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.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Muscadel - a Diwali story

This is a happy or a rather sad story, whichever way you want to look at it.

It happened one Diwali a few years ago. We were at our seaside house in Nagaon. We spend Diwali there every year, though it's hardly a quiet refuge from the explosions of Mumbai. Nagaon is full of tourists who think it's a good idea to ruin the beach in any way they can. At this time of year, they turn it into something like a war zone.

That weekend we were woken up early one morning by the most blood-curdling howls and shrieks, coming from somewhere in the lane outside our house. They were so loud they must have been heard by everyone in the lane - but it was absolutely impossible to identify what kind of animal was making the sounds. We rushed out to check the hedges and ditch outside, and we found this tiny pup, just over a month old, cowering and howling, out of his mind with fright as so many dogs are during Diwali.

He was so scared he wouldn't let us touch him, but we managed to lure him into our garden by showing him a bowl of milk, and once inside he started wagging his little tail and letting us pick him up. Of course in a very short while we were all in love with him - or rather, my husband and I were in love with him, and our servant Gharat liked him too. I can't say the same for Lalee or Lucy though they were well-behaved and tolerant as always. We decided to keep him as our Nagaon pup.

I named him Muscadel: not after the grape, but after a character in an unusual fairy story I read as a child (I think it was by E. Nesbit.) It was to be shortened to "Muska," which means "butter" in Marathi.

A day or two later we returned to Mumbai, leaving Muscadel in Nagaon. The first thing I did was go to a pet accessories store and buy him a pretty collar and leash. They were blue, with a pattern of stars. I also got him a feeding bowl and brush and toys. I planned to return the next day to put him in his collar.

So much for all my plans! Gharat called in the morning to say that a young man from the village had come to the house, claiming that the pup was his. He had been looking for him all over, and our neighbours told him we had just taken in a new pup that had appeared in the area. Apparently the man had recently adopted the pup, and he had then gone out of the house, asking his sister to take care of him for a while. His sister had obviously not been very attentive and the pup had run off in panic when he heard firecrackers.

Gharat asked the man to wait for a day and come and meet me, so I could satisfy myself that he was indeed Muscadel's owner. But the man refused to wait: who were we to prevent him from taking his own puppy home? (Never mind that his puppy had been rescued by us!)

The good thing is that Muscadel recognized the man and was apparently ecstatic to see him - so he really was his puppy as he claimed.

I never saw Muscadel again, but I do hope he is living happily ever after. I remembered him yesterday because I was cleaning out my dressing table drawers, and there was his star-patterned blue leash, still brand new and unworn.

I guess this is a happy story after all...


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