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.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Above: Me with Cutta as a puppy - you can see the swelling on her face

Above: Feeling better

Above: Some sweet milk and baby cereal

Above: Cutta in Aspen, Colorado

Above: With Dublin, her adopted brother

Above and below: With my son

Below: At the Lake House

This is my "Pariah" dog. Until today I had no idea that was what she was called. Her name is Cutta (short for Calcutta) and I found her on the streets of Kolkata four years ago.

I was working with the Mother Theresa Charities (I am not Catholic, just a volunteer). Every day on my way home I passed these two puppies who always lay in the same position, nose to nose, and were in obvious ill health. One day my friend and I noticed the puppies were no longer there and I said, "oh, the puppies must have died." After a few steps something made me look to my left and there was one of the puppies lying in the trash. Initially I thought she was dead so I walked over to give her a little blessing and she opened her eyes and looked up at me, she was so pitiful and ill. I immediately scooped her up, I could not imagine leaving her there to die in the trash. We brought her to our hotel, snuck her in inside a backpack, thinking we would let her die with some peace and dignity rather than in a trash heap. We made a comfortable bed for her, on my bed, and fed her some sweet milk, which she was too weak to drink to we emptied a bottle of eye drops and used it to squeeze the milk, little by little, into her mouth. The next morning she was still alive so we took her to a vet at an animal lovers society to find out if there was anything we could do for her. He told us to forget about her and put her back in the trash as she had no value and was a "mongrel." I insisted he treat her and he finally relented and gave her a shot of antihistamine (she had a lot of swelling in her face) and a shot of antibiotics. Cutta slept for 24 hours straight. She woke hungry, and wagged her tail for the first time. (When she wags her tail she wiggles her whole behind and turns into a horseshoe shape as she makes her way to you).

After five days it was time for me to return to the U.S. but Cutta was still too sick to travel (there was no way I was not going to keep her) and she had to have vaccinations also but could not receive them being as ill as she was. After much worry and scrambling to figure out where to keep her the vet at the clinic said he had an animal shelter where he could keep her, but only if someone stayed in India and took responsibility for her. Well, the man at our hotel, Sam, a wonderful guy, offered to represent her as her owner, so she was taken from us to spend her recovery and quarantine at the shelter. Walking away from Cutta that day was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I didn't know if I could trust them to care for her. I worried that they might just put her back on the street. I cried and cried.

Finally after 42 days, Cutta made the long journey from Kolkata to the U.S.! It has been four years and she has brought so much love and joy to our family. We can't imagine life without her. Wherever we go people always stop and ask us what breed our beautiful dog is. We usually say she is a street dog from India and they are always so amazed. Sometimes I just say, "She is Cutta of India."

She is so happy. My husband calls her the Queen, because she definitely rules the house.

Marie Tavlin
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Gouri Dange said...

oh Marie that is a wonderful set of events. and the effort to go through and take on officialdom to take her to the US must have been quite something. all the best.

Puck said...

Gouri, Thank you! It was a trying ordeal. But all in all it was easier than I might have imagined it to be before I did it. My husband found a gentleman, through a contact at British Airways, who ships exotic animals. He told us he had never shipped a dog before but didn't think it would be too difficult. The biggest problem was locating a kennel. A kennel could not be found in Kolkata so we had to ship one from Dehli to Kolkata. The health certificate was pretty easily secured, so we just had to wait for her to recover from her hunger induced illness' and receive her vaccinations and then wait out the thirty days after her rabies shot before she could leave India. She has been an incredible blessing to our family. She is a gentle girl with an absolute love of people.