In part 2, Maddie journeys to her new home in this story of an international adoption of a street dog from Kathmandu, Nepal.
My life on the streets of Kathmandu
“I am a dog with no name. I live on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. I eat rotting smelly things that I find in the alleys. I drink from oily puddles. Sometimes I vomit moldy food back up. Once in a while, a human throws me a bit of rice. There are mouthwatering smells around me all the time – rice, lentils, meat, vegetables, fruits, sweets, cakes – so many! From street vendor carts, restaurants, shops, humans eating as they walk by. It makes me so hungry (I am always hungry!) But I have to be wary – sometimes humans kick me or hit me with a broom if I get too close. So I only eat what scraps I can find. Today I am surfing the gutter for smelly tasty things when a big white truck pulls up. Some men get out and throw cookies to me. Cookies! These cookie people keep throwing cookies so I let them get closer. One man grabs me and puts me in a cage in the back of the truck. One of them closes the door. There are other dogs in here too! I am scared. This never happened before – what are they going to do to me? Then the truck starts moving – it feels so strange. Where are they taking us? What will happen to us? More cookies? This is how my story begins…”
The hard life of street dogs
There are approximately 30,000 street dogs that “live” within the confines of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. An area which is about 20 square miles in size. The dogs are hard to miss. They can be seen lying on the side of busy roads, sleeping in gutters, scrounging in garbage heaps, near small stores and markets hoping for some food to fall or to be thrown their way.
They can be seen in the middle of the road, not moving or howling in pain due to being hit by a car or scooter as people drive or walk by without acknowledging their suffering. Puppies everywhere. Dogs with mange and scabies, parasites, every rib sticking out. Scars from being beaten, attacked by other dogs and sleeping on concrete. It is a cruel life.
Female dogs, by and large, suffer even greater at the hands of the streets. They have litter after litter of puppies, often being attacked by gangs of male dogs and injured in the process of procreation. Their bodies grow weak and fragile trying to nurse their puppies and their spirits are often broken as they witness puppy after puppy die from starvation, disease or auto. The only way to improve their lives is to sterilize them. The number one priority at Sneha’s Care, an animal welfare charity that helps street dogs in the Kathmandu Valley, is to seek out the female dogs and bring them back to the shelter to be sterilized and vaccinated.
Maddie’s story began as a routine capture for sterilization
This is how Maddie’s story began as have thousands before her. Maddie was picked up by our team (dog catcher, Vet Tech and ambulance driver), loaded into a crate and put into the back of the ambulance for the ride to the shelter. Imagine being a small dog, getting captured by a strange human and put into a crate and loaded into a vehicle with many other dogs. It must have been traumatic for all of them. Maddie came into Sneha’s Care with 15 other females to be spayed. Unlike other shelters and street dog “rescues” in Nepal, Sneha’s Care keeps the dogs who are sterilized for 4 days in order for them to be monitored for other diseases, make sure their surgical wound heals and to provide them with good food and a loving hand…a loving hand from a human that they may only experience once in a lifetime.
Through it all, Maddie remained the one dog in the group who always wanted to get the attention of the people working at the shelter. Any time someone walked by the enclosure where new dogs are kept, Maddie would light up, walking along the fence line almost begging for someone to stop and say “hello” and give her a pet. There was just something extra special about Maddie but, we think they are all special in their own way.
Maddie’s group is rounded up to be returned to the streets after being sterilized
On the morning of day 5 at Sneha’s Care, Maddie and her original group of dogs’ stay was drawing to an end. It was the first time I had witnessed the return of dogs to their community after being spayed and I had mixed emotions, wanting to keep them all at the shelter, to protect them and find them homes but knowing that is not possible to do so and that we had done our best to improve their lives.
The 16 dogs were in the quarantine area being picked up and loaded back into the ambulance for their return to the same area where they were picked up. Some of the dogs went willingly with the team members and others were simply so scared of yet another change that they sat shaking in a corner until they were gently picked up and carried to the vehicle for the ride back to their old life. And then there was Maddie. Maddie was running around oblivious to all of the goings on. She managed to squeeze through the legs of the team members who had come to get her, and run off to play with the other shelter dogs, all 100 of them.
“Not that one.”
Surprisingly, she ran back to where the team members were standing as if to say, “See, they like me! I’m a good girl. Can’t I please stay?” Sneha and I were standing in the quarantine area watching this small, white-blonde dog run with wild abandon, tail wagging, ears flopping with not a single bit of aggression towards any of the other dogs. We looked at each other and Sneha said to her team member who was trying to catch her “Not that one.” At that point, Sneha and I both realized that we had a “pick-up” failure…… We knew there was something extra special about Maddie and she let us know in no uncertain terms that she was here to stay.
Sneha managed to fit Maddie with a red collar right then and there and she wore it that first day with pride. I promised Sneha that I would move heaven and earth to find Maddie a home in the US or somewhere abroad where she could lead a charmed life like a princess…like the princess she is.
“Not that one” gets a name – “Maddie!”
Following our decision to keep Maddie at the shelter until I found her a home, I continued to work at Sneha’s Care for another 8 days. I watched Maddie blossom into a confident, smart, curious and gentle dog. Her first walk on a leash was better than I had expected. Maddie took to the leash like a duck to water. Seems all Maddie wanted to do was please me and be with her new human friend. After our first walk together, I came back and told Sneha that Maddie needed a proper name and thus the name Maddie came out of my mouth. She just looked like a Madeline to me….. Maddie for short.
Searching for that forever home for Maddie
When I left Nepal, Maddie was the last dog I bid farewell. I promised her, as I held her tight, that I would keep my promise and find her a really good home with people who would love her unconditionally until the day she took her final breath. And then the search began for the perfect owner for the close-to-perfect dog.
When my feet hit the ground in the US, I got to work right away looking for a home for Maddie….. I figured that someone would snatch her up right away and be as enamored with her as I was once they saw her sweet face. I was wrong. It took over 7 weeks to find Maddie her forever home. I posted Maddie over and over on my personal Facebook page. I posted her at my own charity Facebook page, Nepal Street Animal Rescue. I showed her picture to people in the gym, at my veterinarian’s office and to anyone who was thinking about adopting a new dog. Every time I thought I had an adopter, it fell through for one reason or another.
The “one”–Maddie is adopted by her new “mom” in New York
Many of my friends post a lot about their beloved pets on Facebook. Most of the time, they are happy posts about their furry family members but once in a great while, friends will let us all know that their beloved pet had crossed the rainbow bridge. I saw just such a post by a women I knew was a huge dog lover. Her 13-year-old dog had just passed away and although it may seem insensitive, I told her about the dogs in Nepal, specifically Maddie. I told her Maddie’s story and asked that if she was interested in Maddie to let me know. No pressure, just a little nudge to see if this was Maddie’s big chance. Sure enough, I got a reply from Maddie’s soon-to-be adoptive mother. She thought Maddie was darling and wanted some information about her personality. Since I had spent almost 2 weeks with Maddie, I was able to tell her how wonderful she is and how badly she deserved a good home.
Her soon-to-be adopter told me she had to speak to her husband about Maddie but that ultimately it was her decision to adopt her or not. A week went by and I thought maybe Maddie’s possible adopter had changed her mind, but one evening I opened my Facebook page and there it was, a message from Maddie’s new mom asking when she could get her shipped to the US and what the process was to get Maddie into her waiting arms!
Today, Maddie is waiting at the shelter for her paperwork to be put into order, her transport crate to be purchased and her plane ticket to be secured. Maddie doesn’t know it yet but her adventures have only just begun!
- Vets and vet techs
- Shelter workers (hardworking people who don’t mind getting dirty and helping out in the kennel)
- People to help arrange international adoptions
Contact Hillary Kloetzli for more information at Nepal Street Animal Rescue.
Donations may also be made directly to Sneha’s Care.
Latest posts by Hillary Kloetzli (see all)
- Maddie’s Story Part 3: Forever Home - July 14, 2017
- Maddie’s Story Part 2: From Kathmandu to New York - May 15, 2017
- Maddie’s Story Part I: From the Streets of Kathmandu to–Finding Her Home–7,500 Miles Away! - April 13, 2017