A Tibetan Mastiff pup who dares to dream

Lo Khyi now lives in Haymarket, Virginia in the US (right) with the DeLisi family, on the other side of the Planet from his birthplace in a remote village of Mustang in Nepal (left).

The story begins with a tiny Tibetan Mastiff pup, cold, hungry and alone as an icy wind blows across a mountain trail in Tsarang of Upper Mustang beyond the Himalaya.

A boy named Karchung scoops up the shivering ball of fluff. “Little brother, this won’t do,” says the boy, tucking him inside his fleece jacket and taking him home.

The puppy slurps up the tsampa, and as the days go by the little pup gets stronger and dreams of a warm home and family by night, an innocent wish that the high Himalayan winds carry across the land.

When he wasn’t chasing after chicken and prancing around the goats, he was restlessly roaming the village, exploring every corner of Saukre. 

Villagers recognise pretty early that this handsome blue-eyed Tibetan Mastiff pup has a wandering spirit. But Karchung, his family and most of the village had never left the mountains.

So, the story goes, the pup waits for his true family, perched on his rock overlooking the trail until one day a man with a white-beard and white shirt comes puffing up the trail.

This is not just any other trekker, it is Scott DeLisi, at the time the American Ambassador to Nepal. He and his team were heading up to the fabled walled town of Lo Manthang.

The piercing blue eyes and dignified self-confident air immediately drew him to the pup. If it was not for the eyes, His Excellency may have walked on by since the dog’s blue-grey coat was the colour of the land itself, and perfectly camouflaged him in Mustang’s arid terrain.

Then, their eyes met, and, for the first time, the puppy spoke… and Scott heard him, and that day, the world changed for them both.

The Ambassador’s Dog is a tale of Lo Khyi (Lo for Mustang, and khyi, which fortuitously means both ‘dog’ and ‘happiness’ in Tibetan), a pup that dared to dream big and who went on to become the source of happiness for Scott, who took the dog to America after his tenure in Nepal.

‘Scott’ in the book is Scott H. DeLisi himself, who served as ambassador in Kathmandu from 2010-12. Now retired, DeLisi is a career diplomat who spent 35 years from one embassy to the next roaming the world with multiple postings in Asia and Africa. But it was Nepal and Nepalis that touched his heart like no other place. DeLisi is an avid birder, and made a rare sighting of Spiny Babbler during his tenure in Nepal.

DeLisi worked on preparing Nepal for disaster risk reduction as ambassador, and after retiring had just established Soarway Foundation in April 2015, when a major earthquake rocked Nepal.  

As an Executive Director of the Foundation and Engage Nepal, he continues his effort to help Nepal with child nutrition and education, public health, employment generation and rebuilding. Part of the proceeds from this book will go to his charitable organisation.

The Ambassador’s Dog has a dream-like quality to it, but at its heart is a story of optimism and positivity. Lo Khyi is a canine medium for an important message: set goals for yourselves and believe in them. And somehow (stars will align, or you will find avenues) your dreams will come true.

Every word in this short tale reveals DeLisi’s attachment to his bhote kukur, a harbinger of hope and happiness. This book will surely grip many young readers and inspire them, and they will be particularly drawn by Jane Lillian Vance’s exquisite illustrations.

Vance is an acclaimed American artist, her thangka painting of amchi healer in west Nepal resulted in the award-winning 2010 documentary A Gift for the Village. She has worked as an art therapist for children with special needs for 20 years and is a vice-president at the non-profit Help Save the Next Girl.

The illustrations on every page are symbolic, but detailed works of art that are intimate portrayals of the Land of Lo, its Buddhist faith, and its people, animals and birds.

Lo Khyi now lives in Haymarket, Virginia with DeLisi’s loving family, on the other side of the Planet from his birthplace in the remote wind-blown village of Tsarang in Nepal.

Lo Khyi is the true hero of the The Ambassador’s Dog, a short, uplifting ageless read for this dreary Covid winter, and a perfect magical gift of hope for the upcoming holiday season -- especially for families with children and dogs.


The Ambassador’s Dog

Scott H. DeLisi

Vajra Publications 2020

Pages 40


Available at Vajra Books, Patan dhoka Bookshop and Architect's Books in Patan. Vajra is offering Christmas discount at Rs1,400 and home delivery. Can also order online through Laibary.

  • Most read