About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a spider enthusiast and amateur arachnologist.

This blog is for aboriginal dog enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah Dog) and INDog-mixes (Indies) 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 landrace village dog of the Indian subcontinent. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too. Also see padsociety.org

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saint Suzie Pinto of Kalhaar

Lisa introduces us to gentle Suzie, a dog in a million:

"Suzie Pinto is a street dog that lives on our block in Kalhaar, Ahmedabad. She is really amazing - so wise. Each time we have a "rescue dog" that's waiting for a home, she takes it under her wing and babysits it in our front garden. It has this calming, soothing effect on the new dog who is made to feel at home during his stay. She did this with Hugo/Pete last summer, and now with Shakespeare, the dog we rescued from IIM and are in the process of re-homing. She's such an intuitive and wise soul!"

Video: Lisa Warden

Earlier posts about Lisa's rescued dogs: Hugo/Pete, Piccolo/Pickles,

Mummy Doggy walks again

This is about the fall and rise of Mummy Doggy, and about how she became a pet dog.

Chandrika Hassan first wrote to me in mid-February to tell me about a dog she looked after in Bangalore who had become disabled after a car ran over her hind legs. The dog was a female who had been pregnant nine months before the accident. Here's a picture of her taken at that time.

Mummy Doggy, as Chandrika named her, was taken to a Bangalore NGO but the vet there said her hind legs were paralyzed and recommended euthanasia.

"I could see the life and hope in her eyes," Chandrika wrote in her email. "I really don't think she has to die."

Since she reported that the hind legs could move slightly, I suggested that she should go to a Bangalore-based homeopath I had heard of who treats animals, Dr Delna Tarapore, who had been highly recommended by some people I know. It turned out Mummy Doggy had femur fractures in both hind legs, not a spinal injury, and both Dr Tarapore and a vet called Dr Pawan felt she would recover with medication, supplements and rest. Animal lover Reena Puri guided Chandrika about care - Reena has had experience looking after such cases before.

Fast foward to the happy ending. From Chandrika's recent email:

"Mummy doggy is doing really great. She has become very cheerful but the best thing is that she's able to walk now and that too on all four legs. She hops on three legs when she wants to run. I'm sure she'll run and play around normally soon. She has become a sweet naughty girl, follows me around the house, likes to sleep with us on the bed (she can jump and climb on the bed without any help). The way she coped up during the recovery process is truly amazing. She would do something different every day and it was like telling us 'Hey, did you see me do that? I'm recovering!' Its an immerse joy to see her improve every single day. We are going to get her spayed next month and then she'll go to Chennai and live with my parents."

Stories like this are such mood-uppers. Isn't it great that there are some sincere dog lovers and nice doctors in the world? At least a few animals get the life they deserve.

Photos: Chandrika Hassan

The Indy and the cat, Part 7

Continuing our Awwww stories for cat + dog lovers. This one's from Charu Shah, whose red tabby Bittu has his own blog. I am a huge fan of large tabby toms and dream of kidnapping this magnificent feline some day (just dreaming...don't worry, Charu).

For those who'd like to know what our non-pedigreed cats are "officially" called: it's Domestic Indian Short-hair.

From Charu:

Bittu is my pet cat, who came into our lives around 8 years back and changed us totally!
His story can be read on www.mypetbittu.blogspot.com


After Bittu came home we started noticing other animals in our building, so slowly Rani started getting food from us. Rani is now a 13 year old doggy. I didn't have too much knowledge of sterilization etc, so I let rani have pups. Out of the many she delivered outside and within my building, a couple are still with us. Tutti, the elder one, who is now six years old and Julie, who is 4.5 years old now.

There are other cats also, Tiny, Kali, Simba, Stumpy/Champi, and new additions - two ginger males and one black cat.

Bittu was attacked by a male cat when he was just 1 year old, and he was in a real bad condition at that time. So naturally we kept him safe from any other cat or dog. Specially Julie, since she had a habit of killing pigeons and kittens. There were times when I rescued pigeons from her mouth and gave them to NGOs for recovery. (If Julie had been a stray dog, hunting for food, I would have let her kill the birds, but since she gets enough food there was no reason for her to kill them).

When Bittu went out for his walks Mom or I would be with him, and at night, when the dogs would come running on seeing me with bittu, I would panic and carry Bittu home.

Gradually I started to let Bittu be (I am always around him as he is blind and can't protect himself), and let the dogs come near him, but not too close. At times, Tutti would come and lick Bittu, but she was the gentle one so I never worried about her hurting him.

This is the story of Bittu and Julie.

Bittu loves to roam around the back of my house. So every time the door is opened to fill water bowls for the dogs, he manages to run out! This time I went and strolled with him for some time and then put him on the water tank. Julie as usual saw me going out of the house, so followed. She jumped up and came to sit next to me and Bittu. Julie loves to sit next to me and get her head rubbed, shake hands and wants to lick me, which I don't allow.

Julie came and sat next to Bittu. Even at night she runs after him trying to make him play with her, but he gets scared and just runs away! Even here, you can see Bittu's reaction to Julie sitting next to him.

She moved in closer to try and play.

This is how she showed her love!!!!!

I couldn't believe how she licked his forehead and tried to make friends with him!


Julie has since then tried to sniff Bittu everytime she's around him, and she always tries to play with him. Though he is scared of her, Bittu tolerates her and this was an amazing moment for me!

Bittu gets really wild when he hears other cats having a fight or even smells other cats, but when the dogs are around, he doesn't react wildly! He lets Julie and Tutti lick him and does try to escape at times but now I know that my cat is safe from other cats, when these dogs are around! Now I go away, leaving Bittu with the dogs, and I dont have to worry about other cats coming and attacking Bittu, as I know that the dogs are going to protect him, come what may!

Charu Shah

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hero INDogs of Ahmedabad

These alert dogs prevented a burglary in the housing society they live in (Shakuntal Society, Usmanpara), in February this year.

Protecting territory from intruders is a largely unacknowledged service performed by street and building dogs across urban India. Ironically, these dogs were unpopular with the society residents prior to this incident. Dog-lover Meenal Shah had been told to stop feeding them. Their status changed once they displayed their true worth. Long live INDogs!

Click here for Lisa Warden's video about these dogs, posted earlier in this blog.

Click here to read the "watchdog database" I've been compiling, documenting cases in which Indian dogs (INDogs and Pariah-mix) have proved to be good guard dogs. If you know of similar incidents please email me!

And here I've copied the news report that appeared in Times of India, 20 February 2010:

Stray dogs scare away thieves
Vasundhara Vyas Mehta/TNN

‘Ahmedabad: Manjula Shah had a bad cold that woke her up at 4.40 am on Friday. This resident of Usmanpura got up to clear her throat and was annoyed by the stray dogs barking around the housing society.

Irked by the pack of dogs, Shah, 60, who lives on the first floor of Shakuntal Society peeped out of her room window. What she saw shocked her. An unidentified vehicle had come inside the society gate. The car took a round of the plot slowly, then stopped near a car close to the exit gate.

“Two men got off. They had torches and were looking around the place. Then they went close to the car nearest to them and started peeping inside. As they were about to break into the car, the stray dogs started barking. The hassled duo tried to turn them away, but the dogs kept barking. The two men panicked and decided to drive away,” said one of the neighbours.

“This is the dog family that society members have been trying to get rid of. They have even complained against feeding the dogs as they create a menace around here,” said Minal Shah, a businesswoman living in the society.

She added that she stopped feeding the dogs after encountering opposition from neighbours. “I used to do it discreetly. I am glad that people have realised the advantage of keeping them,” she said.’

Photos: Meenal Shah

Please help find a home for Hope

This little dog is in Bangalore. She is as sweet-natured as she is beautiful. Please help her find a good home! It doesn't take long to email a link to your friends. Think of your own dog - Hope is as deserving as any of our pets so give her two minutes of your time, please.


1 year


: Yes

Fully vaccinated up to 2011. Is in great health.

A very sweet, playful and friendly dog. Will bark and let owners know when she wants to eat or go out. Loves attention. Very adaptable.

Contact: Shipra Agarwal o0chicklet0o@gmail.com


Meenu, Vetaal and Zoolie need a home soon

These are three good-looking gentle mix-breeds in Pune. They all need new homes soon, as they are not treated well in the neighbourhood and the only person who looks after them, Aishwarya Vishwanath, will soon have to leave the city. She has already done a wonderful job rehoming some of the dogs in her area, but these ones still remain on the street.

Please help! All three are superb watchdogs and would be perfect for a farmhouse/weekend home.

Above: Meenu, neutered female, 6 years old, very docile, calm, friendly and adaptable. Will make a sweet and loyal pet. Excellent guard dog, doesn't allow strangers to enter premises at night.

Above: Vetaal, male, 1 year old. Shy and meek but superb watchdog. Very energetic. Neutered.

Above: Zoolie, female, neutered, 1 year old. Very friendly and good-natured. Can be a great pet or guard dog.

The three are very close and if possible they should be adopted together.

Contact: Aishwarya Vishwanath - 9766264758, sweetnsmart17@gmail.com
Helping Homeless Animals


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Very urgent: help Shakespeare find a home, his life depends on it!

Permanent home required to save life of this gorgeous dog in Ahmedabad. "Shakespeare" is a beautiful, spirited dog living on the IIM campus in Ahmedabad, India. We neutered him recently as part of a sterilization drive and his incision is healing (after he chewed some of the sutures out! The video was taken originally to document the healing of his incision. Sorry about the crotch shots!)

Although he is a friendly and active dog, Shakespeare has had some run-ins with security people on campus simply because he is what can be described as an overly-friendly dog. People were intimidated by this and responded with aggression. Now he is feeling threatened there. As a result, he is now engaging in defensive charging and barking at people he is afraid of or unfamiliar with. This is very scary for non-dog people and he cannot remain on campus. The situation is threatening to escalate as every time he does this, sweepers and security guards go after him.

We need to remove him from campus before someone gets hurt or he gets further abused. Tragically, Shakespeare may have to be euthanized if we cannot find a permanent, appropriate home for him. I love dogs like Shakespeare. He is a lovely, friendly, playful dog who would make a great and loyal companion for an individual or family who loves dogs. PLEASE HELP SAVE SHAKESPEARE! Please spread the word!

If you can offer a loving, permanent home to Shakespeare, please email me at lisaDOTwardenATgmailDOTcom

Lisa Warden

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Indy and the cat, Part 6

Leela has featured in this series before, and so has Apollo the Red Persian (see The Indi and the cat Part 1, link below). The new cat-friend here is young Rishi and here is a really cute picture of all three of them in their pretty garden in Cape Town.

Furry purry Apollo is such a nice gentle creature it would be hard for anyone to dislike him, but then most dogs are governed by instinct in this area. It's possible for owners to socialize a young Indi to cats though. I've also observed that many city street dogs here tend to tolerate or at least ignore cats. When they become pets they don't pay much attention to the house cat though they may chase away feline intruders in their territory. Brownie, Lucy, Bandra and now Puppy have all entered my house as adults but none of them has attacked the cats (okay, Lucy did need a smack once, but only once, right in the beginning). Kimaya chases away a tom cat who often enters our garden, but she loves Tabbyrani and MiniPini. It's important for the owner to make it clear from the start that attacks on the house cat/s will NOT be tolerated. Rough "dog" games should never be allowed either, as they may end up killing the cat.

For earlier posts on Indis and cats, check these links:

The Indi and the cat, Part 1
The Indi and the cat, Part 2
The Indi and the cat, Part 3
The Indi and the cat, Part 4
The Indi and the cat, Part 5

Photo: Yvonne de Kock
Cape Town

Sea Dogs

Beautiful pictures of the beach where Leela and Rishi play every day. I had to include the last one of the stunning sunset. This is the kind of view that makes Cape Town one of the loveliest cities in the world! The gate in the foreground is used by Yvonne and the dogs to descend to the beach.

Earlier Rishi and Leela posts.

Photos: Yvonne de Kock
Cape Town

Rishi and Leela portraits

Kimaya's beautiful brother Rishi, with his sister-by-adoption Leela. Clicked by Susan, a friend of owner Yvonne.

These two are admired a lot for their good looks (are we surprised?).

I love these two pictures. Don't the dogs look like porcelain figurines?

Earlier posts on Rishi and Leela here. More coming up!

Photos: Susan/Yvonne de Kock
Cape Town

Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaching a 13-year-old Puppy new tricks

Our new dog is 13 years old, and I've known her since before Lalee was born.

This is Puppy, a dear friend who has lived near our building gate all her life. She was named "Puppy" 13 years ago by her first owner, a taxi driver named Umashankar who used to park his cab on the road outside our place. In fact he also used to sleep on the pavement at the time he first brought Puppy and her sister to our street. Later he shifted to a house in a slum nearby but Puppy usually stayed back on the pavement. Her sister died in a car hit in her first year of life.

I had Puppy neutered in '97, or perhaps '98, I can't remember. She has always eaten excellent food as she was on the feeding list of two kind neighbours of mine (along with at least 20 other dogs in the area). Apart from which there were daily biscuit snacks from the staff at Patel Stores and the pan-bidi shop at the Veena Tower gate, and possibly handouts at Sunshine Snack Bar too.

Umashankar used to take her around in his cab sometimes, when he had passengers who didn't object to dogs. He and Puppy once dropped me to a theatre to watch a movie. Once he had to take something all the way to Alibag and Puppy accompanied him.

He died about two years ago, but since he didn't really stay with Puppy she didn't seem visibly affected by his exit from her life.

Lately Puppy has been losing her spark, her eyes have been growing dim and she was going increasingly deaf too. It was always a ritual for me to pat her on my return from my walks in the park nearby. But she had started sleeping really deeply and didn't seem to hear anything, me calling her name or anything else at all. The few times I touched her she would wake and leap up almost in panic, so I started just letting her sleep.

Well, in mid-February the inevitable happened: one of the ladies who fed her called me early in the morning and told me something was wrong with Puppy's hind leg. When I went downstairs I found Puppy sitting quietly with a "switched-off" expression, not crying or showing any pain but clearly in some kind of shock. She allowed me to touch her leg. There was an obvious nasty break at the hock and the paw was dangling lifelessly. This dog has an amazingly high pain threshold. I think she must have been sleeping under a taxi as always, and didn't hear the engine when it started. I can only be thankful it was her leg that broke and not her neck or back or head.

This is Puppy during her 52-day stay at the Bai Sakabai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals. She had to be kept on a short chain so she could rest the leg. I want to say here that the hospital looked after her extremely well. An old dog from our building compound (Timmy) had been admitted there at the same time for a maggot-infested wound, and she was equally well cared for.

Of course there was no question of putting Pup back on the street after that. Apart from wanting her to be safe I also adopted her for my own peace of mind: I'd have definitely ended up having a heart attack if I'd had to worry about her any more. She came from the Hospital straight to our house. At first we thought we'd keep her in Nagaon but that didn't seem a good idea.

So here she is in our Mumbai apartment, beautifully adjusted to home-living, and absolutely loving her first bed. Quite a change from sleeping on a bench or under taxis or in the gutter.

The first few days she looked rather confused all the time, except at meal times. Look at her expression in this photo below, I took it soon after her arrival here. She must have felt quite bewildered after 52 days in a hospital ward (obviously there were no walks in her condition).

Lalee is an old friend of hers but she and Bandra had some territory issues which seem to be getting sorted out now. Things were a bit chaotic at first because Kimaya is also in Mumbai this week, healing from a paw abscess. She was rather cheeky with Puppy but has been firmly put in her place. Puppy may be mild generally but she doesn't tolerate any kind of bullying and her teeth are still in excellent condition.

She has two extra dew claws on each hind paw, which means she's a 22-toed dog. There seems to be some significance attached to such dogs in some parts of India. Here in Maharashtra such dogs are believed to be sweet-natured and to bring luck to their owners. I'm told by a dog-lover from Tamil Nadu that there is a similar belief in that region.

I don't know whether she'll bring me any luck...or perhaps she already has, all these years, because I've been rather lucky really. But she's a peaceful and pleasant soul and we're very glad she's in a home at last, as she deserves to be. As all dogs deserve to be.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Street dogs of Santo Domingo, revisited

A year ago Canadian photographer Sarah O'Neill visited the Dominican Republic and clicked some beautiful pictures of free-roaming dogs. Some of them were posted here.

This year she made the same trip to Santo Domingo, and having some free time took many more pictures. Some of them are of dogs that are seen daily in the Colonial Zone area.

Take a close look at the four pictures of the black dog below. Picture 1 was taken last year. On this trip Sarah stumbled upon the same dog again. Her captions best explain the pictures.

"Picture 2 is her in the almost exact same position but one block east from where she was a year to the day."

"Picture 3 is a composite of her...as you can see she gets up because someone started a high pitch whistle further down the street that got her attention."

"Picture 4 is her playing with another female, notice collar, who looks like she has also given birth recently. Poor thing is probably a breeding machine. I'm thinking she is a roaming pet dog. She doesn't appear to have mange like some of the others and looks relatively healthy.

I was almost positive it was her...when I got back to the hotel, I opened my laptop and checked my blog from a year ago to confirm it was her. Same lump beside her right shoulder."

I agree with Sarah about the collared dog, she is probably a pet allowed to roam free. This kind of pet ownership (so like our Indian villages) is perhaps common in South America? I noticed the same thing in Peru, pets wandering around as they please. In some parts of India (for instance the Sundarbans) I've noticed the same marked difference in coat condition between pet and ownerless village dogs.

More posts on South American dogs here, here and here.

Photos: Sarah O'Neill
Santo Domingo

Ghana's aboriginal dog: the Avuvi

Emmanuelle Occansey's lovely photos of the aboriginal dogs of Ghana! Click here.

Apart from her own two gorgeous dogs, she's clicked Avuvis around Accra and elsewhere. Among my top favourites are of course the ones with her cat!

Check this earlier post on Avuvis.

Thanks Emmanuelle!

Phoebe: The Hippie, the Streetie, the Unendurably Mild(!) Just the same, a miracle to her mums

It wasn't a choice for me whether to adopt Phoebe or not, or so it felt.

She landed in my apartment thanks to my sometimes-generous roommate who rescued my little darling from pouring rain - and, well, left her in the balcony. It was like 10 p.m. when I got home and it was empty except for this tiny, wet, dirty and shivering ball of fur in the balcony. The rain was beating in to the balcony and she had nowhere to hide. The moment I took her into my arms, I just knew she was mine whether I liked it or not.

Above: Day 1 - Clean and warm under my petticoats

Of course I wasn't going to let my roommate have her after the way she had treated the poor pup and (ironically) mercifully, it wasn't her plan to keep Phoebe either. A one-time playmate was the designated role for the street pup. But me? Me, a mother? Me, who lives in the dream of entrepreneurship while living on scrapes of freelance jobs? Me, 21, with no career prospects, lifestyle of a nomad and purely nocturnal existence?

I was a horrible mother. Horrible beyond imagination. I was never up before 12 and was hanging out (working rarely) all evenings, so there was no question of walks. I had to lock her up in my hot room because the roommate and sparingly educated family weren't too happy with the dog. Though to give them some credit, they raised the issue of genealogy only once or twice (Thode paise logaoge tho market mein woh safed balon walla kutta milte hai, pata hai? - "If you spend a little money you can buy a furry white dog from the market.") And the worst part was I used to forget feeding her and then wake up in horror at 2 in the night and do it.

But Phoebe never demanded, never complained, never disobeyed, in fact she never uttered a sound nor offered token resistance. It was like she was sitting there silently with her warm eyes, knowing it all and waiting for me to grow up!

Above: It was I who did the littering and she the prompting for me to clean up!

Above: She chewed on me and not my computer wires (did she know they were important to me?) till I unglued my head from the monitor and mixed her some Cerelac.

She made me want to come back home on time, wake up early and run around with her on the terrace, taught me what responsibility is and made me think about other beings (animal and human) than myself for the first time in my life.

Above: Penance for this one time I yelled at a boy who was helping Phoebe out when she was stuck in the gate - thinking he was trying to kidnap her!

She made me move on from past failures and moved with me and my best friend/partner (who also adopted her) to Hyderabad in hopes of better opportunities.

Above: 12 hours in the train and not a peep from her. It it weren't for my mild-mannered sweetling, we wouldn't have made the journey 'coz we couldn't even afford to bribe the TC!

She made me want to be a better person and this is no cliche because it is the unerring faith my dog showed in me that is responsible for this change. No human is capable of the same.

Early days in Hyderabad. Above: Me and Phoebe
Below: Me, Phoebe and Satya

Above: Loving her new digs, meeting family and friends (well, grannies and aunts!)

Above: A tad overweight at present, having been pampered too much (I should stop atoning for my past sins!)

Story and photos: Sneha Koilada

Connect with Phoebe and Sneha on Facebook: Phoebe's page, Sneha's profile.