This woman brought home a street dog and her seven puppies from India. Quite an amazing story: Toronto News: Naz Sayani of Hamilton brings home eight street dogs from India - thestar.com
It is not unusual for Naz Sayani to bring home wounded animals and strays. There have been birds, a rabbit, even a bat. Right now in her Hamilton home, for example, there are five cats.
Come this weekend, provided all goes well, there will be a stray dog named Sweetie and her seven puppies to add — all rescued from the streets of Surat, India, where no one wished to give them a home.
Sayani, a part-time McMaster University teacher who is flying them home in person, has a love story to tell, complete with mean kids with rocks, long drives in a rented car and cruel hotel staff.
You might call it The Lady and the Lady Tramp
The opening line from Sayani, talking to a reporter over the telephone from a New Delhi hotel room: “My husband thinks I’ve gone nuts.”
Flashback to July: Sayani, 56, had flown to Surat in the Indian state of Gujarat with her daughter, a 22-year-old McMaster student seeking homeopathic treatment for an intestinal problem.
Her two sons and her husband, a cardiologist at Hamilton General Hospital, stayed home. Well, someone had to. There are cats, remember?
Each day, Sayani would take her daughter to the doctor in the well-to-do Indian city, famous for diamond cutting and polishing. The two were struck by the number of strays on the streets, most of which looked sickly.
Some had blotchy fur. There were open sores. Many limped, having had run-ins with rickshaws and cars. As happens in many countries with strays, people treated them poorly.
“It’s shocking,” says Sayani, whose father was from India and mother from Uganda. “It’s a well-to-do area, but the dogs are in really bad shape. They’re really in bad shape.”
It brought her to tears. Distressed animals seemed to be attracted to Sayani, who does work with the Hamilton SPCA. So, she talked the hotel into lending her a car at night, which she used to drive around and drop food for the strays. The hotel staff, too, thought her “nuts.”
There was this one dog that caught her eye. She was a mutt, pregnant but thin, and liked to quietly follow behind Sayani on walks. The Canadian learned that her name was Sweetie and that she lived in a schoolyard, where a watchman watched over her when he could.
Sweetie had lived there since she was little. The previous year, she’d given birth to a litter. Each of the pups died in accidents, crushed and run over.
In September came the new puppies, a litter of seven. Sayani returned home for two weeks, and then returned to discover Sweetie and the pups had been moved into a hole in a wall for protection.
What they really needed protection from was the schoolchildren, some of whom had dogs at homes as pets but regarded street dogs as lesser canines. The children threw stones and bricks at them.
So, Sweetie removed her pups, one by one, into another area. But the abuse continued. Sayani couldn’t comprehend the cruelty.
“Sweetie is a very gentle dog. She would follow people and people would be raising a fist at her and screaming at her. And then she goes away.”
Sayani dropped by daily to check in on Sweetie, dividing her time between her daughter and the dogs.
Sayani started spending more time with the pups to protect them, and even went so far as to rent a car to house the puppies in during the day. When school was out, she’d return the pups to Sweetie.
“It was like a full-time job for me,” says Sayani.
She also fell in love with the pups and gave them names. The boys: Snowy, Prairie, Sacha, Jersey and Patches (the biggest). The girls: Bashie and Coonie.
She took the pups to the vet for shots and moved them into a cage at the school. Slowly, the children warmed up to the point where some went home to ask parents if they could adopt a puppy. But no one wanted a street dog.
Skip forward: Sayani took the puppies to New Delhi, where she was when she spoke to the Star
late Thursday. She thought she’d have luck adopting them out at a shopping centre. Again, some inquires but no takers.
The hotel where she’d been staying locked her out, upset over the mess the puppies made. The manager demanded extra payment and would not hand over the puppies until the money was received.
Sayani paid up, put the pups in a kennel and a decision was made. They’d come home to Canada. She applied to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in November for the proper paperwork, and it came through just days ago.
And then, there was another, more difficult decision.
When she’d left for New Delhi with the puppies, Sweetie had been left behind. With no luck adopting out the pups, Sayani returned to fetch Sweetie. One watchman was very close to Sweetie and said the dog was not eating much and was constantly crying.
“I was very conflicted about this,” says Sayani. “She’s used to the (Indian) weather here, and one of the guards loves her, the one that looked after her since she was little. She sleeps at night next to him, and whatever he cooks — some roti, milk — he gives to her.”
But Sweetie is not in good shape. Other people abuse her. So, Sweetie and the pups are together again and will be missed by at least one man.
“She became alive when she saw her kids,” says Sayani. “They seem happy to be all together.”
Sayani and her family — yes, even her husband, who is “not an animal person” — are readying for the arrival. They plan to be foster parents until adoptions can be arranged.
And for that, Sayani is asking for help. If interested, you can contact her by email at [email protected]