Embark's overriding objective is to change the attitudes of people towards animals enabling humans and animals to live-in harmony. We appeal to animal lovers of all ages and we are delighted to say that we have been able to convert many indifferent members of the public in to dedicated supporters of Embark and have as a result been able to give a better life to many homeless dogs.
LOVE AND LIFE WITH MAN'S BEST FRIEND
What do three young people; an architect, a high school student, and an undergraduate have in common? They all LOVE dogs, and have given of their time and energy to help improve the lives of animals in Sri Lanka. The Embark team caught up with them to hear what they have to say about love and life with man's best friend!
An architect, bibliophile, and ardent animal lover, Anu has grown up with several canine companions. So much so that she even describes herself as half dog! Whether at home or on the street, Anu has befriended, fed and looked after countless dogs over the years.
While studying, volunteering or spending time at home, dogs have been a part of Umaya's life ever since she was old enough to walk on her own. From Pepsi, the rescue dog and Bundle her first dog, to Ruby the gentle giant and her two canine friends, Umaya's home is filled with wagging tails and the playful antics of not one, but FOUR dogs!
Similarly, Shanali has been surrounded by dogs from the time she was just 11 and likes nothing more than spending time with them! Dreaming of one day building a dog-sanctuary, Shanali enjoys balancing work, studies and her passion for animal welfare.
Anu Umaya Shanali
Living with dogs
Asked to describe what it is about dogs that she finds special, Shanali didn't need a second to answer. "Dogs are constant" she said, giving her 20Kg baby a tummy rub. "They love us no matter what, and can understand and respond to all our varied feelings."
While cautiously keeping a plate of food away from four sets of greedy eyes, Umaya described her relationship with her dogs in two words, "Best Friends". With them from the moment she gets home, one hand ruffling their fur while she completes her homework or reads a book, and with them even as she goes to sleep, her dogs have a claim to her life and every inch of her space. Often stretching themselves out at all odd angles, tails in her face, feet poking into her side and another sleeping right across her - "Best Friends" seems to sum up their relationship just right!
"Unconditional love" said Anu, describing what she thinks makes dogs so special. Her dog Chicky is always the first to give her a hug when she wakes up, and no matter how long she's been out, Chicky waits faithfully to greet her when she gets home from work. "If Chicky could talk, I'm sure she would just ask me to stay home and cuddle her all day" said Anu, giving her dog a hug.
Working with street dogs
"I've wanted to help and work with animals ever since I was in school" said Shanali. "Going to school in the mornings and seeing thin, malnourished dogs rummaging through garbage piles for food was heartbreaking, and I had to do something". Starting off by feeding some of the dogs around her home, Shanali did just that. Now working towards getting them vaccinated and sterilised, each dog in her neighborhood has a name and seems to be very much a part of the community!
Asked about what others can do to help street dogs in our country, Umaya responded with a quotable quote, "Charity begins at home" she said. "People should make sure their own dog is vaccinated and if female - sterilised as well. Start small, look at helping one other dog in your own area, and encourage your neighbours and friends to also vaccinate and sterilise their dogs".
Speaking to Anu about her experiences working with dogs, we heard about how her heart had gone out to a litter of puppies that were abandoned in the rain. She had taken the puppies home, secretly made a warm shelter for them in the garden and had looked after them till they were safe! Even with a heavy workload and full time job, Anu is still able to help wherever she can. From fostering, to feeding and looking after dogs in her area, we learned of her secret. "It's not difficult" she said, "I just really love what I'm doing!"
Sharing about her experiences on volunteering, Shanali highlighted the importance of enjoying what you do "Volunteering is more than giving your time or money, it's about the satisfaction of seeing rescue dogs going to great homes."
"My favourite Sunday of the month" said Anu, speaking about the Embark Puppy Adoption Day. "Apart from getting to spend time with all those puppies, it's also where I feel the most normal, amongst other animal lovers, foster parents and rescuers who feel the same way about animals."
Umaya summed it up well when she said "Working with dogs can be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences for an animal lover! But volunteering is something you do because you want to, it's not just about hanging out and spending time. It's a commitment."
Whether it's caring for our own dogs responsibly, helping dogs on the street, or volunteering.All of us can do something to help improve the lives of street dogs in Sri Lanka.