Published: August 6th 2007June 11th 2007
Walking through the tourist bubble of Thamel towards Kathmandu Durbar Square with Jessica the next morning, a scruffy little dog hobbled across my path, looked up at me and then went to lie down under a parked car. She was shivering and obviously in a lot of pain. I couldn't walk past.
In a country such as Nepal where life for the human inhabitants can be incredibly tough, animals are sometimes not looked after too well, even amongst the buddhist community. As we walked back from buying a buffalo meat stir-fry for the little dog, I wondered if I was setting off down a road that would only lead to disappointment.
As our canine friend, now called Thamel, heartily scoffed the delicious looking stir-fry from a ripped-open polythene bag, we decided that there probably wasn't much wrong with her. I found a box to put her in from one of the nearby shops, Jessica covered her with a shawl and, feeling I was being hopelessly optimistic, I asked a couple of the smiling locals if there was an animal hospital nearby.
To my surprise, I was given directions, so I hailed a cab and with Thamel cosy in
her box on the back seat, off we set. About 20 minutes later, we arrived at Kathmandu's basic, but functional, and I've no idea how they manage without running water, Veterinary Hospital.
The service was excellent and within ten minutes, I was carrying Thamel into the x-ray room. Despite the fact that noone was wearing any protective gear, I was pretty sure we shouldn't be in the same dimly lit, concrete room as the dog without a lead vest while x-rays were bouncing around, so I ushered Jessica outside.
A few minutes later, the results of the x-ray confirmed that poor little Thamel had a broken leg and so before being bandaged we thought it a good idea to give the scruffy little lady a good scrub.
While the hospital handy-man cleared a space in the garden round the water hand pump, I went to the pet shop next door for some dog soap and a comb. We carried Thamel to the garden for what I think must have been her first bath in many months, perhaps even years. She cooperated fully, even though the water was cold and only once growled when her broken leg was
A cleaner and happier hound with bandaged broken leg.
clumsily moved by the handy-man.
After half an hour or so of shampooing, pulling out ticks, killing fleas and cutting out the dreadlocks from her coat, it was obvious that the little dog was exhausted. We left her sleeping and drying in the sun for a while and then carried her into a treatment room to have her bad leg bandaged.
I was starting to wonder if I'd be taking the little lady on the bike with me to India. I was getting used to the idea when the vet put the phone down and told us there was space at the SPCA shelter and that there was a vet there now waiting for us and Thamel.
We took a taxi to the SPCA shelter, a small place at the back of an outdoor basketball court. It was currently home to two dogs, a calf and its mother, a cat and a chicken. Although I thought that there was only a slim chance that the chicken would be walking out feeling better than she did when she arrived, the other animals looked to be well cared for. Thamel seemed to know she was in a safe place
and she dozed off in what I think was her most comfortable snooze for a long time.
After chatting with the vet and giving Thamel some more food and water, we said our goodbyes with promises to visit in a few day's time. I'd grown quite attached to the scruffy, cute, little dog and to the idea of having a companion for my trip across Nepal and into India. However, I was more than happy to leave her in the safe hands of the SPCA as I figured I'd probably have my hands full with keeping the Enfield on the road.