Change Yourself…Change The World.

How I Got Lucky (And She Got Me)
June 25, 2010, 9:59 am
Filed under: India, USA

Dear friends,

It’s story time again!

Few people realize that I actually have a dog that I brought home from India. I found her in India at the beginning of my travels, decided on the spot to take her home with me- then had a harrowing adventure of actually GETTING her to the United States- and now, two years later, Lucky is currently lying on my bedroom floor, stretched out on the carpet and growling at dustballs.

Whenever I (or my parents) tell people that I brought home a ‘dog from India,’ the first question they usually ask is, ‘How in the hell did you accomplish THAT?’ And so my friends, I give you the story of Lucky.

Lucky March 2008

It all started one rainy afternoon in McLeod Ganj, India. At this point in time I was 20 years old, hanging out in my Tibetan homestay family’s house, a family that I love dearly and continue to keep in touch with today (check out here for a bit of information on them). I was relaxing in the kitchen on the mattress/sofa, when Chemi and her husband Pala came in, Chemi carrying a puppy in her arms. She sat down with the puppy and started fussing about with it, telling Pala to get the miniature dog some food.

Chemi and Lucky

She was a tiny little thing, and couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old.
“Where did you find her?” I asked. It wasn’t uncommon for Chemi to come home with a stray dog every now and then. Chemi loves dogs, and my Tibetan family has had a slew of them over the years. They also feed stray dogs who hang around their house- so yes, this was definitely a most frequent occurrence, watching Chemi traipse in with a new dog every week or so, begging Pala to hold onto it for a few days. One of the most endearing traits about Chemi.

But this dog was different. I had never seen Chemi bring such a small puppy before. She was ADORINGLY cute, like a tiny beanie baby, with fluffy brown hair, floppy little ears, and sleepy eyes.
“She was on the side of the road outside my shop,” Chemi explained, holding the small puppy close to her, as if to shield her from harm. “She was just walking around, and I didn’t want her to get hit by a car” (The traffic in McLeod Ganj can be pretty rough. I’ve heard numerous stories about people’s body limbs being run over). “There were other small puppies, I think her brothers or sisters, that were dead on the side of the road. I didn’t know what to do with her, so I brought her here.”

“What’s her name?” I asked.
“I named her Lucky,” Chemi replied. A strange and uncommon name for a Tibetan dog (though ironically this is probably THE most common name for a dog in the US, where she was headed).

At this point, Pala came over with some food for Lucky, a disapproving glint in his eye. Pala, along with many other Tibetans, did not share Chemi’s love for dogs. In India, dogs are mostly strays and are considered pests, rather than pets. It’s also difficult to keep a dog for a pet in India because of the small quarters most people live in, which means that there are all kinds of goodies out in the open to be chewed- shoes, wires, cables- beds to be peed on, dog hair to smother sheets and clothes- it’s not as ideal of a situation than it is in the United States, for example. I think that if Chemi had it her way, their house would be a dog factory- but Pala usually puts his foot down, and at this point in time they only had one dog, Katu- Pala had given Chemi as a gift when they first got together.

Because of this, I knew that Lucky would most likely be given away- but who would take a stray dog? It was obvious that Lucky, who was indistinguishably a mutt, would probably end up back on the streets again.
“Don’t worry Chemi,” I said casually. “I’ll bring her to the US with me.”

It was one of those things that you say, but know it will never happen. Lucky was the cutest puppy I had ever seen, but how would I get a dog to the US? I had absolutely no idea. I’m absolutely certain that everyone in my Tibetan family knew that this wasn’t really going to happen- but we all decided to play along and pretend.

And so, for the remaining few weeks, Lucky stayed at my Tibetan family’s house. We bought her a collar and a leash, and I started training her to walk with one. While Katu, the family dog, was quite jealous of all the attention Lucky got at first, she quickly grew to love her and they often played together. Nawang (Pala’s brother), also a dog lover like Chemi, was always holding her, petting her, and loving her. And of course, Lucky started chewing everything in sight, including my headphones, and my sunglasses.

Nawang and Lucky

Then, one thing started leading to another. First Tsering (one of Pala’s brothers) took me down on his bike to the veterinarian with Lucky, to get a rabies shot. Just in case. “Because I’m bringing her to the US, right?” I would joke, and everyone would laugh- though we all knew that this was most likely not going to happen. We were just going to the vet for fun. We were getting her shots for fun. I was calling Lufthansa, the airline I was flying home on, for fun. Asking about rates for dogs and what kind of stuff I needed. This wasn’t REALLY happening. I was just ‘entertaining’ the notion of actually bringing a dog home from India. Seeing how far I could push it before an inevitable blockade popped up, just like I heard from all of the other foreigners in McLeod Ganj who wanted to bring a stray back.

Then there was the point when Tsering and I decided that when we went to Delhi, we were going to bring Lucky with us. ‘Just in case.’ If I couldn’t get her on the airplane, Tsering would take Lucky back with him to Dharamsala.
Then there was the 13 hour bus ride to Delhi, with Lucky curled up in the corner of a seat, sleeping the night away.
Then there was going to another vet in Delhi to get her a micro-chip (required by Lufthansa), and other various shots (it’s a good thing all of these were pretty cheap, so we could still classify this as ‘a game’). Tsering bought her a bone and dog food ‘for when she got to the US.’
Then there was when we got her a dog cage to fit the requirements for flying on Lufthansa. And BRINGING her to the airport the day before my flight to show all of the proper documents to Lufthansa, so that she could come with me. ‘Just in case.’ Though this wasn’t as much of a game anymore as it was slowly becoming a reality.

Oh, and then came the inevitable ‘telling my parents.’ We already had a family dog, and no plans for another. However, there was one catch to this: my mother had once brought home a dog from Guadalupe, when she was my age. Her story was similar to mine; saving a dog from an untimely fate, my mother brought her dog ‘Lupe’ back to the US, and unceremoniously dumped her onto my grandparents.

So she really couldn’t say anything on the matter.

And then on the final day, when Tsering brought me to the airport, we had promised that if for some reason, I COULDN’T get Lucky on the airplane, Tsering would wait and bring her back with him. And I walked into that airport, checked my bags, and the flight attendants barely even glanced at her. And suddenly she was on the airplane, on a spare seat next to me- flying to the United States.

Twenty fretful hours later (I was terrified that she wouldn’t survive the long flight home, since she was so small), Lucky and I landed in Los Angeles.

And that is how I got my Lucky home to the US, to live with my family and play (but more often fight) with our other dog. I’d say that the whole entire process was probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever done, in relativity to all of the other horror stories I’ve heard about bringing pets abroad, or home from abroad. In fact, I was so sure that there would be SOME hiccup during the entire journey, that I didn’t believe it actually happened until I rushed out of the Los Angeles airport with Lucky in tow, as if sprinting away from some unseen enemy, some kind of ghost moaning ‘Quarantine…Deportation…Euthanasia….‘ after my Indian dog. I couldn’t believe my luck. That’s right, luck. What a fitting name for a dog that came from India to live in the United States. Lucky. Lucky for her, and Lucky for me (and Lucky that my parents agreed to this crazy nonsense).

Lucky today

Much luck and love,

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love your story and all the details. It would make a perfect children’s picture book.

Comment by mona perdue

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

amazing…. unbelievable…. this was worth reading!! gosh you have guts man.. An Indian dog in USA, commendable

Comment by GAURAV

[…] all of my closest friends from high school, college, and my travels felt amazing. Cuddling with my dog that I brought back from India- there’s no […]

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[…] him back to the United States (for starters, my parents have banned any other pet addition after I brought a puppy back from India- and rightly so, since I left her on their doorstep while I traveled around the world!) […]

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