Last night a friend dropped by for an after-dinner visit saying he just HAD to do something for a little dog he'd seen lying by the side of the road near his parents' home in Panchsheel. "I heard this low moaning from the side of the road and when I stopped and got down there she was. Poor thing!" A car must have run her over, because at least one her back legs was badly damaged. "It may have happened a day or two ago, because (the leg) was full of maggots and stinking ..."

He lives in Bombay so he couldn't take the poor creature in himself. His neighbour suggested calling the animal ambulance in the morning. But when he got to our house he was still wincing at the thought of leaving the animal alone and suffering all through the night.

"What about FRIENDICOES-SECA?" one of us said.

"Wow. Great idea. Why didn't I think of them right away?" When our friend lived in Delhi, he'd had two wonderful and much loved strays living with him. He had gone to the famous animal shelter under the Defence Colony Flyover whenever he needed help with his dogs.

"Uh-oh, don't have their number though," we said.

"NO problem," said our friend. "I'll just call Just Dial and find out --"

Literally one minute later, there was the number -- well, a list of them, actually -- for Friendicoes, sent by SMS, to our friend's phone. Another couple of minutes later, and after a couple of dud numbers, he got through to Friendicoes and explained the situation. "Do you want me to be there to identify the dog?" he asked, already holding his car keys in hand.

Keep in mind this was maybe 10.15 at night. The friendly voice at the other end said, "No, that's all right. Our night ambulance driver'll go over and collect the dog. All you have to do is tell him where to go. I'll give you his number ..."

Our friend called the number and described exactly where the animal was. Maybe fifteen minutes later he got a call from the driver, saying that he'd found the dog, had taken her in and all was well. We could hear the dog's pathetic whining even without holding the phone to our own ears.

Our friend and one of us decided this was really great. So they drove over to the shelter right away. By that time, the little dog had been registered, her wound dressed and she'd been given a sedative to ease her pain. Our friend had said on the phone that he thought it may be best to put her to sleep, but at the shelter they just smiled and nodded (I wasn't there, so I'm just reporting what I was told).

Today, when I went online to check their site, I realized that they've probably had loads of "hopeless cases" whom they resurrect and find happy homes for! Maybe this little one will be another such story. We made a donation right away, of course. But more than anything else, we came away from the experience feeling an unfamiliar sense of total gladness.

Everything was good: the fact that our friend gave in to his compassionate nature, the fact that Just Dial worked at once, the Friendicoes response and at the end of it all, one little creature saved from a lonely, painful death. Friendicoes was totally uncommercial: making the donation was absolutely voluntary. They go and collect the animal when they get a call; the rest is up to the conscience of the caller.

Yes -- yes -- I KNOW: it was just one dog, just one story.