Project activity during this holiday period has really slowed to an extra-dull crawl, but once in a while an urgent task comes up. Like saving a mangled street puppy.
Early last week I visited Lam Rim Temple to oversee transfer of the teaching throne to the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Arts where it will be painted, as well as make preparations for weekly teaching that will start January 11. In the temple courtyard, one usually finds a big, very shy, yellow mommy-type dog. But on this day, further in, I spied a puppy of the classic Mongolian ‘four-eyed’ dawg variety (so-called because of their cinnamon-on-black eyebrows), who hobbled right over on three legs to see about some lovin’. I doled out the love, of course, and inspected the favored leg.
Little miss (it’s always the female dogs that are abandoned) had suffered some kind of trauma to her leg just above the paw so severe that the paw itself had been wrenched 180 degrees; the bone must have been shattered all the way through. The lower leg was swollen and there were open abrasions; it smelled faintly of decay. I’m no vet, but I suspect the frigid weather actually helped the wound and limited infection. Not for the squeamish, but here’s what she was dealing with (you actually can't quite see all the damage here, but you get the idea):
The dilemma for me, like with Padma, was that I just couldn’t take her right then. I checked with the resident lamas who said she’d just wandered in the day before, and they were feeding her. I thought she’d be OK overnight and I’d get her the next day. Dopey Konchog, however, forgot about the Christmas holiday and the fact that our vet is a Christian missionary (the very best kind; I honestly can’t say enough good things about her). Sure enough, the clinic was closed through the weekend.
Like the sap I am, I couldn’t stop thinking about the poor thing, and as soon as I could get out today I returned to Lam Rim. There she was, smartly curled up in the sunshine outside the kitchen door. I bundled her up in a blanket, and off we trouped to the V-E-T.
When we arrived, I heard one dog inside piteously crying and whining. Concerned, I asked what was wrong, and was told, “Oh, she’s just in for a bath.” My little charge and I shared a look and chuckled. I mean, she’s one of those “there but for the grace of karma go I” cases, abandoned as a puppy on Ulaanbaatar’s winter streets, having to fend for herself with a potentially life-threatening injury. And did she utter a single yip, even tremble? No she did not. Just as unfussed as Padma. In fact, with all the new and strange things happening to her, including being posed for photos, her main thought was to give her guardian monk puppy kisses (which is maybe how she got in this karmic jam to begin with, but that’s another story...):
So after vet Boloroo had a good look under her hood – all healthy, not even a fever – in consultation with Dr. Karen, we decided she was good to go for a full tune-up tomorrow. That means she will have to have her lower leg amputated. She’ll also get spayed, she’ll be de-wormed and get all her puppy shots, and she’ll get a big ol' warm bath, with blow-dry, of course, maybe even highlights.
“Wow, are they doing all that for free?” Um...glad you asked! In a word, no.
An American friend emailed me earlier, saying she wanted to make a donation for animal-related stuff we do, but I don’t want to ask her to foot the whole bill. With the food I’ll have to buy while she recuperates at my place (cats are going to be oh-so-thrilled), it’ll be around $300. Not bad, considering. So if you’re inspired to use the 20 bucks grandma stuffed into your Christmas card in a virtuous way, just click the Magic PayPal Garuda below, and please write “Mongolian Puppy Repairs” in the comment box, so we can track it properly. I'll drop in an update when we reach our goal. And, truly, bless you.
UPDATE: Once again, I'm overwhelmed by your unstinting generosity, and concern when it comes to these little critters. We made our goal, and then some. According to the Buddha, such compassion will pay big dividends in future lives. But we don't do it for that reason! We do it because we must, right? As the Dalai Lama says, "If you can help others, do so. If you can't, at least don't harm them." Thank you, thank you. Surgery starts in an hour. Send good vibes! If you were going to give, consider your local shelter; I'm sure in these times, they really need it.
After li’l superpuppy regains her strength, I’ll return her to Lam Rim. It’s a great place and I know she’ll be such a happy temple dog.
Feeling pleased with the day’s work, and considering the fact that it never got above 0F (-18C) while I was running around, I decided to reward myself with a hot mugga at the newly-opened Coffee Empire:
Frankly, if a horde arrived at my fortifications under the heart logo banner of hyper-caffeination and gooey goodies, I think I would submit to their rule without a fight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear this empire’s destined to last quite as long as Chingghis’ mighty domain. The pleasure I was deriving from the fascinating history of Buddhism in China I’m reading was starkly offset by a latte that could only be described, out of kindness, as appalling.
So I escaped the empire and hightailed it to my aerie, pausing just briefly to capture this bit of weirdness, a pair of Mongolian street reporters interviewing an elegant older couple...in Santa costumes. Yes, Miss Santa is passing a cell phone to the other; urgent call from Prancer, maybe: