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Stray on the right path

Published : Oct 24, 2016, 10:36 pm IST
Updated : Oct 24, 2016, 10:36 pm IST

Suffy was a fun and loving golden retriever, who lived with Shivdutt Das for 11 years, and turned him into a hardcore animal lover.

A woman feeds a stray in Malad
 A woman feeds a stray in Malad

Suffy was a fun and loving golden retriever, who lived with Shivdutt Das for 11 years, and turned him into a hardcore animal lover. When she passed away two years ago from leukemia, Shiv, who is the CEO of a start-up, was inconsolable for a long time. Wanting to channel his grief into something positive, as well as to commemorate Suffy’s passing, Shiv decided to begin an annual initiative to feed 1,000 stray dogs on the anniversary of Suffy’s death, October 29. This year, there are already more than 90 volunteers who have signed up for the activity — a distinct improvement on last year’s meagre 15 helpers.

“You can say that Suffy was my soul mate. She was with me from when I was a bachelor and had just started out with my career. She was there with me through my many job changes, and when I finally got married,” recalls a nostalgic Shiv. “She was very popular and friendly; people knew me because of her,” he adds, fondly.

While Shiv was able to let go of his grief and get a new dog, Soul, a year after Suffy’s death, he still wanted to mark the day some way. “I wanted to celebrate the occasion of her passing on, not mourn it,” he says, adding that this is also a great way of spreading awareness against animal cruelty right before Diwali, which is a particularly trying time for the canines in the country.

While October 29 marks the end of an era for Shiv, it signifies a new beginning for Marathi filmmaker Madhugandha Kulkarni. “It is also my dog, Tappu’s birthday. I adopted her a year ago, and have since got her a companion, Chimu, who is now six months old,” says Madhu, who is planning to contribute 300 portions of dog food to Shiv’s 1,000. Although she had initially not wanted to adopt a dog before moving out of a flat into a bungalow-style house, her association with the NGO, Animals Matter to Me, is what made her decide that she wants to provide some of her furry friends with a loving home.

“I have been associated with the NGO’s activities for three years and I came to know about this particular drive because they are the partner NGO for the it,” she explains.

Ganesh Nayak, who is the founder of Animals Matter to Me, is also excited for the upcoming event. According to him, this is only one of the many feeding drives that take place around the city. “We’ve had people coming to us and expressing their interest in feeding strays throughout the year. The highest number of animals we’ve fed is when we had a husband and wife celebrating their birthday by feeding 3,500 dogs this September,” Ganesh recalls. “The thrill of giving is always greater than the excitement of receiving. So, I always look forward to these drives,” he adds.