About Me

My photo
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, July 31, 2008

Pups for adoption, Mumbai







Like many of the cutest pups in this city, these ones are absolutely not wanted by the housing society in which they were born. Dog-lover Rajeshwari Sachdev is looking after them for the time being but they need to get good homes soon or the society will have them removed from the premises. Please spread the word and help get them adopted. If you'd like to take one, write to rajeshwari_sachdev@hotmail.com

Mumbai

Saturday, July 26, 2008

INDogs of the Soliga tribe

















The first seven photos are of pet INDogs who live in a Soliga settlement I visited recently, in the Biligiri Rangana Temple Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka. All are good examples of the long-term pariah morphotype, showing the generalized appearance of primitive dogs around the world (see my May 11, 2008 post on the type).

As in most or all tribal societies dogs seem to be an integral part of community life, with many families owning one or two. In the second picture (from the top) the dog even has a black "tika" on his head, showing that he is held in respect. I like the elderly one in the third picture, with his scars and weathered look.


I was barked at by many of these dogs as I passed their homes, including by the gang in the fourth picture. I've mentioned elsewhere that they probably think my camera lens is a huge eye, and I seem to be making too much eye contact which of course is seen as a threat. INDogs are naturally great watchdogs (though most city folk don't seem to realize that) and in places like this I tread gingerly, hoping I won't get a piece taken out of my leg for my intrusive ways...But this has never happened, either because of non-threatening body language on my part, or simply because they know where to draw the line.

By now you may have noticed that the dog in the last photo is no INDog. That's right, it's what people all over India refer to as a "pom," and I was quite dismayed to see at least two in this remote village. I also saw a few INDogs who look hybridized, with the tips of their ears dropped. Then there was Bollywood music being played in some of the houses...

Obviously city ways and city aspirations have spread to this community, deep in the heart of this lovely forest. Inevitable, I suppose, and I try not to be judgmental about it...though it means that the INDog will eventually vanish from here as well, unnoticed and unmourned.

Biligiri Rangana Hills,
Karnataka

Town dog, country dog...











Deepa is one of those rare lucky dogs: she gets to be a pampered house pet and enjoy an outdoorsy life in beautiful surroundings. That's because she and her family live in a part of Navi Mumbai that has not yet been ruined by development. Look at those hills and fields and stream...I'm tempted to shift there myself! It's great that a place like this still exists near Mumbai.

The last photo is with her owner Nicole Poyyayil.

Navi Mumbai

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Leela plays with Ice







Oops, there are a lot of teeth on display here...but no need to worry, it's all "pretend."

That's Yvonne de Kock's Leela playing with her friend Ice, an American Eskimo Dog, in a park in NYC.

Luckily she has fully recovered from the nasty abdominal bites she got from a manically aggressive bulldog a few months ago, and from the equally nasty infection that followed. It's also very lucky that the experience didn't leave her with a permanent fear of other dogs. That sort of association can happen very easily in the doggy brain.

A normal properly socialized dog will love interacting with other dogs - it is very healthy and one of the things these gregarious animals most enjoy. It adds enormously to the quality of their lives. This doesn't mean they love each and every dog they meet. They have their likes and dislikes, their friends and enemies just as we do. But a normal dog, living by natural and ancient dog rules, will usually avoid conflict to the extent possible. Only while defending territory or competing over mating do even free-roaming INDogs seriously attack each other. I've seen them choose flight over fight more times than I can remember.

Compare them to the unfortunate pet dogs whose aggression is encouraged and aggravated by their idiotic, irresponsible owners. Dogs who can only interact with others of their kind by trying to kill them. How unnatural is that? Their owners probably think such pets give them a tough, macho image (oh how I wish people like this would express their violent side through video gaming, and leave dogs alone). All they are doing is actively depriving their dogs of one of the greatest joys of canine life: the company of other dogs.

Photos: Mark Zeldis, NYC

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Training your INDog

Thanks to their owner Dr Manik Godbole, INDogs Tommy, Blacky and Chinky don't lead the largely repetitive humdrum life most dogs are doomed to in cities. A few days ago I posted a photo of Blacky jumping over bars, an exercise he and Tommy really enjoy. I asked Manik to tell us how she trained them. Here is her step-by-step description of the process. It doesn't seem very difficult if done properly. Other Indi owners should try it too. It's sad in a way to see our alert, tough and energetic dogs reduced to overweight couch potatoes, even though we have rescued them from the dangers of life on the street. I'm sure our dogs would all love this!

After adopting Tommy, I decided I didn't want him to remain a mere toy to be shown off to guests, with only his basic needs like food and shelter being met. I wanted a companion, lively and cheerful. I was indeed worried when the vet told me that my dog would get sluggish after neutering....fortunately this prediction didn't come true.

I read books on dog psychology, training, health, nutrition, from which I realized that to keep dogs fit and lively I would have to spend some quality time with them. I'm not a certified trainer. I have trained my dogs by reading books, and would be happy to share my experiences with others.

I feel there are two ways of getting close to your dog and winning his trust: grooming the dog and playing with the dog.

My dogs rush to me the moment they see a brush in my hand, they love the touch of a comb and my attention! They also come to me by themselves to be patted dry after a bath.

In order to have safe and decent play experiences (we don't have teeth and muscles to match their's in play), you must teach your dog some basic commands: sit, stay, down, come, no. Whenever Tommy loses control over the game he shows play aggression. That's when the "down" or "sit" command plays an important part.

In my personal opinion, every dog and every owner has a different individual personality, so the same pattern of teaching commands doesn't work for everyone. The owner should understand the dog's character and choose ways to teach him. I read in one of my training books that all dogs of the same breed don't become guard dogs, or sniffer dogs! Every dog has his own unique nature. I found Blacky learnt very quickly; but I kept wondering why it was taking me so long to teach Tommy?

Tommy was not obeying the "down" command in the way written in the training book, so I revised my way. I would make him sit, then after saying "down" I would literally take a "sit on his back" position, and slowly, holding his forelegs, place them in front, till he was sitting in the "down" position. He learnt it this way!!

For the "jump over" commands: Initially I placed a stick in the doorway, at a very low height, so that whenever Tommy or Blacky had to go to other room they had to clear the obstacle. I would say "jump!" every time they did that in the begining. I myself crossed a few times over the stick saying ''jump." Then I slowly raised the height of the stick, and they got used to jumpng over bars! Given a treat every time they jumped without dropping the stick, they did it willingly and lovingly.

Then I set up bars on my terrace. They were suspicious when I first assembled the whole kit (they are PVC pipes joined together, the kit of three bars cost me around Rs 600). But shortly after that they sniffed the kit and realized it was harmless. I called one dog close to the bar, showed the treat and said "jump," and slowly moved the treat across the bar. The dog jumped following the treat.

It just needs patience and an understanding of your dog's mind. Try it for yourself!

Manik Godbole
Mumbai

Friday, July 11, 2008

Help Coco find a home





A message from Charu Shah about Coco, one of Cleo's pups who has been up for adoption for a while:

Shes Coco. One of Cleo's litter, last to find a home and what a sad story this little girl has!
She was with her mom and uncle, kept locked in balcony the whole day. She was bitten on the neck by Max and still has a scar on her neck. After Max and Cleo were sent to a farm, she was again kept locked alone on a balcony (in the rain too). That balcony is on the fourth floor, with no roof over it, but the owner felt that the rain wouldn't harm her! She got an infection in her feet and ears due to the rain, but thankfully it's almost cured now. The owner also kept her alone at home, with the maid feeding her once or twice a day.

Then she was adopted by a girl who tried to persuade her parents to let her keep Coco. They managed to keep her for only three days, and then she was out!

She is now at a kennel (Patil's kennel at Charkop, Mumbai), waiting for a loving family to come and pick her up. Since she was kept alone she is a very scared dog and needs a lot of love and patience to make her feel comfortable. I went to the kennel to met her, and though she was meeting me after almost three months she recognized me and came running to me and sat in my lap. We went for a walk, and even though she was scared she trusted me completely and came along. She didn't want me to leave her and was almost pulling herself free from the kennel staff's chains when I was about to leave. Another friend of mine also went to see her, and though he was meeting her for the first time she took to him readily. He also mentioned that she is a scared little girl and needs to gain trust in humans. She has had a bad childhood and needs a warm and caring home. Any loving family who can take care of this cute little baby please reply to shahcharu76@yahoo.com

Charu Shah
Mumbai

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Snoopy





Snoopy was born right in front of our home in March 2005. There were three of them, Snoopy, Caesar and Snowball (as we named them!) Ranjit and I fell in love with all three.

On May 24 we came back home from a meeting and Ranjit spontaneously said, "Let's take one home!" Since Snoopy looked the cutest, black and white and all plump, we picked him up.


The next couple of days were just like having a newborn in the house. Snoopy would wake us up crying in the middle of the night, sometimes he was hungry and sometimes lonely. I'm sure he missed his mother those days. We would come home to find small puddles everywhere.

And so the memories began...Snoopy trying to climb into our bathroom to relieve himself. Attempting to climb on to our sofa with no success. Peering out of the cardboard box as we took him by bike to my parents' home. His excitement at seeing us after we had left him at a shelter for a week. The list continues...

Today he has many aliases: Mr. Snook, Beta, Mr. Spy, Chonu, Pooksi-boy, Spoono, Puthu, Begusky and more. Snoopy is well-known in our society to the extent that people don't know us but recognize us through our dog.

Each day he grows closer to our hearts!


Anindita John

Navi Mumbai

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blacky jumps the bars



One city dog who never gets bored is Manik Godbole's Blacky. His owner keeps him busy learning new tricks, so he never gets stuck in a rut. Dogs benefit from new activities and mental stimuli as much as humans do, after all...though we don't realize it most of the time.

I love this picture of him jumping over bars on their building terrace.

Mumbai

Monday, July 7, 2008

INDog-mix pup for adoption, Hyderabad







This pretty puppy was rescued last week by Ria Phatarphekar and her mother Aarti. Unfortunately they can't keep him as they already have a dog. He's been dewormed and vaccinated, is healthy and as you can see friendly with kids. Anyone interested in adopting him should email aartiphekar@gmail.com