Above: An INDog surveys his realm in Navegaon
Above: INDogs have a seasonal breeding cycle (like many other primitive breeds). This brown bitch was getting a lot of attention from the male dogs of Bamangaon at the time of my visit. The black dog was her favourite beau.
Above: Two INDogs in Bamangaon - what a pity the brown one had lost half his tail
Above: This male got bitten on his paw in a mating fight in Bamangaon
Above: Bamangaon - a cool spot for a siesta
Above: A young livestock-guardian dog on the Moharli-Chandrapur road
Above: A perfect INDog in Jamni. It was the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, and pink colour (and alcohol) seemed to have flowed freely in the village. A few of the dogs had also been smeared with colour; not this one though.
Above: Jamni. Two village lads strike a pose, unfortunately obscuring part of this INDog from view
Above: Jamni - an INDog stands amid signs of the morning's revelry
Above: Jamni - we had lunch at the home of the Sarpanch (elected village head) and his dog Raju modelled for me later
Above: A rather nervous bitch in Moharli. Village dogs aren't used to people staring at them, and it took this dog a long time to raise her ears and tail from a submissive position.
One thing that intrigued me was that at least 50% of the dogs in the villages were mongrels (with dropped ears and longer fur than the norm). All the more odd as the highway between the forest and the nearest town, Chandrapur, had only pure INDogs, all conforming to the "long-term pariah morphotype" (see my May 11, 2008 post). It seems that at some point of time, mix-breeds or breeds other than INDogs must have been brought into the villages from some distance away, as the pure INDogs from the immediate neighbourhood could not have caused this hybridization.
I was told by someone from Moharli that there used to be many more dogs in the village earlier, before hunting was banned. Unpalatable as this may be to us modern Indian animal-lovers, the use of dogs for hunting goes back to the dawn of our history, and forest tribes and communities have always valued dogs for this purpose. After the ban, dog ownership has dropped a lot in the area, for which I can only be thankful. The dogs are now used as watchdogs and livestock -guardian dogs.
In areas where wildlife is understandably the centre of attention, my pursuit of dogs arouses much amused curiosity. This sometimes seriously hampers my progress, with villagers wanting to be included in photographs, even dragging out their own dogs for me to shoot. But then that's all part of the deal when you go "dogwatching" in rural India. Of course I use the opportunity to tell everybody that desi dogs are the best!