Our story unexpectedly began in 2012, in the south of India. Melody, our founder, travelled to India for a stay at an Ayurveda and yoga treatment centre for a month long program with Ayurvedic physicians. Her intentions were to heal herself after an invasive medical treatment in the west. During this trip she realized, as a yoga practitioner of 20 years, she needed to share her love of yoga and her passion for healing with others. Unknown to her at the time, this would be the beginning of a new path for not only herself, but some dogs in serious need.
Our founder tells the story…….
I was exiting the gates of our treatment centre as a female dog, not even a year old, approached us. Even though she was clearly suffering, she gifted us with that beautiful puppy joy and excitement. I could tell this pup recently gave birth to a litter but they were nowhere to be found. She looked like she was hit by a vehicle, more than once, had major skin issues, possibly mange, she was covered in ticks and fleas, and was extremely malnourished. She looked like a skeleton with bones protruding from her frail body.
One look at her pain and suffering brought silent tears to my face. She seemed so hopeful to have humans notice her without turning away. When was the last time someone noticed her and acknowledged her suffering? For the next hour and a half we walked together through the village. We were so hopeful she would take us to her puppies, our hearts broke for her when this didn’t happen. So we walked together with my tears and her excitement.
Arriving back at the treatment centre, we immediately started asking anybody and everybody to assist us in getting her help. Either they wanted nothing to do with it, or we were told that there are no vets or services that will deal with the street dogs. With no luck we persisted, searching for some way to get her help.
Every spare moment over the next 4 days were spent bringing her food and water, comfort, attention, and we continued to look for her puppies. She had no hesitations with us and seemed quite trusting so we assumed the litter did not survive. We pushed on with determination to find a way to help her and even bring her home with us, and then one day she was gone. Our best guess was she wandered off with a full belly to die alone among the coconut trees, maybe where her puppies laid to rest.
Little did I know that the suffering of this one dog would plant a seed so deep within my heart. It’s because of the suffering of this one dog that others will live their best lives.
On sequential trips the efforts to help evolved from feeding the street dogs, and horses, to raising money and awareness back in Vancouver, Canada. Below are some of the pivotal years that paved the way to the formation of a nonprofit and forming a volunteer committee to join the efforts.
In 2014 Melody found her Guru, Yogrishi Vishvikitu, and returned multiple times to study advanced yoga with him and her Akhanda yoga family at the Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, India.
Another memorable year that push Melody to become more seriously involved with rescue. She knew more needed to be done after witnessing a puppy run over by a car and lose its life. Upon returning home, she started serious fundraising and raising awareness.
A collaboration was formed with Rishikesh Animal Care (RAC) with the intention of doing vaccination drives, local sterilizations, feeding programs and on the street care. After volunteering to helping the street dogs for a few days, she realized raising money wouldn’t be enough.
During this same trip Melody met with her guru several times to discuss helping the local street animals. After several meetings he generously lent a plot of land toward these efforts for a temporary shelter to be build. Here we would focus on emergency care and post-op recovery.
We built the shelter and started helping dogs before all the bricks were even up. With the assistance of our Akhanda (Anand Prakash Ashram) volunteers and RAC, several dogs were saved from near death, a few were even adopted out locally and internationally. Then the opposition from the locals and visitors built up to a point we were forced to close our shelter. It isn’t favourable or sometimes even tolerated to help the desi (Indian street dogs). In fact, India has had to put laws in place to protect those caring for street animals.
After the shelter closed, the focus was redirected to international adoption and new collaborations were formed. Furthermore, a yoga inspired jewellery line WeR1 Jewellery was created, with part proceeds going towards the rescue efforts. The raw materials purchased from Rishikesh merchants with the intention of supporting the locals in the area who are on board with our efforts.
Through our founder’s efforts, close to 50 dogs were brought to Canada and the USA from April of 2018 to August 2019. All have continued to thrive and live their best lives with their forever families.
The decision was officially made to form Yogi Street Dog Rescue Society (YSDRS) and create a volunteer committee with the intention of helping more dogs in need.
We currently have 90 dogs safely off the streets of India and in forever loving homes in Canada and America.