Published: 15th April 2020
Lockdown Tails: Days after his mother's death, this abused stray puppy found his furever home
We spoke to Greeshma Rahul, who adopted Oreo, an 18-days-old stray puppy on the day the lockdown began
Oreo has just learnt to bark again. He runs around the premises of his new home in Thrissur, wagging his tail, with his new best friend one-year-old Janaki. The duo met each other three weeks ago. On March 25, to be precise - the day the nationwide lockdown began. Oreo was an 18-day-old puppy then. But a few days before he found his furever home, a few miscreants on the streets brutally killed his mother, holding her by her leg and smashing her head against the road. They also tried to kill little Oreo and his brother by drowning them. While his brother did not survive the trauma, Oreo proved to be a real fighter. He was barely breathing when Sally Varma, an animal activist and an outreach coordinator with the NGO Humane Society International, found him. This was when the number of COVID-19 cases also started rising across the country.
Even though Sally found a family that was ready to adopt Oreo, they were all the way in Kochi and were unable to travel to Thrissur. The little one was desperately in need of a foster home. That was when Janaki's mother Greeshma Rahul stepped in. An audiologist, who is already a pet parent to a labrador named Sweety, she was immediately on board. "A friend of mine named Nikhil had put me in touch with Sally and told me that the pup needed a home. My husband and I got on board with the idea immediately. We love dogs," she says, "Thankfully, Nikhil had an extra affidavit to travel on that day and Sally's house isn't too far from my mother's, where we are right now. We got there immediately and picked up Oreo."
Oreo, 18 days old
The original plan was to foster Oreo until the lockdown is lifted and hand him over to the family in Kochi. But that was before Greeshma saw a new friendship bloom between her younger daughter Janaki and little Oreo. "The duo bonded instantly. They started playing together all the time and Janaki was such a natural. She wasn't scared even when Oreo tried to gnaw her," says Greeshma, adding with a big smile, "The thought of letting him go was hard to process. I knew that it would hurt Janaki more than anyone. Then, a few days ago, Sally told me that we could keep him. Now, he's part of our family."
Oreo was vaccinated and his wounds were treated when Greeshma took him in. "Fortunately, I had pet feed with me. We feed him dog food and chicken now. Thankfully, we get chicken in our area," she says. Even though there was unverified information doing the rounds at the time that animals were spreading the virus, Greeshma did not pay much heed to it. "My husband and I are both paramedics and we know that dogs don't spread the virus. Also, we wash our hands frequently and maintain proper hygiene. I was only concerned about my mother letting us take in Oreo, but when I broke the news to her, she smiled and said 'Just bring him in. We have enough to give him food every day'," she narrates.
So, why are we happy that Oreo learnt to bark again? The pup wasn't able to bark on his first day at Greeshma's house. The abuse had affected his vocal cords. "The next day, Oreo and Janaki were playing when, all of a sudden, we heard an unfamiliar noise. We were surprised to hear Oreo bark," she says. She also notes that Oreo is a fast learner, "He toilet trained himself, to our surprise. When it is time, he barks and we let him out to the yard. He has even picked a corner to do his business."