Rakesh Shukla found his purpose in life by offering a new start for struggling animals. This computer engineer from Bangalore, India, takes care of about 735 dogs who he welcomed to his incredible farm.
"I'm the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted," he explained to BBC.The whole thing began in 2009 when he took in Kavya, a young Golden Retriever puppy from the street. "When we got home, she went and hid in a corner. I got down to her level on the floor and I was calling out to her. She was looking at me, she was scared, but I could see she wanted to trust me," recounted the 45-year-old engineer.
"And that's when the moment happened - it was a physical feeling, my hair was tingling, I could feel a warm glow. And I've never needed to ask myself that question - 'why am I here?' - again after that."Three months after this revelation, Rakesh Shukla welcomed a second boarder, Lucky, found alone in the pouring rain. Nothing stopped him: he offered a second chance to all the lost and abandoned dogs who crossed his path.
A new path that gave back a meaning to his former existence, made up of accomplishments that didn't seem to satisfy him. The engineer founded a software editing company in 2005 with his wife which was quickly a success, but didn't fulfill him.
I had worked in Delhi, in the United States and then set up my own company in Bangalore. Life was all about buying big cars and expensive watches and living a fancy life. I had traveled and seen the world many times over, but then I was not happy.
Little by little, over the course of the adoptions, the dogs took more and more place in his life, to his great pleasure. In 2012, when space was obviously lacking, the engineer decided to acquire a small farm on the outskirts of Bangalore and renovate it.Four years later, the sanctuary has 735 residents and employs a dozen people, of which two are assistant veterinarians. While Rakesh Shukla has not totally given up the profession which allows him to finance his activities at the refuge (food costs over 700 dollars per day), he makes sure to organize his schedule to spend at least half of the week with his dogs.
Despite the difficulties - Rakesh Shukla has received plenty of complaints from neighbors demanding the closing of his farm - the man nicknamed the "Dog Father" seems to have found his path and is not ready to renounce it.
I've made a pact with my dogs, we will part only when one of us kicks the bucket.