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Sulakshmi Dasgupta is a passionate dog lover who is known as DogMa in Delhi where she cares for and feeds around 500 dogs every day.
For some people, happiness and fulfillment doesn’t come from the luxuries of the world but from making a difference in the life of other living beings on this planet. Sulakshmi Dasgupta is one of those rare people. Popularly known as DogMa because of her undying passion and love for the street dogs, Sulakshmi’s life is an epitome of true social service.
Her day starts with driving along with her volunteers to all the major localities of Delhi personally feeding over 500 street dogs. By the time she and the volunteers are back after feeding all the dogs for the day, it’s already time to start the preparations for next day’s meal.
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When I ask her about her routine, she says that every morning around 5:30 a.m., she sends the first lot of food out for the dogs in the surrounding localities like Chittaranjan Park, Kalkaji, G.K-I and G.K-II. The final lot goes out at 1:30 p.m. for far off areas like Govindpuri and Okhla. By the time, the final lot is out and the dogs in all the localities have gotten their share of meal, it’s time for her to start the next day’s preparation .
On an average day, she prepares about 90-95 kgs of rice and 50 kgs of chicken and mutton. It takes about 7-8 hours to prepare the meals everyday.
Giving food to the streeties is not the only responsibility she has taken upon herself. She also keeps a check on the sick dogs and the weak dogs regularly to ensure that they get their share of meals and medicines. Then there are accident cases – which are to be reported, taken to the veterinarians, fostered till they are back to live an independent life.
When I ask her, how she does manage so much in a day? “I am always behind my schedule.” she replies with such sincerity and modesty that makes me embarrassed about the endless complains that I make in a day when my 2 dogs fight or misbehave.
There is not much of a support system that she has. “It’s a constant struggle.”, she says when asked about how she makes the humongous task possible every day.
There are unhelpful and angry neighbors because they think she is encouraging the ‘dangerous’ stray dogs in the area. Then, there is a constant struggle to find regular volunteers. She has hired some people for help and pays them from her on own pocket. “There can’t be a day in the whole year that the dogs can go hungry. Be it a bandh or a public holiday, the dogs have to get their share of meals.”, she says with a sincerity in the tone.
When she tells me that she has been feeding these dogs for last 15 years, I can’t stop myself from asking what keeps her going (I am sure she has been asked these question umpteen number of times. But I can’t hold back my curiosity.). “Ek Junoon hai bus. Call it ‘Passion’ though I know it is a hackneyed, commonplace, overworked, banal, stock phrase.”, she says it without a hint of tiredness or irritation in her voice.
In the last 15 years, there has not been much support from the local authorities as well. “One out 100 local authorities might come for any kind of help. People mostly have complaints even when we diligently clean up the area every day after feeding the dogs.”, this is the first time in the entire conversation that I sense despair in her tone.
Sulakshmi takes care of the vaccination, neutering with the help and guidance from certified veterinarians. “I am 66 years old and it’s getting difficult for me. I have sold off my jewelry, ancestral property and, financially, it’s becoming challenging.”, she continues in a tone of despair. She has started a crowdfunding campaign to get some funds to manage the ever-growing needs.
Sulakshmi also facilitates adoption of dogs. She says adoption depends on the luck of a puppy. Sometimes some people are taken in by the unconditional love and attention that a stray puppy has to offer; however, people mostly prefer buying pedigrees. “But we keep trying”, she says and I can sense the optimism back in the conversation.
When I ask her if there is any particular dog that she loves the most, she quotes her mother to make a point about a mother’s unconditional love about her children, “See all these fingers. None of them are same. But they all are equally important. Mother’s love is equal for all.”, she signs off on a note which makes me wonder if one single day in a calendar is good enough to celebrate a mother’s unconditional love. Happy Mother’s Day, folks!
Published here earlier.
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Pictures Credit: DesiredWings Crowdfunding Platform
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