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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Princess Vagabond

This blog is all about INDogs and INDog-mixes who have found great homes.

Now here's the first Indian dog who has not just one great home but hundreds! Because her home is, quite literally, the whole world.

Meet Vaga, the globe-trotting desi dog.

I first heard about beautiful Vaga and her unusual lifestyle yesterday, when her owner Andy posted a message in my Facebook INDog Club.

Vaga was born in Goa in December 2001 and soon after met Andy, who happened to be in India with the Earthcircuit crew. Read about Earthcircuit here.

They were travelling overland and took her back to Europe with them.

Since then she's been part of the crew and their mission, sharing their adventures across Europe and Asia. Currently she is on a world tour, has passed through Russia and reached South Korea.

Andy writes that EVERYONE she meets falls in love with her. Isn't that the case with all Indian dogs abroad? It's only here that they are ignored and neglected (you can read my rants about that elsewhere in this blog so I won't repeat them here).

I've posted some pictures of her here, and you can see more in Vaga's Gallery and the DeftwhitedoG gallery.

Above: Vaga at Lake Baikal

Above: At Irkutsk, Siberia

It's a bit late to wish her bon voyage since she's been travelling almost continuously for nine years already. But if this desi girl ever passes through her original country again, I am so hoping I'll get to meet her.

Photos: Andy,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tommy's 8th birthday

Dr Manik Godbole sent in these pictures of Tommy and Chinky, taken on Tommy's eighth birthday, 14th November 2010.

(That happens to be the birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister! Celebrated as "Children's Day" in India.)

Above: Tommy gets a birthday kiss from Manik

Above: Pretty Chinky with Mrs Godbole

These two need no introduction in this blog, but in case you started reading quite recently, here are some earlier posts about Tommy and Chinky, and beautiful gentle Blacky who passed away last year. Click here, here and here.

Happy birthday Tommy, a few days late - many many happy returns.

Photos: Dr Manik Godbole

Sipho in the sun

AfriCanis pup Sipho with Indies Rishi and Leela, soaking up the sun in Cape Town.

Sipho is already bigger than even Leela, who is quite a large dog!

Follow their story through the links in this October post about Yvonne's dogs.

Sipho joined the family through the SA non-profit
African Tails, which works hard to get local dogs adopted.

Photos: Yvonne de Kock
Cape Town
South Africa

Urgent! Four INDogs for adoption in Bangladesh

These beautiful dogs need homes as soon as possible. Please spread the word! And read the message below about why these dogs need to be adopted urgently.


Gender: Male

Age: 6 years (estimated)

Breed : Local

Color: Black with brown neck and eyes

Temperament : Extremely playful and friendly

History: Moti was found wandering the streets of Baridhara with a severe condition of sarcoptic mange, malnutrition and evidence of neglect and abuse. He underwent a 6 month long “at home” treatment before he was himself again. We like to call Moti “the magic dog” as his recovery was almost magical!


Gender: Female

Age : 8 Years (estimated)

Breed : Local

Color : White and Brown

Temperament : Calm, quiet and extremely observant! She loves to hunt and catches more mice than any of the cats in the area!

History : Rosha was adopted by a group of Guards in Baridhara, Road 14 in 2003. She spent almost 6 years in Baridhara, where she had a regular supply of food, open streets to roam and her daughter Kashtanka, who was also her playmate and her best friend. On April 4, 2009, Kashtanka was maliciously killed by the authorities of City Corporation (despite having a collar and registration tag). They came after Rosha too, but she managed to escape. The next day, Rosha was brought to Savar.


Gender : Male

Age: 3 Years

Breed : Local

Color : Black and White Patches

Temperament : Hyper active!

History: Obhoy is probably the only dog in the lot with no traumatic history. He made himself at home when the shelter was being built and just never left. He is an absolute sweetheart and loves to play!


Gender: Female

Age: 2 Years

Breed: Local

Color : Light Brown

Temperament : Non-confrontational, playful, affectionate and extremely loving!

History : Timon was only a small puppy when she was found hiding inside a garage in a house in Elephant road. Timon was extremely fearful of people and would not let anyone touch her. She was fostered by a member of Obhoyaronno for a few months before she was taken to the shelter. Timon is the baby of the house, and everyone loves her to pieces!

Additional Information

•All dogs are neutered and vaccinated

•The dogs are used to running free in an open space. We would prefer homes where there is land around it and/or where the dogs won’t be chained.

•All four dogs will be excellent as guard dogs/play dogs.

•You can adopt them in pairs if you want.

Contact Information

Rubaiya Ahmad

Cell: 01718643497

e.mail : noholi@yahoo.com

This is an appeal from Rubaiya Ahmad of Obhoyaronno:

Obhoyaronno-Bangladesh Animal Welfare Society (O-BAWS) has been operating an animal shelter in Savar since 2008. The shelter was originally built to house ill, injured, abandoned and stray animals, but as we started taking animals in, we quickly realized the magnitude of the problem of homeless animals and the huge amount of resources that we needed to combat it. The idea of running a “shelter” was put to a stop immediately and instead the Obhoyaronno team started working on the policy issues to identify and mitigate the causes of homeless and abused animals in Bangladesh. The shelter currently has only four dogs and two staff members. We decided not to close down the shelter altogether but to keep it running as a future location for a veterinary hospital.

Today, this shelter is under attack! A group of land grabber/pirates in Savar has been trying to take over more than 1200 acres of land including our shelter for the past one month. On July 22, 2010, over 300 houses and buildings in the area were illegally demolished by a group, who are now in a legal battle with the owners’ association (us). We have received a “Stay Order” from the Supreme Court, but continue to receive threats by the local goons and thugs indicating that if we do not evacuate the premises, the dogs along with their care givers will be hurt.

As much as I would like to tough it out and wait for the “bad guys” to be defeated, I am very worried for the safety of my dogs and would like to re-locate all four of them as soon as possible. These dogs are very very dear to us and we want to put them in homes where they will receive the same kind of love and affection as we have given them.

Obhoyaronno - Bangladesh Animal Welfare Society is on Facebook



Rick and Spike celebrate their third adoption anniversary

It's been three years since these brothers joined the Sawant family. We've seen lots of lucky pups in this blog, and here are two of the luckiest.

I'm quoting Charu Shah, who rescued them from the street and found this lovely home for them:

"There were these tiny adorable puppies in my office lane, that I used to feed. Seven of them were there, one was extremely weak and surviving on pet food, as the others would push him and not let him drink milk. When I came back to work after the Diwali break I found the little one dead. Cursed myself for almost one week for not being there for the little one when he needed me the most!

Anyway, the other pups were growing up and healthy. Prerana Sawant said she wanted to adopt two male pups and took these two bundles. They had a welcoming party at home for the little ones, and yesterday I got a message from her. Rick and Spike have completed three wonderful years with the Sawant family!

I know for sure that they are in a good loving home...and these pictures of the grown-up dogs say it all!"

Above, below: Spike

Above, below: Rick

Read about the brothers in this earlier post, and also in The caring brother.

Do spread the word about pet adoption - check the links listed here (white text panel on the right), and visit Charu's adoption blog.

Photos: Prerana Sawant
Thane, Maharashtra

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dislocation 6 - Report displaced dogs

More canine victims of displacement. These two dogs were reported by Sourabh Edwankar. Both were dumped in Duttapada Borivali East. Both have notched ears.

They are not from the Duttapada area but seem to have been dropped there after neutering.

If you are a Mumbai dog lover and happen to recognize these dogs - if by any chance they were picked up from your area and never returned - please email esourabh@hotmail.com

Charu Shah has started a count of all displaced dogs reported by animal lovers (there have been quite a few). If you live in Mumbai and have noticed new dogs with notched ears in your area, OR if a dog from your area was picked up for neutering and never returned, please email Charu on shahcharu76@yahoo.com and tell her the details for the list.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dislocation 5 - Causes, solutions

What's the reason for displacement?

A crucial aspect of the ABC programme, the catching and release of dogs, is left entirely to the municipal corporation staff, with no participation by the animal welfare organizations.

The flaw in this system is over-optimism. After all the corporation has never shown any real commitment to the ABC programme and has actually tried to hamper it in different ways over the past 17 years. Is it realistic to trust them to carefully return each dog to its own area? The evidence suggests no.

There IS a solution

If they chose to, NGOs could follow the example of the Visakha SPCA, a dynamic NGO in Andhra Pradesh.

VSPCA has strict procedures to ensure that neutered dogs are returned to their own areas. They send their own personnel with the municipal team on catching and release trips and maintain records about the exact location of each dog.

While I don't work in the birth control programme any more, I know and respect several of the NGO managers and I am aware of how hard they work and what a struggle it is to raise funds in a society that doesn't prioritize animal welfare at all. The reason they do not hire personnel to accompany the catch and release vans is not apathy though it may appear that way; it is simply an understandable wish to cut down expenses.

However this kind of economical measure is self-defeating since it results in extreme suffering and possibly the death of many dogs.
Which means all the hard-earned money spent on neutering those dogs has actually been wasted.

Displacement is a cardinal error, violating the principles of both animal welfare and animal control.
It also destroys the credibility of the ABC programme. Vizag SPCA is as strapped for funds as any other animal welfare NGO; yet they do not cut corners when it comes to a dog's safety. Their's seems the responsible way to use donors' money, which is given in good faith in the expectation that it will be used for the betterment of dogs' lives.

Time for my disclaimer:

This is NOT an attack on any NGO or on NGOs in general. In the unlikely event that any NGO people read this, there will possibly be indignant reactions like "does she know how hard we have to work" and "does she think it's easy to raise money" and "easy to criticize when she just sits at the comp and does no real work."

Yes I do appreciate how tough and thankless animal welfare work is. I've been there. I also have great respect for the intelligence and honesty of the NGO people I know, and I believe they will acknowledge the truth of what I've written here.

These dogs can't tell people about their distress. I'm doing it for them.
I can't do much else, but I can at least do that.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dislocation 4 - Tragedies

I've read about other displaced dogs through the animal-lovers network. Dogs that are picked up for neutering but never returned, and new dogs with notched ears suddenly appearing in a neighbourhood. Recently I read a very sad appeal from a lady in Borivali, asking people to look out for two friendly little brown females that were never returned to their area after sterilization. Another dog lover replied that this has happened often with dogs in her area.

Dogs are living creatures, not statistics, and even a single displacement is extremely cruel and one too many. But if my street is a sample of what is happening all around town, the magnitude of this cruelty is horrifying. I'm referring to only a one kilometre stretch of my street, and seven dogs have been dumped here in the past year! What must be happening in the rest of the city?

Dogs can maul and even kill each other in territorial fights. A friend in Bangalore once described a nightmarish incident. A dog had been dropped in her area (Sultan Palya) and she had tried to befriend him and feed him. But she couldn't protect him from the neighbourhood dogs. The next morning she found his dead body on the pavement, bitten all over and bloody.

My sister told me about a similar lethal dog fight in Kolkata.

Above: The two displaced dogs in the meat shop lane near my house, chasing away an unsterilized dog who had entered the lane. The brown dog's head is visible on the left and the patchy one is in the centre.


Do read Dislocation 5

Dislocation 3 - New in my neighbourhood

Of the seven neutered dogs dumped in my street, these are the three that have managed to settle and make their home here.

Above, below: I first saw these two dogs in March. They had settled in my old Puppy's territory after I adopted her. Later they shifted to a meat shop in a little side-lane.

Above: This one was dumped outside our house some time last year. He lives on a pavement that had been unoccupied by dogs for the past few years.

These are the lucky ones.


Do read Dislocation 4

Dislocation 2 - The Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme

This is the official dog population control programme in India. It's been in force in Mumbai since 1994.

For this programme to succeed, it is critical that dogs are returned to their original location after neutering and vaccination. This ensures that the dog population is not destabilized. The dogs guard their territory against newcomers for their life-span, do not breed or show the behaviour problems associated with mating aggression, and over the years the population gradually reduces.

Anyone familiar with the behaviour of free-ranging dogs would know that this is really the only long-term solution to the "street dog problem." There are certain conditions that have to be met though - a high rate of operations, a vigorous public education campaign, high standards of surgery and post-operative care, and
release of the dog in its own territory.

The programme was successful in my area (in south Mumbai) and some other parts of Mumbai. I was actively involved in it for 14 years and tried to supplement the catching done by NGOs and the municipal corporation, by taking dogs for surgery in my own car every week. No pup had been born on my street for years. The dogs were aging, fed well by several kind people, and the population was reducing naturally.

Today thanks to displacement, I feel that much of our hard work has been undone. There are actually more dogs near my house now than there were three years ago!


Do read more in Dislocation 3

Dislocation 1

This is a dog I saw on 29 October in the park near our house. I'd never seen him before though I walk there every day.

He had a notched ear (see the picture below), indicating that he has been neutered under the Animal Birth Control programme.

The reason the pictures are blurred: he was scared and running frantically around the park and wouldn't stand still for very long. He seemed to have been dropped by mistake in my area, presumably after being sterilized by one of the non-profit organizations in the city.

Probably sensing my sympathy, he came and stood next to me for a few seconds (that's when I clicked the picture above). Then he started running again, as if desperately looking for a way out of there but scared to go because of all the dogs outside.

I wanted so badly to help him in some way - but how?

Late that night I heard the unmistakable sounds of dogs fighting - howls, snarls, screams - from the dark sea face and park. Fairly easy to guess it had something to do with the local dogs objecting to the presence of the newcomer.

The next morning I couldn't go to the park but my husband reported that he had seen the dog of my photo, running around like before. That night there were howls, screams and fighting again.

The third morning the dog was gone.

This is the seventh dog that has been dumped in this part of the street (SBS Marg) in the past year.

All had notched ears, all were terrified and running, and the night following their arrival there was fighting and howling on the seafront. Except for three, they all seem to have met with the same fate as this poor pale dog of 29 October. Probably they were hounded out of the area by the local dogs, because neither my husband nor I ever saw them again. I hope at least some of them survived and reached their original neighbourhood.

I don't blog about animal welfare much because there are already many excellent sites that cover welfare topics. But as a dog lover I can't help being deeply depressed by the plight of the displaced dogs. Surely any dog lover would hate to see such a thing?


Do read more in Dislocation 2

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who's straying?

"The vet keeps describing Poppy as a 'stray,' " said my mother. "I told him she was never a stray. She was the petrol pump puppy before I adopted her. Even her father wasn't a stray. He was the Temple Towers dog."

I think this was a remarkably acute comment, like much of what she says on the topic of language for that matter. But then my mother's career and specialization was in linguistics, and it's normal for her to analyze words and their usage. Most of us tend to mindlessly accept common terms and rattle them off like talking parrots. Me included.

That's why I accepted and used the grossly inappropriate "s" word for many years, though something about it made me uneasy (yes, really). Back in 1993 when I used to work in the street dog birth control programme, a couple of other NGO managers had suggested we refer to these dogs as street dogs and not strays. The 1990 Guidelines for Dog Population Management (WHO and WSPA) described the term stray as "imprecise because a dog found straying may be lost, abandoned or merely roaming."

Roaming and straying - these are different things. If I take a walk around my neighbourhood, would you say I'm "straying?" The point usually overlooked is that all our dogs DO have a neighbourhood, a territory.

As for the odd use of the word as interchangeable with "native" or Indian dog, as in "I own a stray dog" or "my dog is a stray" - this is a bizarre contradiction but it's depressingly common in our country (remember my mother's remark about her vet). As I've mentioned before, the word doesn't refer to breed but (vaguely) to the ownership status of a dog, as understood from municipal acts. How can your pet be an ownerless dog?

Although in 1973 Alan M. Beck used the word stray in his famous book "The Ecology of Stray Dogs," he did sub-title it "A Study of Free-Ranging Urban Animals." His study was of the dogs of Baltimore. Nowadays biologists do not use the term stray, specially for the dogs of Asia and Africa. The correct term is free-ranging.

I'm now quoting from the Glossary I've compiled in the INDog site, because I've said it all there (and I'm assuming nobody has read it!)

Actually the use of the word "stray" for India's free-roaming dogs is highly debatable. Dog enthusiast Gautam Das once pointed out that the usage arose from the British meaning of a dog that is owned by someone and has "strayed" from its home or owner. In Indian languages such as Marathi, the word used is "bhatakta" which would more correctly be translated as "wandering" or "roaming." This is rather different from "straying" which always implies that the dog is somewhere it shouldn't be (with the further implication that a dog should always be in a human dwelling or not exist at all?)

The implication that a dog has no right to be in any place but a human home is inappropriate when applied to India's free-roaming dogs. Such dogs have specific territories even if they don't have homes in the European sense. So they certainly aren't "straying" from anywhere.

In the countries of northern Europe the category of free-living or community dog does not exist, and any dog roaming unsupervised would therefore be an abandoned or straying pet. This is an example of English canine terminology being mechanically accepted for usage without taking the Indian context into consideration.

Even pet dogs in villages are often described as "strays" in English, since they wear no collars and roam unsupervised.

It would be best to use the terms "street dog" or "neighbourhood dog" in the urban context, and "free-roaming dog" in the rural one.

One can imagine the first Englishmen in India, setting eyes on our free-ranging scavenging dogs and saying "look at all those strays!" And sadly the term stuck...

Click here for an earlier (and shorter) post on this topic. And thanks for reading!

Photos: Free-ranging dogs in Nagpur, clicked by me in 2008

Friday, November 5, 2010

Puppy's silent Diwali

Diwali is just like any other day.

Because Puppy can't hear crackers any more - she's deaf.

She will no longer hide or skip her meals because of boorish inconsiderate people whose idea of fun is to split the eardrums of more civilized beings.

Above: Waiting at the kitchen door for lunch, just as usual

Above: Patience is rewarded, just as usual

Above: We love her smiling expression when she's asleep. She might be dreaming about food, we feel.

Puppy is usually eating or sleeping, or else between meals or between naps, with short walks in those intervals.

This is a good life if you are between 13 and 14 years of age.

Being hearing-impaired is definitely a blessing during Diwali, our famous "festival of light" which is more a festival of LOUD NOISE really. Puppy sleeps peacefully through the explosions, and isn't scared of going downstairs for a walk even when it sounds like a world war outside. She does hear the very loudest bangs, but she doesn't try to run or hide: she just barks.

It wasn't always so. When she was a street dog (until March this year), she used to be terrified of crackers and would simply disappear during Diwali. Her first owner, the late Umashankar, once tried locking her up in his taxi to keep her safe. She tore the seats to shreds and he stopped trying this method after that.

Since Puppy is now a pet dog it isn't really a problem that she's hard of hearing. Of course it was a huge danger when she was a street dog. She had been losing her hearing for some time - I could tell because she didn't respond when I called her. That phase of her life ended with a horrible leg injury, presumably because she didn't hear the car coming.

Read about her adoption here. There's another post about Puppy here.

Lalee is more nervous about crackers than she is, but thankfully her fear isn't very extreme and as long as I'm at home, she behaves almost normally.

In case you haven't read it before, here's my old post on dealing with your dog's fear of firecrackers.

Hope it helps make the festivities less traumatic for your pet.

Wishing everyone a peaceful weekend.



Why doesn't Lalee want to return to Mumbai after our Nagaon visits? Hmmm, can't imagine!
There have been occasions when we've had to
actually drag her out from under the bed when it's time to come back. Grumpy doesn't begin to describe her expression.

I understand, I feel quite the same myself. I do the best I can by taking her there every fortnight for a few days. We spend at least 8 days there every month.

I wouldn't mind leaving her there for a few days more with our caretaker, but she isn't really as independent as she appears and tends to fret without me.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lemon Tree Hotels and their canine staff!

I liked this email so much I'm posting it here. From dog lover Lubna Kably:

I just returned from a short trip to Aurangabad and stayed at Lemon Tree Hotels.

This hotel chain adopts a dog (street dog) at every hotel in its chain and the dog is part of the management team - the dog's bio-data is even put up on the website under "Hotel management."

Lemon Tree Aurangabad already had Potty (Pot Tree), see his bio data below.

However when I reached there, I found out that Potty had a girl friend Rani. She had such a gentle disposition and soulful eyes.

Potty was a bit mistrustful of me, having being recently injected by a vet and was wary of all strangers. In fact, because of his recent aggressive attitude (which lasted just a few days) he was even kept tethered.

However Rani came to me and wagged her tail a bit, waiting to check the response. Soon we were the best of friends, much to Potty's dismay. He is one possessive dog!

Rani was well fed by the security, but that seemed about it. However, after having spoken to the hotel management, she too has been formally inducted. She just got a collar and will be getting a shiny new badge just like Potty.

In fact, it seems like Rani knew I had a role to play. After having got a new collar, a good meal (not Potty's left overs) and perhaps a bath, she bounded across when I went to meet her and gave me a shy little lick.

Rani is now named S'Paws (Spouse of Potty).

Isn't this cool, a hotel chain which has a doggie-friendly heart. The dogs are well taken care of, provided not just with food and shelter, veterinarian care, but also with a lot of love and affection.

For more of the Pooch hotel management members, just go to the Lemon Tree Hotel's website, look up the hotels in different locations, click on the link - Hotel Management and you will know which Pooch rules where!

In fact, their front desk also has a toy stuffed dog - a mascot. But the doggie-members of their management team rock.

Lemon Tree Hotels just got a huge big fan - ME!

Text and photos: Lubna Kably

Monday, November 1, 2010

Red INDogs of Central India

Above: Last week I saw these beautiful INDogs trotting along a lane with two villagers and a herd of goats. It was in a forested region near Pench Tiger Reserve.

INDogs are still widely used as livestock guarding dogs in such areas. They bark and alert the goatherds if a predator approaches.

Above: They turned around immediately and came to their owner when he called them.
(Now, why don't my dogs do that?? I think I'll send them to this gentleman for training.)

Above: Very handsome! The one on the left has flattened his ears in a submissive display before his owner.

Above, below: The silly city person has clicked her photos. Courtesies over...

Below: ...it's time to get back to work.

Above: This dog was in a village called Harisal on the boundary of Melghat Tiger Reserve. He was too busy to turn and face the camera, so I had to make do with this rear end portrait. You can still admire his lovely upright ears and curled tail and red coat.

Red dogs...I love them best.

Pench, Maharashtra
Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Dog in Sarawak

Another dog clicked by Lam Chun See. This one was at the entrance of the Wind Caves in the Eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Thanks Chun See!

Photo: Lam Chun See

Ipoh dogs

Two lovely pet dogs from Ipoh (remember the sweet Ipoh puppy last month?)

"As you know I like dogs," Lam Chun See writes. "And since I don’t have any of my own these days, when I visited my relatives in Ipoh, I took the opportunity to pose for some photos with them... these two dogs are actually mother and son."

Read about Singapore's Kampong Dogs in Chun See's interesting blog Good Morning Yesterday - (dogs of Singapore and Kampong dogs)

Photo: Lam Chun See