A moving story of disaster and survival against all odds
Kumara (left) and Kushan (right) with Nicko (left) and Hansi (foreground)
While everyone who loved Hansi became distraught, it was Nicko who was most affected. He even stopped eating anywhere near the place his companion was run over. He would lie there along the corridor, looking dejected, and stopped following the guards when they did their night rounds inside the building
This is a touching tale of friendship between dogs and people. It’s also a moving story of disaster and survival against all odds. The two dogs in this story are nameless – they are called ‘Kella’ and ‘Kolla’ (girl and boy) by security guards at the Municipal Market, Borella, who look after them. I have named them Hansi and Nicko.
The guards are simply their friends and caretakers, not the owners. The spacious but rundown market building has been home to these two dogs for several years. They are quite friendly and harmless, but their size and barking would deter any intruder. They are invaluable to the security guards, especially at night. When they do the rounds of the deserted building at night, Hansi and Nicko follow them faithfully even to the upper floors.
The two dogs are inseparable. Nicko has a habit of wandering outside the building, though not too far. Having identified me as a regular food supplier, Nicko turns up every morning within sight of my house, waiting patiently for a meal. Having gobbled it up, he saunters happily back home.
Hansi rarely ventures outside the gates. They can always be found together at the entrance or near the guard room.
Kumara, Francis, Kushan and Senaka are their friends and caretakers at the market. If any of the dogs fall ill, they call me and I consult my vet. Once, Nicko developed a swelling in the ear. We took him to the vet and got it operated on. The dogs are bathed regularly and kept clean.
I became acquainted with them after Colombo came under curfew after March 2020. The dogs, and the many cats, who live at the market, were suddenly without food. I did my best for them throughout that difficult time. Many others too, came to feed the cats while I was the dogs’ principal supplier of food.
This happy relationship was threatened when these four guards were transferred recently. Kumara, transferred to the CMC headquarters, visited the dogs regularly. Senaka was transferred back, then sent out again to another point. Kushan is now back on duty at the market. When the disaster mentioned at the start of the story happened, none of the dog’s old friends were there.
"Later in the day, he phoned someone at the market and said the dog was in emergency care at a clinic in Colombo. No specific location was given. After that, there was no further communication"
One morning, Hansi got run over by a vehicle inside the building. The details are confusing. As I heard the story, either a car or van ran over Hansi as she lay sprawled along the dark corridor which leads to the parking area. Both wheels on the driver’s side rolled over her.
The driver was distraught and offered to take her to a veterinarian clinic. In the rush, no one noted down the registration number of that vehicle, nor his name and telephone number.
Later in the day, he phoned someone at the market and said the dog was in emergency care at a clinic in Colombo. No specific location was given. After that, there was no further communication.
When Kumara, Senaka and their friends learned about this, they were furious. But with no further news, they had no idea if the dog was dead or alive. No one could remember who had received a call from the driver. He alone knew where the dog was or if it was dead or alive. But there was no way to contact him.
After learning about this, I phoned all major veterinarian clinics in Colombo. One in Battaramulla said that a dog fitting this description had indeed been brought that morning, but taken away as no doctor was available at the time. They had no idea where they had gone. It was very frustrating.
Finally, it was assumed that Hansi had died. It seemed very unlikely that a dog run over by a vehicle would survive.
While everyone who loved Hansi became distraught, it was Nicko who was most affected. He even stopped eating anywhere near the place his companion was run over. He would lie there along the corridor, looking dejected, and stopped following the guards when they did their night rounds inside the building.
Exactly a month and twenty-eight days after Hansi was run over, a three-wheeler driver called Sisil came in with some exciting news. The person who had run over Hansi had given him the phone number of Rover Veterinary Hospital in Battaramulla.
Hansi was alive and well there but, as he didn’t have the money to get her released, he was leaving it now to her caretakers at the market.
Luckily, Kushan was on duty that day. He rushed immediately to the hospital, which agreed to release the dog for the nominal fee of Rs. 2050. The person who brought her there had initially paid Rs. 4,550. The total amount, in view of the serious nature of the injuries, is very reasonable, and the kindness displayed by hospital staff and management, in this case, needs to be highly commended.
Dr Eranda Rajapakse, the proprietor of Rover, said that the hospital treats many such cases and a benevolent attitude is taken in view of how difficult things are for pet owners in these very difficult times. He added that several dogs whose owners hadn’t turned up were being looked after by the hospital.
The surgery on Hansi was done by Dr Thilini Kumarasinghe.
Now the two friends are inseparable once again and they are a heartwarming sight at the Borella Market.
The trouble that the security guards there take on behalf of these dogs, and the mutual affection displayed is a moving testimony to the eternal bond between humans and dogs.