A carnival like no other

by Chinthana Gopinath

It was a baking frenzy for the two days leading up to the Carnival that was going to be held at Jaaga I would definitely be taking the Chicken Liver Cookies, a favourite even among the fussiest of my customers, and the soft Honey Oatmeal Cookies, made specially for my toothless, aging customers that hold such a special place in my heart. The Carnival would also be the perfect place to introduce my special new recipe – Sweet Potato Bites. Keeping in mind that it was going to be an all day fare and that there would definitely be a few hungry customers around lunchtime and a few parents too tired to prepare dinner afterwards, I carried along my Mini Meatloaves as well.

I woke up early on the day of the carnival to bake the special Chicken & Carrot Cake that I was making for the unique fundraiser. After baking it to a lovely golden brown, I decorated the cake with fun doggy-themed cookies – a happy looking dog, a fire hydrant, a home, some bones, a couple of stars and hearts – because I consider my customers as stars and I love them so. Yes, I really do! If you had customers like mine, you would too.

The day looked nice & sunny despite the rains of the previous night. The stalls were set up along with a puppy pen that would hold little puppies. My stall was right opposite the puppy pen and their silly games kept me occupied. My customers started trickling in. Sitting pretty in front of my stall, inspecting my basket full of goodies, leaning on my table asking for some of my baked goodies, some asking politely, some demanding and some even begging. My little one, Calvin also came by along with the rest of my family. He sat with his usual dopey, doleful expression making people think that he was up for adoption!! I would like to let you all know that he is very well treated at home, contrary to what his expression said that day.

Anabel wandered about the place much like a socialite would at a Page 3 party. Every 15 minutes, she would plonk herself in front of my stall asking for a baked goodie. When I stopped giving her cookies at her mother’s request, poor Anabel had to resort to begging from the puppies in the puppy pen. Yes, I do get customers of all kinds. She was later found at the Courtyard Cafe at Jaaga begging from random strangers too. Her embarrassed parents do not want their names revealed but would also like to let everybody know that Anabel is well fed at home.

And in case you are wondering what kind of customers I have, let me tell you that my customers are the gourmet dogs of Bangalore. They are as important to me as any human I have met in my life. Calvin might be furry and walk on all fours, but he is still very much a part of my family. Whether it is a pet carnival or a human carnival, I still put the same amount of love into my preparations and I was not alone. I saw that this was the case with pretty much everyone at the Pet Carnival & Puppy Adoption Drive at Jaaga that was held on the 31st of December, 2012.

Debadrita Jadav (Debbie), the star behind the Precious Paws Foundation (PPF) is an extraordinary woman because of her exceptional love for dogs. She works tirelessly to ensure that our desi dogs have a chance at living a life in a home rather than fighting for survival on the streets. She has built a network of people who foster little desi pups, cater to their nutrition & health, teach them to be around people & other dogs, build their confidence and then put them up for adoption. PPF regularly has puppy adoption camps where foster parents bring their little puppies in the hope of finding them that one family that will give them the love & home that they deserve. I find Debbie very inspirational because looking at her makes me feel like one person CAN make a difference, one tiny puppy at a time. We all just need to start somewhere.

It was Debbie’s idea on having an adoption camp that after a session of brainstorming, eventually grew and took shape in the form of a fun, all-day carnival – A day where people could not only come in to adopt little puppies but also where pet parents could come in to have a fun day out with their doggies. The idea slowly started taking on a life of its own. Many of us who are members of the group swung into action. How could we help? How could we contribute to make this a fun day for the doggies? Yes, this was in essence going to remain an adoption camp but the carnival angle would help us generate some additional funds for PPF as well as give us an opportunity to spread awareness about the benefits of adopting versus buying a dog. Soon, posters were designed and shared with much enthusiasm on social platforms like Facebook and we started generating tremendous interest about the Pet Carnival and Adoption Camp.

Swaty Chandel of Wooflicious volunteered to put up a stall selling collars, t-shirts, shampoos & other doggy accessories while I volunteered to put up a Pupcake stall selling homemade doggy treats & cookies. Saarus Nirhali said that she could sell some cool doggy-inspired painted stained glass goodies. Ideas were generated on how to help raise some funds for PPF as Debbie is planning to build a little shelter for fostering puppies. An entry fee of Rs. 50 per doggy & per human would be collected. PPF would sell merchandize to raise funds. Woofilicious would have a lucky dip where one could pay Rs. 50 and stand a chance to win a gift voucher for Rs. 500 to shop online. Rithika Gupta & Siddharth Krish of Huckleberry (a lovely dog-friendly restaurant) would give out a gift voucher for Rs. 500. On behalf of Pupcake I would be baking a  unique, doggy cake. People had to pay Rs. 50 to guess the weight of the cake and the closest guess to the actual weight of the cake would get to take it home.

Several stalls offering interesting off-beat items for pet parents and dog lovers

Several stalls offering interesting off-beat items for pet parents and dog lovers

I arrived on the scene early only to find that there were some prospective adopters that were there even before the puppies arrived, so eager were they to find their perfect little companions. Within a couple of hours, Jaaga was abuzz with activity!!

Puppies playing in the pen watched over by their loving foster parents; Doggies barking loudly with excitement; Humans calling after their dogs to please behave themselves; People recognizing the doggies from Bombat Dawgz even before recognizing the humans; Humans shopping for their doggies… what more could one ask for? Many people, without a doggy in tow, had come by, just like that, to indulge in some puppy love.

There were some young children at the carnival that really warmed my heart.

They had adopted desi dogs and had come by to talk to prospective adopters about the advantages of adopting a desi. They spoke with such conviction and love that a lovely little puppy called Peaches definitely found her forever family that day thanks to these children. A group of girls were even seen making a video of the event and interviewing families that had adopted dogs all in a bid to increase awareness about adopting a dog versus buying one. I wish more parents & schools would make a deliberate effort to sensitize children towards the plight of animals, make them learn that we have to be the voice of those creatures that don’t speak a language that we understand. It is as important to save the tiger in the wild as it is to save a doggy on the street. Living harmoniously with all these creatures make us human, not exterminating them and claiming sole right to this planet.

Tanya, the guardian angel of the dogs who spreads the message of adoption among her friends

Tanya, the guardian angel of the dogs who spreads the message of adoption among her friends

What a day well spent it was!! We all got to interact with many dogs & humans who we knew so far only by name. We got to meet large hearted, dedicated foster parents that loved each of their little puppies to bits. Most important of all, five little puppies found their fur-ever homes. It was truly a bombat first effort by our team at Bombat Dawgz.

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