About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. I'm also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai for 14 years.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Natasha





The first photo is of Natasha, my puppy for two weeks.

I met Natasha one night in December 2006, while taking a walk down the lane near my house in Nagaon. She was just about five weeks old by the looks of her. She was running out of a hut yelping, pursued by an old woman who was hitting her hard on the head with a broom.


Of course I asked what the pup had done - in a mild and moderate tone, incidentally; I don't believe in unnecessary aggression, especially when I am hopelessly outnumbered.

The old woman's family were offended and aggressive, they felt they had a right to beat pups if they wanted, the pup had entered their house and dirtied it, I had no right to tell them what to do...blah blah blah. I told them they were the first bad people I had met in the village, scooped up Natasha and took her home.

An agitated and emaciated toffee-brown bitch emerged from a nearby lane and followed me for a few seconds - obviously she was Natasha's mother - but when I looked at her she took fright and disappeared.

Natasha soon forgot her early unpleasant experience of humans and started enjoying herself. Lalee didn't much care for her and avoided her, so did Lucy. But Bandra quite liked her and put up with her non-stop pestering with amazing tolerance. She certainly wasn't plump but neither was she particularly skinny, and she wasn't a bit weak. My servant told me there had been five pups in that litter but the others had all died.

A few days later the party came to an end. Natasha vomitted up roundworms.


I had intended to get her deworming medicine when I returned to Mumbai, which would have been just a few days after her adoption. Obviously she had a very heavy load of worms, too much for her little body, and they were multiplying fast.

Well, we brought her to town, and to cut a painful story short, deworming and medication didn't help. The worms had reached her central nervous system, causing very violent seizures some of which actually flung her several feet across the room. I tried to hold her through some of these fits and one time she bit me badly. She had strange unnatural moods, depending I suppose on which part of her brain was activated by the worms. Often she would scream and back away in terror from things which weren't there. She would try to run away and hide. Sometimes she'd be in a rage, with her tiny jaws snarling and snapping. Even worse, at other times she would start playing some mad nightmarish game, her now skeletal frame frisking like a marionette in a grotesque mockery of the games she had played before. We could only watch in horror; nothing seemed to help for long. She would improve and behave normally for a while, raising hopes of a complete recovery...and then relapse again.

After five days of this, mercifully she died. Or rather, her tortured little body gave up. The real Natasha had vanished long before, when the brain started collapsing.

I had her cremated and took the tiny handful of ashes back to Nagaon. We buried them in her favourite spot behind a traveller's palm in the garden.


Sorry for the melancholy mood...but there is a happy ending to this story.


See that toffee-coloured bitch in the second photo? That's Natasha's mother.

I met her last month while we were vaccinating dogs in the village (her picture is also in my recent post about our rabies control drive).
She now lives at the house of a nice old lady close to where I first saw Natasha. Four other dogs live there, well-fed and contented. It was so satisfying to see them sleeping peacefully in the sunny yard, under the coconut trees.

Her pup from last year's litter lives near there too. He looks like Natasha, but is healthy and about four months old now. Somebody likes him: a string has been tied around his neck.


I wish all this had happened earlier...if the mother had been stronger at that time, perhaps little Tasha would have been healthier, with better immunity.

The same silly irrational question comes up with every dog and with death after death: What did she do to deserve this?


Like I said, it's a silly question.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really heartening story albeit not an uncommon one. Have asked myself that same silly question countless times. Do they deserve this? I had the unfortunate experience of watching a few week old pup die of jaundice and looking after an epileptic dog for 14 years. Glad to know there are people that care though.
-Erica

doggylove said...

recently,my friend rescued a highly malnourished female pup,hardly1.5 months old,from marol area, she brought it home only to take to the hospi, but looking at her condition(one eye was closed,injury not known, another eye had discharge,(doubt of distemper?) no appetite,extremely skinny)she and her husband decided to try out mdication at home as her chances of survival were least(taking her to hospi was literally taking her to glutton).she called the vet asking how to start with, he asked to give vitamins, liver tonic,deworming every 15 days if she survives the ordeal.the same night the pup vomitted 15-20 round worms, and used to cry once in an hour due to pain in tummy maybe, but thankfully(unlike natasha's case), she was lucky, after a lot of nursing she has turned into a beautiful 3 month old puppy.worms were on verge to damage her system, but she has survived.
regular deworming is a must.infact vets advice to deworm the female before mating her.-manik.