Saathi’s Journey

Nepal to Canada

By Kate Watkin

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This past fall Kate Watkin, her mother, Marnie and some friends from Vancouver Island, visited the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre in Nepal. The ladies visiting Nepal are a part of the non-profit organization, Nepal Education Fund (NEF),that sponsors children in Nepal to go to school with the goal of getting them out of poverty.

All of the travelers are animal lovers so visiting the KAT Centre (Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre) was a perfect fit. As soon as the 6 women walked through the gate, they were instantly surrounded by curious dogs, old and young, who were longing for human touch and love.

While Kate was sitting on the hard ground petting a puppy, whose front leg was merely hanging from her body, she turned to see a white, almost completely hairless, crooked legged dog staring up at her. The connection between them was instant. Her name, Saathi, which means friend (pronounced Sati) was found abandoned at 3 months old with Rickets, from malnutrition in addition to that she was effected by mange, which was the cause of her hair loss. The workers at the KAT Centre said that Saathi was to be put down within the week as they didn’t have the funds to provide her with the care she’d needed to get better. That’s when Kate decided that she would adopt her and take her home to Vancouver Island, Canada. IMG_5294

Due to her many health issues she wouldn’t be able to fly for many more months. Without hesitation, Kate committed sponsorship of Saathi to get the proper care that she needed. Saathi would be flown home in March, when she was fully recovered and founder of NEF Susan Marshall returned. 

The day that the ladies were leaving Nepal to go home, Kate and Marnie were sitting having lunch when Kate asked one of the friends she’d met on the trip if he could take her to see Saathi one last time. So she hopped on the back of his motorcycle through the crazy streets of Nepal. Off they went! As soon as they arrived at the KAT Centre and Saathi heard Kate’s voice, she came running as fast as she could and she instantly settled comfortably into Kate’s arms. 

Leaving her wasn’t easy. Kate counted down the days until they were reunited. Finally the day arrived! March 29th 2017. Kate and Marnie drove to Vancouver pick up Saathi from the airport. The experience was far from perfect. There was concern about what kind of shape she would be in, especially after all the terrible stories they had read of dogs and other animals passing away on planes before even meeting their destination due to being mistreated and redundant during their journey. It took over two hours from the time Saathi landed to the time they were able to get her to Kate. There were stacks of paperwork to be filled out, and they had to go from building to building to paying many hidden fees that were not discussed prior. By the end of all the hoops it seemed they had to jump through to finally collect Saathi, they were sent into a cold warehouse where, of course all of the industrial equipment gets tended to before a live animal. Kate and Marnie searched the warehouse from their spot behind the locked gate when they finally spotted Saathi’s crate hidden in the corner facing the wall. They called Saathi’s name but there was no movement from inside.FullSizeRender

Finally someone arrived to help them. He walked over at a snail’s pace to bring Saathi over to the garage door A quick signature and off he went. Kate and Marnie were both terrified to look into the crate from the fear or what they would find. Besides being nearly  black from dirt and not being  given food or water for the entire 40+ hour trip, the moment Saathi saw Kate everything changed! Her tail started wagging and she jumped up and put her paw against the crate. The tears in Kate and Marnie’s eyes that were originally from fear and alarm were now spilling down their faces with joy and relief. The moment Kate opened the crate and picked Saathi up into her arms was unforgettable. Saathi knew it was all going to be okay, and that she would never have to endure anything like that again. They fed her, let her out for a short walk then were off to catch the last ferry ride home. During the drive home Saathi cuddled in close to Kate’s side and slept the whole way, exhausted from her long uncertain journey. 

The first couple weeks of being home Saathi slept a constantly and had very little energy. But after being on a proper nutritional diet and antibiotics to boost her immune system she started playing like the puppy she never got to be. She even found Kate’s book “A Dogs Purpose” and decided she didn’t like that Kate was reading about another dog, and ripped it to pieces. 

Saathi now enjoys her days being the office dog at the family owned business, where she brightens everyone’s day with her loving, playful ways. Along with cuddling with her new family which includes Rue the cat who thinks Saathi is the best thing that’s ever happened to him as she grooms his ears and lets him playfully pounce on her at any given moment.IMG_5619

From the very beginning there was always that scare that Saathi wouldn’t arrive but now that she has, Kate will tell anyone that it was the best decision she’s made. Not only has Saathi’s whole life changed, so has everyone’s who has met her. Kate says it still seems surreal that Saathi is actually there, but at the same time it feels as if Saathi’s always been there. She is finally where she belongs. 

Follow Saathi’s new journey on instagram @saathi_rescue_dog