The mother of lesser dogs
Chittaranjan Park resident Sulakshmi Dasgupta has taken up the responsibility of feeding about 500 stray dogs across the city.
Imagine, after a hectic mundane day, you return home exhausted, when your dog quickly runs towards you to welcome you with a drooling kiss and a wagging tail. You look at his innocent, kind face that seems to express his gratitude to you for being a great companion. So, what is so unique about the relationship between a man and his four-legged companion? It's the "unconditional love" that both the parties shower on each other eternally. And it is not just the loyal, unconditional love; being the best playmates of humans, these little pooches are said to combat their owner's depression or any other physical disorders as well. They affect us in a number of unbelievable ways as they ward off anxiety and dementia. Our canine companions are even proved to be excellent stress busters with their outstanding mood-lifting capabilities. It is an out-of-the-world experience to be blessed with a canine friend in life who is nothing less than our own children.
Sulakshmi Dasgupta, a resident of Chittaranjan Park in the Capital and a social activist, had set herself as an epitome of animal lover. Her extreme love for animals, especially dogs, has given shape to her plenary passion of feeding stray dogs across the city. Her promise to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in providing utmost nourishment to the strays genuinely makes her a mother of the canines. Sulakshmi's journey began with feeding around 10 to 12 dogs a day in the vicinity of her locality. "I am extremely compassionate about dogs since childhood. When I was young, my eyes were always and only at the homeless, neglected dogs and I wondered how helpless they were. Other than feeding biscuits, I could hardly do anything to help them. Post my marriage; I received a huge moral and monetary support from my husband, Pinaki Dasgupta, who is also an animal lover. Then I, along with my small team started feeding approximately 70 dogs at places like C R Park, Kalkaji, Okhla and Greater Kailash. And today, the figure has swelled up to feeding 500 plus stray dogs across South Delhi."
The necessity to feed the strays on a regular basis is manifold. Being territorial in nature, dogs become restricted with a limited place to survive in metropolitan cities, which makes it difficult for them to hunt for food. They seldom go to another territory unless extremely hungry or to mate. Even in such situations, they sometimes come back wounded as the other areas are always protected by their respective alfa-males. Hence, the fate of many strays is to rely on poisonously rotten throwaways or waste food from roadside eateries, which is not enough for a healthy survival in a specified territory. Consequently, they end up being malnourished and hungry.
Pinaki Dasgupta says, "She believes in never turning away a hungry stray. Her motto has always been helping the needy animals. Her helpers and she prepare 350 kgs of the meal including rice and chicken on a daily basis and distribute it among numerous dogs. Other than feeding, she also gives shelter to the accident victims whenever needed and provide them with veterinary services like neutering, operations, regular vaccination of anti-rabies, and offers post-operative care as well". Sulakshmi said, "As far as my funding is concerned, there are some people around me who have also contributed to help me pursue my activity. A big or a small contribution is not the factor. It is their immense support that has always motivated me to keep moving ahead. I believe that taking small steps makes a huge difference. There was a time when the inflow of donations was not consistent. So I decided to sell off all my jewellery and heirloom collections as my four-legged babies are the gifts of God who mattered to me the most."
On being asked about the increasing violence towards neglected dogs, she said, "Our society comprises a section of insensitive humans. Pelting stones, hitting them with sharp objects and reckless driving contribute to fatal injuries or accidents. Fracture or amputations of legs are also getting common these days. My heart bleeds when I find these innocent, loyal animals in pain. Fortunately, such disturbances have witnessed a decrease in my locality and in some parts of Okhla."
After years of struggle and fighting all odds, Sulakshmi has brought such an act of daredevilry into public notice. 15 years of independent and benevolent service finally gave birth to an organisation called "Swargasaathi," which is also useful in raising funds for the homeless. Satisfied with what she is doing in her life, Sulakshmi is living it up with two of her canine children at home. A big salute to the human parent!