Mango & the Monk: The Story of Dogstar

How did two ex-London Underground project managers end up 5,000 miles from home, running spay/neuter clinics in Sri Lanka?

Good question. Here’s our owner’s tale (or should that be tail?)

London 2005

In 2005, Sam Green and her husband Mark worked for the engineering department on the London Underground, managing a busy 24/7 control room. July 7th started as any other working day would. But, by the time it was over, Sam’s life had changed forever

Just hours after a deadly terrorist attack, Sam and Mark led a small team of specialist engineers supporting the police. What they saw had a profound impact. Months later, Sam was made suddenly redundant.

Struggling with post-traumatic stress, Sam booked a flight to Sri Lanka for a trip meant to last only eight weeks. It seemed like the end of everything, but in true Dogstar fashion, it was only the beginning.

Sri Lanka 2006

Sitting weeks later in a Sri Lankan temple courtyard, Sam spotted a puppy bounding towards her with endless enthusiasm (and little control of the breaks). Suddenly, they were in her lap with siblings not far behind. Sam noticed they had fleas and then, that their bellies were bloated with worms.

As a dog lover, Sam had some flea treatment in her room. She figured she could go get it, treat the puppies and still be back in time for dinner. Twenty minutes later, four wriggly puppies had received life-saving treatment. Success!

The Monk

Moments later, the temple’s Monk spotted Sam and asked for her help with another dog. Just skin and bones, riddled with mange and mites, covered in open sores. She didn’t look like an easy case.

But Dogstars don’t give up when things look difficult – they rise to the challenge. Sam named her Mango and she was the first ever Dogstar patient.

Tracking down a vet for Mango was hard, but finally, a university team treating elephants nearby agreed to help. With a sheet as an examination area and equipped with a makeshift muzzle, they set to work. Cleaning Mango’s wounds wasn’t easy. In fact, it drew tears from everyone involved. But they did what they had to do, and hours later, they left Sam with a prescription and a promise to return in a week.

That day, Dogstar was born. Sam and Mark began the process of moving 5,000 miles to swap their experience managing major projects and incident management to setting up high-welfare spay/neuter programmes. Working with a team of passionate Sri Lankan vets and assistants, they’ve gone on to treat tens of thousands of animals, restoring harmony between people and dogs along the way.

A small charity making a big impact. All thanks to Mango and her Monk. It’s the kind of impact that we like to call the Dogstar effect.