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.

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.



Veera said...

She's lovely! Nice to hear she has a good home for the rest of her days.

doggylove said...

hi all! 6 dogs went to peaceful abode in last month from my area!one yr old snow ball, hit by innova, when she was running frantically due to loud cracker noises(people were celebrating shiv jayanti), she had bleeding in the brain, she slipped into coma immediately, thankfully, otherwise it would have been painful, and died within half an hr, foxy another female,3-4 yr old, hit by milk van early morning, she too died on the spot, her eyes had popped out, chotu, 1 yr old male, hit and run again, he was little unfortunate though, he suffered for 48 hrs, though in semi coma state.gavthi(meaning village dog), very old lady, maybe 16 yrs old, her son jackie is an adopted pet of thomas, volunteer friend of mine, she died of organ failure, but was in pain for 2 days,dhebri(meaning very fat), may be 10 yr old female, was sleeping as usual under a car, dont know what happeneed exactly, but people say, the car driver just started the car without giving her a chance to run out, she was admitted in ida, but succumbed to death after 2 days.black dog, paralysed hind limbs is recuperating in ida, for last 20 days, another brown dog, with maggots in urethra region recuperating in ida since last 1 month, so in all 7 dogs gone away! one more dog raja, has 2 toes from hind leg crusehed, and bone exposed, am treating him at his place with anti biotic, will wait for 2 more days if his wound doesnt improve, will have to send him to ida ?!!my locality seems vacant now, 2 very old are just waiting for their day, so it will be 2 more to add.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the new addition to you family! - June

P.S: Picolo is finally in Copenhagen!

Rajashree Khalap said...

@Manik: That's terrible. I dream of a day when the birth control programme will have been 100% successful and there will be no dogs left on our city streets, leading a dangerous low-quality life. These dogs evolved as village dogs and they can't survive on our urban streets full of automobiles.
@June: Wonderful news!Send pics!

wesley said...

Really happy to know Puppy will have a peaceful old age in a good home.