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.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pickles on wheels!




We found Pickles (Piccolo) last year in a village outside Ahmedabad. He had been hit and run over by a car and left on the roadside to die. He had a broken back, his two hind legs were broken and he was emaciated beyond what I have seen in a live dog. We thought we were just giving him a safe and comfortable place to die. Little did we know Piccolo would bounce back!

After a couple of months, we took in two adorable small puppies we found on a construction site. Not to be outdone by the little charmers, Pickles made sure they knew he was top dog, and took pleasure in bossing them around. As they grew bigger, he grew stronger.

When the puppies were old enough, we began taking them for walks in our neighborhood. Pickles couldn't come, of course. He managed quite well dragging himself around the garden and the house, but the road surface was far too rough for the skin on his legs. He would wait at the gate, peering through the gaps, howling and whining until we returned.

Well, thanks to modern technology, Piccolo is now joining us on our neighborhood walks. He just got a brand new, high tech doggie wheelchair! Check out this video clip of him on his inaugural expedition.

He loves it so much, he is absolutely ecstatic. Normally it takes a dog a while to get accustomed to a wheelchair (I had one before, for a paralysed dog in the US.) Not Pickles. The first time we put him in it and took him out he was squealing for joy! I've never seen anything like it. Talk about gratitude. Whenever we pass a street dog on our walks, or one passes us, he breaks into a sprint and makes chase. It's like he's trying to make up for lost time while he was incapacitated. It's hilarious. The street dogs are all afraid of him, even the tough and dominant ones, because in his wheelchair Pickles looks like something that just dropped down from the planet Neptune. They all run away at high speed, which makes it even more fun for Pickles. The neighbours in my community here in Ahmedabad don't know quite what to make of it either. They already knew I was weird, but now they think I'm from Neptune too. You should see the looks we get.

Lisa Warden
Ahmedabad


Note: The wheelchair was made by Doggon Wheels. If you need one for any semi-paralysed dog, check their site http://www.doggon.com

An earlier video of Pickles here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delhi pup Spot needs a home very urgently - only two days left!







Friends,
We rescued Spot around 1.5 months back, and he was to go to a new family but they have backed out. We just have 2 days. Please help! This is an SOS call..his pictures are attached.
The person who was supposed to adopt Spot has been making random excuses to my friend who has been fostering SPOT for a month now and she is in a fix about Spot. She has to leave Delhi for good on the 30th and we need to find him a new home urgently. Please spread the word and help. He is a super active, vaccinated puppy who loves human company. Guys if someone wants to be adopted by a loving puppy who is always adoring you, lets you sleep through the night, is toilet-trained and who is an adorable furball...it's your chance to be adopted by SPOT. Do come forward before the 29th of January to adopt him. Mail us or contact us for this puppy.
Please contact Bonnie at 09818586628 for any questions/inquiries.
We really need your help to find Spot a home in 2 days..he wont be able to survive in a shelter!
Thanks,
Sangeeta
Delhi

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tommy, Chinky and Buddy













Manik Godbole's Tommy and Chinky with their handsome friend Buddy, and Buddy's owner Charanjit.

Watching my own dogs has taught me one thing at least - that dogs really LOVE to interact with other dogs. 


More pictures of Tommy and Chinky here.

The last two photos are of Buddy as a pup. Handsome even at that age, wasn't he? They were clicked by me in 2007, for his adoption appeal! He was adopted from a Mumbai non-profit organization.
Photos: Dr Manik Godbole
Buddy's puppy photos: Rajashree

Monday, January 25, 2010

Three fat irresistible little puppies for adoption - Delhi/NCR













This appeal is being circulated by Angel Eyes Animal Welfare. The three pups are between 4 and 6 weeks of age, and very healthy. They are located in Gurgaon.

The black and white one is male, the other two are female.

Please circulate as much as possible!

Those interested should contact Hina at 09873557170.

Delhi/NCR

Note: These are just a few of the many dogs needing homes all around India. Please go to "Links" and visit the adoption blogs listed to see other animals up for adoption.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lady and the Tramp




















Yesterday on the beach. Two ladies here really, Lalee and Kimaya - but perhaps calling Kimaya a lady is stretching it a bit.

The large and handsome mix-breed is Brownie, officially the pet of one of my neighbours, but a vagabond at heart who spends most of his time roaming the beach and woods with his many friends. Brownie is really special and is dearly loved by most of my family (exclude Bandra, Tabbyrani and MiniPini). He features in several posts in this blog: click here, here and here. He is very fond of Kimaya and protects her from other dogs on the beach. They both love running, and the sight of them racing each other is pure magic, but I'll never be able to click this properly as they are both super-fast and all you can see is two blurs.

The usual horrible hordes of weekend tourists had started arriving at Nagaon (with accompanying cars, bikes, paragliders, pony carts, cricket bats, plastic bags, bottles and other trash). There were also the usual number of funny people who scream and jump in terror when a happy dog dashes by.

So we walked further up the beach to Aksi, which is still quiet and dotted with pretty boats and flocks of gulls and plovers and sandpipers and other shore birds. A dog can still be a dog there...for now.


(Sequel: Brownie was also our dinner guest last night, and he slept over on a blanket on the back porch. This was a trial visit and we plan to have him over daily to play with Kimaya. Let's hope it works.)

Aksi-Nagaon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Urgent: Please find a home for Coco



Hi all,
This is Nithya Pari from Chennai!!

Coco has had no luck finding a home and would very much appreciate it if you could ransack your phone books and mailing lists for a family that would want her. Maureen and her family are leaving for Ireland anytime now and have no idea what to do. Please get in touch with her at 09047754286 if you can help. Coco is very friendly with people and is a good guard dog but doesn't get along that well with other pets, so someone who doesn't already have a dog would be perfect for her! Thanks again!

We have been sending this mail to everyone and really need help urgently!
Please mail us at tags@gmail.com or just call up Maureen! Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks a million!

FOR COCOS PIC AND DETAILS, PLEASE CHECK THE LINK BELOW-
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5019239&id=736411426#/photo.php?pid=5019239&id=736411426


PEOPLE, PLEASE PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD FOR ADOPTION. COCO CANT BE TAKEN TO IRELAND AS THEY HAVE LONG QUARANTINE PROCEDURE AND IT WON'T WORK HER. PLEASE EMAIL THIS TO AS MANY FRIENDS AS POSSIBLE AND HELP IN GETTING HER A WARM LOVING PERMANENT FAMILY!

Nithya Pari
Chennai/Bangalore

Monday, January 18, 2010

When dogs seek out dog-lovers - Episode 2: The dog at Rekha's

This series of posts is about injured dogs who seem to have deliberately approached humans for help. This kind of thing usually raises a storm of protest from "rational" people who, without proper evidence or research, believe that dogs and other mammals are not capable of any level of rational thinking. I've heard of and experienced several cases in which an animal in distress seems to actually seek out an animal lover and ask for aid. I don't think any of these cases can be attributed to mere coincidence. Read them and judge for yourself.



The dog in this picture appeared in my friend Rekha's house out of the blue yesterday.

He is a neutered male (his ear is notched) and Rekha had never seen him before, though she walks her three dogs around the neighbourhood every day. His right ear was infested with maggots and bleeding. He climbed to the first floor landing and sat there quietly till she noticed him.


She called the first-aid team of a local organization (WSD). When Pooja and Joanna arrived, the dog allowed them to muzzle him and treat his wound.


Had he noticed Rekha on her walks and guessed she would be able to help him? How did he know where she lived? She notices street dogs (all her dogs are rescued from the street) and she swears she's never seen the dog before and has no idea where he came from.


I know some sceptical readers must be thinking: some human must have brought him and left him there. Well, perhaps, that is a possibility though nobody on the street seems to have noticed such a thing. BUT, this is an adult dog we're talking about, and one well able to walk. Why would he just stay there and not run back to his own street, wherever that may be?
This is a neutered dog so he has been in a kennel at some point in the last few years. He has probably learnt that humans can help him.

Footnote: The monkey who visited the doctor

Yes, I know primates and dogs are very different from each other, but this incident is similar and interesting. Years ago I read in the magazine of the Animal Welfare Board of India about a wild monkey at a veterinary clinic in Guntur (I think that was the place). This monkey had a wound in the arm and he came all by himself to the clinic and stood in the queue outside, with all the pet animals and their owners. When his turn came he sat on the clinic table and allowed the vet to treat his wound. He returned on the next two days at the same time for treatment. After that he must have felt much better because he stopped coming. I remember the black and white photo that accompanied the article, of a monkey sitting on a table.


Perhaps he was once a pet and had escaped later - perhaps he remembered being healed by a human earlier - but for a wild animal to seek out humans and accept handling is surely rare and remarkable.


Mumbai

When dogs seek out dog-lovers - Episode 1: The white dog on the beach

This series of posts is about injured dogs who seem to have deliberately approached humans for help. This kind of thing usually raises a storm of protest from "rational" people who, without proper evidence or research, believe that dogs are not capable of any level of rational thinking. I've heard of and experienced several cases in which an animal in distress seems to actually seek out an animal lover and ask for aid. I don't think any of these cases can be attributed to mere coincidence. Read them and judge for yourself.

Here's the first episode:

The white dog on the beach

This happened a few years ago, I think it was in 2004.

Lalee, Lucy and I were walking on the beach in Nagaon late in the evening, just before sunset. The beach was virtually empty of humans in those days as it was still unknown to tourists. Usually there would just be our two dogs, some village dogs, a few fishermen and me.

Far away I saw a white dog climb down over the rocky bank that separates the gardens and bungalows from the beach. He reached the sand. Lalee and Lucy noticed him too.

The next part surprised me. The dog started trotting towards us, very deliberate and focused. He was pure white, quite lean built, and there was a large something on the back of his neck. As he came closer it turned out to be a huge swollen wound, almost the size of a melon. I had never seen him before.

It's very unusual for a dog to approach us so directly and silently. Either they are hostile to my dogs - in which case they would rush at us in stages, barking loudly - but they would definitely be wary of a human and wouldn't walk straight up to me.

Or they may be friendly, in which case their body language would indicate that they wanted to play - tail held high and wagging, perhaps play bows. But again, they never just walk up to us.

This dog gave no signal whatsoever to Lalee and Lucy, he more or less ignored them. And they, receiving no cues from him, were confused and didn't react much to his approach. He didn't seem to want to interact with them, but with me. Eerie as it may seem, it was as if he was coming all that way just to meet me.

Before you scoff at this statement, consider what he did next. He stood still and let me examine his huge wound, though it must have been extremely painful. Most injured dogs would not have allowed a stranger to touch them, but this dog stood perfectly still. The wound didn't have maggots, or perhaps it had had maggots and someone had cleaned them out. I won't go into gory details, but the flesh was pink, clean and healthy. There was something dark smeared on the fur around the edge - some medication applied by a human? Without treatment a wound like this would almost definitely have had a maggot infestation or infection.

I decided the best thing to do would be to take him back to our house and apply some Calendula tincture on the wound. I lifted him in my arms - a dog I had never seen or handled until a few minutes ago - and he didn't object to that at all. I'm usually very cautious with dogs I don't know well, but somehow it seemed safe. I carried him all the way back. Lalee and Lucy probably didn't approve but trotted quietly beside us. In the dusk our odd little procession wound its way home through the casuarina trees and lantana bushes and coconut palms.

When we reached home, my servants gasped and one of them reached down for a stone to throw and chase the dog away. "That dog bites!" she yelled. This is unusual, as our servants normally don't react to dogs in the area.

"What nonsense, do you see him biting now?" I scolded them. But they insisted he had sometimes visited my aunt's plantation next door, and that he was a biter. They recognized him by the wound.

Well, the "biter" stood perfectly still until I had poured the tincture into his wound. At that point he probably decided he'd made a mistake - no wonder, Calendula burns for a few minutes - and since I had no extra leash or collar, I couldn't control him in any way. After a vigorous shake that showered the medicine all over the courtyard, he leaped nimbly over the parapet and bounded away into the darkness. And that was the first and last time I ever saw him.

Why did he come to me and why did he let me lift him up and carry him home? Village dogs don't just go up to strangers and allow so much handling. Did he know that I would treat his wound and make him feel better? Had his wound been treated earlier by some dog-owning stranger?

I guess I'll never know.

Nagaon

Puffy








In June 2003 we moved to the neighbourhood of Kothrud, in Pune. When we shifted here we already had a 13 year old, ailing cocker spaniel, Inochi. She had been battling cancer since January of that year. We kept our hopes alive until the day she started getting convulsions and stopped any food intake. Sadly, she had to be put down in October.

Then followed eight months of dogless days and pining for Inochi. Post Inochi's loss I was in such a state of mind that made me resolve to never get another dog (so that we never again have to experience their suffering up close). Of course, there were always the street dogs that lived in our lane and where I work. I could take comfort in caring for them and be content with just that. But I must admit that deep down, I was miserable.

As it turned out, destiny had other plans for me. One day, back from my work when I turned into my lane, I saw a group of children from my society gathered around something by the side of the road. It turned out to be an injured and cowering puppy. I recognized the puppy as one of the litter of a pariah female that had made an under-construction building next door her temporary home. The mother was totally wild, distrustful of people (can't blame her - we invaded her territory, didn't we) and completely avoiding human contact.

I guess a little background of this puppy is in order here.This very puppy, when it had barely started walking, had been handpicked by another resident of our lane for the future role of guard dog. As this house was at the entrance of the lane, I often used to see the sorry sight of this tiny little thing being tied up in the front porch. Catch them young! Imagine! They had christened the pup Puffy. I used to often come across Puffy in our building because it so happened that the owner's child and some children in our society were friends. In fact I even stopped and cuddled Puffy a couple of times.

Unluckily, or eventually luckily, the owner realized that the pup was a female. The abandonment was immediate. They didn't even bother to remove the tiny collar.

Coming back to the accident site, Puffy the puppy was lying injured after being abandoned. I HAD to do something. Doc said she had a broken leg joint (right hind leg) and that nothing can be done, but if given enough rest, the growing bones would fuse. So, that's how Puffy landed in our lap, complete with a name!

Of course, initially I told myself it was only until her leg healed. So as not to get attached to her, I even stopped myself from taking any pictures of her (which I regret to this day). When she started walking around I even made a sincere attempt to put her back on the street. What made me change my mind was the way Puffy reacted to vehicles. By then she was about two-and-a-half months old..she was TERRIFIED of any vehicle. So I picked her up and decided then and there to keep her at home with us. In June 2010 we will have completed six years of togetherness.

Even though she had a lot of contact with humans early in life, she's outright unfriendly with strangers. Doesn't allow anybody to touch her. Her first instinct when she sees a stranger approaching her (as in a lift) is to growl. I put it down to her mother's inheritance, and have given up on her ever becoming a socially adjusted dog. Of course, that doesn't diminish my love for her even by an iota.

Even though I decided to keep Puffy around mid-July, the earliest pictures of Puffy were taken when she was three months old (that was because my hubby and I had a difference of opinion over the adoption of Puffy and two precious weeks were lost there). Puffy was in the house all right but I was hardly in a state of mind happy enough to record her cuteness. Now my hubby loves her too though he is never the demonstrative type. And the funny part is, Puffy goes overboard when showing affection to my hubby, but me, she takes for granted!

I have both Puffy's and Inochi's videos on YouTube. Do check out this playlist http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=LakshmiRavishankar#g/c/C1BB696873E8E357

Update: Up until May 2008, when she was neutered, Puffy was sleek to the point of looking emaciated, with that taut upcurved belly outline. She was so fleet-footed you'd never have guessed she had a history of a broken leg. Of course, the right hind leg is still stiff but she has long since learnt to run without its help.

Post surgery, she has been gradually gaining weight and presently she is almost unrecognizable but for her eyes. She has some fat pouches even on her face. People who haven't seen her in a while seriously ask me if she really is the same dog?

One picture here is of Puffy with Rock, our neighbour's labrador. Rock is one of the only two dogs she adores. Gattu aka Dakku, a stray, is the other lucky guy. All other dogs without exception she hates on sight...In spite of unfriendly signals from her, another stray whom I have named YT tries to be friends with her but Puffy always wrestles him to the ground and walks away without so much as a glance towards him.

Lakshmi Ravishankar

Pune

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dr Sunil Pal and the study of free-ranging dogs



Considering that Canis familiaris is our oldest and closest animal companion, and possibly the most popular animal too, isn't it surprising how little we have actually bothered to find out about this species? A case of familiarity breeding contempt perhaps?

I've put up several posts here about the enigma of dog behaviour and the eye-opening books by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, Patricia B McConnell, Turid Rugaas, Stephen Budiansky and others.

If dog behaviour per se is under-researched, the behaviour of free-ranging dogs is even more so. In this post I'd like to introduce one of the few scientists in the world who study these most taken-for-granted, ignored and overlooked animals. His name is Dr Sunil Kumar Pal and he lives and works in the town of Katwa in West Bengal. This is my tribute to this
remarkable and unassuming man, and to his discoveries in this strangely unfamiliar and uncharted terrain.

I first met Dr Pal in Kolkata in 2007 and I've had the privilege of corresponding with him over the past two and a half years. His work has been published in prestigious scientific journals including Elsevier and Acta Theriologica, and he has presented his papers at international conferences on ethology. Some of the papers are available online, but you would have to subscribe to the journals to read the full articles -
here is the link to his paper on Parental care in free-ranging dogs. He has also published studies of dispersal, agonistic behaviour, reproductive behaviour, population ecology and urine-marking.

Things haven't always been easy but Dr Pal never abandoned his work. I have to congratulate him on the dedication and sheer interest in his subject that kept him going. I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog that many of us sincerely love dogs; but how many of us are really interested in them, or want to know everything they do and why they do it?


I've learned fascinating things about these animals through his papers and through our many conversations.
Before Dr Pal's work, the only research on the behaviour of free-ranging dogs in India was done by Elizabeth and John Oppenheimer in the 1970s. One of Dr Pal's papers was co-authored by B Ghosh and S Roy. Very recently another scientist has also chosen these dogs as the subject of her research: Dr Anindita Bhadra (she was mentioned by the Telegraph, Kolkata a couple of weeks ago.)

The pictures here were taken by me during my visit to Dr Pal and his wife Dipti last week. After a delicious lunch (thank you, Dipti!) we walked down the road to meet some of the subjects of his latest study: a group including three nursing bitches and their pups. Dr Pal told me about an adult male of the group, who feeds the three mothers with regurgitated food, but never the pups. I've heard of males feeding their own pups regurgitated food (click here for an earlier post). But this dog's behaviour is entirely new to me. This male for some reason didn't mate with any of these females but actually left the group during mating time (late monsoon last year). He isn't the father of any of the pups. Yet he looks after the three females and is very close to them.

Just goes to show that
nothing should be taken for granted when it comes to these animals.

Mild, friendly and familiar they may be, but the free-ranging dog is still almost a complete stranger to us, and there are many more secrets and mysteries waiting to be discovered...by those few who really want to look.
Some of my snapshots from Katwa:



Above: Only two of these pups belong to this bitch. The others belong to her mother and sister. When we saw her, the other two females were away and she was "babysitting." She doesn't like nursing pups of the other females, but she allowed all of them to suckle briefly while we were there.



Above: Here she's snapping at the pups that don't belong to her - it didn't deter them much, I must add!



Above: These two are hers



Katwa,
West Bengal

Friday, January 8, 2010

Salad





We start this year on a healthy note, with Lalee and Kimaya munching on a bush in Nagaon. I'm not too good at botany but I think it's the tulsi (Holy Basil) that grows wild in my aunt's plantation next to our house.

Lalee is out of focus in the second picture, but Kimaya looks so sweet I posted it anyway.

Happy New Year to all INDogs (and other dogs) - with best wishes from my three pups and me.

Nagaon