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.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A dog's life

A tribute

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.

Chitra Ayyar



Rajashree's note:
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.

1 comment:

Bea said...

RIP Frisky - run free