Meet the dog lover from Bengaluru who runs a small business to help animals
India’s streets are home to millions of stray animals, with estimates putting the number of free-roaming dogs at 30-35 million, and stray cattle at around six million. To Anushree Thammanna, animals are more than just pets; she firmly believes in ‘Adopt, don’t shop’.
As a young girl of five years old, she was never allowed to have dogs at home, so she used to look after the dogs on the street. And since then, dogs have become an inseparable part of her life.
Anushree works as a project manager with a design firm called Universal Thirst, and also runs a small business called ‘Crazy Dog Lady Projects’, an online platform that sells handmade articles. A part of the profits goes into animal rescues and local animal shelters. She is also now on the road to becoming a canine behaviourist.
In a tête-a-tête with SocialStory, Anushree shares her journey with dogs, how she runs her business single-handedly, and the challenges she had to overcome.
Social Story [SS]: When did you realise your love for dogs?
Anushree Thammanna [AT]: It started when I was about four or five years old, I think. We weren’t allowed to have dogs at home so I used to look after them in our layout. Street dogs have been my best teachers; I learnt everything I know about dogs through them. I was always keen to work with animals, especially dogs, but apart from becoming a vet, options were very limited back then.
Now I’m studying to become a Canine Behaviourist and I wish I had this option when I was in college. I work with abandoned and traumatised dogs, and foster, rehabilitate, and re-home them. Over the years, I’ve seen more than a hundred dogs pass through our hands and home, and I’m still amazed at how good dogs are at convincing us that they need us. When actually, you know, we need them.
SS: Tell us about the dogs you have adopted and how you met them.
AT: Over the last few years, the focus has been on raising awareness about the dangers of obsessing over breeds – why you shouldn’t be buying, why you should choose to adopt, how to care for dogs, and the perks of adopting adult and senior dogs – especially since they house a plethora of deformities and genetic illness.
We have five adopted dogs and are currently fostering two – all of them were adopted at different times, from different backgrounds, and at different ages.
Bella, a pug, was given up as a pup because she had an enlarged heart. She is now seven years old and has been instrumental in leading me down this path of focusing on raising awareness about brachycephalic breeds and the difficulties they live life with. Poppy is another pug. She was found on the highway, running with a rope around her neck. She is old and blind, and initially came to us as a foster but stayed on.
Snow - Before (L) and After (R)
Luna is an indie; she too came as a foster and was paralysed from the neck down due to trauma to the spine. After two months of daily physio, hydro and laser therapies, she stood up and gradually started walking again. From there it’s been a great journey for her, and she is one of my key foster-mommas who takes the dogs under her wing.
Sid is a senior pug who was abandoned – we got to know that she had an enlarged heart, fluid in the chest and lungs, and since she needed critical care, we kept her with us.
Snow is our most recently adopted dog. We actually saw him being given up, and it was one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve come across. All our dogs come with a history, just like humans, and our aim is to give them the security and reassurance to work through it.
SS: When did you start ‘Crazy Dog Lady Projects’? Tell us all about it.
AT: Crazy Dog Lady Projects is pure passion. It was never intended to become anything other than a hobby and started on a whim because I wanted to make matching items for my dogs and myself, before going on a road trip.
Soon, friends started ordering for their dogs, and I started teaching myself more about sewing and started exploring more options and extending the catalogue to make household items and items for humans as well. For me, the choice of fabrics and the finishing quality were key – I wanted to make stuff I would use, and that’s how it gradually gained a bigger following. I soon started using whatever money came in towards our rescue efforts.
SS: Tell us about the different products you sell on your platform.
AT: Currently, I make and sell storage products, masks, all kinds of bags – totes, pouches, and wallets, bandanas, bows, and collars for dogs, although all the collars we make are not meant for walking but for the name tag and keeping dogs safe. We also take on personalisation and customisation of products whenever it’s possible to do so.
Again, this was never meant to become anything more than a hobby so I’m still playing catch up. But I enjoy the process, and for now, this single-person model works well even though it means a limited number of orders.
Some of the products
SS: How do you source the materials? Are there any sponsors for the same?
AT: I’m always on the hunt for animal prints, and I shop at the local market and now even have some options online for sourcing materials so I make use of that.
There are no sponsors or donations for Crazy Dog Lady Projects, but when we do get any funds for rescues, it goes directly towards the treatment and is not housed via CDL Projects. I also work closely with local shelters and as well as with independent rescuers, whenever required.
SS: Can you talk about some of the challenges that you faced?
AT: Starting CDL Projects was scary for me, because I did not know how it would be accepted. There are many talented artists making such wonderful products but I’ve learnt that there’s room for everyone and I’ve made a lovely community among like-minded artists.
Despite these challenges, I plan to continue to fund rescues through CDL Projects and maybe grow to include more than just one person.