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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Whose dog is it anyway?

If you've been around a while you may have noticed that I fuss quite a bit about using the correct words for things canine. The "stray" word is my favourite target.

I've said it all in this earlier post
Who's straying?

We should be particularly careful not to use the "s" word loosely when speaking of village dogs, unless we are
absolutely sure the dogs we are referring to are ownerless, homeless or feral.
And now I'm going to shut up (for the time being) and let these pictures do the talking.

Dog 1: Sawra village, Maharashtra

Above, below: See that "stray" dog?

Dog 2: Kumre family's dog, Sawra village, Maharashtra

Above, below: What does the Kumre dog look like now? A "stray"?

Dogs 3: Near Pench, Maharashtra

Above: Now these must be "stray dogs," trotting along the street in front of those goats.

Above: Well, no. They are livestock guarding dogs, owned by this villager.

Dog 4: Nagaon village, Konkan coast, Maharashtra

Above: A "stray" on the beach. A very well-fed one too.

Above: He turns out to have an owner after all...

Dogs 5: Nagaon, Konkan coast, Maharashtra

Above: A litter of half-grown pups that I sometimes see wandering around near my house.

Above: The big picture. That's their mother in the background, standing in her owner's yard. The owner of these dogs is a man called Balchandra Apte. The mother has been around for several years.

Moral of the story: do a little research before deciding on the status of village dogs. Urban people, please understand that this is the model of dog ownership in Indian villages. Pet dogs do not usually wear collars. They spend part of their day roaming around, though they have homes and owners to go back to. Village houses and plantations are usually not fenced and there is no restriction on their movements.

Some villagers let their dogs sleep inside the house (like the Sawra villagers, who are mostly Gond tribals). Other villagers keep them in their yards or on their porch. Roaming around freely is normal and is not frowned on, unless the dog kills poultry (rare).

When I accompanied the Cornell team to collect samples from village dogs in Orissa, we were greeted with suspicion in almost every village. We had to explain that the dogs would not be harmed or taken away, before we were allowed to collect blood samples.

A similar thing happened in Moharli near Tadoba Tiger Reserve, when I was wandering around the village clicking dog pictures. Someone pointed out a house in which there was apparently a fine red dog. When I asked the lady of the house if I could see her pet, she first demanded whether I had come to kill him?

A year ago a Nagaon "stray" dog got hit and killed by a tourist bus in our lane. Her owner chased the bus to the beach, hauled the driver out and thrashed him.

Village owners may not cuddle their pets or talk to them in baby talk as we city people do. Some of these dogs have names and others don't. But please don't think that nobody cares about them.

And I would strongly recommend the term "village dog" as a more accurate one than "stray."

Photos: Taken by me in Sawra, Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, and
Nagaon, Raigad district, Maharashtra


georgia little pea said...

Your photos are so beautiful. I love the colours of the homes.

I'm afraid that on a holiday in Chile a couple of years back, we made the same "mistake" of supposing that the street dogs were all ownerless. Which of course, they weren't! They did love following us around for food though.

Thank you again for your kind thoughts. Yes, a tough time. But it's just one more day of holiday, then at least I'll feel better that we have access to our vet.

Have a great week :)

Rajashree Khalap said...

Thanks, and a BIG hug to Rufus from me. He seems such a sweet bear of a dog, I feel sad that I can't meet him "in person."

I worry about Lalee nowadays too, though 10 is not very old for an INDog. But she looks older suddenly, after she was given a 2 month course of antibiotics for tick fever last winter. Her fur has gone paler and she's more golden than red now, and she has cataracts beginning in both eyes. Turned out later that she didn't really need the antibiotics, but we couldn't take a risk at the time so there was no option. After the course was over her titre still showed medium positive. The vet decided she had never really had active tick fever but must have got infected sometime in the past and fought it off by herself. Now she has a slight liver problem because of all that medication. And apart from that we have repairs being done in one part of the house and she's allergic to cement dust, so she's scratching herself and has made a small sore on one paw. She's wearing a ruff right now and is really annoyed about it. She hasn't really been ill in over 9 years and all these things are worrying me, though in themselves they aren't serious problems.

georgia little pea said...

Sorry to hear about Lalee. 10 does seem youngish! Meds are the worst. We don't or rather can't give a lot to Rufus because of his other complications and allergies.

Isn't it amazing that Lalee is allergic to cement dust? We think of our dogs as being tough creatures, able to eat poop, drink scummy water and roll around in decaying matter with no apparent side effects. Then they get allergies from chicken, cement dust and grass. Sigh..