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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Caste, Race and Puppies

Don Basko, a pub friend in England nearly thirty-five years ago, was a Pyrenean Mountain Dog. He was named after the Basque region where his ancestors were bred (the arguably better known Don Bosco was Piedmontese). Basko was large, and owing to youth and insufficient training was given to jumping on his human friends and placing his front paws on their shoulders. He never knocked me down, but a swipe of his tongue across my face often had me washing my glasses.

I was reminded of this old friend last week, when an adolescent St. Bernard named Chaplin jumped on me as Basko had done. Chaplin's owner was profusely apologetic, no doubt worried that his pet might have damaged the grey old coot who was silly enough to play with big dogs.

Chaplin's nervous owner also refused, initially, to permit him to play with my Pappu, who is fourteen weeks old and is what I describe as a Pedigreed Mongrelus Gangeticus. Pappu is a quarter the size of Chaplin, and the man was concerned that Chaplin might sit on him and so cause what is known in the trade as Sad and Untimely Demise.

The youngsters are now good friends, and they play together when their walking times coincide. It took strenuous persuasion, but in the end the argument prevailed that puppies know a damn sight more about romping and tumbling than adult humans do.

Alas, Pappu cannot play with another fellow puppy, Boxer, which is a confusing name for an Alsatian. Boxer is walked by a woman whose nose is elevated because of the price she paid for her possession. She speaks of it far more often than she does of Boxer's destructive achievements, as ordinary owners of ordinary puppies do. Boxer is her possession rather than a pet, in the same class as her motor car and her jewels and her chiffons.

A group of small girls plays with Boxer every evening. They had taken to playing with Pappu too, but that stopped abruptly. I could not understand why children who had once come rushing to us began running the other way when they saw us.

Then the littlest little girl, my special friend Sam, let slip the truth. They had been told by Aunty, she said, that Pappu was a stray; he was not from a respectable family. I tried to argue that Pappu was not a stray but a pet, and held up the leash in my hand as evidence. I added that he and Boxer were children just as she and her friends were children.

Sam would have none of it: "His mummy was a stray, so he is a stray. He mixes with other strays. Boxer is a German Shepherd Dog and can't play with dirty strays."

Racism, as the human world practises it, is thrust upon the canine world; and the foul notion of ritual pollution embodied in the word "dirty" - Hindu India's most notable contribution to the planet's bilge - creates castes and untouchability among the furry.

Pappu is a pariah, in every sense of that word. For that I hold him a bit closer when he sleeps with his head in the crook of my arm.

Mukul Dube



tattu said...

Beautifully written. It would be better if you could tel those who use the word 'stray' in a negative sense that there is nothing called a stray dog. This is a wrong notion created by us. Our Indian dogs who are found close to human habitation have evolved to be like this over hundreds of years. This is Nature's plan and he is as much at home on the streets as we are in our pricey purchased houses. They are free ranging animals in their natural habitat. Do we call a tiger stray?
We humans should try to co-habit with dogs as our ancestors had done.

Francie said...

My Indog street dog that I adopted and brought home from India to the U.S. is the most precious creature I can imagine, far more precious than any "pure bred" I could have simply BOUGHT!

suchismita said...

Two dogs own me.. one, a gentle giant German shepherd, and another a mix with the colouring of a white lab. My soon to be next door neighbour keeps offering me his "original" lab. (how he can part with his dog, is another story) What he does not realize is that all dogs are original, some just more than others because their gene mix cannot be replicated. My Elsa is one such.. Since no two mixed dogs look exactly alike, are they not more original? I say this with no prejudice to pedigrees, after all it is not their fault they have been bred that way... Wish we could learn not to discriminate based on looks..as if we all look "original"!

wandereress said...

typical Indian mentality...find reasons for discrimination. it takes a lot of education, awareness and intellect for morons like the one here, to see the real pictures. They will forever live blinded by irrelevant notions of what's superior and what's not, all created by them, based on no logic whatsoever. pity to see them embracing the foreign breed and ignoring the beauty of the native, original one. when will pariah's get the respect and acknowledgment that they truly deserve?