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A one in a million street pup named Indy

I believe there are two kinds of dog people in the world: dog owners and dog lovers. 

If you belong to the latter group, you’ll know all too well, that over your lifetime, you will love, care for and nurture many a dog, but only once…or if you’re lucky twice… in your life will you meet a dog that changes the way your world looks.
This dog is your heart dog. The one that changes the way you look at their world, that challenges all around them to see differently and the one that makes you cry long after they’re gone. 
My first, and what I thought would be my only, heart dog was an English Staffy named Chloe.

She was my first dog that I chose as an adult, the kind of dog my mum thought was dangerous, the kind people crossed the street for and the kind that changed all that. She was my rock, my best friend and a beautiful step mum to any creature that crossed her path. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. 

She was the dog, that when I met my next dog at the Dog Lovers Show in 2016 and brought home this 4-month old howling sad boy who didn’t understand why he kept getting dumped, was by his side kissing him until he quieted. She had to be physically removed from his side as she slept on her feet every time he whimpered (she was already 15), because she refused to let him cry alone.

When she left us, it almost broke me, and it did break my boy. His mentor and protector was gone, and coping for him became almost impossible, so in a way, although Rafferty is the inspiration behind Sniffspace, Chloe was the reason it all began. When she passed away in 2019, I thought I’d lost that feeling forever, until now.

Remember I said, that if you are one of the lucky ones, you’ll get two chances in your life to encounter your heart dog, well that’s exactly what happened to me in 2022. 

A one in a million street pup named Indy

On a trip to India, I met a street pup I named Indy. Now, I’ve been to India a dozen times and know all too well the plight of dogs over there. Every trip, I am called the crazy one as I play, pat, cuddle and feed as many street dogs as I can find, but not once did I feel the calling to any one of them. I was happy to walk away once they had full bellies and I had a full heart, then I met Indy.

Indy is a one in a million puppy, living on the streets of Technopark (picture a uni campus for businesses), being fed by a few brave souls, and just, well, being a puppy. The first day we met, I’d seen her playing, on her own with something in the grass by a tea stall. 
So happy despite her situation... 

My friend Jignesh called to her, and she came bounding over and proceeded to play with a leaf with me. She jumped on my lap, rolled over for belly rubs and then followed me everywhere I went. She was infested with ticks, she had an eye infection and was hungry, but in her eyes was hope, love and a willingness to accept life’s challenges like nothing I’ve seen before.

We went back with food, medicine and time. She played for hours, ate everything I gave her and sat while I tried to wipe her eye clean, inspect her tiny body and work out a plan. 
How do I look after a street dog, in India, from Australia? 
Luckily for me, Jignesh and I are no strangers to overcoming challenges (let’s face it, most people thought we were crazy when we told them we were building a business where people could pay to play with their dogs in someone else’s yard, but here we are).

So we started her journey. We only had days to come up with the start of a plan, so we reached out to our staff to see if there was anyone willing to continue to feed and look out for her. 

Twenty staff raised their hands. We thought that was it, we’d done it, but what I didn’t know is that although our staff loved dogs, street dogs are a whole new level. 

They were happy to throw food on the ground, but to really look after her they needed to touch her, and that was foreign. There is an innate fear of street dogs due to rabies in India, so even though they could see me cuddling her, playing with her and picking her up, they were wary. This is when we learnt, that Indy wasn’t just any dog. She was the street pup that was going to change the hearts and souls of an entire company.

As we arrived home, with a plan in place, one staff member who was a little braver started to show the team how beautiful Indy was. She started following them around, coming as soon as they called, and bringing her mum (who was heavily pregnant) closer and closer so they could feed her as well. She wasn’t only bridging the gap between street dogs and people one way, but both ways. 

We bought her a collar and an ID tag to keep her safe, they had a bowl for her to feed her, we bought toys that she loved and we were getting regular updates. Security even started letting her in the gate to our office building so we could feed her. 

She now had 20 pawrents, using their lunch breaks to play with her. It was all looking rosy.

We then started phase 2: the health checks. Her new parents searched for a vet willing to come and treat a street dog, and we finally found a beautiful compassionate man that came and wormed her and started her rabies vaccines. We bought a leash to keep her still, but Indy being Indy, she walked over to him when called and laid at his feet for her injection. 

This dog, that had no idea what we were doing, trusted us with her life. We were on top of the world. Indy was safe, people were playing with her and losing their fear, we were now feeding mum and getting excited to help her with her pups, and then it all changed. Our world came crashing down and the helplessness I felt was almost too much to bear……

See, what was happening over there was this: a young girl tragically died from rabies after being bitten by a street dog and this tragic event started an avalanche. Panic overtook logic, and street dogs became public enemy number one. 

Let me outline that we don’t blame the people, education around dogs is limited, media is - as always - incorrect and the government is trying. They run a program called ABC (Animal Birth Control) to try and stem the births, but there isn’t enough funding. The media was running with headlines to sell papers, and in the process instilling an irrational fear that every street dog was a threat and carried the rabies virus.

Indy and her family disappeared…
We looked for her for days. It wasn’t unusual if it was hot for her to seek shelter, we also didn’t know if she was being fed elsewhere. We sent out search parties, we stopped work to look, we started to panic on Day 3. From here I was frantically in touch with multiple sanctuaries and rescue organisations in between meltdowns.

Have you ever felt so helpless you almost just curl up in a ball in the corner? I thought I’d failed her. We should have looked sooner, known it was coming, got her sanctuary, done something…but what? I couldn’t think, it all felt hopeless.

Our plan was eventually to get her off the streets once she was vaccinated and because of those connections to rescue organisations we got some leads to government facilities. They were starting to round up the street dogs by force, we thought she was safe in our complex, but she wasn’t. They took her…

We called the hospitals in our area, and found a possible location. We weren’t allowed in, but vets were. He wasn’t allowed to tell us anything, but this wonderful man secretly took photos and sent them to us for confirmation. He went there specifically to find her for us, and he did. We’d found her, and now we had to get her out as we had no idea where they would take her. She had been taken, desexed, the top half of her ear had been removed as identification of desexing, and she was petrified.

The race was on to get her out, and get her to safety, but who would take an unvaccinated street pup, with fresh stitches and the need to be isolated until she healed? We found an angel in the form of a new sanctuary (Naughty's Pet Sanctuary) that had just opened so wasn’t overrun as yet, and thankfully the lady that owned it knew someone at the hospital and agreed to help. So along with two of our staff they set out on a Saturday to break her out and get her to safety. 

As soon as she saw a familiar face, she came straight to them, tail wagging, butt wiggling and all smiles. Our little girl full of stitches, half her ear missing with a now, severe eye infection was so full of joy at just seeing a friend, she couldn’t wait. They picked her up, put her in the car and whisked her off to safety.

She is now safe, getting treatment and has started on her full vaccinations.

We’ve bought her beds, toys, a new collar and tag and have committed to her for life that she will never again be on the streets fending for herself. And the people that were apprehensive at first, but still dedicated to saving her… well, they now visit her there, pick her up for cuddles, play with her and love her. 

She has changed their minds and will continue to do so through her journey. She is still so full of love for every person she meets, even though she has every reason to hate them.

Her journey has just begun and we are so excited that we are travelling this road with her. 
She is the one that makes you laugh, hope and cry all at the same time. 
She will change the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands in her lifetime, and we hope that you and many others will follow Indy’s journey.

If you'd like to assist with purchasing tick prevention and other essentials for Indy and the other dogs at the Sanctuary, please visit the dedicated GoFundMe page here

written by Tracey Horey (October 2022), Co-founder and Owner of Sniffspace.


Australia’s only directory of privately-owned off-leash spaces for dogs. Giving all dogs, big, small, anxious and reactive safe spaces to play and bond with the humans one sniffari at a time.

For more information, visit or follow them on Facebook at or @sniffspaces on Instagram.

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