“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
If you’re even remotely familiar with our content—and our efforts to be somewhat objective in our views—you probably also know that animals make us lose any semblance of balance in our approach. We belong to that not-so-exclusive group of ‘pets > people’. And of late, it seems like we need to band together to protect these creatures a little more. India’s been having a bit of of a split-personality crisis as far as the issue of animal rights goes. On one hand, we recently became the first country to become a cruelty-free cosmetics zone in South Asia, but on the other, the Kerala government is brutally slaughtering thousands of stray dogs in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling. There’s the numbers game too: according to recent surveys, our country is home to over 250 lakh street dogs and cats. While it is has been proven that the most humane and effective solution to this problem is neutering and vaccinating them, we’ve come to realise that there is another, mutually-beneficial option available to us all—adoption. In fact, according to People for Animals India, if one out of 50 persons were to give a stray dog a home, there would be no strays left in the country.
Despite the seemingly unrealistic statistics, we’re thrilled that animal welfare NGOs like World For All have created a system and space through which stray animals in need of rescue can be adopted. There are many reasons why adopting a pet is a better idea than buying one: you’re giving an animal a second chance at life and some much-needed love and care; by adopting, you’re making room for another pet to be taken in by organisations like WFA and you’re not patronising the (often) terrible breeding industry.
In case you’re undecided, or even just looking for a little happiness in your afternoon scroll, we rounded up 10 incredible individuals and got them to share their own pet adoption stories in the hopes that it might encourage you to do the same. As we spoke to the proud foster and adoptive parents about their experiences, there was one point they all agreed on—their abandoned stray is family. Scroll down to find more about these lucky pets and their families, and you can check out the first volume of the series here.
I. Aanchal & Charit Jauhari + Ginie, the dog
This couple have been married for three years and Ginie, their furry baby, has been with them for almost two and a half. Aanchal works as brand lead for an online app and Charit is a cardiac anesthesiologist. From a family of dog lovers, Aanchal always had pets. They don’t just take care of their own pets but also adopt and take care of the many stray animals living around them. Her sister, mum and her have gotten many dogs sterilised and treated and are continuously in touch with many animal NGOs.
“Adopting a pet has made me believe that if you are a dog lover, you love dogs - not their breeds. You adopt a dog out of care and affection, and not for some kind of social display. Our Desi’s are no less, so give them a chance and they will love you back with their heart and soul.”
The adoption story: “We called our beautiful black dog Ginie because she walked into our life like magic. She was a pup roaming the streets of GK and a wonderful girl picked her from the streets and brought took her home. However, she could not keep her for long, so she shared her pics on Facebook. By then I was unsure if a working couple like us could manage a dog. So I commented on the link but was still confused in my head. That girl, however, got her dropped on my doorstep and unexpectedly in the middle of the night, our pup arrived, all curled up and curious. We were surprised as even though we were unsure if we will be able to keep her, she landed up into our home out of nowhere. As if she was destined to be with us. The very next day we took her to a clinic, got her vaccinated and cleaned. Touchwood since then she has grown into a healthy beautiful dog and is now three years old. She has filled up many gaps in our life, especially as my husband has frequent night duties being a doctor and those nights when I am alone at home, she is my one friend who gives me company and makes me feel safe. ”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her dog: Naughty. Funny. Clingy.
II. Aashna Iyer + Muppy, Kerfie, Dennis and Darcy, the cats
25-year-old Aashna Iyer never liked the idea of breeding animals - letting an animal give birth to her litter and then taking them away. Hence, she made up her mind that If she would ever get a pet, she would adopt.
“Adopting pets have given me a new brother, sister and grandkids. Don’t ask how this relationship is logical, it just is.”
The adoption story: “Growing up, I’ve always had some lovely times with stray pups and kittens, and I always felt so bad about not being able to take them home and give them shelter, that it just seemed the right choice.I’ve always wanted a pet, but our parents were against it because all the moving would cause major upheaval and because we were too young to take the responsibility. So when I completed my graduation, I made a case to my mother, explaining the “give a home to a homeless animal” aspect of things, and the plan for caring for a cat. Once the folks were convinced, we started hunting. We saw a posting x where a woman was asking for people to adopt kittens. She had found these kittens being chased by a dog somewhere in Pune and had rescued them and taken them home. They were about 20 days old at the time. She’d found two, and while our initial plan was to adopt one, we couldn’t resist… So both the little furballs came home with us.
They were named Muppet and Kerfuffle. And before the 20 minute drive back home was over, they were re-christened ‘Muppy’ and ‘Kerfie.’ We were new pet owners, so while we watched in fascination as the brats frolicked, we didn’t realize that there was an angle of mating to be looked at, so before you knew it, we were grandparents. Kerfie had three little babies; Dennis, Darcy and Alice. A friend has adopted Alice and the other two are still with us. We moved several times but always took them with.
Muppet is our family protector; he’s like our older brother. We have to tell him where we’re going, when we’ll be back, and introduce all new entrants into the house to him. Kerfie’s the Mafia Boss - she has the whole world wrapped around her fluffy little tail, and they do whatever she wants. She eats toast crumbs from my plate, demands the last of the oatmeal, and doesn’t discriminate on what kind of meat she’s eating, as long as she’s eating it.
If ever you come home, Dennis will run at you, demanding pets, and you better give them to him. He has many feelings about life and many questions, which he asks out of his worried little puppy-cat eyes. And when you look around, you will not spot Darcy. This is normal. Darcy is the original Scaredy-Cat. He’s also beautiful.
Although, honestly, they all are beautiful animals.
Everything has changed since they came into our lives. We’ve not done a single thing without factoring them in. The furnishing of the new house has also been undertaken so that the cats can sit there and get fresh air and look out at the birds.”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her cats: Co-Dependent. Besotted. Afraid.
III. Bareen Aowte + her cat
Bareen Aowte is a chemistry student and fashion blogger. She has always wanted to have pets and finally got herself a fuzzy little cat.
“Adopting a pet has brought out the best in me. Now I realise how people feel after having a kid. But my pet is the only kid I want.”
The adoption story: “I was always keen to get a cat. Actually keen is a small word, I was obsessed over cats and wanted to get one as a child but my mom hated pets. My life was completely changed the day a cat came to our building, chased and scared by the street dogs. She was super cute and was trying to find a shelter by entering different homes and being kicked out. We started taking care of her by providing food and milk to her but she still wasn’t allowed in our home. We used to bring her home occasionally when mum wasn’t around and play and take care of her. She used to fall asleep on my chest or my laps and no where else because it gave her security. Mom wasn’t ready to accept her but she made that change too. She now lives in our home for a month now and is healthy and fine now. The love changes all. Her entry in my life is the best thing that has happened to me and I’m really thankful for her.”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her cat: She’s my better half.
IV. Disha Gadhiya + Droopy, the dog
Disha Gadhiya Kotak is the Head of the Ticketing Department for Enchanted Valley Carnival, a music festival. Her husband and her got very fond of dogs when they spotted five puppies birthed by a stray near their residential building last year. Droopy is their first pet, adopted when they saw her all alone with no one to care for her. Their dream was to gift a pet to their newborn on his/her 1st birthday. But when they saw Droopy it made them revise their life’s plan and bring her home regardless.
“Adopting a pet has sensitized us towards animal care a lot. While we’ve always been animal lovers, it has made us realise that our city has done so little for animals. There are barely 3 or 4 parks which are pet-friendly, very few vets, there are very few restaurants that welcome pets along with patrons.”
The adoption story: “One pleasant afternoon, I was taking a stroll in the one of the by-lanes near a public park one evening when I stumbled upon two 1.5 month little indie puppies (one female and one male) dodging vehicles driving around. My instant reaction was to grab them and put them on the sidewalk near the garden. I was mad looking at 6-7 people just standing around and doing nothing to protect the little babies. The security guard of the garden, Raes, saw me doing this and told me that they have been living inside the garden since they were born. But because the periphery walls of the garden have such big gaps in between, they would sneak out often and stray on the roads without notice. The mother he said lived on the street while the pups lived inside the garden.
Raes and I got talking about them and I also left him with some money to buy milk for the kids and food for the mother as she looked weak and pale.
Since that day forward, I paid a visit to the pups every evening. When I told my husband Kashyap about this, even showed him videos of them, he instantly thought of naming them - Goofy (Boy) and Droopy (Girl). It perfectly suited their characteristics.
On Day 3, I could see that Goofy was missing. When asked, Raes told me that someone took him away. He even told me that the Mother has not been visiting the babies since the previous night. That made me worry even more. Raes and I both looked at each other and assured ourselves that she may have gone away in search for her missing pup and that she would return to Droopy soon.
The next day when I visited, Raes told me that apparently the Mother got hit by a car the previous night and someone took her to a shelter nearby as she sustained some heavy internal injuries in her body. We waited for days for the Mother to return but there was no sign of her. It was after a week that I decided to start a search for a loving home for Droopy.
My husband and I sent pleas on Whatsapp, Facebook Pages and became members of Pet Adoption Groups on the network.
Within hours of my messages, we started getting enquiries but it all led to nothing. Moreover, Raes got remanded by the BMC official who was responsible for the Park’s welfare and maintainence as to why there was a puppy roaming around in the garden and ask for him to be ousted of the Park. Upon talking to her first, I stalled for one more week to make her stay at the park till I could find a forever home for her.
The decision to make Droopy stay at the park over me bringing her home made more sense as my husband and I both work full time. At that time, it felt it would be cruel to leave such a young baby home alone over a park where someone (Raes) could look after him and even get to play with the kids coming by.
One more week had past by. The BMC official personally visited the Park for her monthly round and upon seeing the pup inside the park vicinity, she shouted at Raes again. She was stubborn and determined to get rid of Droopy. I begged her for mercy, pleaded, even showed her messages and phone numbers of people who had enquired to convince her of our attempts to get her adopted but she refused to budge. She told us to take only that day’s time to figure out what we need to do with Droopy else she will have her removed.
It was that day - that my husband and I took the decision to bring her to our home. Ever since, our lives have changed. We were scared out of our wits wondering how we would take care of this little one with our crazy schedules.
It has been 2 months since we brought her home and all we can say that - Droopy is the best thing that has happened to us. We’ve become more responsible, our schedules have changed (there are moments when we feel we have no social life anymore) but never have we ever doubted our decision to keep her.
I guess there’s something about puppies that just makes your heart melt with love and affection for these innocent animals, especially when you see them unprotected, scared and craving for some warmth from people.
Three words that best describe her relationship with her dog: Inseparable. Unconditional. Baby.
V. Kannan Mehta + Biggie Smalls, Mufasa & Beast, the dogs
Kannan Mehta works as a freelance graphic designer and call herself a “failed animal lover.” She started to feel a deep affinity with animals at a very young age. She’d bring home injured birds, squirrels, puppies, rabbits. Coming from a family of doctors, her parents were nice enough to entertain all of this, giving them first aid and the help they needed. Years after, she herself provided first aid to a dog and kept him at home, and the same scenario repeated for two others and she’s now has three four-legged furry babies.
“Adopting them has made me a better person.“
The adoption story: “Biggie Smalls, Mufasa and Beast are three very different dogs: one naughty one patient and one scared. The one thing they have in common is the abundance of love and happiness they bring into the lives of anyone who meets them. Brothers from different mothers. Biggie the first of the pack came to me after he had shifted two foster homes. He came with a superficial head injury, possibly inflicted by another dog. I couldn’t get myself to let him move to a new home again and so he stayed. I never realized I needed him as much as he needed me. It was during one of our daily walks that we came across a black puppy who was around the same age, foraging for food in the garbage, we called him Mufasa. He was friendly from the get-go. He accompanied us on walks, played with us ate some of the treats we brought along and ensured we got home safely. At the end of our walks everyday, my heart would break a little when I shut the gate behind me, turning him away until we met the next day. We soon shifted out of the house and a week of not seeing Mufasa, not knowing if he was okay or being fed, really bothered me. Before I knew it, I was back in his street calling his name. There he was, foraging for food in the garbage. Tears rolled down my eyes, no puppy deserved a life like this. I immediately scooped him up in my arms and took him home. The love and affection he displayed was breathtaking and I just knew in my heart that he knew what had just happened. Biggie had his best friend from the street, his brother with him and I had a happy house I would come back to, full of wagging tails and happy barking. Just like that two years had passed and we found ourselves in a similar situation. During our walks, we spotted Beast a tiny brown four-month-old baby lost and alone stuck in a drain, his body riddled with ticks. With Beast the trust didn’t come easy, it was a slow gradual process. Exploiting his love for treats, I found a happy dog hidden behind all that fear.”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her dogs: Family. Joy. Complete.
VI. Ketan Sheldarkar + Dusty, the dog
Ketan Sheldarkar is a 24-year-old computer application living in Ponda, Goa. He always wanted a pet but could never convince his parents. It all changed when he found a dog in terrible condition in the street, this dog was Dusty.
“Adopting a pet has made the home all the more fun, there always something running in the little devils mind.”
The adoption story: “There was no official adoption as such. I just found her at the right place on the right time. I was on a playground that my friend and I used to visit often and she was standing there, surrounded by her dead siblings. She was just two weeks old and her mother wasn’t around. I couldn’t just leave her there, she had the rotting smell of her sibling and a few wounds and scars. I took her home and gave her a bath. The next day I took her to the vet, got her checked and slowly she started getting more comfortable with me and at home. I had to convince my parents to let me keep her then. They weren’t happy at all about it at first, she did get on my parents’ nerves. I had to potty train her, let her know some rules to follow. But after a few times, dogs find a way of creating a bon and bring happy and joyful vibes. That’s what made my parents love this dogs and now they be closer. Dusty is the first dog we have had, so its as much of a new experience to me and my family as it is for her. I called her Dusty because of the brown colour she has from the nose to the tail.”
Three words that best describe his relationship with his dog: Bundle of joy.
VII. Pranati & Prayag Arora-Desai + their five cats and dog
21-year-old Pranati is a student of Visual Communication at Srishti Institute of Design, Bangalore, and works as a freelance graphic designer. Her brother, Prayag is 23 years old and works at a creative consultancy and design firm named Orion Marketing and Communication, in Mumbai. Their home has always been a welcoming safe space for rescued animals, even before they were born. For now, they share their lives with a dog and five cats, all rescued.
“Living around non-human companions makes us better people; you learn a lot from them that humans can’t teach you”.
The adoption story: “One day a cat walked in, crawled into a cupboard that had been left open, and delivered a litter of four kittens. That was maybe 25 years ago. Since then, our home has always been populated with animals. We’ve had several animal friends over the years, those who’ve lived with us and those who we have been rescued and/or fostered before sending them off to better homes. It would be way too much to tell you about every single animal we’ve brought into our home, but here are two incidents. We lost our last dog in 2012. For a while after that we decided to foster other dogs looking for a home instead of adopting. In 2014 we received a month old puppy with a nasty head-wound who had been rescued from the mangroves in Charkop. We did find him a home, but the adopters returned him within a day because he pooped in their hall and someone in their family couldn’t deal with this. So we brought him back home and eventually forgot about finding him another one. He goes by the name Noah,Nonu and Noni.
Our latest rescue is a kitten named Bombil. She managed to get herself stuck between two huge steel crates just outside the house, in our compound. We located her by following the sound of her wailing, and it turned out she was too young to eat or drink food and water. Since we couldn’t locate the mother, we took her in and raised her on an initial diet of kitten formula. She now lives with us and is a sucker for chicken liver.”
Three words that best describe their relationship with their pets: They’re the boss.
VIII. Rhea Malhotra + Zoe, the dog
Rhea Malhotra is a 28-year-old brand Manager for Zee Café & Zee Studio. After her first rescued cat, Oreo passed away, Rhea and her family went through a extremely painful period. She has since fostered and rescued about 7 dogs, but always managed to find homes as her father didn’t want any pet in the house…until they met Zoe.
“Adopting a pet is a lifetime supply of free therapy. Sometimes when I’m having a really bad day, I come home to see this beautiful animal, and think ‘what would Zoe do?’ The answer is pretty simple - Just wag your tail. Shake it off. And move on.”
The adoption story: “In 2014, I was on my way to a yoga class when I heard this 20 days old puppy whining in a corner of my street. This pup had barely opened her eyes and was probably rejected by the mother (I’ve heard the mother usually discards the weakest pup in the litter). Her paw was hurt and her tail had lost all its fur. I was worried she’d be hurt by oncoming vehicles in the lane. So, I snuck Zoe home and hid her in a basket in my bathroom for 3 days. At this point, all I wanted to do, was to give her some medication and get her adopted. After 3 days, I went and left her back in the lane, hoping the mother would take her in but she was always alone in a gutter. I’m not quite sure what changed, but somewhere between seeing her wag her tail while she was in that filthy gutter and walking back home, I decided that this was a fight I was willing to fight.
I took her home that day and never looked back. Everyone at home was against keeping Zoe at home. It was a tough 6 months. And with Zoe being the torchbearer of destruction, it got very difficult at times. But, I got her trained early on, managed to find a dog walker and figured out everything else. In 6 months’ time, my mom and brother came around. It took a little longer for my dad.Fighting for her wasn’t easy. I had a whole lot of defying to do. Defying your family and getting home an animal is never something I would encourage, but god damn, I’m so glad I did. Happiness with Zoe is in the little moments. Walking past my mom’s room and seeing her curled up next to her. Watching her sit next to my brother while he plays the PlayStation. Seeing her chase my dad as he walks into the house. 3 years, countless torn remote covers, chaddis and chappals later, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, best decision ever.”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her dog: Therapist. Tug of war rival. Jealous sibling (she cannot stand it when I hug my mom or she hugs me back. It’s quite cute actually).
IX. Sharath Gopal + Wendy, Shelby and Eric, the dogs.
Sharath Gopal, a 23-year-old student in Med school has always had dogs. His dad is a doctor who loves dogs too, that’s why they can afford to keep their goons comfortable.
“Adopting a pet has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”
The adoption story: “My family and I found Marley (god rest his soul) and Wendy through our vet. They were brought here by a businessman who wanted to breed them and show off basically. After one of our older dogs passed in 2009, my dad casually asked around and found them.There was no process as such. We just took them with all their documents and brought them home. Our other dog, Shelby, I found her half drowned in a tank of water. This poor thing was only 2 months old.I tried keeping her with me in my room, but I couldn’t handle the responsibility, so I sent her to the family home.
Finally, we found Eric through a relative, from the same city I did go to college in. He’s had it the worst, he’s changed hands many times and we suspect a breeder might have had him for a while. He’s the youngest of the lot, feels very insecure and has a tendency to bite. However he’s getting better everyday.”
Three words that best describe his relationship with his dogs: They’re my family.
X. Ujaala C + her cats
Ujaala works in the media and entertainment industry and is always up for a challenge. She always wanted to adopt pets but it only happened five years ago.
“Adopting a pet has been a humbling experience where everyday’s an adventure!”
The adoption story: “ There was a kitten that I kept overnight for whom I found a home through Twitter. And that opened up a Tweet-driven conversation between a girl who was desperately looking for a home for the kitten she rescued but couldn’t keep for much longer. It was simple: she was going out of town for two weeks and needed to find a home for this cutie. And if it worked out between us great otherwise she had a few other options once she was back. That cutie stepped into my house and that was that.
The second cat I adopted was or actually is a building stray. The garbage man killed her 6 newborn kittens because they were a ‘nuisance’ and that was his way of dealing with the situation. The anguished sounds of her searching for her kittens broke my heart and i decided to get her neutered so she’d never have to go through such a horrifying experience again. Her neutering to include medication was crowdfunded on Facebook! And now she’s pretty much a home cat.”
Three words that best describe her relationship with her cats: Celebrate life everyday.
Compiled by Sacha Estelles