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.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bring that doggie home...

Our move to Bangalore from Mumbai (or Bombay as I prefer to call it) was heartwrenching. And when I saw this doggie near the gate of our apartment, I looked away. He had such melting brown eyes – no more heart aches for me, I thought and ignored him completely for several months to come. But as wise men say, one cannot fight destiny.

Doggies do break hearts. Let us begin with Poochie. Poochie was almost my sibling, not a dog, or so she thought. Well, it is true she was part of the family. Born in our own garden in Bandra, I swear she called my Mum, 'Mum' as well.

There were two of them: Brown, fierce, independent, female puppy – Poochie (as she was later named) and her brother - fluffy, lazy, cuddly and spotless white. Unfortunately their mum, also a brown stray doggie, died soon after in a car accident.

It was for us to rear these puppies. Poochie's brother found a home and Poochie found a way into our hearts.

Our family agreed that she was a highly intelligent and 'educated' dog, this more than made up for her mixed breed. It is true; she was my constant companion, from standard seventh till after I qualified as a CA. From mugging History and Hindi to Economics and other mundane stuff, Poochie stoically bore it all. In fact she relished performing a war dance on my stomach to wake me up when the alarm went off, early in the morning, when I got up to study. And then she went to sleep, sometimes on my warm bed. I didn't have the heart to pull her off the bed and on to her equally cosy extra large cushion. Of course for bearing the long study hours, there were frills attached – lots of hugs, unexpected titbits of treats – she loved apples and cheese, long walks, dips in the sea.

Interestingly, Poochie shared a special relationship with Silky the cat. Silky was our pet even before Poochie entered our lives and Silky mothered this little pup. Let us add that Silky was extremely productive - with a litter of kittens almost every three months. Poochie, once she was grown up, played the godmother and a good one at that. Silky's departure was rather tragic, she ran away from the vet's clinic and Poochie mourned for days over her absence. But one could never keep Poochie down for long and she was soon back to her cheerful self. While she adored Silky, any other cat was her sworn enemy.

When Poochie expired - close to twelve years old – of a heart attack, in my mother's arms, my parents were stricken with grief. But I could not shed a single tear. It just seemed that a part of me had died. It was then that I decided, "No more dogs equals no more heartbreaks."

Fast forward: Six years after Poochie's death, we trundled into Bangalore. And there was 'Snowy', standing at the gate waiting for us. But, no, I turned away. I did not have to feel very guilty. Snowy was fed by our neighbours. They had a cocker spaniel and used to feed Snowy, apparently an abandoned doggie, with leftovers and extra rotis thrown in.

Then, as fate would have it, within six months this family shifted and we took over the responsibility of providing Snowy with food. Guess a dog needs love as much as food. So I would spend time talking to Snowy (who was a bit deaf) hoping we could adopt him and bring him home.

Slowly his spirit returned, he became active, began to bark at strangers, chase cars, and flirt with the female doggies. Yet he could never ever become our full-time house dog. I so wanted to hug him, as I used to Poochie. Why, I would have even given up my warm bed for him, had Snowy agreed to stay with us. The barrier remained, we could not pat Snowy. He shied away if we tried to. Perhaps he could not really trust another human being to pat him. I wonder till today what trauma he had to undergo in the past.

All we could do was provide him with food; shelter he took in the basement when it poured and an animal welfare organization took care of his medical needs and regularly pinned him down for various shots.

While Poochie used to welcome me with warm hugs and licks every evening when I returned home, Snowy used to give me an equally warm sendoff. He used to chase my car when I would leave for work. When I was in the car I did not seem to pose a threat to Snowy. This became an everyday game; he would bound up grinning to send me off to work, every morning without fail with excited yips and yaps.

On September 20, 2006, we found him curled up and dead in his sleep.

Yes, in a way he was my dog. Yet a dog I could never pat and hug and hold. Snowy was not my Poochie, yet he held a special place in my heart and I miss him. The road still seems so empty, there is no one to bark and say "Have a nice day at work."

Today, owing to personal reasons, I am unable to take care of a dog. But if you can, you must. Try and befriend them and take them home. At times you may fail, like we did with Snowy, but I'd like to think we gave him the best possible love and affection.

Yes, dogs do break hearts, but the love they provide and the lasting memories that you retain forever and ever, more than make up for it.

Lubna Kably

In the photo: Snowy

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