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.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Otto's story

We got Otto from Circle of Animal Lovers in Delhi/Gurgaon where I always brought needy dogs that I found on the streets.

I had gone there to hand over another dog when I heard Otto screaming from the room where they kept dogs that have just been handed in. I asked to see him and he was this tiny little puppy (see the picture) that had been found by a friend of the shelter when his mother had died from some illness. He was too young to take care of himself and I knew that the shelter did not have the time to take care of such a small puppy (and yes, it is a lot of work and a lot of visits to the vet!) and because of that he would probably not make it. Of course there are a lot of dogs in Delhi that I could say the same for, but whenever I tried to let Otto down from my arms he started screaming and I knew I would have nightmares for the rest of my life if I left him at the shelter, so I brought him home.

It has to be said that my husband had always been afraid of dogs, and we were already the happy owners of two Indian cats (from another shelter in Delhi), so my husband was not very pleased when I came home with Otto. After I told the full story my husband understood why I simply had to take Otto home (he had no name at that time and in the end it was my husband who named him), but he made me understand that this would be my dog and my responsibility.

I took Otto to work with me every day for months. He was so small that he could not regulate his body temperature so I had to keep him warm in my lap in the cold air-conditioned office. Almost all the Indian staff at my office liked him, but of course some thought he was not that nice as he had been a street dog. I did not care as Otto was the sweetest little dog and so perky! We taught him all kinds of things from a very young age and today he is almost a circus dog!

When Otto was a little older I started teaching him to be home alone and we made sure that he met other dogs as well. Socializing a dog, and especially an independent breed like Pariah Dogs, is very important if you want the dog to be able to handle the complex life we urban and modern humans live today. Otto was with us almost all the time so he got to see India from all the different sides and also very different people.

Over time my husband got very attached to Otto, and the funny thing is, today Otto is really more attached to my husband than to me (even though Otto and I love each other), and my husband has got to love dogs in general!

When we left India in August 2008, we of course brought with us Otto and our two Indian cats Franz and Frede. It was great to have the animals with us in Denmark and Otto did adjust to Denmark very soon. He made a lot of Danish dog friends, and as he is very very friendly towards people (and especially children) everybody here just loves him. His look is also very special in Denmark and people often think he is a "purebred." There have even been some people that have asked where they can get a dog like Otto.

We really love Otto and can never imagine having another kind of dog. His looks, his independence, his intelligence together with his perky nature just make him a very very special dog. Of course I would also say that he is not always an easy dog. As Otto lost his mom at a very young age he does have some behaviour problems that we are working on, and his independent nature means that we rarely let him out without a leash as he will run if he sees something he likes. We now live in the countryside and have fenced the garden so that Otto can run around all that he likes and that seems to work just fine.

Overall my husband and I are in love with the Indian Pariah Dog - and who would not be! The straight ears, the curly tail and the slender figure - this is just a very beautiful dog with such a "puppy" look.

I think more Indians should understand that they have gold running around on the streets of India. You have a very special breed that has existed for thousands of years together with you, and it is like the Indian people, beautiful, lively and gracious. And yes, Pariah Dogs (and street dogs in general) can be loving and good-looking dogs if they get the love they deserve - food, respect and love, that really is the answer.

So India, be proud of your native dogs like so many other countries are proud of theirs. You really have something that is worth fighting for and making sure will live on for years to come.

Text: Randi Lildballe
Photos: Nicholas Caron


Rajashree Khalap said...

Thanks for sending this Randi, specially the praise of INDogs. I can't agree with the praise of Indian people, but our dogs definitely deserve those compliments :-) I hope people here will realize that the Indian Pariah/INDog is far superior to the inbred, congenitally weak and diseased foreign breeds that are unfortunately so popular here.

Sarah said...

What a great story. I recently adopted a mixed breed puppy from India and 1.5 year old Canaan dog. Living in Canada I get asked constantly about both of them. I'm always told how beautiful they are. Pete is adapting to the weather but he still has some more fat to put on and winter is almost here so he's going to have to get a jacket. I'm so happy you made the decision to bring your pets back with you and love the pictures of Otto. I have become interested in pariah breeds since getting my Canaan and I absolutely agree that there are so many amazing dogs in India. I know I'm being biased but seeing his pictures and my dogs .. to me that is what a dog is suppose to look like. Put a pug beside them and I wouldn't even think they are the same species.

Randi said...

Great to hear about the Indian dogs living all over the world. I could never even consider getting a pet and not bringing it with me when I move - pets are not toys or something you can just get rid of when it does not "fit" you anymore. I have to admit I feel the same as you when it comes to breeds like pug, but at the same time I think I will get a Danish shelter dog the next time I want a dog, as there is also so many dogs in Denmark that need a new home - and like with children - parents always thinks their "child" is the most beautiful in the world no matter what the world is saying :-)

June said...

Aww lille Otto! so cute!

My pup Picolo is still in India with my family. We left him there due to the 3 month quarantine period etc and we didnt have the heart to put him in a danish quaratine kennel for 90 days. I plan to bring him to Copenhagen in 2 months time.Nice to know of other indogs in Denmark.

doggylove said...

wow, look at his glance!! no body will believe looking at his pup photo that he is the same adult dog!!i often argue with friends that all pariahs living on the streets will look beautiful if they are bathed and taken care of!! every paiah has a different look, color, strature, markings. they r wonderful breed! i am proud to be their pet parent!!

Rajashree Khalap said...

Actually they don't have a different shape/build...true pariah-type dogs have a very uniform structure, much like Otto, Piccolo, Chinky and the white dog in my video. Though colour and markings vary of course. It's the pariah-mix dogs or mongrels that vary more in looks.

charu shah said...

what a wonderful story! now we only need to circulate this and make indian people aware of what they are missing! i guess if people from abroad start adopting indian strays, they will have a better future than in india, and mayb looking at them, indian people will start adoping! sad indian mentality to copy the west without using brains :)

Rajashree Khalap said...

Charu, sadly that's how it is in third world countries like ours

Veera said...

I have said this before but here I go again: this type of dogs attract a LOT of attention in the western world. I'm actually a bit afraid that somebody "discovers" this breed in Europe and it will be made a tightly standardized show dog breed. After that the INdog would probably be recognised in India as well - but only the purebred form (dogs with recorded line of ancestry and a mile long kennel name). I'm afraid people would still continue despising the straying pariahs. In general it's quite difficult to try and explain people what these kind of dogs are: they are NATURAL breeds, not artificially made up by people. Their place is not on the streets but I don't think they belong in the show ring either.

Sarah said...

From now onwards, any further dogs in my life will be rescues/strays. However, not meant as a justification because my Canaan is from a breeder, but the aspect that attracted me to the Canaan was because of all the 'pure breeds' they are one of the best that have not been tampered with, extremely healthy (due to thousands of years of evolution & survival) and they are a natural breed. There is a breed standard, some coat markings are bred out and they do have a certain size/proportion they maintain but in general ... these dogs are exactly as they always were. Unfortunately with time, as they are now recognized by the AKC, CKC and others ... they will develop the allergies & medical problems that face most purebreds.

Rajashree - I'm curious, has a study been done that can give a fairly accurate estimate as to: $$ will vaccinate/spay neuter every stray dog in India. I know there are millions and different regions are more successful than other but ... is there a number, say that if the Sultan of Brunei was going to write a cheque to the Indian government to fix every stray dog .. what would it be?

doggylove said...

hi! i might be 'straying' from our discussion,but its relevant in a way, recently when my friends rescued and adopted spitz female had to be put down,( she suffered from renal failure), i asked the vet just for my knowledge sake:what causes kidney failure in dogs, is it for certain breeds,age,gender? he smiled and said"unfortunately its a fact that dogs suffer a renal damage due the medicines we give them?!!'then i realised suddenly:why the strays in my lane are aged 14, 16, 20 yrs old?!! no one ever gave them medicines?!!!!i started the volunteering work 6 yrs back,before that who was taking care of them?i remember once pooja, wsd project manager, had pointed out to me, that i should not deworm all strays just like my pets, every 3 months, for the simple reason being they lose immunity! only if dogs show signs that the worms are causing problems then only the strays should be de wormed! i had not agreed to her point that time, but now i feel it must be true? man handling has created havoc in evrybody's life?!pariahs will be sturdy pets only if we interfere their health less? what do u all feel?

June said...

Hey Randi
Hope you can help me with answers.I am quite worried about making the longish ride from delhi to Kbh with Picolo.
I am curious about which airline you flew while bringing Otto to DK.I plan to fly from Delhi and I am looking for a pet 'friendly' airline.
Did they put otto in cargo- I hear some airlines have cages at the back of the regular passenger area.
Were you allowed to see him while you are flying?
How many hours did you have to sedate him for?
Mange Tak in advance!

Rajashree Khalap said...

@Sarah: Myrna Shiboleth sometimes breeds her Canaans to unregistered Canaans/Pariahs owned by Bedouins, to make sure her dogs don't get inbred. More to say on breeding later, but not now as I have a very bad connection in Nagaon. About the word "stray," it's actually an incorrect word and I prefer "free-living" or "free-ranging." It would be unnecessary and harmful to neuter all the dogs in India, only the urban street dogs should be done but village dogs should be left alone as their population size is regulated naturally. No proper dog count has been done so it's impossible to say how much it would cost to neuter all the urban street dogs even.
@Manik: It's a fact, dogs are overmedicated and overvaccinated and that can lead to kidney and liver problems. I don't deworm my pet dogs routinely, only when I need to.

Rajashree Khalap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajashree Khalap said...

@Veera: I'm actually afraid of the same thing, that INDogs will be "bred" and reduced to a mere show dog one day. In other words, ruined. I myself don't believe in a rigid breed standard specially for such things as colour (which seems an unimportant feature in a dog's world, since they don't see colour as we do). People should understand that if genetic purity is important for them, they should adopt an INDog from a remote rural area here, rather than selectively breed them and lose everything that is unique about this natural dog type. And anyway, even our free-roaming city dogs often have a large measure of true Pariah Dog/INDog in their bloodline.

Randi said...

Hi June
Sorry I have not been online for a week! I brought Otto and my two cats with me back to Denmark with KLM because I were told they were the best animal carrier. None of my aninals were sedated as I believe that will just make them even more nerveous - but that will depend on the animals personality (a very frighten dog will properly be better of sedated).
No I could not see any of the animals while flying, as they are in a special part of the aoroplane. I had to change flight in Amsterdam, where the animals were taken to a special animal area and the cages cleaned, and then I picked them up in Copenhagen. I dont think it was a nice trip for any of us, but it simply had to be done to get them with me back to Denmark. Otto was still in quarantine when we came back to Denmark, but he did not have to stay at a kennel (we got a special permission that is very easy to get) but he had to stay at our home and was not allowed to meet other dogs.

Randi said...

Oh sorry - I forgot to answer you on how long it took. With check-in, stay over at amsterdam (KLM insist on a stay over for about at least 3-4 hours for the animals to relax a little) it took around 16-20 hours. A looooooooooooooong time

Randi said...

And please feel free to June to contact me regarding anything - I do know how much worrying you go through getting your animals from one side of the world to another.
I always joke, that my Indian pets are justa s expensive as purebreed animals, with all the money and time I used to bring them from India to Denmark - but they are worth all the money :-)

June said...

Hey Randi thank you so much!
I left Picolo in india so he could sit out his quarantine time. Now all I need to worry about is getting the embassy vets certificate in time since I am in delhi only for 2 days and then finding the shortest plane ride back to CPH.Yes I am worried but I it is encouraging to know of others like otto who have taken the same route. I sent Picolo from Bombay to Arunachal in a plane and from what I have heard he didnt like it too much. At the airport he was very nervous. He barked and tried to bite me when I put his muzzle on :(

Randi said...

Hi June
Yes it could sound like he will be better of sedated!
I dont understand this about the embassy. I had to get a permission from the Indian authorities to bring the animals out of Delhi and then a permission from the Danish authorities. I got the information from here (http://www.uk.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/ImportExport/Travelling_with_pet_animals/Forside.htm)

Randi said...