About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

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.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sonu's story

I was always fond of dogs but unfortunately my mother wasn't. I had always longed to have a dog as a pet but my wish was never fulfilled. My parents did not even like me feeding stray dogs, and one day I found to my dismay that I was totally cut off from the doggy world. I remembered my heart's desire and felt angry. There were so many people who had happy stories to tell about how their pets had miraculously come into their lives, but I had no such story. If not a pet, couldn’t I just have one dog to live outside my door, was there no dog in my destiny?

I cried, but someone up there was listening... A few months later, while returning from a movie I saw this beautiful little adolescent dog passing in front of my house. I called out to him and ran inside to get something for him to eat. I got immense satisfaction seeing him eat and a few days on I hadn’t quite gotten him out of my head. I deputed my maids to be on the lookout for a little brown dog. Soon my maid called out to me from the balcony and sure enough he was there, my sweet little dog. I called out to him and asked him to wait for me as I ran inside to arrange his food. Then I ran out to see if he was still there. Unlike other dogs who first of all don’t listen to you and even if they do, don’t stay long, my sweetie was sitting there patiently. In fact he looked so sweet that I there and then gave him a name: "Sonu babu." After that I decided that he would be my dog.

For a whole week I used to go out in search of him and feed him and familiarize him with his name. After a week's effort I would come home from the office and there he would be waiting at my door. Then all my time would pass in talking to him and feeding him. What joy to have such a pretty dog! Strangely other people didn't think he was pretty at all. He had hair missing from under his eyes, his ears and tail. He was suffering from a major tick infestation. I knew nothing about dogs or their ailments. Then started my run from one vet to another, one NGO to another, till I had gone to almost half the vets in Delhi. Without intending it, I was gaining knowledge that would help my mission in the future.

One day in early February it was very cold and Sonu didn’t want to return to his home which was a gutter just a few feet from my house. I treasured what time I had with him and didn't want to test my parents on this and lose my dog altogether. So I turned him away but I told my mother he was feeling unwell and wanted to stay in the veranda. My mom said, "You should have given him a sheet to lie on."

And that was it! The next night I gave him a sheet to lie on and Sonu started staying in our compound. It became his base. He would go out for a romp with his friends and make frequent visits to his base. At night we would feed him and he would sleep there. Then I found a great vet who finally diagnosed his problems and cured him. But I still remember the days I used to get up to see Sonu with some new ailment. I used to be visiting vets three days a week. Thankfully those days are over. There was just one episode last winter when he ran away to eat at a wedding party till 3 a.m. and caught a cold. Otherwise I haven’t needed to visit a vet for a long time.

Then one day it was too hot for Sonu to stay in the sun and I asked my mom if he could just come in... he would not be allowed into any room. My mom by now had taken a liking to him and found it very difficult to cuddle him outside as she had to bend a lot. So she agreed as it was more convenient to sit on the steps in the lobby or on the sofa and cuddle him.

Sonu sensitized me to the life of stray dogs, his ailments taught me a lot about dog diseases and NGOs, in short he helped me do what I had always wanted to do - work for stray dogs. He gave me the motivation and courage to do it. I don’t believe stray dogs are all in a deplorable state. Many are healthy and loved, doing fine, as good as any living being can hope to do in this world. But yes, there is still lots that can be done for them and it’s our responsibility to do it. I must confess here that I always wanted a pedigreed dog but my beautiful dog opened my eyes and I now realize how beautiful Indian mix-breed dogs are. A lab is a lab and looks like a lab but an INDog-mix … just see the variety!

Today Sonu's routine is this: in the morning he goes out of the house, meets his friends and barks at passersby who are up and about early. As activity increases in the house he goes in and out with very person who enters and leaves. After he has wagged us good bye as we leave for work, he settles down either inside the house (the lobby being his favorite place) or sits outside the house. When he has had enough of a sunbath he barks to be let inside again. There is not much activity till mom takes him for a walk in the evening. A few more hours of rest till we come home and he welcomes us with tail-wagging and cuddling. He is now free to enter our room and very often sleeps under my bed. Intelligent dog that he is, he never barks or even whimpers when he sleeps in my room, but when he sleeps on the ground floor he barks the night away.

My mother finds him a perfect companion for walks and loves him dearly.

Now when I ask her “Mom, you said you didn’t like dogs," she promptly answers, "Sonu is not a dog. He is a great sage reincarnated."

Mridu Minocha


charu shah said...

what a wonderful story! my bittu(cat) also came home like this, but ur story was really very touching!
hope we get more homes like your for the strays!

doggylove said...

hi! we see so many dogs on the road, but all dogs dont come into our lives,i wish all could..all my 3 dogs(i have not declared chinky as adopted for my parents sake, although she is not less than tommy,blacky), have come in my life with some pre destined purpose.chinky's case was just height of it, for a whole yr, i was going to her to feed her, she never followed me, then she followed me, that too risking all bully dogs on the way,i dont think she will perform that daring act ever again in her life!i have never met a obeient dog like blacky, obedience for a stray in that reference.like u said, my stray doggy work too started after tommy's entry in my house.everything happens for the best, thats it.bye, take care, manik.

Anonymous said...

That was a very baeutiful and a touching story, and yes our stray dogs are also very cute and deserv the same like any other pedigree dog does.
Good job Girl !!!!

I love PETS !!!! :-)

arti said...

Hey Mridu
Great experience...
well i have Bonzo now..and he is such a darling sometimes i think he is some naughty kid reincarnated...eyes are full of naught and i bet he keeps thinking how he can make the next mischief...and did i tell you ..now a days my pariah can't sleep without an AC and takes a hot bath..
and loves to tease and mother the two cats that i have...thanks to you...

arti said...

ANd also mridu..one of my friend is looking for kittens between 1 month to 2 month old...if any kitty needs help let me know...