Joy Lynn Davis is an artist from Santa Barbara, California who recently lived in Patan, Nepal. She also worked as an artist in Kathmandu Contemporary Art Center. But who knew that an artist from California would find the love of her life in streets of Nepal? Here is her story in her own words.
“I lived in Nepal 2012-2015, while working on a project documenting community response to the theft of sacred stone sculptures from the Kathmandu Valley. I first met Fox in 2013 outside a market in Patan, just south of Kathmandu. On a hot, sticky monsoon day, I had bags of groceries slung across my shoulders and was cursing and struggling to unlock my bike when I felt something lean against my thigh. I looked down to find his fluffy face looking up at me. I set down my bags and sat on the pavement to cuddle him. He was tall for a street dog, and gentler than most domestic dogs I’d met. When I cycled away, I couldn’t stop smiling. After that day, I went out of my way to visit him whenever I was in his part of town.
Joy Lynn with Fox on the street in Patan in 2013
A year and a half later, I noticed he seemed to be tired all the time, lethargic even. He was sleeping in the middle of the road, unable to get up, wag his tail, or even keep his eyes open. A friend agreed something was wrong. A local vet diagnosed him with canine ehrlichiosis and explained that he wouldn’t have made it much longer without care. He had a fever, anemia, and dehydration. Five days in a row, I set him on the backseat of taxis and friends’ cars and brought him back for injections of antibiotics and IV fluids. On the fifth day, the vet put 40 pills in my hand and announced that he would need 20 additional days of antibiotics, twice a day with food. I was flabbergasted. How could I manage? He lived on the streets and I was busier than ever, preparing for the big exhibition of my 5-year art and research project. I accepted my fate and began a routine of cooking meatballs and carrying them around with me in a container in my laptop bag. Twice a day, I’d cycle over and whistle. He’d come running with his pack of dogs behind him.
A few days before he was done with his course of antibiotics, disaster struck. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the city, leveling temples and homes, and taking the lives of thousands. I couldn’t find him for a couple days, but when I did, he was obviously stressed. He nuzzled into me frantically, pushing his head into my belly and legs, knocking me over. And he was hungry. From that day on, he followed me, grinning up at me while running alongside my bicycle, sitting and swishing his tail outside of the gate of my house.
In the weeks after the earthquake, the aftershocks kept coming and each one made our hearts race and made us run into the streets. We experienced hundreds of aftershocks, including a 7.4. There was a shortage of fuel and water and nearly everyone slept in makeshift tents outside, away from the cracked and crumbled buildings. My home was damaged too, so I slept outside initially, later indoors but under a table and fully clothed with shoes on in case I needed to run. I worked long hours as part of UNESCOs earthquake response team. It was more stress than I had ever known. The dog that adopted me did what he could to get me to relax. Every night I’d cycle to his neighborhood, sit in the street with him, and bury my fingers in his warm fur, closing my eyes to forget the images of crumbled buildings. I daydreamed of adopting him, then was heartbroken to learn it was going to cost over $2,000 to get him to California. My friends and family responded with generosity I’ll never forget. They raised the money and offered to host him until I was settled in Santa Barbara again.
We’ve had a big adventure – in Nepal and now Santa Barbara. He’s my first dog and I’ve had to learn his language, his needs, his quirks. He’s been patient while I’ve struggled to teach him what is expected of him here. In the beginning his separation anxiety was severe. When I left the house, he crooned like Frank Sinatra. He shredded the mini blinds like a velociraptor. In one attempt to find me, he jumped off the roof. Thankfully, he doesn’t do those things anymore, but other behaviors haven’t dropped away. He still hunts – skunks, mice, and lizards, and he climbs trees to get to squirrels. He’s obsessed with cats. A couple weeks ago, he hitch-hiked to San Ysidro Ranch and rode their golf carts. But he’s become a great backpacking companion, hiking with his little doggie backpack. His smile charms people wherever we go. He’s gentle and sweet with my friends’ kids. He’s my scooter copilot, riding in the sidecar and sometimes humoring me by wearing his googles. But best of all, every day when I get back from work, he’s waiting on the front porch, wiggling and prancing at my arrival."
Fox enjoying a ride with Joy on their super cool bike specially designed for him!
Recently, Joy has been raising funds for the treatment of needy dogs in Nepal through her wonderful painting skills. She has also developed a portrait of Fox which shows how amazing artist she is!