Tag: BBC News website

A wonderful Saturday Smile

Rakesh Shukla gives lost dogs a wonderful voice.

Last Monday, the BBC News website featured an item about Rakesh Shukla.

Rakesh runs a charity called The Voice of Stray Dogs (VoSD).The WikiPedia entry is a bit light on details but the UK arm of The Huffington Post makes up for that. Here’s an extract from the news item:

VoSD was founded by Mr Rakesh Shukla, affectionately known as the “Dog Father”. It was set up single-handedly after he felt obliged to do something about the plight of stray dogs in India. Well known for keeping dogs in his home [ the VoSD Sanctuary] and in his office, Rakesh has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the care of stray dogs [ with greater than 90% contributed by himself]. One visitor said ““Rakesh’s growing family of rescued dogs is a sight to behold. It is amazing how so many dogs together get on so well“.

He operates a system that has rescued more than 3000 dogs in 2 years with 400+ permanent dogs under his care. VoSD offers the highest standard of service and is equipped with the latest technology so that stray dogs get the best possible care.

Back to the BBC item that I am taking the liberty of republishing in full.

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The man who looks after 735 dogs

19 December 2016, India

_92945569_bbc-vsd-59Rakesh Shukla is a software engineer who’s found his life’s calling in looking after dogs that no-one wants, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Bangalore.

The car pulled up outside a dusty farmhouse near the capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka and suddenly dogs were everywhere, yelping and barking, jumping with joy.

Within seconds, they were all over Rakesh Shukla, nuzzling him and licking him, and Mr Shukla was as delighted to see them. He spoke to them, patted some, scratched one behind the ears, and lofted another onto his shoulder.

Then he gave me a tour of his three and a half acre farm. At last count, Mr Shukla had 735 dogs.

_92950543_bbc-vsd-114_92945567_bbc-vsd-41There are Labradors on the farm, there are Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Beagles, Dachshunds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards and even a pug. There are hundreds of mongrels too.

Most of the dogs are strays, the others have been abandoned by their owners. The latest arrivals was a group of 22 pedigreed dogs whose owner, a city businessman, was shot dead recently by criminals.

“I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” said Mr Shukla, 45.

Affectionately known as the “Dog Father”, he calls the dogs his babies and him their “papa”.

_92945571_bbc-vsd-123_92950776_bbc-vsd-85Mr Shukla, who founded a software company along with his wife 10 years ago, spends three to four days every week on the farm, taking care of his canines.

“I had worked in Delhi, in the United States and then set up my own company in Bangalore,” he said. “Life was all about buying big cars and expensive watches and living a fancy life. I had travelled and seen the world many times over, but then I was not happy.”

Then Kavya came into his life: a beautiful 45-day-old Golden Retriever that he fell hopelessly in love with. It was in June 2009, and Mr Shukla remembers clearly the day he brought her home.

“When we got home, she went and hid in a corner. I got down to her level on the floor and I was calling out to her. She was looking at me, she was scared, but I could see she wanted to trust me,” he said.

“And that’s when the moment happened – it was a physical feeling, my hair was tingling, I could feel a warm glow. And I’ve never needed to ask myself that question – ‘why am I here?’ – again after that.”

_92950549_bbc-vsd-96_92961801_mediaitem92961800Mr Shukla’s second dog, Lucky, came to him three months later when he rescued her from the streets. “It had been raining for 12-13 days, she was wet and miserable, so I brought her home too,” he said.

Over the coming days and weeks, whenever he met a stray or abandoned dog, he brought it home. Initially he kept them there but when his wife protested, he moved some of them to the office, where the top floor was turned into a home for dogs.

In 2012, as the pack grew, Mr Shukla bought land in Doddballapur town and set up the farm – a haven for dogs that are old, ailing or simply unwanted.

_92950774_bbc-vsd-76_92950551_bbc-vsd-79The farm is designed for its canine residents, with lots of open spaces for them to run around and ponds to swim in, and there’s double fencing to keep them safe.

Every time we entered an enclosure, a cacophony of barks greeted us.

The farm employs about 10 people, including trained veterinary assistants, to look after the dogs, cook for them and feed them. The dogs are fed 200kg of chicken and another 200kg of rice daily and many of the sick ones need regular medicines and attention.

_92950778_bbc-vsd-49_92951835_bbc-vsd-20The daily cost of running the centre is 45,000 to 50,000 rupees ($663; £532 to $737; £592), according to Mr Shukla, who said he provided 93% of the funds.

In the past year though, he has run into problems with some animal activists, who have demanded that they be allowed onto the farm. He has also faced complaints that he is creating public unrest by keeping so many dogs. There have also been demands that he shut down the farm.

He has refused to concede.

“I’ve made a pact with my dogs,” he said. “We will part only when one of us kicks the bucket.”

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You know that there are many who are desperately worried about 2017 and beyond. The next few years, ten at most, will see the results of this great experiment that humanity is conducting.

Now, I’m happy to put my hand up as someone who does worry at what my generation is leaving for our grandchildren.

Then one comes across people like Rakesh and, somehow, the future doesn’t seem quite so grim.

What a wonderful man.

Published on Oct 8, 2014

Rakesh Shukla is the go-to guy for dog rescue in Bangalore. His privately-funded venture, ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’ champions the cause of India’s stray/ street dogs with research, publication, litigation, veterinary and healthcare services for stray dogs.

 See you all on the other side of Christmas!
But promise me one thing: Never turn your back on a dog in need.

So near, so far!

Mixed emotions about those other worlds out there.

In recent times, Learning from Dogs has been reflecting on the magic, and fragility, of the planet we all live on.

There was the photograph of the Earthrise that attracted quite a few comments.  That was followed up by the amazing photograph of the Earth from Voyager 1 taken in 1990 from 3,762,136,324 miles away!  Then the lovely poem from Sue.

So it was interesting to note my mixed emotions to a piece on the BBC News website yesterday.  Here’s a flavour.

Worlds away

Astronomers have identified some 54 new planets where conditions may be suitable for life.

Five of the candidates are Earth-sized.

The announcement from the Kepler space telescope team brings the total number of exoplanet candidates they have identified to more than 1,200.

The data release also confirmed a unique sextet of planets around a single star and 170 further solar systems that include more than one planet circling far-flung stars.

Read the rest of the item here. (and there’s a fuller version on NetworkWorld)

So here are those mixed emotions.

  • Man has been, and still continues to be, wonderfully curious to the point of spending huge sums of money on projects that appear to do nothing more than satisfy that curiosity. (The (Kepler) mission‘s life-cycle cost is estimated at US$600 million, including funding for 3.5 years of operation, from here.)  That’s a beautiful trait, in my humble opinion.
  • Homo Sapiens is a wonderfully innovative and creative species, as so wonderfully presented by Alan Alda on a recent PBS Programme called The Human Spark.  (See the YouTube intro at the end of this Post.)
  • Look at all the inventions and incredible advances to our species that are all around us – including the PC I am using and the World Wide Web that is aiding this message!
  • For such an intelligent species as us, why is it that we are treating Planet Earth in such a suicidal manner through greed, pollution and over-consumption!
  • As was reported yesterday, we could be on the verge of total and utter chaos in terms of food.  Then also yesterday was a small item about food prices reaching a new global record.
  • It always struck me as absurd to conclude that this planet is the only habitable planet in the universe – ‘Astronomers estimate there are 1021 stars in the universe. With a conservative estimate of three planets per star (some could have many more, some would have none at all) this puts the estimated number of planets into millions of billions.‘ From here.
  • So the data coming in from Kepler is truly astounding and, personally, underlines this era as a great time to be alive.
  • But there simply is no choice in that for decades ahead, if not centuries ahead, Planet Earth is all there is for us.  So why do we do it so much harm!
  • Our civilisation is likely to go to the very limits of survivability before the message that the existing ‘model’ is broken is picked up by every major political party in the world.  That is very, very scary to contemplate.
  • So it looks as though, soon, mankind will face the ultimate decision of all time.  Give up and let the chaos overwhelm us all, or … or what?  In other words millions of us will have to live with the consequences of our greed.
  • The ‘or what?’ can only be a faith that it will be OK.
  • A faith that mankind will use the power of dreams, imagination and energy to create a new future that will, at long last, be a new dawn of democratic and just, integrous existence.
  • And maybe, just maybe, that could be the Second Coming and maybe, just maybe, the world’s Churches and religions will be our saving grace.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36

Fascinating times – a Chinese proverb, ‘It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.’

Finally, here’s that video of the series preview to The Human Spark.