Man, the misery in the animal world is so relentless. We’ve got another doggie on our hands. A rawhide-tough one. Real hellion. Named Bambi.
Actually this four-month old little girl is all sweetness on the outside; her toughness is on the inside. Here’s what happened:
Maybe not even a month old, Bambi was abandoned by someone out near the Ulaanbaatar airport. Most people who live in a small compound want a male as a watchdog for their ger or dacha. Female dogs are constantly abandoned or killed. This one got lucky. An FPMT staffer, Gloria, who has a heart as big as her native Colombia, found her and brought her back to their center (Gloria gave me Nita, remember?).
After getting her fixed up, Gloria found the little one a home with Oronkhand (nickname “Oronoo”), one of the young women who works at FPMT’s Stupa Café. Many were pleased, but none more so than Oronoo’s six-year old daughter, Solong. She named the new arrival Bambi and toddler and puppy became fast friends.
About a week ago, Solong climbed onto a bus. In her devotion, Bambi tried to follow. The bus driver jumped up and gave Bambi a vicious kick out the door. Oronoo describes a scene of the dog yelping and yelping in pain, her daughter inconsolably hysterical, the discovery that Bambi’s left rear leg was no longer functioning, and the bus driving off.
Oronoo’s brother thought Bambi’s hip might have been dislocated and advised waiting a couple of days. He’d seen similar-seeming injuries right themselves before. Not this time. It didn’t get better and Bambi was miserable.
So my friend Hazel, the one who called me about the injured street dog the other week, phoned again and asked if I could meet them at the vet and provide whatever help I could. Of course I did. I’m very fond of Oronoo and you know I can’t resist the cries of unfortunate critters.
I arrived and found Oronoo comforting Bambi. Even in her anxiety, with just a little encouragement Oronoo managed to let bloom what I suspect might be the most beautiful smile in Mongolia:
Bambi was quiet, but managed a tail wag and let me skritch her and coo at her a bit. After a concerned examination by the vet, she was brought back for x-rays. Once the pictures were done, we were invited back to see. What I saw on the film made me literally gasp in horror. The bus driver’s kick had completely snapped Bambi’s left femur in two, with the two pieces pointing in different directions in her thigh (click to see larger image; red arrow points to fracture):
What astounded me most of all was Bambi herself. I didn’t hear her whimper even once. She didn’t recoil from the vet’s prodding of her injured area or try to bite. She stood bravely on three legs and wagged a little if she recognized you. Real Mongol girl, this one.
The only option was surgery and we were advised it would be a little complicated and a little expensive and there would be about a three-month recuperation. Without a thought, I said yes, let’s do it, I’ll pay and I’ll take the dog home to recoup if need be. So it’s scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10.
Now, quizzing Oronoo a bit, I got a fairly startling economic reality check concerning the lives of ordinary Mongolian workers. Oronoo works a 40-hour week and makes 90,000 a month (hmm, 90,000, sounds OK...). Her husband is an elevator operator and makes 70,000 a month (not as much, but still, that’s 160,000 altogether, sounds like a lot!).
Ahem. This is, of course, in Mongolian tugrigs. Converting at the current exchange rate, Oronoo and her husband, together, live on $135 a month. That’s $1620 a year. Combined. Before taxes. With a child.
Let that sink in for a minute.
So. Bambi’s surgery will cost more than their combined monthly salary, maybe around $150-175. Now, Hazel footed the last bill, I blurted out that this one was on me, but Brother Konchog, believe it or not, doesn’t live on much more than that a month (cost of living in Mongolia is very low). Given this, and knowing that there are many animal lovers among the DODR readership, some of whom, in fact, might have a job, I thought I’d at least offer y'all the opportunity to join me in saving a Mongolian puppy’s life. Sure, we got nuns to send to India, too, but as bodhisattvas we’re on deck for all sentient beings, verdad? If you’re moved to make a contribution to Bambi’s surgery, you may do so here (please type “Bambi’s Surgery” in the comment box). I’ll let you know if we reach $150. Anything above that, I’ll direct that it be given to our Tara’s Babies animal rescue project. How's that sound?
(UPDATE: Bless you all, beloveds. I woke up this morning (Ulaanbaatar is 12 hours ahead of US East Coast time -- for many of you, my today is your tomorrow!) and my email alerts show me that several of you were moved to send gifts to fix Miss Bambi's leg. We now have more than enough to cover the surgery. As I said, whatever else comes in we'll transfer that to Tara's Babies. Or my Tahiti Vacation Fund. One of the two.)
Speaking of that, there is no organization anywhere in Mongolia like the ASPCA. I’m starting to ruminate, and I’m sure some of you are thinking along the same lines, about whether it’s time to start a Tara’s Babies: Mongolia. Make it more formal, bring the Mongols in, care for stray domestic critters while launching campaigns against poaching, unrestricted sport hunting and fishing, etc. Bring a serious Buddhist ethic into it. Whaddya think? Here’s how that idea makes me feel (pic taken just this morning, Mooj and Nita sharing my lap and mutually grooming while I had my Mongolian lesson):