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SRIYA NARAYANAN
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Meet Edward Pugh from the U.K., who will participate in the Chennai marathon to raise funds for the care of homeless dogs

Edward Pugh confesses that he was once just a self-absorbed musician back in Brighton, U.K. where he’s from. And he’s going a long way — quite literally — to change that. This Sunday, Edward participates in the Chennai marathon where he will run a distance of 42.2 km to raise funds for the care of homeless dogs in the city. His fundraiser video centered on a dog Ruby who lives at a tea stall, featuring one of his original songs (sung by his band member Sally Testka) became an instant hit online. In less than three weeks, he raised over $1500 for Blue Cross’ 50th Anniversary Rescue Fund, mostly through Facebook.

Edward, who moved to India with his partner Jemma, a social worker on an internship, reveals that his resolve to make a difference to the voiceless became clear when his older brother introduced him to the concept of meditation. “I became interested in people other than myself,” he says with a laugh. He threw himself into the India experience, from navigating public transport to learning basic Tamil. When the Mission Rabies programme was announced, he volunteered with the Blue Cross as a dog-handler and used a large net to catch and vaccinate community dogs against the disease.

He explains that he used Ruby’s life as an example of the harsh reality that homeless dogs face, and that he added his own music to hold people’s attention for the duration of the two-minute clip. “It’s nothing more than showing people what their lives are like. Ruby lives at the tea shop, relying on the kindness of strangers to feed her,” he says. “Some people kick her. Some give her a biscuit”. He observes that while shelters are crowded with sick and handicapped animals, it is possible for individuals to make a difference.

This is Edward’s first complete marathon (he’s run the half-marathon earlier) and he notes that running and meditation are rather alike. “The idea is to establish this as a yearly thing,” he says. “The funds raised will go to the Blue Cross rescue service.”

He feels that the advantage of getting people to band together for any cause is that it makes the finish line that much easier to reach. “Ten dollars will feed a shelter dog for a month. Even a small amount makes a huge difference,” he says, signing off with the reason he believes people volunteer their time or money to help the less privileged — “It’s good for your soul”.

SRIYA NARAYANAN



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