It's a sad coincidence that this incident took place in Ahmedabad, because similar things happen everywhere after all. However, Ahmedabad seems to be particularly full of tragic animal stories, many about dogs and others about the mass butchering of birds during their famous kite-flying festival. Gandhi would have been proud of this city, wouldn't he?
Here's the story of Ghattu's sad little life, reported by my friend who witnessed it.
"It's a happy thing when a street dog becomes a pet dog and gets a loving home....but too sad when a pet dog gets abandoned and is forced to live as a street dog again.
"This happened to poor Ghattu....our 'animal-loving' neighbours' dog who was living with them since she was a small puppy. They'd been planning to move to Canada for a long time, and sometimes they talked about taking Ghattu along, and sometimes they said that a relative with a farm house will take care of her. I stopped asking them what would happen to Ghattu when they leave because I had the impression that they will take care of her or at least find her a place.
"On 4 December, the woman of the family asked me in the afternoon whether I knew anyone who would take Ghattu. She said she is worrying about her because they are leaving for Canada on the 5th evening. How stupid is that??? Hardly 24 hours before departure, it came into their minds to think about their dog....I couldn't believe it! When I told her that the idea of finding her a new home had come just a bit late, a day before leaving, she just ignored it and the next day, none of them said good bye to us."
"And Ghattu was on the road now. The very next morning, the grandparents kicked her out, kept a water plate and food plate outside the gate and locked it. That was it, Ghattu was thrown out after two years of staying mainly indoors, or semi-indoors, mostly on a tiny balcony...She was not toilet trained (that's why they kept her always on that balcony) and she was also not friendly with other female dogs, except the one in the colony who was her mother.
"Ghattu tried to enter many peoples' homes the next day, through any open door, she was inside...and was loudly shoooed off.
"Surprisingly, she didn't bark or howl at all after they left and after she was thrown out. I think she quickly realized what kind of people she had stayed with all her life and that they were not worth missing or mourning. The clever girl joined our society dog pack and the alpha male seemed to like her a lot, which meant that within a short time, she would have her own puppies because she was not sterilized. When I went for a walk with my dogs, she followed us but then spent her time on the garbage dump outside the colony gate or roamed around inside the colony. I hoped no-one would call the AMC again."
"And now she has passed away already.
"I hadn't seen her for a few days and when I asked the grandparents of the family, they told me she had had foam on her mouth and died the very next day. May she rest in peace. I hope she'll meet Bandra and other departed dogs and she can forget about the short and sad life she had among careless and hopelessly selfish people who pretended to like her but actually killed her by leaving her out on her own.
"Once again a sad Amdavadi dog story, one among plenty here. Let's hope for justice in 2011 and as you said, more respect for INDogs. But here, it has to start with the very basics such as that INDogs deserve to live...respect, care, recognition are still very very far away in this part of Gujarat...I never came across any Gandhian spirit here, it's nothing but ironic to call this city Gandhi's place."
I'm sure like most Indians (and unlike me), Ghattu's former owners are very religious people, observe all known rituals and consider themselves deeply moral. Here's my New Year message for all such hypocrites. Read the Mahabharata, it begins and ends with dog stories. If you are barely literate, ask someone to tell you how this great epic ends.
The short version: King Yudhistir reaches Heaven after a long and difficult journey across the Himalayas. His brothers and wife have fallen on the way; his only companion is a dog who has followed him faithfully to the end. But the dog is denied entry. And Yudhistir refuses to enter Heaven because to abandon the creature would be profoundly sinful.
Fortunately the dog is actually the god Dharma in disguise, and this was a test of the king's character.
Would all Indians - god-fearing, scripture-reading, holier-than-thou as they mostly are - pass such a test of character?
Possibly not. They fail it every day, every time one of them betrays and abandons an innocent animal. I piously pray for the same fate for all such human waste products.