KATHMANDU: The second day of Tihar is Kukur Tihar, a day dedicated to dogs. Dogs are worshipped on this day and it can be rightly said ‘every dog has its day’ as no distinctions are made as man’s best friend is worshipped. It could be the pampered pooch or that dirty mongrel down the lane, each one is garlanded with a string of marigold, smeared with red tika and fed like gods.

We have dogs to guard our homes. A legend goes that there is a dog at Yama’s (God of Death) gate guarding the gate to the underworld. The dog is also the steed of the fearful Bhairab, God of Destruction. People pray to the dog to guard their homes as he guards the gate of the underworld and to divert destruction away from their homes.

October 17 was a special day for all those abandoned and strays at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT), Budanilkantha though everyday is like Kukur Tihar here. A total of 51 dogs (including both in-house and under treatment ones) at the centre were worshipped. Nothing was spared — diyos burned bright, flowers, garlands and dog food and biscuits were all set for the celebrations.

Murphy was the only dog not from the centre that participated in the celebrations. Murphy’s owner Monica

Rojas, is a volunteer student at KAT, she and her mother adopted Murphy in California.

“She was depressed, sick and skinny. Now you can see how happy and healthy she is,” said Rojas adding, “This is her second time being worshipped according to Nepali cultural festival and she just seems to love it.”

Lucy’s tale

Registered as non-profit chartable organisation in 2003, KAT started its operation dedicated to shelter of street dogs in 2004. From its embryonic stage till now, Jan Salter, the founder and also a resident artist, has been tracking street dogs in need of care and shelter.

Among all the in-house dogs at the centre, Lucy has the most inspiring story and the recovery she has been through is just unbelievable.

Salter found her dumped in the worst state possible on the streets some three years ago.

“When I first took her to KAT, she was suffering from mange, the worst form of body infection a dog can get that results in wounds all over the body. And it is very painful,” she said. “Within a short period of treatment and care, she regained her life and look she is the happiest dog in the centre,” Salter added.

Work and service

“Wherever our service has reached, there has been a change in the way the community thinks about street dogs — there is more compassion and care,” said Anil Bajracharya, manager of KAT adding, “This change in their attitude to street dogs really makes us proud about our achievements.”

According to their record, till this day they have spayed 7,819 streets dogs and 2,675 others have been rescued and treated.

Salter still has the energy and enthsiasum to do more for these helpless street dogs. “We would like to increase our service to more dogs and give them the life they deserve. For this we are

currently looking for a bigger area to settle our centre

and more helping hands as well.” According to her, KAT is grateful for all the donations and any sort of help offered by individuals and organisations.

Helping hands

For the last three years, World Society for the Protection of the Animals (WSPA), which is known as world’s largest alliance of animal welfare society, has been the sole donor for ABC programme (Animal Birth Control) at the centre. According to Bajracharya, the centre needs at least Rs 3 lakh a month to run. “Besides

our regular donors like Chaudhari Group, Himalayan Dramatic Society, Students of Lincoln School, there are other people donating even things like dog food and biscuits to the centre. Without their support, we would have failed.”