One day the staff of Street Dog Care discovered a light brown male dog, about three years old, in front of their gates. The dog had a huge infected wound on the back of his neck and was not really able to move. Did someone throw him there? Or was he able to drag himself exactly to the only place in Boudha where he would immediately get professional help? It was a mystery.
The dog looked like a real street-hardened rouge – his entire body covered with what were most likely the wounds of numerous fights. Therefore it seems quite likely that he got bitten on his neck by another dog in a fight. That wound then got horribly infected. Probably flies laid their eggs into that wound, and now it was filled with maggots.
In the life story of the Indian Buddhist master Asanga, he struggled with deepening his own compassion and with receiving a vision of Maitreya, the Buddha embodying pure love, until finally he met a dog with a wound filled with maggots. Wanting to ease the dogs suffering, but also not hurting the maggots, he bent down to remove the maggots with his tongue. He closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see the disgusting wound, but as he bent forward, his tongue didn’t touch anything. When he opened his eyes, the dog had disappeared but Buddha Maitreya was standing in front of him, acknowledging that Asanga had mastered a profound state of compassion. Maitreya confessed that he himself had been the dog to provoke the deepening of Asanga’s love.
Inspired by this story, the dog with the maggots was named Maitreya. But, as the reader might guess, no one was brave enough to take out the maggots with their tongue. So Maitreya was immediately brought to the local vet, Dr. Gautam, who treated the wound, and about 300 maggots crawled out! This treatment had to continue every day for a whole week until the last maggot was removed. Throughout these days, no one was sure whether Maitreya’s brain was consumed by the maggots, and whether he would live or die. But survive he did!
For the next two months, Maitreya had to have his wound treated, cleaned, and bandaged every day. He wore a gauze tube as a head bandage, with holes cut out for his ears. Slowly his skin started to grow back and he became more lively.
As Maitreya became more active, his character emerged. He truly was an adventurous character! He loved to bound on top of the cages. He seemed totally happy, jumping around, and his brain seemed fine too! He loved to be petted, completely trusting those who helped him from the very beginning. Throughout the painful treatment process he never once needed a muzzle.
One day – Maitreya’s skin had all grown back – he decided all on his own that he had spent enough time at Street Dog Care. There were so many new adventures to be experienced! He jumped over the wall, and ran back to the streets he had come from.
In this way, Maitreya, the brave adventurer, seems to like to determine his own fate. Just as he came by himself, he also left by himself. Adventure on, dear Maitreya, but please stay safe!