Four months ago, someone hurled a puppy from a car near the landfill site at Saa-Tshalu, some 3km from Trashigang town. Just above the landfill is a dog shelter.

The next day, the caretaker of the Karuna Dog Shelter, Tshewang and her younger son while returning from an evening walk, found the puppy near a pile of garbage, unable to move.

“We thought it was dead because it didn’t make any sound. But then my son said that it was breathing, so we took it to our place,” said Tshewang. “After feeding, we treated her with the medicine and gave her a bath. I didn’t think she would survive.”

She said that even after the treatment, the condition of the puppy did not improve. Thinking it was dead, she placed the puppy on the top of a tree before deciding to bury it the next day. “To our surprise, the puppy had woken up the next morning and was crying from the tree.”

Today, the puppy, Migsermo, is healthy. She lives with about 40 other dogs at the shelter.

Tshewang took over as the caretaker of the shelter two years ago. When she first joined, there were only about seven dogs at the shelter, she said. “All of them were very weak. I was told that they were fed only porridge. I decided to give them proper rice meals.”

The dogs are fed twice daily. The menu changes from rice porridge to rice mixed with cooking oil, salt and vegetables. “Just like us, they also like eating different food. They eat more when vegetables are added,” said the caretaker.

However, it has been almost two months since the dogs did not have any vegetable in their meals.

Manager, Chhimi Dorji, said that lately he could not attend to the shelter and its need for some personal reasons. He said that food supply worth about Nu 12,000 is stocked at the shelter every month otherwise.

The manager said that Karma Tenzin, the founder of the dog shelter, provided the money. He said that although Karma Tenzin lived abroad, the money was delivered on time for the dogs.

“We provide treatment to the wounded ones and for those that need advance treatment, we consult with the veterinary hospital in Trashigang,” said Chhimi Dorji.

For the safety of the newcomers, they are separated from the rest of the group until they become friendly. Majority of the dogs at the shelter are stray.

“It would be convenient for us if they could bring the dogs to us rather then leaving it on the road,” said the manager.

No volunteer come to feed the dogs at she shelter. Save for a few tourists and shopkeepers, the dogs at the shelter do not get many visitors.

“Because they are given the same meal every time, they don’t eat well. This is why I allow some of the weaker ones to go scavenge the garbage at the landfill,” said Tshewang. “I think they find better food at the landfill because they become healthier.”

She said that the dogs move freely during the day around the compound and the area near the landfill. “During night they return to the shelter. Wherever they might have come from, for now this is their new home.”

Built on 86-decimal land in Saa-Tshalu, Karuna (compassion) Dog Shelter was established in 2008. This is the only dog shelter in Trashigang.

Younten Tshedup  | Trashigang