About Me

My photo
Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. I'm also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai for 14 years.

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.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ringo



This is Ringo, one of the most energetic and feisty dogs I've ever met.

Ringo is an accident victim. He used to live with street-dwellers on P D'Mello Road in Mumbai. Early last year he was hit by a car. He was a little over two months old. The accident left him paralysed in both hind legs. Treatment was started on site by WSD but he wouldn't have survived for long on the road in that condition. That's when dog-lover Reeta Mukhopadhyay came to his rescue. She offered to take him in and look after him till he was cured, though she has two dogs of her own and also looks after many more on the street.

I've seen many hind leg paralysis cases over the years, both dogs and cats, and the way animals deal with handicap never fails to amaze me. While the average human would sink into self-pity and depression, animals seem to decide to make do with whatever they've got and just get on with their lives. Eating, rushing about, playing, all their normal activities. Ringo's busy daily schedule also includes such items as turning the house upside down and chewing up things, and he makes sure to keep some time for these boisterous pursuits as well. He's still very young, after all.

Reeta has done a great job of looking after him. She nursed him, brought him in regularly for homeopathic treatment, massaged him, exercised him. Unfortunately one very important element of his treatment was missing: the pet wheelchair or cart that we ordered for him was for some reason never delivered by the person who manufactured it. So though Ringo regained the full use of his legs, he was never kept upright in a normal standing position at a critical time during his treatment. Animals don't remember how to walk if a considerable period of time has lapsed before recovery: they have to be taught all over again, sometimes with aids like slings and carts. So Ringo continued to move by dragging himself around in a sitting position, even though he was strong enough to lift himself up and his legs had regained their normal movement. As a result of this unnatural posture his hock joints have calcified in a way that makes them completely stiff and unbending. We've been told that to fix this surgically he would have to go through a very complex operation with no guarantee of success, so we are not going ahead with this. Reeta has just ordered a cart from another source; once it arrives Ringo will be completely mobile. We're hoping the normal posture will help his legs too.

Now for the sad news. Next year Reeta will be shifting to a smaller apartment and won't be able to keep Ringo any more - the housing society doesn't allow more than two dogs per flat. So he'll need a new owner, or will have to spend the rest of his life in a shelter.

Obviously the first option would be much much better. But is there anybody gutsy enough to adopt a handicapped dog, even such an independent one as Ringo?

Let's find out...do spread the word about him among all the dog-lovers you know.

Mumbai

Sunday, June 22, 2008

INDogs of central India





Two of the INDogs I saw in tribal villages near Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh) last month. Like the photos posted on May 11, these are good illustrations of the "long-term pariah morphotype" seen around the world.

The brown one was one of four dogs owned by a farmer. The other one was in a village called Lamna.

Chinta and Hashi









I picked up two desi (native/pariah) dogs two months back. One is always engrossed in deep thought so we named her Chinta, meaning "thought" in Bengali. The other is an overfriendly perpetually smiling extrovert so we named her Hashi, meaning smile. Initially they would be jealous and suspicious of each other. They would have nasty fights. We learnt to stop the gruesome fights by distracting them by making a loud noise with a rod and also scolding them, in a calm assertive way. We gradually began to feed them together.

They can't be patted one at a time - the other gets jealous and growling ensues. So we make sure we pat and cuddle them, feed them, groom them, simultaneously!

Much to our relief, Chinta and Hashi have now become the best of friends and lick each other instead of attack. And it's so amusing to see them wrestle, playfight and hug each other!

Chinta barks only when strangers enter the house. Hashi...well, at dogs, horses and street children. Hashi plays the perfect host to strangers, with her smiling face, but at the same time observing every move they make, and making sure everything is all right.

Every morning we are greeted by two four-legged friends, with tails almost flying off in their frenzied delight at seeing us, after a gap of, er...a few hours!

Priyankana Ghosh
Kolkata

Photos: Chinta is brown, Hashi is the one with the black body



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Horin



A dog in our housing complex had given birth to a litter and I used to feed them. The mother dog was named "Horin" by a beautiful loving lady in our compound. Horin means deer in Bengali, and this doggy had eyes like that of a gentle deer.

Horin was a very shy, timid dog and must have developed fear of human beings as a result of being ill-treated by them. But she was so
considerate - she might have been starving, but the moment her puppies would finish their meal and come sniff at what Mama was having, she would immediately step away! All that one could see of her would be a pair of the most kind and beautiful brown eyes behind a bush. In fact I decided to start taking her far away from her babies at mealtimes. But could I? She was too scared to enter my flat. I would try to lure her in with a biscuit, only to come to the realization that they are the most intelligent creatures and it is way too hard to fool them - she would take a step towards me and quickly turn around to check whether someone was behind!

Well, one fine day my mother and I finally succeeded in bringing her inside. We quickly shut the door and the night spent at our place finally convinced Ms Horin that not all houses inhabited by humans are slaughterhouses! Soon she started to trust and love us. She'd talk to us in a funny little voice and escort us up to the gate when we went out.


But life was not going to be that smooth. Some members of our housing complex decided to get rid of the dogs. I won't name them because I believe in the laws of "karma" - I'd rather pity the loser's fate. Anyway, we looked out - there were no four-legged creatures in sight. We were seriously worried. Luckily in the afternoon, through the magic eye in the door of our flat, we spotted a wagging tail. Point to note: Horin is a really fast runner and I hear a story about how in spite of being fed tranquillizers she managed to escape ten dog-catchers and flee!
Needless to say our cute innocent friend was ushered in and shown her bedding. It took a few months for her to get her natural voice and actually learn to bark!

Priyankana Ghosh
Kolkata

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sherry's birthday party







Meet Sherry, one of the first dogs I enrolled in the Club (back in 2002). I've known this beautiful INDog-mix since her early youth and in fact once used her as a model in an ad for WSD.

Sherry regularly hangs out at the Bagel Shop with her owners
Bijou Lulla and Payal Bhatia. As far as I know this is the only restaurant in Mumbai which admits dogs, so all you Mumbai dog-owners should head there as often as possible. Payal and Bijou celebrated Sherry's tenth birthday there on June 17 and Lalee and I were invited. (Bandra was invited too, but I wasn't very sure how he would behave so decided to leave him at home).

The photo on top is of Sherry at her party, decked in stunning carnivalesque designer neckwear. All the guests were on their best behaviour (including Lalee!) and I wish get-togethers like this could be organized more often...After the alarmed looks and squawks with which dogs are so often greeted in Mumbai, it was really relaxing to sit with Lalee in a place full of dog-lovers and their peaceful well-behaved pets, even if for a little while.

Mumbai

Sheaba





One day in July 2007, my wife Neha received a call from a friend, asking her if she would look after an injured puppy for a month till it recovered. Neha jumped at the chance as she had been wanting to adopt a pup for some time.

So we received Sheaba, injured and very weak particularly in her legs. Neha and I attended to her. She had scars and bruises, but her spirit was never down. She never barked, but she was always ready to play with me. Usually she was up to no good...she would drag down cloths, important papers and so on.


She was tiny then, just over 2 kilos in weight and barely as big as my foot, but she also had a sparkle in her eyes. And she certainly brought a sparkle into our lives!


Predictably, after we had completed one month with Sheaba there was no way my wife would part with her, and despite my anxiety about losing our freedom to travel and other things, I couldn't cause Neha any pain. So I relented and agreed to make Sheaba a permanent member of our family.


Sheaba loves to play on the beach unleashed and jump around in the water. She is extra friendly with strangers but somehow not very friendly with others of her breed.


Now she weighs more than eleven kilos and is my anchor and support in dark times in my life.
I am really happy I decided to adopt her as part of our family.

Shreerang Athalye
Mumbai

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Understanding dog aggression

Following up on the post about the bulldog's attack on Leela, here are links to some articles on canine aggression (against humans and dogs). I must thank Yvonne de Kock for doing all the homework for this and sending me the links. Some of them provide really valuable insights into common dog behaviour and actions, the sort of things we take for granted.

My insight, for what it's worth, is that it may be a mistake to attribute aggression only to specific breeds. Genetics is of course of the utmost importance, and some breeds are definitely more predisposed to attack and bite, but there are individual dogs of these breeds who are docile and friendly, just as there are aggressive individuals belonging to "friendly" breeds. This seems to show that the owner's attitude and handling of the dog are equally important.

I suspect the large aggressive breeds are usually selected by people who want to project a macho image. I mean, how often do you find a sweet gentle old lady picking a pitbull? Or a 'might is right' muscleman choosing a chihuahua? Stereotypes do operate in dog selection to a large extent. The macho type of owner then worsens his dog's temperament by encouraging the belligerent traits it has inherited. One often hears male owners bragging about how powerful their dogs are, what great guard dogs, how savage towards other dogs or intruders, what terrifying injuries the dog would inflict if not restrained by the owner, and so on. It's almost as if they are living out some "power" fantasy through their dogs...just as some owners seem to live out fantasies of high status and nobility through their pedigreed pets...


Now that I've probably offended a sizable chunk of the dog-owning public, let's get back to dogs. It is clear that "upbringing" has a
lot to do with how a dog behaves, and wrong handling by the owner could probably make a monster out of just about any dog. In all this talk about recognized breeds, I am not excluding INDogs/Pariahs. Thanks to survival pressures, pushy aggressive individuals are as common among INDogs as in any other type of dog. In fact there is the added danger of this temperament being unwittingly encouraged by indulgent and compassionate owners who feel the dog should be allowed to do anything it wants after the hardships it has survived on the street. A common mistake is allowing a dominant male dog to sit on the bed.

I could go on and on...but I'm no expert. If you think your dog is growing aggressive, please please don't delude yourself that it is nothing to worry about. Get professional help without delay.


The articles:
A behavioural view on dog aggression - Barbara Nibling
Aggression - The Humane Society of the United States
Dominance aggression in dogs - Karen L. Overall
Social aggression to unfamiliar dogs
Dog owner's guide - Canine aggression

If you'd like to recommend any other useful sites, do send me the links.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Homes needed for INDog-mix pups, Mumbai







These pretty INDog-mix pups are (from top to bottom) Brownie, Patchy and Wheezy. All females, aged two and a half months. They live in a housing society compound and are being looked after by Garreth D'Mello and others. Life is risky where they live, and sadly some of their siblings have been killed in car hits.

These pups are healthy, vaccinated, sweet-natured, and as you can see they pose beautifully for photos, melting eyes and all. What more can any dog owner want?


Read more about them here

If you'd like to adopt any of them, write to evestigio@gmail.com or garrethd@gmail.com

Mumbai

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dog attack in NYC

April 5, 2008 was a very bad day for Yvonne de Kock and her beautiful INDog-mix Leela - thanks to a vicious attack on the latter by a poorly supervised, aggressive pet dog. Every now and then one hears of such incidents in Mumbai as well, even episodes in which a smaller dog has been killed by a larger one. Much as we love our dogs, it is entirely our responsibility to make sure they do not harm other animals or humans in public spaces. I sometimes hear complaints about street dogs in India who bark at or attack pets, but in my experience an untrained unsupervised pet dog is as great, or an even greater danger. I asked Yvonne to write about the incident because I think we should all know what the victim goes through. And of course, I'm hoping all readers will restrain their pets properly if they aren't doing so already. Yvonne's account of what happened:

On Saturday afternoon, April 5th, Leela and I were taking an afternoon stroll through Central Park and I decided that it would be nice to walk up along the Hudson River back home to 103rd Street. We were crossing west along 72nd Street when a man and his adolescent son, each with an English bulldog on a leash, came walking towards us. When they were approximately 20 yards away, one bulldog pulled, the son let go of the leash, and the dog ran straight towards Leela and viciously began attacking her. I tried to keep the dog away from her, but the bulldog got hold of her right flank and started ripping. It was so disturbing to see a dog intent on killing another dog who was entirely innocent, serenely walking alongside my leg. There was no provocation whatsoever on Leela’s side. The dog locked its jaws and the owner tried to pry them open whilst Leela just screamed and screamed in agony.

When the owner finally managed to get the dog to let go Leela had a few large puncture wounds in her abdomen. A crowd had gathered on the sidewalk and some said afterwards they were horrified at the bulldog’s unprovoked aggression. I told the owner that he was entirely responsible for his dog’s attack on Leela as well as the expenses this entailed. He agreed. I did not have any money on me so a kind woman gave me $20 for a taxi to take Leela to the emergency vet, but no taxi would stop for us so the man whose dog bit Leela agreed to drive us to the vet after he had taken his dogs back home. Leela was shivering and in shock and I was extremely concerned in case her intestines had been punctured. We couldn't lift her into a car because of her injuries so she managed to jump into the front and sit on my lap still shaking and panting.


At the emergency vet everyone scurried around getting the estimate of what the treatment would cost and we had to sign in a hurry believing they needed to get on with stitching her up. Once the papers were signed we sat around for another 3 hours and then went home leaving Leela in the hospital. Nothing happened for 12 hours except for an x-ray. My husband (who is a physician) called every two hours during the night to find out what was happening and they said they would get to her soon. He told the vet that he was extremely concerned about sepsis setting in. According to the vet at NYC Veterinary Specialists, the emergency facility, her injuries were more extensive than initially thought. Leela required surgery that night and was discharged the following day with sutures and staples and drains coming out of her, as well as a cone around her head.

She required daily check-ups at our regular vet, Symphony Vet, who are a pleasure to deal with. Leela had acquired a severe and deep-seated infection from the bulldog’s mouth and needed a second surgery a few days later involving the extensive resection of a large amount of muscle, fat and skin tissue, together with a prolonged course of antibiotic therapy. The vet commented that it was the worst infection she had ever seen following a dog bite.
Leela was unable, and also not allowed, to walk because of the tension on the sutures and we had to use a specialized pet transport service for her numerous veterinary visits. A special van was required that had a ramp for getting in and out and in which she could stand upright as she was unable to lie down (even at home she could not lie down to sleep because of pain and discomfort). The high fever as a result of the infection caused her to drink excessive amounts of water and she was urinating all over the apartment so we were constantly cleaning up. In addition to the urine, she had had more drains inserted into her abdomen and rotten fluid was draining out until two days before her sutures were removed, over three weeks in all.



I consulted our homeopathic vet, Dr Don Hamilton, frequently by phone to help out with the severity of her condition due to the injuries sustained and the resultant infection. He prescribed certain homeopathic remedies as well as two supplements to support the regeneration of skin tissue so that her wounds could heal. Luckily she was already on an organic raw food diet and in good health so that helped too.

Given that Leela needed 24 hour care and supervision for three weeks there was no way I could leave our apartment to even go to the store downstairs, let alone teach my scheduled yoga classes. Leela had to wear an e-collar/cone at all times so that she could not lick or interfere with the affected area and she needed supervision at home with this as she would get stuck in awkward positions against furniture.


We have all been through a nightmare, but Leela is healing well and the disruption to our lives is finally subsiding. I now never leave home without a dog repellant spray (Spray Shield) as well as a mace/pepper spray so at least I have something to help deter the aggressive dogs here in NYC should one try and attack Leela again.

It is imperative to be vigilant and aware of dog aggression, educating oneself in order to recognize the signs, signals and posturing that accompanies the various forms of dog aggression, and rather avoid any form of confrontation by, for example, crossing the street if necessary. Best to be prepared, but at the same time not to be anxious as our dogs pick up on our emotions and act on them!


As much as dogs need, and like, to socialize with other dogs it takes good judgement as to when it is appropriate (or not) to get close to another dog. For example, I never take Leela into our local dog run if there are Pitbulls around, and, if one arrives, I leave. Pitbulls are notorious for being unpredictable around other dogs and I prefer not to take a chance. I have also seen them attack other dogs in the dog run for no reason so I feel justified in avoiding them.

Yvonne de Kock
NYC, USA

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rocky, continued









Amita Sawardekar just sent in more photos of her handsome INDog-mix Rocky. I particularly love the one of him in his raincoat.

Navi Mumbai