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How The Dogstar Foundation Started

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Taken from our website

Dogstars History


In September 2006 Sam volunteered with a Sri Lanka Charity Millenium Elephant Foundation (MEF). Sam had been made redundant earlier that year and had wanted to travel to Sri Lanka and bath an elephant ever since watching the Blue Peter summer expedition to Sri Lanka in 1983 !


Part of the volunteer program was teaching english at a local Buddhist temple. During one of her classes Sam noticed some small puppies and a very ill adult dog that the Temple monks were caring for. The dogs urgently needed medical attention and the Monks had no access to veterinary care. Sam spoke with the Monk who was very concerned for all the dogs' welfare espically the adult dog and Sam promised to arrange a vet to visit.


Vets from MEF's mobile veterinary unit (who provide free treatment to any Elephant in Sri Lanka) were fortunately in the local area, they attended that evening and Sam paid for the cost of the medicines required. For the meagre sum of 12 pounds the adult dog Mango was successfully treated for mange, infected wounds and a badly healed broken leg and all 4 puppies were vaccinated against rabies. This was also Sam's first introduction to working with Dr Dangola and the student vets at the University of Peradeniya.





Truffles Meg ( Nippa ) Rufus and Milkshake October 2006


Sam later posted an appeal for help on an UK animal welfare forum The Refuge asking if its members could send worming tablets or flea treatments to her direct in Sri Lanka. The response was fantastic and within weeks parcels flooded in from the UK allowing many local dogs and cats to be treated.


From Sam's single act of requesting a vet for the Temple dogs the idea of setting up a permanent method of working with MEF and the University of Peradeniya was born. The name Dogstar was chosen as its the more common name for Sirius a star in the constellation Canis Major (The Dog), it is the brightest star in the night sky and is visible from both England and Sri Lanka.


2 the 4 original pups Milkshake & Meg still live at Randeniya Temple , they were sterilised in 2007 at a Dogstar Foundation Clinic and Dogstar continue to provide them with yearly vaccinations , medication and food. Mango the adult Temple dog passed away loved and cared for in 2008. In 2009 Dogstars Veterinary team sterilised our 1000th animal ( a female dog named shaggy ) In 2010 the Dogstar Foundation became a UK Registered Charity ( 1133431 ) and a member society of the World Society for the Protection of Animals ( WSPA ).






Dogstars Mango



Dogstars Mango


Quite simply Mango is the reason The Dogstar Foundation exists. Mango was one of the first five Dogstar dogs treated in September 2006 . Mangos story is told by Sam


I was teaching English to children at a local Temple when I became aware of the puppies in the temple grounds, far too small to separated from there mother, full of worms and covered in fleas. Seeing me with the puppies the Temple Monk Wangeesa Terro spoke to me and said there was another dog that needed medicine .He lead me behind the temple and pointed at a medium size dog laying in the shade of the building and said


You can make her better , no ?


I looked down at the animal in front of me , emaciated , almost bald from mange with a thick leathery skin in place of fur , huge open sores on her legs one of which was held up and bent at a odd angle. I with no veterinary training certainly could not make her better, I was not even sure if a vet could do anything to save her but then 2 things happened


the dog turned to look at me, her amber eyes looked into mine and as she held my gaze all the suffering of her life was visible and the Monk spoke again


You can make her better , no ? ,


He did not say it like a question he said it like a statement , like he already knew the answer and was reminding me of something I already knew




I knew MEF funded a Veterinary team from the University providing care for Elephants so I rang the lead Vet and asked him to send the team ( actually I spent 10 minutes sobbing on the phone first ) , he said the team were about an hour away with an elephant on a drip and they would come to me as soon as they were finished. Although they generally did not attend to calls for small temple dogs and needed to stop on route to purchase the correct gauge needles


it took the Vet 15 minutes just to clean her wounds and she screamed louder than I have ever heard , I was in tears and turned away to find the van driver and monk also crying, the vets were fantastic with her and so gentle even through it was agony for her. They then gave her injections for mange and some antibiotics and left with instructions on her care and a promise to return and check up on her


Over the next few weeks visited I the Temple with food for her and continued her treatments. The vet visited and continued to treat her wounds ( now healing nicely ) when I left at the end of October another MEF volunteer promised to look after her for me .


In January 2007 Mo was at MEF as a volunteer and she met Mango whose Mange had improved but she still needed more treatment which Mo continued . By April 2007 under Mo's care her Mange had almost cleared, she was a good weight and the only evidence of her previous leg injury's was a tendency to limp when she first woke up. Mango was now healthy enough to be spayed , unfortunately Mango had other ideas and when the vets arrived for a Dogstar funded clinic they discovered she was pregnant icon_sad.gif In June 2007 Mango had 3 puppies , 2 girls and a boy.




The Temple caretaker had made her a whelping box by the side door of the temple and she was a natural mother from the start The pregnancy and milk production did have a impact on her health , her mange returned and she lost weight and her general condition deteriorated. Because she was nursing her pups the vet could not treat her mange and all we could do was increase her food supply and use some suitable conditioning tablets and also give her powdered puppy milk ( we were also bottle feeding some other puppies at the time ) Mango gave us another scare in late June when she was hit by a bus outside the Temple , her weak leg was damaged and she had various cuts and bruises. Even so she never lost her naturally sunny outlook and continued to look after her puppies even though she was still sore. One of Mangos puppies was homed locally ( the male not surprisingly ) and sadly both of her daughters passed away shortly afterwards.






Mango became a surrogate mum to an influx of unwanted puppies that seemed to flood into the Temple and although for the puppies the supply of Milk was a good thing this continued milk production was not good for Mango ( and was stopping the vets being able to spay her ) and we had to separate her from the pups ( who were receiving food and milk from the monks & Dogstar separately ) Finally in November 2007 over a year after we first met, Mango was well enough to be spayed. She recovered very well and her mange improved again and she finally gained weight .




Mango continued to live at the Temple with Wangeesa Terro the Monk until mid August 2008 when her health took a sudden turn for the worse , Mo took to her the University hospital where she was admitted and Mo made regularly the 70 km round trip to visit her


On August 20th just after 6 am I received a text from Mo asking me to call her urgently , I was on a train heading into work and texted back saying I could not call for another 40 minutes and asked if it was bad news to which she replied


Sorry Sam yes its bad news, they did all they could but we lost her at 1am. Jo and I collected her this morning and have buried her under a Mango tree at MEF. Knew you and I both loved her – told her that yesterday. At least she won't suffer any more and maybe her next life will be better ,


Its very hard to explain just how special Mango was , she had a dignity and serenity that defies words and inspired me. I hope Mango would approve that because I met her Dogstar has sterilised over 1000 animals and vaccinated nearly 2000 against Rabies


not a bad legacy for a little Orange dog




Sam 28th March 2010

Edited by Happylittlegreensquirrel

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I have followed Dogstar's progress with interest from the very beginning. I find it amazing that so much has been done in such a relatively short space of time and with limited resources. :flowers: :flowers:

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I thought Dogstar had been going longer than 4 years, I have tried to follow Dogstar's progress but it is easy to forget what happen earlier and this shouldn't be forgotten. Sometimes we meet a dog and know that we have to go further than we intended, Mango was one of them for Sam. :flowers:

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