About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier and birder. I'm also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai for 14 years.

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.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Babu, my lovely dog from the streets of Kathmandu

Babu is a very handsome dog from Nepal, which makes him very close to an Indian dog! In fact he seems to have some Himalayan breed in his family tree.


This lucky boy was rescued from the street by Severine Gagnieu, after which he shifted to the Netherlands.

Another beautiful (and beautifully told) adoption story! Read on:























It was during one of my many trips to Asia that I met the puppy who would soon be named Babu

It was 1999 in Kathmandu. Babu without a name at that time was a little puppy of about two months. He was all alone, no mother, and used to stay in the courtyard in front of my hotel. 

Some generous staff members of the hotel provided him a little food and water, but it was apparently not enough to keep him in good health. He was so skinny! 1.5 kg was his weight at that time. Nevertheless it did not restrain him from living a playful puppy life as most of them do at that age.

He quickly got the habit of waiting for me to come out of the hotel so he could play with me. And when I returned to the hotel, my little companion would run to meet me again and of course wanted to play over and over. We spent many hours playing together in the courtyard during my stay in Kathmandu, and one day I realized that his company had become indispensable. We had become so close in a couple of weeks that there was no way I could leave Nepal without him. 

From that time I did all the things necessary to fly him back with me to the Netherlands. The first thing was to bring him to the veterinary clinic, the one and only veterinary clinic at that time in Kathmandu. I remember many people queueing up, some with goats and others with chickens, but no-one other than me with a dog. The vet said it was urgent to take good care of him. He was not completely unhealthy, he said, but was about to become so if no care was given. He got all the injections needed, was soon made free of fleas and other parasites, and I got the guarantee that with a lot of love and care he would become a strong and beautiful dog. From that day at the vet my little dog needed an official name, so he became Babu, one of the few Nepali words I knew at that time.

Soon after Babu would have to stay a few weeks separated from me, because I had to go to high-altitude places in Nepal and I found Babu still too little and weak to come with me. But there was no way I could leave him alone and definitely not on the streets. So I arranged with the friendly veterinarian that he would keep him at his own house until I was back. Now I could go with a good feeling. I knew he was in good hands and would get great care.

Time passed and after one month I could come and pick him up again. This was an unforgettable moment, our meeting again. Babu went mad when he saw me and I could hardly recognize him! In only 4 weeks he had doubled in size, his weight was now 5 kgs and he just looked so good. Till today I am so thankful to my Kathmandu veterinarian who took him to his own house and and took care of him as if he were his own pet.

The end of my stay in Nepal was approaching... I spent some nights in my usual hotel in Kathmandu where I had first met Babu a couple of months earlier. The difference now was that Babu was off the street and asleep with me in my room. The staff of the hotel were so happy to see Babu again. They saw he was getting better and better and they played with him a lot. They confessed they were feeling happy and sad at the same time. Happy because they knew he was going to have a good life in his new home in the Netherlands; but sad because they had become attached to this little puppy who had lived for several weeks in the courtyard of their hotel. They wanted to enjoy his company during his last days in the country, and used every opportunity to spend time with him. So every time I had to go out to arrange things for the return flight, there was always someone delighted to take care of him. And I knew they would take very good care of him. So one day before our departure I got the big surprise of returning to meet my dog with paintings on his face and a red tikka on his forehead. He had been made beautiful to go to the temple and receive blessings for a safe journey and a happy new life.












































I don't need to explain that the moment of departure from the hotel to go to the airport was a sad one for many including me. 

We were at the airport, and now started the last moments for Babu at his birthplace. I guess he felt something was about to happen and he was very agitated. I stayed with him till the very last moment and I got on last on the plane. Once more we had to be separated, but this was for the last time before we reached home. Babu was not allowed in the cabin and had to travel in a special cage I got made specially for him from bamboo. When I was finally sitting in the plane I suddenly got called by a flight attendant. Babu had managed to escape from his cage (I knew then that he was a very clever dog...) and was running on the landing strip looking for me. I panicked as much as him I think, ran outside again with a flight attendant, and when he saw me he just ran into my arms. Back again into the cage, very very well-locked this time. At that moment I wished Babu knew that 11 hours later all of this would be over...

After 11 hours, Babu and I were about to land in the Netherlands, at the dawn of a new life.

A new beginning

































Babu was now taking his first steps in his adopted country, still shaken from his first (and last) flight adventure; but sooooo happy to be with me again. My husband and our other dog, Sjimmy, were waiting for us at the airport. Sjimmy obviously not happy at all to see me with another dog. But after a few days everything turned fine and the jealousy was gone. Babu explored his new house, the new environment, new people and a new dog friend to play with! Sjimmy and Babu played for hours together. 

Babu and Sjimmy!










































We went almost daily for long walks in nature. As a former street dog Babu needs to be outdoors a lot: he just loves it. I remember the first time he saw grass. It was so nice to witness!

At one year, enjoying the sunshine at his home in the Netherlands
We faced some problems once Babu became an adult. Tension grew between the two males and they had to figure out which one of the two would be the leader. So we had to witness some very impressive fights between our two dogs. It was really not nice but we knew it was temporary. Once it was clear which one was the leader (it was Babu), they never ever fought again but lived happily together. 

Some education with my husband during a walk in the snow; Babu aged one year




Aged 7 years

















































Babu lives nowadays between two countries, partly in the Netherlands where my husband comes from, and partly in France where I come from. In south-east France Babu enjoys a full country life for half the year. Pure nature, many animals around...his natural instincts are just blooming when he is there. 

At 10 years, enjoying nature in southern France






















In the Netherlands he has a little less freedom because we live in a town, but nature is not very far away and we still go for long walks even though Babu is now 14 years old! Yes 14 years old and still healthy. We don't go every day like we used to but twice in a week, a good long walk, he still enjoys it.

At 12 years, enjoying a long walk near his Netherlands home

At 10 years, receiving blessings from Priest Mattie. In a very few places in the Netherlands
and Belgium, once a year at the beginning of October, after the Sunday mass, animals
can receive blessings from a Catholic priest.

The Kathmandu veterinarian was right when he said that with love and good care Babu would turn into a healthy and beautiful dog!

And guess what: at this advanced age Babu got asked a few weeks ago to be a model at the Academy of Fine Arts of Maastricht (our city). It was for a group of students of the section Scientific Illustration. Babu did it perfectly, keeping quiet, and he stole all hearts! Those students made fantastic drawings of Babu!

Outside his home in southern France; aged 12



I haven't noticed those 14 years passing. It's as if it were yesterday that I found this skinny little puppy in the streets of Kathmandu, who would later become a beautiful healthy dog. 

14 years of happiness that my husband and I are sharing by his side!

Story and photos: Severine Gagnieu
Maastricht
The Netherlands

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully narrated.
I imagine it was unheard of ,to fly your dog across the globe in 1999.
Babu looks like a beautiful dog who's had a lovely life .

Sreyoshi Dey said...

It is indeed a blessing for such dogs when they find such human pets to take care of them. At a time, when we humans have increasingly encroached upon every available space and incapacitated most animals off their natural instincts and rights, it is but happiness that spreads through the heart to read such accounts.

Prasanna M Sangma said...

Oh My God!! Babu is really lucky one! MY my my he really grown up becomes incredible strong dog.

Hats off to you and May God bless you.

You really inspire me!

Anonymous said...

Fantiastic! I'm just about to move from Kathmandu to Malaysia for a year, then to the UK with my (former) Nepali street dog, they're amazing animals.

Komal Sharma said...

Appreciable post ! That,s so pretty dog. I love dog and pet. they such a good friend.



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Anonymous said...

KATHMANDU IS THE CAPITAL OF NEPAL AND NEPAL IS AN INDEPENDENT NATION.....NEPAL IS HIMALAYAN COUNTRY WITH ALOT OF HIMALAYAN DOGS INCLUDING THE TIBETAN MASTIFF (BHOTE KUKUR/ FATHER OF MASTIFF) AND IT IS POSSIBLE THAT BABU MIGHT HAVE HIMALAYAN BREED BUT HE NOT NECESSARILY AN INDIAN DOG. """"Babu is a very handsome dog from Nepal, which makes him very close to an Indian dog! In fact he seems to have some Himalayan breed in his family tree."""" SEEMS OFFENSIVE TO ME...ONCE AGAIN I AM THANKFUL TO SEVERINE GAGNIEU..

Rajashree Khalap said...

@ Anonymous: Lighten up. I meant Nepal is geographically close to India!