How Two Sisters and Their Puppy Love Led to over 100 Strays Finding Loving Homes

From rescuing strays and putting them up for adoption, to conducting sterilization drives in a Delhi neighbourhood, Red Paws Rescue puts its snout out for our four legged friends.

Four years ago, Rex was a skinny two-month-old puppy looking for food among the garbage cans at Delhi’s Vasant Kunj Colony. He was not a particularly good looking or friendly pup, with one ear up and one ear down, and a habit of running away if you tried to pet him.

Yet something in his eyes made Sadhwi Sondhi, then only 17-years-old, whip out the doggie treats packet that she always carries with her to feed strays.

What started with a small gesture grew into a new life for Rex. It was not easy since he took two months of cajoling; he was one of the most wary puppies that Sondhi had encountered, perhaps as a result of being beaten and bullied. But with perseverance and love, Sondhi won him over.

It was not long before Rex, after a good grooming, de-worming and vaccination became the darling of Amy Manoharan from Texas, who flew the dog all the way to the States.

Today, he is a two-year-old strapping dog living on a ranch in Texas where he herds chickens and sheep in exchange for a warm bed, good food and oodles of love—he has found his ‘Forever Home.’

Bingo is a stray who is up for adoption

“Rex is our biggest success story,” says Sadhwi who, along with her sister Sakshi, founded Red Paws Rescue, an adoption agency for stray puppies, four years ago. “Everything just followed after that incident. Today we do not just adoptions but vaccinations, de-worming and sterilization drives with the help of well-known vets like Dr Choudhury at Anand Niketan Clinic and Dr Kuldeep Singh from Max Vets,” says Sadhwi.

Red Paws Rescue in its first two years was run primarily on donations and goodwill but as the sisters kept taking in strays, they found it difficult to run their rescue operation only on this module. It is now run with added income from their pet dog spa that caters to the canine elite who get bathed, brushed, groomed and pampered with all kinds of organic scented sprays and products like paw-butter.

In a ‘pay it forward’ gesture, the Sondhi sisters use the swanky beauty parlour for pet dogs to fund all their goodwill work done with strays at Red Paws Rescue which is located in Greater Kailash 1, a slightly grittier version of the spa.

The space houses not only cute, cuddly puppies, but older injured dogs in a state of recovery as well. Sometimes recovering dogs have to be placed in the brightly coloured ‘dog house’ while the puppies are usually secured in a cardboard box lined with scraps of newspaper and a warm blanket in the winters.

Often the sisters take the smaller puppies home as they require feeding and nurturing with round-the-clock maintenance. They also have a ‘Foster Programme’, where the puppies are kept in temporary foster homes till they can find a ‘Forever Home’.

Strays are fed and housed at Red Paws Rescue

Besides the prominently displayed donation jar for Red Paws Rescue at the spa, there are calendars and other merchandise that often feature the rescued dogs.

“We sometimes hold fund-raisers, like our Yoga International drive that we recently did to raise funds for Red Paws Rescue. We also have generous well-wishers and regular donations do come in,” says elder sister Sakshi, who usually holds up the business end of the set up, since Sadhwi is the trained groomer in the family.

A doggie calendar sold at the spa to raise money for Red Paws Rescue

A doggie calendar sold at the spa to raise money for Red Paws Rescue

The latest success story at Red Paws Rescue is Tara and Sitara, two inseparable puppies who did not want to be placed in separate homes. The cute brown and white pups howled and refused to eat when separated, so the Sondhis, after much patient searching, managed to get then a forever home together

Tara and Sitara

Tara and Sitara

While adoptions often take time, the need of the hour according to the Sondhi sisters is sterilization. “We often have more dogs than homes and with the resources spread so thin, it becomes hard to cater to so many street dogs and puppies. Usually they end up getting run over or contracting something terrible and painful like distemper or rabies— both of which are risky to those living around these dogs as well,” observes Sakshi.

The two sisters approach the sterilization drive area-wise, beginning of course with their own colony. The sterilization is done in a humane and clean manner.

The dogs are often rounded up in the shelter’s latest acquisition, the Red Paws Rescue van, which is pressed into service whenever there is an emergency or dogs have to be ferried from the vet to the rescue homes during emergencies.

Various stray dogs that are up for adoption

Various stray dogs that are up for adoption

Red Paws also coordinates with other dog and animal shelters like Sai Ashram in Chattarpur, where the rescued puppies are often kept till they are adopted.

Red Paws Rescue is on the lookout for a volunteer willing to work their emergency rescue phone line for a bit of money and a lot of love. They currently create awareness with social networking sites and WhatsApp, but the sisters could always do with a pair of helping hands. Whether it is a homeless stray or a thorough bred, the love and care that these two sisters lavish on dogs and the occasional cat, is quite exceptional. Over the years they have found homes for over a 100 dogs and cats.

You can help by giving the shelter coats and beds for the winter; or finding their strays a home by manning their phone-line.

Contact the Sondhi sisters and Red Paws Rescue on their website, call on +91 9958866067 (during business hours) or via e-mail on [email protected].

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About the author: Georgina Maddox is a writer with a regular art column in the Hindu Business Line’s Saturday Magazine BLink. Her writings have been published in various magazines and newspapers like Indian Express, Times of India, Tehelka, India Today, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle Magazine.

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