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A birthday bash for puppies

- Tea stall owner treats fellow shopkeepers and friends to dinner after mongrel delivers babies
Tea stall owner Shyamal Halder feeds a puppy at the makeshift shelter he built. Picture by Saurav Bhattacharyya

Tehatta, Jan. 13: Khichudi, aloo dum, sweets…. It was a birthday bash, but with a difference.

Tea stall owner Shyamal Halder treated fellow shopkeepers in Nadia’s Tehatta to dinner last night to celebrate the birth of four puppies.

Halder, who has been running the tea stall for the past 15 years, invited around 450 local shopkeepers, neighbours and friends. He also hired professional cooks.

“I spent around Rs 10,000 for the treat. Some friends who own groceries gave me discounts for provisions like rice and pulses. It was a nice get-together. I felt happy,” Shyamal said.

The dinner was organised in front of Shyamal’s tea stall near the Tehatta panchayat office. His wife Tripti, mother of a two-month-old boy, welcomed the guests with folded hands. They were taken to the make-shift shelter Shyamal built behind his shop for a mongrel and its four puppies, born a couple of days ago.

Some of the guests also brought blankets as gifts for the puppies.

Shyamal’s initiative earned him praise from the animal-loving actor and Trinamul MLA Debashree Roy.

Roy said: “I am very happy with Shyamal Haldar’s initiative to protect a street dog and its puppies. Such gestures should be encouraged and be honoured. There should be some kind of award from the state government for animal lovers. I wish to meet him and congratulate him personally.”

Roy later called up Shyamal and congratulated him.

Shyamal said he saw the pregnant mongrel looking for a shelter to deliver the puppies on Friday night. But the animal was being chased away by shopkeepers.

“When the mongrel tried to enter my shop, I realised it was looking for a shelter desperately. When I was leaving for the day, I found it sitting in front of my stall and whimpering in the cold. I immediately purchased a tarpaulin and set up a make-shift shelter behind my shop. I also put some straw and jute bags inside and took the mongrel there. I gave it bread and biscuits before leaving. On Saturday, too, I fed it. The puppies were born on Saturday evening,” Shyamal said.

He added: “When the puppies were born, I decided to celebrate the occasion. I told my wife Tripti, who supported me. So, I gave the treat.”

Samir Dutta, a local trader who was invited last night, said Shyamal was a “kind” person and “animal lover” since childhood.

“On Friday, many like me had seen the mongrel, but none had bothered to provide it shelter. But Shyamal was kind,” he added.