it is and what to do if she shows up again, and they said ‘Oh, that is Mia. She ran away a few days ago’.
This is where the story of Mia starts and of us finding out about the Dog Care Clinic, a wonderful project founded by an amazing woman and run by some incredible people. But, I will get back to that.
We found out Mia still needs some antibiotics and that the funky thing on her ear is medicine and a sponge which needs to be removed. We saw her again on the road and she even followed us to the Shala but couldn’t stay there because of other Shala dogs. We saw her wandering the streets later that night being chased out of every house she would attempt to enter as most have dogs already. She would follow people but most would ignore her as people do when it comes to stray, scruffy dogs. We called her, but she didn't come to us. But yesterday early morning she followed my friend Sanjin from the beach back to the house. We gave her food and water, but what it seemed she needed more than anything again was peaceful shelter where she felt welcome and where she can rest for a while. I had a morning off so I stayed with her and later on, the Clinic employees came to take her.
On my lunch break I went to the Clinic to check on her and spoke to a wonderful Dutch lady who told me about the Clinic and everything they are doing. I asked what happens to Mia now and she told me that, as soon as she gets all her medicine, they will send her back on the street. They are a hospital and can't keep all the strays there. This broke my heart. This little skinny scruffy yellow being already got under my skin and I started to think about the option of taking her home, but then Carla told me about their 50+ sponsorship programme and all I asked was - ‘where do I sign?’.
The story of Dog Care Clinic in Sri Lanka
The DCC (Dog Care Clinic) clinic was founded just over 10 years ago by Marina Mobius, a woman with a big heart who had a dream and made it happen. DCC and its facilities is set on a rather large plot of land and is amazingly clean, well organised and equipped. They run as a dog hospital offering free care for any dog brought to them as most Sri Lankan people don’t have money to care for their dogs. They offer free vaccinations to stop spreading of disease, free neutering and spaying both for dogs with homes and strays. They go around the area in a tuk-tuk every morning to feed the strays and care for those injured or with a disease. There are over two hundred dogs living in the clinic and most of them are ‘special needs’ dogs; some too old to be let out on the street, some injured, some unable to be integrated back on the streets, some are handicapped.
The clinic employs over 40 local people on a full wage and has quite a few foreign volunteers. Besides taking care of thousands of dogs, they are really trying to raise awareness within the local community. After all, it is us, humans who created this problem and now we're pretending its's not ours. The 50+ programme I mentioned and through which I am sponsoring Mia, is a wonderful way of helping both dogs and local community. DCC finds homes for the dogs (who are lucky enough to get sponsored instead of ending up back on the street) with local people who have no income, especially elderly or those over 50 who are virtually unemployable here. Stray dog gets a home, food and lifetime treatment by the Clinic whenever needed, and the family gets a monthly income. It’s a win-win. Each family can take up to three dogs.
If you are a vet student and want to come to Sri Lanka, volunteer at the clinic and learn the trade by doing the work, the DCC provides accommodation and food.
Our Karma yoga project
After hearing all this and making sure Mia will finally, after five years of being a stray dog and going through who knows what, have a home, I decided to share the inspiring story of DCC with my teacher trainees here in Sri Lanka and make it a Karma yoga project, something I almost always do during teacher trainings.
So, today we went to visit and got a full tour by Barbara, one of the vets and volunteers from Austria. We saw the dogs who are getting treated as well as those who stay there full time. All of them were so sweet and friendly and just wanted cuddles. To think that, most of them were hurt by humans and they still trust us... It was an overwhelming and emotional visit for most of us, but we also saw the amazing facilities and wonderful work these people are doing so it was also very inspiring. Now we are raising funds for the DCC and will see how else we can help while here.
Karma yoga, the path of attaining liberation (which is a goal of yoga) through unselfish action, is one of the oldest branches of yoga. It teaches us of selflessness and compassion which is extended not only to those we know and love, but to all the beings on this Earth (as well as the Earth itself). Liberation is freedom from the bondage of Ego, attachment, materialism, false believes and illusion, and Karma yoga I believe is, in the self-absorbed society we live in, more needed than ever.
I like to do Karma yoga projects with my TTC groups in hope that my students leave the training with much more than being able to teach a good yoga class. I hope they will leave with an understanding that yoga is not about asana and sequencing, but rather about the liberation from (even those) attachments. My hope and wish is for them to become more aware, awoken, conscious and compassionate human beings, yoga teachers who will inspire others with their selfless actions and consciousness rather than asana performance or sequencing skills.
If the story of DCC and one person who created a great impact (she helps old people home in Galle too) inspired you, there is an easy way to help. You can donate either by wire transfer or via pay pal using firstname.lastname@example.org Your donation is safe and it will go into a good use, after what I saw today, I can guarantee that. Any amount will help, and, if you want to sponsor a dog like Mia and help a local family check their 50+ programme or ReHome programme.
“Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” - Kundera
All photos by Sanjin Kastelan <3