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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gaggle of Gandhinagar puppies!





15 gorgeous pups from two litters, have been dewormed, all healthy and friendly. Have been handled since birth. We can arrange vaccinations. Homes urgently needed. Ready to go now! Puppies are in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Please call Lisa Warden at 09099 828 918 or email on lisa.warden@gmail.com

Gandhinagar
Gujarat


Couch potato







Through recent posts on my dogs I may have created the impression that Lalee is an athletic girl, always bouncing around on beaches or exploring fields and gardens. Just to give a more balanced picture, here are some snaps of one of her favourite activities: finding a comfortable spot and spending some hours in deep slumber. She's very clever at pushing down cushions so she can put her head on them.

At first I tried to discourage the dogs from sitting on beds and sofas...but that's easier said than done and I gave in long ago.

Nagaon and Mumbai

Shalini outdoors











Recent pictures of Shalini, out on a walk with owner Nicole. Can you spot her in the last picture?

Shalini is all grown up now and has retained her supermodel looks. Click here for her earlier photos.

Photos: Nicole Poyyayil
Ahmedabad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Midday meal



Kimaya is very fond of her toys (many gifted to her by Yvonne), and collects most of them in her bed so she can chomp them in the intervals between her other activities. Strangely, she hasn't actually destroyed any of them though some have changed colour after being left in muddy areas of the garden for days on end.

Even if one of them falls out of favour and lies around ignored for a while, just try picking it up...Kimaya will immediately rush to you, grab it firmly and take it back to her bed. I bought some toy mice for the cats, but their ownership is hotly contested. Tabbyrani and MiniPini have for the most part given up the unequal struggle and are content to play with the mice only at night, once Kimaya is taken to a different room to sleep.

I have to go through her collection every now and then and remove interesting new additions like my sandals, clothes, stones, or dead frogs and lizards. Last week she brought in a live frog, but thank goodness, it hopped away and made its escape even before I had got up to rescue it.

Some of them are squeaky toys, and some nights when she starts chewing I wake up with a start wondering if there's a rodent or some kind of bird in the room.

Lalee and Bandra were much older when I adopted them, and they weren't "brought up" to play with toys, so they never showed much interest in them. I find Kimaya's obsession with her toys extremely funny and cute, and also useful - it keeps her occupied for hours and definitely keeps her off my furniture!

Nagaon
More posts on Kimaya here.

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
Denmark

Tino, Dash and Cleo

Some pictures from dog-lover Meenakshi Madhvani's photo album. This lucky trio live at her home in Kamshet, among beautiful hills and lakes.



Above: INDog-mix Dash poses with tough and handsome Tino



Above, below: Cleo. She reminds me of Yvonne de Kock's Leela - scroll down to the post "The Burial"



Below: Dash, solo. I sometimes think Indi eyes are their best feature!



Photos: Meenakshi Madhvani
Kamshet, Maharashtra

Friday, November 20, 2009

Otto



Here is a stunning new addition to the Non-Resident INDogs featured in this blog.

Meet Otto, who lives in Denmark with proud owners Randi Lildballe and her husband Nicholas.

The couple lived in Delhi for while, and when they returned to their home country they took with them this gorgeous dog and two Indian cats (Indian Domestic Shorthair. Do we have another "Indi and the cat" post coming up?)

Otto is now three and has grown a slightly thicker coat to cope with the cold northern winters. It's amazing how so many Indis are doing well in colder countries. The reverse is not true, as dogs of cooler countries don't do well at all in our sweltering climate.

"We just could not imagine our life without an independent, clever, beautiful and perky Pariah dog by our side," Randi writes. Neither could any of us!

Randi's husband is a very talented photographer and of course Otto is a favourite subject. Click here to see more photos of this INDog in Denmark.

Photos: Nicholas Caron
Denmark

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dogwatching on the beach



Last week Nagaon beach was almost empty of tourists - a rare thing nowadays - and we had the beach to ourselves. I took our little handycam on our walk and shot some video clips of Kimaya, Lalee, their friend Brownie and two new friends. Unfortunately the video lost quality when it was uploaded.

Interactions like these take place on almost all our walks on the beach. I notice my dogs and the others using the signals and body language I've read about in dog behaviour books. I rarely, if ever, interfere in anything that goes on. A well-socialized dog knows how to communicate with her/his own kind, and human bungling is not needed here.

Brownie in this video is demonstrating one of the conflict-solving tactics described by Turid Rugaas in her book Calming Signals. He does this all the time. I've frequently seen him "splitting up" interactions which could get tense. Sometimes he stands between the dogs and barks loudly till they disperse. Read more about him here and here.

In fact dogs who are, or have ever been, free-ranging, will go out of their way to avoid a conflict (exceptions are during mating and territorial intrusion). This is my experience anyway. The displays of dominance and submission may look alarming to some people, but it is just a process by which these dogs are establishing their ranking order. When Brownie and Lalee rush at the White Male and he immediately crouches in submission, he is averting an attack. If he had challenged their superior status it would have been a different story. Brownie himself is very submissive in front of my bossy Lalee.

Nagaon

For Blacky

Coping with loss is always very hard, and my heart goes out to Manik and her family who recently went through the grief of losing their beloved Blacky.

This post is in memory of this sweet-tempered, brave and beautiful dog.




Above: Blacky and Manik, in his favourite playground - the building terrace

Below: With Chinky



Below: The next five pictures were the last ones taken before his death. Manik tells me that Chinky often sat next to him in the last days.











Below: His family - Chinky, Manik and Tommy



More posts about Manik's dogs here.

Photos: Manik Godbole

Mumbai

The Indy and the cat, Part 5



Prashant Nadkarni's Dora with her best friend, the family cat Billoo. See more pictures of this beautiful dog and cat here.

Click here and here for earlier posts on Indies and cats.

Photo: Prashant Nadkarni
Mumbai

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Romeo finds a home - thanks to the joint efforts of Mumbai animal lovers

Remember Romeo who has been up for adoption for a while now? Click here and here for her earlier adoption appeals. I absolutely love this pup in the videos Charu uploaded on Youtube.

There's great news about her: she got adopted by a very nice family. And it all happened because of another animal lover who saw Charu's appeal and decided to help. Instead of ignoring or deleting the message.

There are many instances of homes being found simply because those reading the appeals take a little trouble and spend a few minutes of their time circulating the messages, or actually making serious efforts to get these little animals a better life. Think about it. I know you're all busy people, but just a couple of minutes spent by you could dramatically change a pup's fate. Dogs can't circulate their own appeals. If we won't do it, who will?

So please, please don't just shrug off these appeals or leave them for someone else to act on. Post them on your Facebook profiles or forward them to your contacts. The extra effort won't make you rich or famous. But somewhere, a little dog may be very grateful.

Here is a video of Romeo (now named Spark) playing with a new friend she's made.



Video: Charu Shah
Mumbai

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Burial

These beautiful pictures record a strange event Yvonne witnessed, involving her dog Leela and a dead seal.

Here is Yvonne's account of what happened:

Walking along the beach early this morning, Leela, Rishi and I came across a dead seal that had washed up on the beach overnight. I quickly put Leela's leash back on because I wasn't sure how they would react or whether Rishi (with his very high prey drive) would want to fight over it and he wouldn't come near me to put his leash on.

The most fascinating thing transpired.

Leela very gently and gingerly circled the seal and I thought it best that she at least investigate but if she thought of taking a bite I could get hold of her leash and move her away. That is not at all what happened. She became very serious and immediately began systematically covering the seal with sand.







Rishi stayed on the periphery and the dynamic between them was very very different. He didn't come close nor did he investigate. Instead he began to play with and bark at a piece of pineapple in the waves.





You can see Leela burying the seal. There was no hint whatsoever that this seal was food.





She made very sure to cover the seal's glassy eyes.



Every now and then she would nudge the body with her nose and then cover it again.



Rishi continued to bark at his pineapple.



When she was done she simply left and appeared content that she had done what she needed to. It was a sacred moment for all!!

I have observed it with numerous other seals that have washed up since. Leela appears very concerned, prods them, tries to roll them over, whimpering as if it is her own puppy that has died. Same this weekend when a baby seal washed up. It was still so perfect, very thin though, and she sniffed it and tried to 'get it to live' and when she realized it was dead she started covering it with sand again.

Rishi as usual kept his respectful distance. If it was any kind of prey for them, he would try to get in there first and own it and/or run away with it.

Maybe because a seal is so much like a dog? They do try and chase and play with the ones having fun in the shallow waves. I put them on leash because the seals will bite them badly!! They both love to eat dead crabs and fish,
but leave the deceased penguins be.

Yvonne de Kock
Cape Town,
South Africa


Rajashree's note: I think incidents like this show us what a vast gap there is in our knowledge of animal consciousness. This is a topic that has hardly been researched. The scientific community constantly warns us not to "anthropomorphize" animals or jump to sentimental conclusions about them, and to a large extent I agree. But I can't quite go with the commonly held belief that non-human animals have no concept of death. Here is an interesting New Scientist blog on this topic.

Incidentally,
I also believe most human behaviour is instinctive or emotional, and not based on rational "human" thought, so the gulf between us and other animals isn't all that huge - but that's a different topic and doesn't belong in this blog.

If you have ever witnessed anything similar to this incident, or if you can shed any light on this behaviour, please write in or post a comment here.

Chinky







Recent photos of Manik Godbole's Chinky! In the second one, she's with Manik's one-year old nephew Advait.

After unsuccessful attempts to find her a home, Manik decided to adopt this beautiful dog herself. Her wonderful erect ears have dropped after one of them was notched (ear-notching is routinely done by welfare organizations after neutering). But she's still a very good-looking dog!

On my last visit to her home, Manik pointed out that Chinky's coat is extremely smooth and short-haired; in fact the length of the hair is shorter than is normal for Indian Pariahs. I wonder whether this is a sign of hybridization, or whether such short coats do occur in INDogs sometimes. Something I have to look out for on my rural travels.

Click here for earlier posts on Manik's dogs.

A very sad piece of news is that her lovely Blacky passed away recently after a brave struggle with cancer. I'd met Blacky a few times, and I can imagine what a harrowing experience it was for the Godbole family and how much they feel his loss. It's good to look at his photos and remember what a fantastic life he had, full of love and fun and good friends. Things that all dogs deserve, but very few get.

Photos: Manik Godbole
Mumbai