This blog is for aboriginal dog enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah Dog) and INDog-mixes (Indies) 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 landrace village dog of the Indian subcontinent. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too. Also see padsociety.org
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
There are these three adorable balls of fluff living on the roadside outside my office. I’m sure they would love to find homes rather than curl up on the pavement all night.
Their mother had a litter of six pups, all of them black and brown. Now only three remain.
I’m not sure the mother is getting enough to eat and she doesn’t seem to take very good care of the pups. The people of the nearby chawl, who feed the dogs, have appealed to me to help and I thought the web was the best place to reach out.
Every time one of the pups squeals, I believe it’s a plea for help.
So if anyone would like to give these puppies a good life, please get in touch.
More examples of the pariah morphotype.
These lovely pictures were taken by a young INDog fan, Revati Bose.
Above: dogs at Charlotte Lake, Matheran, in the Western Ghats.
Below: a group of INDogs on Tarkarli Beach in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra.
Photos: Revati Bose, Mumbai
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It's unusual and I think inappropriate that I have an internet connection (even an unreliable one) five minutes away from a tiger reserve. That's modern life. Anyway, it gives me a chance to post these pictures I took this morning, in a village called Khapa on the edge of Pench National Park (the Maharashtra side).
The village is entirely populated by Gond tribals. In all the Gond villages I've been in, people seem to be fond of dogs. No doubt it's a very ancient bond which goes back to hunting days. Hunting is banned in India now, and I'm often told in such villages that dog ownership has dropped a lot.
Most of the dogs in this region are pure INDogs and conform to the long-term pariah morphotype. You do see the occasional mix-breed though.
I was told that all the dogs in the village are owned, even though they aren't fed much and have to scavenge for food. A local person told me that the only disease the dogs get is itching and fur loss. When a dog has severe skin disease it is no longer allowed in the house and becomes ownerless. I did my good deed for the day by sharing the recipe for a skin disease home remedy: equal parts haldi (turmeric) and crushed camphor, mixed with coconut oil. You have to put it on the dog's skin and leave it on for half an hour, with the dog muzzled to prevent licking. Messy but magical. After half an hour you wash it off with any good neem soap. I also told this person about neem water and neem paste. He wrote it all down and I do hope he spreads the word among dog-owners there.
This family's pet dog has six fat little puppies - you can see them all in the second picture.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This bunch of cute little girls (six of them) are for adoption in MUMBAI only.
They were born around 9 October to a dog in my office building. Right now they are safe and happy, but it won't be the same when they grow up, if they live to grow up that is!
They are extremely cute little babies, very playful and full of life, and will make very good pets.
Please pass on this message to your friends and see if anyone can adopt them in Mumbai.
Two are black and brown, two brown, one white, one fawn. All of them have 20 digits in their feet, which some people consider lucky.
Anyone interested can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, November 14, 2008
23rd June 2008, 05:30 hours. A two month old male pariah puppy suffered a road accident, fracturing his femur and pelvic girdle. Screaming and moaning, he slid his impaired body on to the pavement, attended by none but the helpless mother. The locals disturbed by his deafening squeals dumped him in a vat, leaving to die by himself. The vat happened to be on the side of the house of Pradipta Kumar Pal.
I am a student, 19, in my first year in college. I could well interpret the call of God. Excavating the puny body from the garbage, flies feeding on the leaking blood from his broken skin, I followed His orders.
He gave me a brand new life. Turning a deaf ear to the objections from my family, earning little from the tuitions I give, spending sleepless nights nursing the lonely little darling, he introduced me to the duties of a father.
Baloo, now seven months old, is a hyperactive dog, the apple of my eye, the apple of discord to my family, recovered by His will, as if there were no injuries.
Pradipta Kumar Pal
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Above: Snow walk
Above: Frisky in splits
Above: Frisky demands food
I had heard of many ways of acquiring a puppy or dog. You got them from friends or bought them from pet stores. But this is the strange story of Frisky, the second dog of my adult life, who was planted on me by a boy, in the mistaken belief that I ran a dog shelter. Here’s the full story of how Frisky-the-ripper worked her way up from a Mumbai street to the yard of my home in Toronto.
It was during the monsoon - the season of perennial rain in Mumbai. As usual, the night dinner was home delivered by a woman who ran a home-based catering business, just for bad cooks like me. The bringer of this food booty (or dabba, as we called it) was her son Raunak. Probably because it was raining, or a fight she might have had with her friends, my daughter was home. Her normal practice was to get out and stay out of the house till 9 p.m., just generally roaming around. Well, so this night in July was like any other weekday night. My husband had not yet come home. My son was out too. I was sitting with my dog Sherry (the sweetheart) and wondering when the dabba would show up.
Came 8.30 and the doorbell rang. I took the dabba from Raunak and gave him the empty one from yesterday. Now this Raunak is not a giant brain, but I did appreciate his helping his mother (which I wished all kids would do), so I chatted with him from time to time.
Today, he has something to show me. “See what I have.” I notice some stuffed toy like thing in his hand. “What is it? It looks so real!” “It’s a puppy I found.” “Where?” “ I went to another house to deliver their dabba, and this puppy was lying around in the building compound.” “But what about its mother? Won’t she try to find it?” The wailing started, “The mother is dead. Run over by a car.” “How do you know?” I asked, trying to punch holes in his story. “The watchman told me. There is nobody to take care of it. It was lying, shivering and hungry in the rain. So I took it.” “How did you bring it here, on the cycle?” I knew he biked down. “No, I brought it in the bus.” “But they don’t allow dogs in the bus.” “Yeah, I hid it in my raincoat.”
By this time, my daughter Chandni had come to the door and seen the puppy. “Oh how sweet, how adorable,” she started. Till now, the puppy living in my house was not even a remote possibility. I already had my Sherry - a dachshund of pureblood lineage.
“So are you taking it to your house,” I asked, emphasizing the YOUR. “No, my mummy won’t let me keep it, there is no space.” True say! I’ve seen his house - it’s just one room and kitchen and they were five people living there. “So you can keep it in your building compound and just feed it.” “No, the kids will torment it, tease and throw stones. It will just die. But I haven’t brought it to your house.” I perked up. “I also give a dabba to an elderly couple who take in injured dogs, so I will take it to their house.” “Oh great,” I said. And that should have been that, end of story.
But no, to this day, I can’t understand why I did the next thing I did. I said “Look, it’s raining, and that puppy looks wet and cold. So I’ll drive you and the puppy to their house.” I did observe that a cuddle fest was going on between the puppy and my daughter - much stroking (my daughter) and licking (the puppy). My dog Sherry was mighty displeased, I could tell, she hates all dogs.
So I drove them about a kilometer to somebody’s house. I told Raunak “You go in. If they take it, fine. Or else, you are going to put the puppy back where you found it, and I’m going to see that you do it.” So off he went. Minutes passed and I was hoping that they would take it in, because I did feel sorry for that poor shivering orphan (?) puppy. I knew that stray puppies mostly don’t survive on the mean streets of Mumbai.
Meanwhile, my daughter, who didn’t want to miss out on any of this action, was in the car, pleading, arguing with me to keep the puppy. "No," I said, "We already have a dog. Plus, we are moving to Canada." "It can come with us." "No way, you know how expensive it is." "So you will just let it die!" Tough question! But wait, these people will take her in. I try to convince both of us.
After about 15 minutes, Raunak is walking toward us but the puppy is still with him. Maybe he’s just bringing it so we can bid it a proper farewell, I thought. But no, apparently the couple only takes in diseased or lame dogs. This was only an orphan. Orphans don’t count. So, we are back at the beginning. I tell Raunak, “Now I’m driving you back to where you found it. You can leave it right there. Maybe the mother is not dead.” Combined wailing now from my daughter and Raunak. “No, it will die. Please, please mom.” “I thought you take in dogs. You already have one dog, so what difference will it make if you have another?” I glared at this cheeky boy. However, I could feel my resolve weakening, as a compromise formula was reached. I said “I’ll keep the puppy in my house till the rain stops. Then, I’m putting it back on the streets. You won’t stop me then,” I extracted a promise from Chandni.
So the puppy was brought home. Chandni was assigned the task of washing it, prior to its placement as a temp pet. The puppy lapped up a little water and some milk, curled up on a mat on the floor and slept. I then observed that it had an unusual silver grey colour (which still generates a lot of compliments for her in Canada. People don’t compliment me, I think with envy). Though it wasn’t a purebred princess like my Sherry, it did look very innocent, like all animal babies.
Sherry ignored it completely, hoping that it will go away, I guess. We didn’t try to name the puppy and I definitely didn’t want to get attached to it, because I knew that the line between a temporary and permanent house guest is very thin. So I cared for it in a detached way. My daughter took to carrying it around the house like her personal stuffed toy. When my husband returned, the puppy was displayed. I knew that he would never disagree with the decision to let it stay.
The rains stopped. I contemplated sending it back on the streets, or at least calling an animal shelter to have it adopted. I did call, but the process seemed too complex and I got busy with other things.
By then, the puppy had graduated from sleeping on the floor to curling up next to my daughter. Besides, she had acquired a name - Frisky, in honor of her playful nature. The vaccinations and spaying followed in due course. And then, she survived the long flight to Toronto. And loved it here - more than we did! As I see her chasing squirrels and digging in the snow, I remember that rainy day when she wormed her way into our family.
Frisky passed away recently in Toronto. She was greatly loved by everyone in the family and they are all mourning her loss. Chitra sent me this lovely story and photos as a memorial to their beloved pet.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Apart from the sadness of losing a beloved pet, there is often a feeling that other people don't understand what such a loss means to you. Even your closest friends may be unable to empathize, unless they have been through the same experience.
I wanted to share the name of a homeopathic remedy I've found very useful at such times: Ignatia 1M. Obviously it can't instantly take away one's sadness, but I know from experience that it helps a lot in restoring one's normal frame of mind.
You have to take three doses in a single day. Usually this is enough, but if severe depression persists, you can repeat it on a second or third day. However, remember with homeopathy it is important not to overdose. If you are using the liquid form of the remedy, one dose is two drops in a tablespoon of water. As with all homeopathic remedies, don't eat anything for one hour before or after the dose. Don't store the medicine near anything strong-smelling - food, perfume, soap or anything else.
Ignatia works very well for animals too. You can give it to pets who are mourning the loss of their owner or of any human or animal they were close to. For dogs or cats, one dose should be one drop of the liquid in a teaspoon of water. Or you could use the remedy in pill form. For dogs, one dose is four pills; for a puppy or a cat, one dose is two pills. Don't touch the pills with your hands, use a spoon; or for a difficult patient, crush the pills in a little water and feed the dose with a syringe or dropper. Again, don't overdose: three doses on a single day should be enough, but if the animal seems depressed on the second day you can give another two or three doses. If you feel the animal is still grieving or that his health is affected, it would be best to consult a homeopath.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Above: A dog in the little town of Chivay in the Colca Canyon
Above: People in the Andes keep a lot of livestock: llamas, alpacas, goats, sheep, sometimes cows. Invariably they also keep livestock guardian dogs. This is one of the few dogs I saw which had a pariah-type appearance.
Above: The market in Chivay. This dog was given a bone by the people who owned the meat stall.
Above: In another little town, Maca, a dog waits for a handout from a meat seller.
Above: Livestock guardian dog - I took the picture from the car
Above: My favourite - the little boy was as endearing as the dog
Above: Pup belonging to shepherds, in the high Andes
Above: In Cusco
Above: This dog looks as if he's accompanying the police!
Above and below: All these pictures were shot in Cusco in the high Andes
A few minutes drive from the airport into the city of Lima and I see an oddly familiar sight. A dog, without collar or leash or an accompanying human, trotting down the street. He’s a sort of a sheepdog, strong and well fed, and his long shaggy fur is a bit muddy and matted.
Another dog comes trotting to meet him from a nearby lane: a sort-of-a-poodle. And here comes another, a sort-of-a-german shepherd. The three dogs are very pleased to see each other and stand in a little knot on the pavement, sniffing each other and wagging tails vigorously.
Why am I writing about mutts on the other side of the world in a blog about INDogs? Here’s why.
There is one thing common to dog populations around the world: they are all susceptible to rabies. And since they are the animal closest to man, they are also the main reservoir of this disease for us humans.
Peru is very similar to India in two respects. First, there is a large and very visible street dog population. Much less abundant than ours, but still, it is unlikely that you will be able to walk down the streets of Lima, Cusco or Arequipa or small towns like Chivay or Maca without seeing dogs. They come in all shapes and sizes and I tried in vain to identify a primitive type there (the Peruvian Hairless Dog in my earlier post is an ancient indigenous breed but is not found on the road). It is rare to find two dogs in an area who resemble each other, and a typical pack has widely varied sizes and shapes and coats among its members, making me wonder whether these dogs actually do breed on the street. The original dogs of South America were of the generalized dingo-pariah type, but today only a very few in Peru look like pariah-mix dogs, and I saw just two perfect dingo-type dogs, one in Cusco and another near a shanty town in Arequipa.
I never saw a single one which was skinny or diseased in my two weeks in Peru. Many of the dogs seem to be pets who roam unsupervised. Judging by their appearance, I would guess that many ownerless dogs too are actually fed by people, though you can see lots of them tearing open trash bags early in the morning and scrounging for food.
Trash…that brings me to the second resemblance to India. Indians are the undisputed world leaders when it comes to chucking garbage in public places, but in some parts of their country Peruvians offer us stiff competition. Since the human population is smaller than ours they can’t create the impressive dumps that are such a common sight here, but there’s certainly enough food out there to sustain a good population of street dogs.
There seems to be a remarkable tolerance for dogs from what I could see, though I have also read complaints about them in several sites and blogs. I’ve also read some sensible suggestions that people should stop littering as a preventive measure.
Here the similarities end. There is an enormous difference between Peru and India in the official attitude to rabies and its control.
The disease is 100% fatal but also very easily preventable with mass vaccination campaigns for dogs as well as post-exposure treatment of humans. Latin America has done an admirable job of decreasing rabies incidence in the region. According to the World Health Organization’s Expert Consultation Report of 2004: “Over the region, approximately 45 million dogs a year have been vaccinated, resulting in significant declines in canine and human rabies.” I was told in Arequipa (Peru’s second-largest city) that every year the street dogs are vaccinated. WHO attributes the success of Latin America’s rabies control programme to political commitment and efficient planning and execution by the health services. “Key to the success of campaigns in Latin America has been the central role played by the public health sector as a lead agency and community/involvement/empowerment in rabies control activities.”
And what have our Indian authorities done to control this totally preventable disease? Have they followed the example of Latin America? Far from it. In spite of the staggering 20,000+ Indians who are estimated to die of rabies every year, the disease appears to get just a little more importance than acne. Of course there is much bow-wow rhetoric from rabble-rousing politicos about the “street dog menace,” but I’m sure it will come as no surprise that most civic bodies have either completely ignored or else actually opposed the World Health Organization’s recommendations to carry out mass vaccination campaigns for free-roaming dogs. They have had the shrill support of a variety of well-meaning but poorly-informed do-gooders around the country, who have little knowledge of dog behaviour and have probably never stepped into a slum or near a garbage dump. With only a few small animal welfare NGOs struggling to vaccinate the large urban dog populations, and nobody doing anything at all in rural areas, we are light years away from achieving the success of Latin America.
I may be wrong in some of my assumptions about Peru’s street dog population, and since I don’t speak Spanish there were only a limited number of people I could ask for information. If anyone reading this wants to correct anything I’ve written or throw more light on this topic, please feel free to write to me or leave a comment here.