Dear Friends,

I am both excited and proud to have set up the The Happy Foundation for Animal Welfare. Happy is a very special soul that quietly entered our lives back in 1994. Little did we know the impact he would have on our family.

As ironic as it may seem, when Happy first came home, I was totally adamant that he be sent back to where he came from. We had kept a puppy, Brownie, a few years prior, and after only having him for three months, he was tragically killed in a car accident. The days after his death were unbearable and at the tender age of 12, I had never experienced pain like that ever before.

Happy quickly became very popular in our community. He was even specially invited for picnics and sleepovers. We used to take him everywhere we could. Unfortunately, animal laws are not as relaxed in Hong Kong, and very often, we would sneak him into places he wasn't allowed. He was so well behaved and the authorities and security had to take one look at him and they wouldn't say a word.

One of our long standing rituals when we were in school was Sunday lunch. The five of us (Happy included) would head off to our favourite restaurant. As Happy was not allowed inside, we would let him sleep in the car until we were done. We would pack all our leftovers and order a separate dish for him. After lunch, he would hear us from a mile away of us returning to the car. He would wag his tail so much and as soon as we opened the door, he would go and smell all of our hands to see who was holding his food. After that, we would take him on a long leisurely walk so we all could work off our meals.

Happy running after Sunday Brunch
Happy running

During the holidays, we would take Happy to an Old Age Home once a week to meet the elderly. Happy would run through the entire ward and the entire atmosphere of the home completely recharged. Everyone there would suddenly wake up and were so happy to see a small dog. Happy was motivated by food and during their meal times, he would look at them so innocently and cutely, and no one could resist sharing their meal with him. He was a smart cookie and used his looks to his advantage :) He was also a regular volunteer at the Hong Kong Red Cross. My mom would take him with her every Thursday. He would entertain all the volunteers as they went about their daily tasks.

Happy’s and my bond started when he was about seven years old and I was 23. I often got a sense that Happy was lonely at the time and he kept communicating to me that he was very bored. I was often brushed off by saying it was my imagination and he is just a dog. He doesn’t feel bored. Around that time, my parents were planning on neutering him, and I was completely against it. Today I know better.  As I was against it, they didn’t tell me, and when I was at work, he was taken to the vet for surgery. When I came home late that night, I was shocked to see Happy wrapped in a white bandage and the first thing I “heard” was “Why didn’t you tell me?”. Again, I shook it off as my imagination. I did apologise to Happy and explained that I did not know either. I didn’t know if he understood me or heard me but it felt good to say it to him.

Can you believe that it took me seven years after that to really understand that Happy had been communicating with me and I did not understand or believe.  It was only after his death that I truly understood what all his communication meant.

I would take Happy for hikes every weekend. I used love to watch him run and bounce and most of all, love to see his wagging tail. His energy was boundless. He would often run way ahead of me, and then stop and look back to say, ‘Hurry up’.  Together, we discovered all the nature trails of Hong Kong many times over. The most special part of my day would always be when I returned home. His welcoming barks and yelps, and together we would run to my room, and I would pat him and kiss him and rub his little tummy. It was our little ritual and I miss it so much to this day.

The most difficult experience in my life was when I moved to India in 2005. Happy was 10 years old at the time. At the time, I still thought of him as just a dog. My instincts kept telling me otherwise but I always brushed it aside. For a whole year, I could feel Happy missing me, and I missed him so much too. He constantly communicated with me about how upset he was. Again, I was told that I was being loony and imagining it all and that Happy is just a dog.

After one year, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to bring him to India to live with me. At the time, he was 11 years old, blind and diabetic. India being a developing country, everyone told me that I was being completely irresponsible for taking such an old and sickly dog there. Where we lived in Hong Kong had so much more advanced care for him. I weighed the pros and cons and finally decided to bring Happy to India. Before bringing him here, I spent three beautiful months with him in Hong Kong.

It seemed like he was depressed and had lost the will to live. Imagine if you had lost your eye-sight at an old age. With a lot of help from animal communicator and now a friend, Rosina, we slowly tried to help Happy out of his depression and at the same time explaining to him that he would be moving to a different place called India.

Happy in the car
Happy in car

It pained my heart to see my bouncy Happy so depressed. The things he used to love such as ‘Walk’, ‘Drive’ did not excite him anymore. I took him on lots of drives around Hong Kong, and lots of walks to the greenest parts of the city, took him to the markets where all his favourite meat smells were, bought him McDonalds (one of his favourite treats) and nothing.  It was two months of this and finally one day, I saw a slight spark in his eye. I said ‘Walk’ and he started jumping again even though he could not see.  I cannot describe the happiness I felt at that moment. I still remember that evening so clearly.

For the first time since he had lost his eyesight, Happy started running again and I had tears in my eyes. For a second, I even wondered if his eyesight had returned. It was such a beautiful walk with Happy running around sniffing everything just like the old days.

Happy with McDonalds

Happy with Mcdonald

It was soon time for us to fly to India and I was getting extremely nervous and wondering if I was doing the right thing.  Happy being the special soul that he is left Hong Kong in grand style. A limousine was arranged to pick us up and he sat right next to me on the plane journey.

His first few months in India were amazing. He was happy again and running around, barking at other dogs. As he could not see, he didn’t realize that a lot of the dogs he barked at were thrice his size! The bond between us only grew stronger.

Happy in India

Happy with McDonald's

It was only after Happy moved to India, that I could clearly see how much animals were suffering here. The number of stray dogs, pigs, donkeys and cows. How skinny they were, old and sick cows trying to move through heavy vehicular traffic. Seeing people beating stray dogs with sticks. It was heart-wrenching. I really wanted to do something but did not know how to go about it.

Happy sadly passed away eights months later due to vet’s negligence. I really beat myself over it and know that I will never get over that part of his life. Again, to prove what a special soul he was, Happy was given the full Hindu cremation ceremony usually reserved for Hindu priests at Vrindavan, the birth place of Lord Krishna. He had four priests at his cremation chanting ancient Sanskrit verses to pray for his soul. Most humans only get one priest. It was such a beautiful ceremony and words cannot describe the magic in it. Nothing was planned and yet everything went off perfectly.

Happy’s cremation

Happy's cremation

I was determined to do something to keep Happy’s memory alive, yet, I had no idea what to do. I mourned Happy’s death for a long long time and until today, (it’s been two and a half years), I still get tears in my eyes when I speak about him. I do try to remember all the good times, most importantly, the important lessons he taught me. He is my Master. Happy in his own little cute way made our entire family understand that animals are not just animals. They have souls and feelings and emotions and feel fear and love and anger just like we do.

With a heavy heart, I finally let go of trying to keep Happy’s memory alive as it was just not happening. Well, come March 2010, and I was suddenly hit by a brainwave, which is what you are going to see in these pages here.

And thus, The Happy Foundation for Animal Welfare was born.

Happy standing

It is because of Happy, I understood that animals have souls just like us.

It is because of Happy, my eyes opened up to the suffering of animals in India.

It is because of Happy, I have become more compassionate.

I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to this great soul than to help the animals here in India by funding genuine causes.

Happy Playing

Thank you Happy.

 

Namaste   
Helen Mahtani

                                                                                                                                                                              

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