A few years ago- I met Tandrali Kuli, at Friendicoes through work. Since then, I have seen her working tirelessly to save the lives of every animal that she could help and more. In today’s world- where people have no time and everything is about being ‘convenient’, and ‘practical’, I am blessed to know someone as compassionate and large hearted as Tandrali, who goes out of her way and makes every effort to help, heal and love! I admire her immensely, and wish there were more people like her around.
In an interview with Heads Up For Tails, Tandrali talks about her life and the challenges she faces everyday, along with the little victories that make it all worth while! I hope we can inspire more of us to open up our hearts to animals and share some compassion!
HUFT- Tell us about yourself.
Tandrali- There is nothing much to say. I am an ordinary girl with an ordinary life. I have always had dogs since I was 3 years old. My first dog was an Indie I named Tommy. I came to Delhi to study in Delhi University and while in college started volunteering at Friendicoes. And that is how I got involved with animal welfare on a bigger scale.
HUFT- When was the first moment you realised you were an ‘animal person’.
Tandrali-There was no moment as such. Since the time I can remember I was always in tune with animals, birds and any other living thing. My mother had a huge role in sensitizing me towards my environment. She would never allow me to even pluck flowers just for fun. So with my fascination for animals and my mother sensitizing me to living beings I was always “in love” with animals. Though it was only after getting involved with Friendicoes did I realise “my passion for animals”. And when I say animals it incoporates both domestic and wild animals.
HUFT- tell us about your work with Wildlife SOS and Friendicoes.
While I was volunteering with Friendicoes I got an offer for a job at Wildlife SOS. It opened a whole new world to me where animals were concerned. My main role at Wildlife SOS was to do content writing, manage the website, co ordinate between the field centres, do donor updates & reports and occasionally deal with visitors. Though there was no direct contact with the animals it was a very satisfying job. At Friendicoes there is no job profile. I help with everything. Admin, donor management, PR, fundraising, rescue, volunteer management.. you name it and I do it. That is mainly because Friendicoes is not a run of the mill NGO. It is a small organisation which does a lot of work for animals. Much beyond its scope and capability which is why it is always struggling. But with the number of animals abandoned and the number of distress calls coming in we have no choice but to push beyond our limits.
HUFT- What are the everyday challenges you face. What’s the toughest one.
Tandrali-The biggest challenege I feel we (both Friendicoes and I as an animal person) face is ignorance. People have no clue about animals and that includes dogs. So much superstition and myths floating around and no proper counselling. Add to that breeders with their pedigrees and we have a dangerous situation there. Indian street dogs are still not very popular with the masses. It is always a “Labra” or a “Jarman Sepherd”. They don’t know the first thing about taking care of these breeds. It is a very sad situation. Dogs have so much love, loyalty and wisdom to share with us and we end up ignoring the “Indies” and exploting the “pedigrees”.
HUFT- tell us about happy, satisfying experiences.
It is not all bad. There are some happy instances that keep you going. One day I was at the shelter during one of my routine visits and I saw these foreign couple very agitated and confused. So I walked up to them and asked if I could be of help. It turned out that they had started feeding a mum and her liter in a park near their house in Lajpat Nagar and 2 of the pups had gotten run over by the car they were sleeping under. They were only a month old then and suffered multiple fractures and broken bones. These couple were at a loss as to what to do as they already had 2 cats and their landlord wasn’t too happy about it. So adding the puppies were out of the question but the vet had told them that they will not make it if left at the shelter as they both needed a lot of nursing care. So they were contemplating if it would be kinder to put them tp sleep.
I saw the puppies fell in love with them and told them to manage somehow for just couple of days with promise of foster homes. We called them Uno and Ferrera. So Uno and went home with Wolf and Jenny. Within 48 hours Uno found a home with a friend of theirs.and I managed to find a foster for Ferrera in less than a week. While Ferrera was in foster and recovering I focussed on the remainin 3 healthy siblings. The first to get adopted was Yoghurt. He went to a lovely family with a Lab and they became fast friends. Then next was the turn of Lily and Rocco. It took us a month but we found them the perfect home with a family living in a farmhouse and with 5 other Indie dogs. Then it was the turn of Ferrera and it took us a long time.. 6 months to be precise so she was 9 months old by the time we found her a home and with no other than with the family who had taken in her siblings Rocco and Lily. Meanwhile Jenny and Wolf got the mom Mamachita spayed at Friendicoes and is now contenplating taking her back to Europe with them. It gladens the heart to see such happy endings.
Then couple of months back while on one of my regular walks in a park near the shelter I came across 4 puppies under a temporary shelter. They were not there 3-4 days before when I last visited so I was really surprised but touched that someone had made a shed kind of structure for them. It was raining those days but at least the puppies could stay dry. I immediately started feeding them but sadly every time went to feed them I found them running in the middle of the busy road next to the park. I could not live with the tension any more and removed them from the park. I was lucky to find 2 foster homes – one took in 1 puppy and the other took in 2 puppies. I personally took in the 4th puppy. It took me more than a month but we managed to find homes for all 4 of them and amazing homes. The first to go was Pickle whom I had fostered. She went to a home with another puppy of her age and is doing well. Next to go was Spice. She went to a great home too. The only male in the liter Tino went to a sprawling Sainik Farm house and has a big brother Twister for company who is also Indie. Last to go was Fern. She is now called Rupee and she hit he jackpot when she found her family with an American couple from Florida who were visiting India. Fern flew to Florida 2 weeks back and took to her new like a duck to water. We get regular updates from her new family and they dote on her.
All these adoptions became possible only because there are some people out there who has a big heart that is restricted by boundaries of looks and fad. To them an Indie is as much precious as a pedigree. Sadly those people are still in minority. We also received a blind St.Bernard 3 years back. He was found by someone on the road. And we had a lot of enquiries for him. But they would always end with questions like “can his eyes be operated and his vision come back?”. The moment we said no they would lose interest. But then his destiny opened up. After a month a couple came forward to adopt him and today he is their son. They do not like anyone referring to him as their pet or dog. To them he is their son and that is his identity. People like this are very rare and far between. But these are the people who give us hope and keep us going.
HUFT- What are your dreams.
Tandrali- To have licensed breeding in India and a set of stricter animal laws that will enable us to save more lives.
HUFT- How can others pitch in to help you in their own small way
1. By advocating and encouraging adoption of Indie dogs/cats and abandoned dogs from shelters.
2. By looking after the colony strays – getting them spay/neutered and vaccinated. If possible also feeding them one meal.
3. By being involved with the local shelter whether in terms of volunteering hours, fostering, fund raising or helping with adoptions.
4. By sensitizing people and creating awareness against breeders and buying pets –
“A simple advise – think hard before you adopt or bring a pet into your life. It is a lifetime commitment and not one that is flexible. Read, understand and then decide the breed you are getting home. I strictly advise an Indie. They are the easiest to look after and you do not have to part with any sum of money to bring one home. All you need to check is the temperament of the animal, the rest can be achieved by following a few rules and some basic training. Be patient and committed and the rest is easy.”