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Ajith Madhavan, a trainer with the Kerala Police Dog Squad in Idukki, met Koovi when he was in Pettimudi as part of the landslide rescue operation.

Ajith cuddling Koovi the Mongrel dog. Ajith is a trainer with the Kerala Police Dog Squad. In the image, he is seen in a pair of khaki trousers and a navy blue polo t-shirt with a insignia on his sleeve.
news Human Interest Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 18:58

When Ajith Madhavan reached Munnar’s Pettimudi on August 16, he knew he had to meet Koovi, the dog who helped rescue workers find the body of her owner, two-year-old Dhanushka, after a massive landslide washed her away. Ajith is a trainer with the Kerala Police Dog Squad in Idukki and had come to Pettimudi in Rajamala ward to start his shift for the rescue operation. After spending more than two days with Koovi and nurturing her, Ajith has now decided to take her home with him.

“I reached Pettimudi around 5 am with my dog squad and started looking for Koovi but could not find her anywhere. Then a resident told me where to find her. She was sitting near one of the line houses (layams) alone. When I called out her name, she wagged her tail and looked at me. When I sat down and then called her, she came walking towards me and snuggled,” Ajith recounted.

Koovi probably must have realised that Dhanuska was never coming back. The nearly 1.5-year-old dog sat there alone and did not eat food for almost a week, ever since she started to frantically search for Dhanuska amid the slush and rubble. She looked sad and her eyes were swollen with some discharge, he said.

Read: Koovi, the dog who waited days for owner, helps find toddler’s body in Idukki landslide

“I managed to bring her to the makeshift mess set up at the site for the National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) team, rescue workers and the dogs in the squad. Koovi refused to eat initially, but later, slowly started eating the yolk of boiled eggs. As she started eating more eggs, I gave her the food that we had brought for the police dogs. It was after this Koovi felt energetic, and started hanging around with me,” he told TNM.

After almost two days of rescue work to find the bodies of those missing in the landslide, it was time for Ajith to leave Pettimudi. “I felt sad leaving her behind in Pettimudi,” he said. “We had shifted most of the residents out of the region, rescue workers would leave the site by twilight and wild boars and elephants also roam around in the night. Everybody left except her. I entrusted a person who works with an adventure group there to look after Koovi. He keeps sending me her pictures and videos every day.”

However, Ajith said that Koovi still looked sad and was hardly eating. “That is when I decided to adopt her as my own,” he said.

Ajith then sought permission from the Idukki Collector and other district officials to adopt Koovi. Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS), a group under the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department that protects wildlife, also gave Ajith the permission to take her home. “There are no protocols per se to adopt Koovi, but since she was part of a hamlet and the media had also widely reported about her, I sought permission,” said Ajith.

A few residents in Pettimudi told Ajith that Dhanushka and her family used to call the dog, Kutty, but eventually, it became Koovi. 

Ajith is excited to bring Koovi to his house, where he has other pet dogs, including an 18-year-old indie dog, a beagle and French bulldog. He is counting days when he gets the final nod from officials, and hopes it will come through in the coming week.

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