Last summer, when Hema Venkatraman first met Tango, a tiny one-month-old mongrel puppy, she agreed to take care of him for a very short time, just until the next Chennai Adoption Drive (CAD) came around. Tango’s brother had been run over and killed by a speeding vehicle, and Tango had been rescued in the nick of time. “It was supposed to be only for two weeks”, says Hema. “We were just going to get him cleaned up and cared for before the adoption event”.

When she took in the palm-sized puppy, she didn’t foresee that she would end up calling the volunteers on the day of the event and pleading with them not to allow him to be adopted by anyone else. “My son Shrawan and I had gotten so attached to him that after we dropped him off and came home, we cried. Finally, my husband couldn’t bear it anymore,” she says with a laugh. They brought Tango back home, nicknamed him their ‘little love bug’ and soon turned him into the star of the neighbourhood.

“He’s too intelligent,” says Hema who often finds him fast asleep with his face resting on her mother’s feet. “When we take him out, people who are going on their walks stop to ask about him.”

She reveals that adopting Tango and watching him blossom into a boisterous best friend made them more aware of the plight of homeless animals. Her young son (who shoulders a majority of the responsibilities that came with adoption) recently rescued another scrawny orphaned pup and found him a loving home with a friend. Hema finds instances of pet-owners abandoning their animals on the street alarming. “We couldn’t bear to be away from Tango for a few hours — how can a person abandon a pet forever?”

Her love story with the bright-eyed pooch is on the January page of the 2014 CAD calendar. “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me,” says Hema. “Nothing else I’ve done in my life has given me this kind of fulfilment”.

The next Chennai Adoption Drive is on Sunday, 19 January at 78/1, McNichols Road, Chetpet between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Indian puppies, kittens and a few adult cats and dogs will be available for adoption free of cost. Address and ID proof are required.

For details, call: 8939311148