Desperate to navigate her way through a painful season of life, Jessica Haltzman took a solo backpacking trip to New Delhi, India, in 2017.
She emerged with a renewed zest for life, all because of a wounded street puppy who inspired Haltzman to steer her life in a new direction.
The backpacking adventure was initially meant to provide some space for Haltzman, who was going through a breakup, to clear her head and process recent life events, while gaining a greater sense of self-reliance and strength.
“I wanted to do something that would allow me to become more independent,” Haltzman told The Dodo. “I decided that after my AmeriCorps year of service was finished I would travel.”
She decided to get involved with an organization called Sadhana Forest, a tree conservation program in India, which led her to New Delhi.
Haltzman told The Dodo that she had been in a New Delhi hostel when she heard the pained whimpers of a puppy. She dashed outside and scooped the puppy up, finding a nasty wound on his back leg.
Worried about the pup’s injury, Haltzman searched frantically to find a veterinarian who could help.
Both of the puppy’s hips were broken, Haltzman learned, and his wound had gotten infected.
Despite the ongoing care the puppy would need, it was love at first sight for Haltzman, who knew that very day that she could not part with the adorable furball, who she named Delhi.
In meeting Delhi, Haltzman was able to come to terms with the words of wisdom that others had given her — that painful seasons do have a silver lining.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Haltzman told The Dodo. “I was meant to save you, you were meant to save me,” she said of her dog.
Knowing she wanted to adopt Delhi, Haltzman continued her journey through Southeast Asia with Delhi by her side, changing her travel plans to accommodate the pup who was not allowed to fly.
View this post on Instagram
Only 5 more days left to purchase your Delhi the Street Dog Foundation T-shirts. The link is in our bio!!!! . . . . . #newdelhi #india #puppylove #dogsofinstagram #doggy #pet #petsofinstagram #rescuedog #rescued #rescuedogsofinstagram #germanshepherdpuppy #germanshepherd #adopdontshop #rescue #rescuestory #traveldog #tripod #hiking #mydogist #photography #ruffwear #thankful #adventureinwashington #tshirtsale #bonfire #share #thankful #donate
Eventually, Haltzman and Delhi both made it back to the U.S., where a veterinarian strongly recommended that Delhi’s injured back leg be amputated.
Delhi came through the surgery showing incredible resilience, Haltzman said, scarcely even seeming to realize that he was down a limb.
The pair has since settled in Seattle, Washington, where Delhi joins Haltzman on all her outdoor adventures, including 8-mile hikes and kayaking through beautiful Washington waters.
View this post on Instagram
Since Delhi has to go once a month to the vet to get his back adjusted and acupuncture it is really important that we make the vet a very positive experience. I always take him to the dog park prior so that he is tired. Also, he is given lots of cookies when at the vet. This place started out as one of his least favorite places to go but now he loves coming here. . . . . . #newdelhi #india #puppylove #dogsofinstagram #doggy #pet #petsofinstagram #rescuedog #rescued #rescuedogsofinstagram #germanshepherdpuppy #germanshepherd #adopdontshop #rescue #rescuestory #traveldog #tripod #hiking #mydogist #photography #ruffwear #ruffwearindia #adventureinwashington #nationalforest #letskeepitwild #tailsontrails #wanderwithwaggingtails #pnwwonderdogs
Inspired by her pup’s story of resilience, Haltzman founded a nonprofit organization in her dog’s honor, Delhi the Street Dog Foundation.
The goal of Haltzman’s nonprofit is to help other Indian street dogs like Delhi that need medical attention and a stable place to live.
“Delhi the Street Dog Foundation covers transportation costs to street dogs from India to the United States where they can receive appropriate and safe care — and build an inseparable bond with their new family and community,” the nonprofit’s mission reads.
“The street dogs there are amazing and they need amazing homes,” Haltzman said.
You can follow the adventures of Delhi and other street dogs like him on Instagram at @delhithestreetdog.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.