Published on: April 30, 2022

Shriya Singh writes:

Pallium India is housed in a rented facility which sees many visitors. And not all of them are human. In fact, our most frequent visitors are from the animal world. 

Some stay on the campus – like the extremely talkative female black dog. Her name, depending on who is addressing her, is Chulbul/Karumban. In recent months, a young pregnant dog with the sweetest temperament began visiting us. In what appears to be a Pallium habit of bestowing two names on every dog, she was called Maya/Sundari. 

These regulars were vaccinated and sterilised, and are fed regularly by team members who share scheduled duties. 

One day Maya went missing for 2 -3 days. We figured she had given birth – but where? We frantically searched the campus and the old car junkyard in the adjoining plot, but weren’t able to find her or the pups. And as mysteriously as she had disappeared, a few days later Maya re-appeared. She led Sr. Kavitha (her regular feeder and guardian) to a corner of the junkyard where even animals don’t usually go, and (quite proudly) introduced her to a litter of seven healthy pups.

Through our joy, we also realised that we had to find homes for all 7 of them. I had the uphill and herculean task of getting indie dogs adopted. Most people prefer so-called “pedigree” dogs that they buy from pet stores or “breeders”. This trend has very dark and cruel consequences, and animal welfare activists strongly advocate for the adoption of pets rather than buying them. But that is a story for another time. 

We created a poster and sent it out on social media. It was rapidly and extensively shared on Whatsapp. The very next day, I got a call saying “Is this Pallium India? I would like to adopt a pup please.” This became an inside joke, which added one more activity to Pallium India’s extensive work profile. 

The adoption week was a rollercoaster ride- I was bombarded with messages and calls enquiring about the pups. We met some wonderful human beings. One family was grieving the loss of their pet due to a terminal illness and were eager to love and care for another dog in need of a home. A mother-daughter duo whose grandmother has been a patient under our home care service for a while, came by to the facility for the first time – a visit that gave them and us (and the puppy they took home) immense happiness.

A young MBBS graduate drove all the way from Kollam along with her sister in heavy rain. She left with a pup and a promise to return for an internship in palliative care. One family wanted to raise their young 2-year-old daughter with a pet so as to infuse more compassion in her upbringing. A devoted and smitten husband took home a pup to surprise his wife on her 30th birthday. 

4 pups were adopted a day after the word went out. And within a week, all 7 were in their forever homes with kind hearted people.

What will always stay with me is the joy on the faces of our team, especially our nurses who spent a lot of time cuddling and playing with the puppies after their homecare duties. We constantly heard giggles and ‘awwws’ from downstairs after a long day of work. 

Special thanks to my co-conspirator Sr. Kavitha who went out of her way to take care of Maya, fed the entire litter and introduced the nurses to the puppies, and other angels like Vyshnav who ran in the rain to save the puppies. 

Sweetest perhaps were the first timers – people who up until this time had never held or played with an animal. Some who had even been afraid. 

These puppies changed that, and we hope they hold and love many more in their lives.

Pets/Animals have a longstanding history of providing faithful companionship and unconditional love towards the humans in their lives. This companionship and love creates a powerful emotional bond between them. The bond that humans share with pets results in several positive effects like reduced anxiety and stress, increased feelings of relaxation, and an overall improved outlook on life. In seeking to provide patients with the best end-of-life care possible, many hospice organisations employ the use of animal companionship as a form of therapy. Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy in the hospice setting, uses the natural bond between humans and animals to provide comfort, peace, and soothing companionship to patients and their families, especially those towards the end of life.

Even though this scenario is a rare sight in India, we hope one day our permanent “Home for Pallium India” will provide space and coexist with our furry friends, who can assist and support our clinical staff to provide care and comfort.

(Shriya – an animal-lover, nature-lover and much more, seen in the image with the puppies – works with Resource Mobilisation Department at Pallium India.)

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  1. C Padmakumar says:

    Heartwarming article. How does one donate to Pallium India?

  2. Jeeva S E says:

    You all were the guardian angels for the mother dog and her pups. God bless you all with more funds to take care of such helpless mothers and kids. Thanks a lot.

  3. Rajagopal says:

    Quoted in this context, the parting shot in Pallium India newsletter of November 2010:
    Dr Amit Sood, chief of Integrative Medicine in Mayo Clinic, in his book “Train your mind, Engage your heart,Transform your life”(Morning Dew Publications, LLC, 2009) recommends that you should see yourself with your pet’s eyes.
    “You are what your dog thinks you are, kind, caring and compassionate”, Amit says. “Your pet does not care about your financial net worth, job, health, fame etc. All it cares about is your love and your ability to express it. The loving you is the transcendental you that no one can rob. Peg your self-esteem on how loving you are, not on your material accomplishments.”

  4. Dr Shibu janardanan says:


  5. Bob says:

    Lovely article

  6. Dr. Deepak Sudhakaran says:

    Absolutely delighted to read this! Its a known fact that in palliative care we value, prefer and use various non pharmacological approaches for the wellbeing of the patient and the caregivers. Iam glad that there are kind hearted people like Shriya who can work not just for human well being but well being of other forms of life as well. Have heard about her making a ‘healing garden’ as well in the place where pallium india was previously located. Looking forward to seeing such proven concepts to become a reality in the indian scenario of palliative care. Kudos to Shriya and team pallium for bringing this out:)

  7. Pranab Kumar Basu says:

    Excellent unique article displaying what compassion and love means. Shreya and her colleagues deserve more than simple “thanks”. Even the pets are beautiful caring angels for the terminal dying patient and the elderlies passing through the journey of bereavement. Here in lies the team members of Palliative Care.

  8. Gowri says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful story! So glad the puppies and Pallium India’s adult animal friends are cared for. Even more delighted to see our indie puppies getting adopted. 💖

  9. Avril Jackson says:

    What a lovely story and one that has clearly enabled you to share even more widely the great work of Pallium, and to share it perhaps with those who did not previously know about you. Fantastic ‘pet palliative care awareness’.