Five elderly women in China have dedicated their lives to the care of nearly 1,300 stray dogs. The enterprising women run their very own custom dog asylum, where they feed the lucky canines 400 kg of tasty dog-food every single day.
The shelter, located in China’s central Shaanxi Province, was established in 2009 by 60-year-old Wang Yanfang. She said that she felt sympathetic towards strays that were taken away by regulators, so she decided to apply for permission to open the asylum, solely supported by donations.
Since then she has gained the support of four other women, and together they wake up at 4am each morning just to prepare food for the dogs. They are so dedicated to the cause that they even chose to forgo the extravagant display of fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and instead spent the day with the abandoned dogs.
Dogs are amazing creatures and Lilica, a Brazilian stray, is a perfect example of that. She lives in a junkyard, hangs out with a motley crew, and she makes sure her friends never go hungry. Every night, Lilica walks four miles in the dark, braving the rush hour traffic, just to bring food back to the other animals in her ‘family’ – a dog, a cat, a few chickens and a mule.
Lilica was abandoned at a junkyard in San Carlos, Brazil, when she was just a puppy. Neile Vaina Antonio, the junkyard caretaker, took her in and cared for her. As she grew, she became friends with all the other animals in the junkyard. It appears that they offer each other warmth, companionship and solidarity.
Three years ago, Lilica was pregnant and had eight puppies. As her responsibilities grew, she knew she had to find a way to provide food for her cubs, as there was little to be found at the junkyard. That’s when she started going out at night, walking for miles, in search of scraps. During one of her nightly travels, Lilica was lucky enough to meet dog-lover Lucia, who took pity on her.
Lucia, a teacher by profession said she noticed Lilica roaming the streets and realized the poor dog was looking for food. “She walked and sniffed the garbage bins – that called my attention,” Lucia said. “I thought she was homeless because she was searching for food. It was then that I offered her some food.”
“One day, she stopped eating, grabbed the open food bag and ran away with it. And the food was dropping from the bag along the way. Then, the following day when she finished eating I tied the bag. And she took it. From there on, that’s how we do it. I tie the bag and she carries it.”
One day, Lucia followed Lilica, and discovered why she took the bag every night. It turns out that she was carrying the food back to the junkyard. “In the beginning, she brought food to her puppies, but in time she began bringing food for the other animals here in the junkyard as well,” said Neile. “Her attitude is different, the look of her eyes is different.”
The puppies were eventually adopted but Lilica didn’t stop. For the past three years, she has been walking the four-mile distance from the junkyard to Lucia’s home every night. Lucia follows her daily routine as well – she leaves home precisely at 9pm and waits for Lilica at an empty lot nearby. The dog arrives promptly to eat and collect her take away.
“I don’t travel, I don’t go to places and stay for too long because of her,” said Lucia. Because I know she relies on me, so it’s a commitment that I have with her, and a commitment she has with me too ‘cause she comes every day.”
“We as human beings barely share things with others,” Neile said . “But an animal sharing things with other animals is a lesson for us.”