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

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Rio Kamodia is a very handsome INDog-mix from Mumbai. His human Mallika wrote to me about him last week. 

His story begins very sadly, but he is one of those lucky few who found a really loving, understanding family!

(When you've finished reading the story please read my footnote at the end).

Rio was about one month old when his mother was brutally beaten to death by a watchman, somewhere in the Powai area. The man had hit her really hard on the head with a thick wooden stick, because she peed on the tyre of a car. 

Her poor puppy was found shaking and shivering, totally traumatised and all alone, next to his dead mother.

An American girl who was living there at the time saw him and felt really sorry for him. So she picked him up and took him home.

I belong to a lot of non-profit rescue groups in Mumbai, and I foster animals too whenever possible. This girl posted a foster appeal for the pup on Facebook, as she was leaving for Hyderabad that very night. I saw the appeal and agreed to foster him, but I told her I could only take him the following afternoon as I had an exam in the morning. She replied that that was fine, and that her friend would drop the pup off to my place the next evening.

It turned out she had left him alone in her bathroom in the dark from 8 p.m. till around 4 p.m. the following day. She hadn't given him any food or water because that would have made him pee and poop around the bathroom.

This added a tremendously to his already terrible trauma, and messed him up almost beyond recovery. 

When he came to us he was malnourished and weak, and so scared that for three days straight he trembled constantly, while eating, sleeping, all the time. Finally after three or four days he started trusting us and came to us wagging his tail, and sat in our laps for hours because he craved and wanted love. Another couple of days and I decided this was it: he had chosen us and I couldn't give him away. After everything he had been through he had finally started trusting us, and I couldn't betray that trust and give him away. I wouldn't have been able to sleep at night if I'd done so.

And trust me, this was the BEST decision we had ever made as a family: to adopt Rio as my little brother, and my parents' son. We love him more than anything in this world. He is now about one year and nine months old. He still has a lot of issues though, is still really nervous, takes time to trust strangers, and is absolutely terrified of going out. We consulted the best canine behaviour consultants in town, but they said that he can't be taken out like a normal dog as he is one of those very few dogs whose trauma cannot be healed. But we have no regrets because he is still one of the best things that has ever happened to us. For exercise we take him up to our terrace every evening for three hours, where he runs around in sheer happiness, fetches his ball and plays hide-and-seek with us as well!

He helped me deal with my own depression issues too. Today I am a super-happy person, all thanks 
to him! He is a miracle angel in our lives. And also thanks to him I will always want an Indie and no other breed.

Follow Mallika and Rio on Instagram: mallikakamodia

Story and photos: Mallika Kamodia

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My note: Reading Rio's history, which begins even more sadly than most rescue stories, I wondered for the umpteenth time why the official animal birth control programme is still conducted so half-heartedly in this city. After more than two decades of mass spay-neuter, why are innocent dogs still being left intact to breed in such frighteningly hostile, dangerous conditions? Dogs deserve so much more than just sentimental words and tepid welfare efforts. Rio and his mother were not just victims of a brutal watchman: they were victims of a largely uninterested 'animal welfare' system. Please don't be part of the apathy and cruelty: get the dogs in your area neutered!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Our brand new mobile-friendly INDog website!

INDog fans! BIG news!! 

Seven years after we first made it, our INDog Project website has been recreated from scratch, and most importantly has been made mobile-friendly.

Oh good, it's mobile-friendly now!

My colleagues Javed Ahmed of the INDog Project, and Dr Krishna Mohan, put in months of hard work and late nights to make it happen. I can never thank them enough!

Lots of new content, and many many links to books and scientific papers, for those who want to read more. (We recommend reading all of them). You can also download the classic reference book 'The Indian Dog' by W V Soman, from our 'Read more' section.

A very important part of the site is still under construction, so keep watching this space. It's our updated 'Map of Aboriginal and Primitive Dogs Around the World' and it's going to be gorgeous!

The next part of this post is addressed to that smaller but creepily persistent, unpleasant segment of readers who like to harvest other people's hard work and pass it off as their own. I mean the plagiarisers. I'm tired of finding photos stolen from my blog and posted without permission or acknowledgement in your websites and pages. No, everything on the net is not free, so please abandon these misconceptions left over from the 20th century. All my blog and website content is the intellectual property of the INDog Project. If we find it anywhere it shouldn't be, we will take legal action. 

Okay, so here's the link again, below! Hope you like our site!


All the content in our website and this blog are the intellectual property of the INDog Project. Please do not use any text or images without permission and acknowledgment.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Polar dogs of the High Arctic

It's the tenth birthday of this blog! And I'm celebrating it not with an INDog post, but with this photo- essay about another breed of landrace dog far, far away: the Greenland Dog!

We met Greenland Dogs and other gorgeous 'Polar' dogs in Svalbard this summer when we finally went on an Arctic trip - something we've been wanting to do for years! 

Before embarking on a seven day cruise-expedition to North Spitsbergen, we spent a couple of days in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of the Svalbard Archipelago. 

At 78 degrees latitude this is the northernmost human settlement on the planet. It's actually a charming little town in an odd way, despite its somewhat bleak industrial appearance.

For instance, you see signs like this:

And sled dogs all over the place! Some have signs pasted on their kennels requesting people not to touch them (because a lot of people actually do silly things like trying to pet every dog they see). There are photos of some of these dogs at the end of this post.

Our own sled dog experience had been booked months in advance, with a family-run company called Green Dog. I was as excited about finally meeting sled dogs as I was about seeing polar bears, walruses and auks. All so exotic to someone from the tropics!

We reached Longyearbyen at around 1.00 p.m. after a long flight north from Oslo. A couple of hours later our guide from Green Dog came to pick us up from the hotel and drive us to the dog kennels along with five other visitors.

In June they use a special kind of dog cart and not sleds with blades, since there isn't a lot of snow on the ground at this season.

The dogs here, generally described as 'polar dogs', are actually of different breeds and mixes between those breeds. Some are Greenland Dogs, an aboriginal breed genetically identical to the Inuit Dog.* They are quite large robust dogs with broad skulls. Others are Alaskan Huskies, mix breeds of no rigidly defined type: they are selected strictly for performance as sled dogs, and mostly have a slender build and narrower heads than the Greenland Dogs.

At the dog kennels

Typical Greenland Dog (with a name from Norse mythology!)

Greenland Dog mother and pup, keenly watching us
The Greenland Dog pup is taken out for cuddles!

This Alaskan Malamute doesn't belong to Green Dog; he is a pet and was just visiting with his owner

An Alaskan Husky

We spent some time meeting the dogs (and playing with puppies - there were several!) All the dogs were extremely friendly and looked very healthy. And they were all just raring to go!  

Then we went to the changing room to put on the company's special thick overalls, boots and gloves, to protect us from the icy wind. The actual temperature there was around 2 degrees Celsius, but the wind chill factor made the effective temperature lower.

The dogs were harnessed in teams of eight, with us guests helping to hold them. 

The leading cart was driven by one of our two guides, Jimmy. Our cart was right behind it, driven by Kiran: his first and possibly only experience of driving a dog team! A third cart was behind us. 

This is Kiran with our lead dogs, Willow and Chilli. 

Willow was quite a handful at first, he was so excited to be out and running! But he calmed down after a bit of energy had been worked off, and after Jimmy had turned back a few times to make sure he stayed on course.

These photos take me back there! We loved the austere beauty of this treeless landscape. It was hard to select just a few pictures, so be warned, there are LOTS!

We took frequent breaks for the dogs to splash in the water and drink. Our guide told us polar dogs are most comfortable at -20 degrees C, so 2 degrees is rather warm for them!
Guides carry rifles and flare guns outside the settlement area of Longyearbyen, as a precautionary measure for protection against polar bears. Killing a bear is a criminal offence and they are never shot except in self-defence, if there is absolutely no other option.
Water break!

Svalbard Reindeer seen from the dog cart
A colony of Common Eiders have selected a spot between some dog kennels as a breeding site. The best protection
against Arctic Foxes and hungry bears!  The place is an attraction for birders and photographers. It's not near Green Dog 
but some other companies.
Above and below: Some dogs about town

*'Population genetic analysis of the Greenland Dog and Canadian Inuit Dog - is it the same breed?' by Dr Hanne Friis Andersen, DVM http://thefanhitch.org/V7N4/V7,N4SameDog.html

Photos: Kiran Khalap, Rajashree Khalap

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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Epic Saga

Epic is not only a stunningly handsome little INDog: he's also an absolute hero! 
His human Aparna Tiwari Pandey sent in his survival and rescue story. 

'Kindness' is a word that should be ingrained in every decision that a person makes. When we returned to India after many years abroad, the biggest shock was for my daughter Sakshi, who had been out of the country since the age of eight. Her initial reaction to seeing so many street dogs on Indian roads was horror and disgust at the callous treatment meted out to these creatures by humans - including people in our housing society.

She resolved to do whatever was in her control to help them. She spent all her pocket money feeding the dogs in our area twice a day. Although we initially viewed this with slight trepidation, as time went by we were bowled over by the intelligence, friendliness and protective behaviour of these street dogs. Dogs that were shunned by society and abused beyond belief, showed more humanity, kindness and love than most people we had met since coming back. They seemed to do it as their duty, accompanying us to rickshaw stands and trying to protect us and showering us with playfulness and love every time they saw us.

Over the years we befriended three generations of dogs living in our housing society, becoming Public Enemy No. 1 in the process, especially when we informed the management that under animal welfare laws they could not prevent people from feeding the dogs, could not relocate them anywhere, and could not kill them. All these are criminal offences and we would complain to the police or registered animal welfare officials if necessary. 

Some months ago the resident pack consisted of Bosco, the first dog we had looked after; her daughter Elsa from her first litter; Bosco's second litter now also grown up; and Elsa's surviving pup Spotty. (Their story is a long one: you can read it in my personal page)

Spotty as a puppy

The society people were getting increasingly paranoid about the dogs. One of the residents who works for an NGO, arranged for the municipality to pick up Bosco, her two seven-month old pups, Elsa, and a couple of other dogs living here, for neutering. When I came back in the morning after dropping off Sakshi, there was quite a commotion going on. There were two vans and groups of some ten or fifteen men running around with ropes and sticks. They were trying to corner the dogs and the dogs were squealing piteously as well as barking at the tops of their voices. In the midst of this I felt a furry body suddenly clinging to my ankles and whining. It was Spotty! He was hardly two months old and wasn't a candidate for neutering but no-one told him that! I pleaded with the people there to release Elsa as she had just delivered pups two months back, it was winter and puppies need to huddle with their mothers, and also that her other puppy had recently died so she was still grieving and in shock. But to no avail. They packed off all the dogs and took them to the municipality premises.

Some three days later the municipality people came and discharged the dogs back in the society. They had all been operated (their ears notched to mark this). They were still in quite a bit of pain and were famished and extremely weak. We did our best to nurture them back to health.

In their absence the nights were bitter cold and poor Spotty didn't know where his mother had gone. He would try to play with the society kids, try and avoid the cars...but he was so small and terrified. I convinced my husband to give him shelter. He was against it initially but reluctantly agreed. We brought Spotty home and kept him for the nights. We would feed him, give him water, let him sleep in warmth for the nights and then let him go downstairs in the daytime where he could gambol and play with the kids. 

When Elsa came back three days later we continued to feed both of them. We could see them running and playing with each other. It was a sight to gladden anybody's heart. 

Then one day we heard that a person from the neighbouring society meandered too close to a recently born litter of pups on the road. Two male dogs guarding the litter attacked him. This was just the excuse the society needed. Although our society dogs had nothing to do with the incident, all the societies wanted to club together and eliminate the dogs. They planned to either poison them or relocate them far away, or cut off their food supply forcing them to move away. We did some research and warned them of the legal repercussions of any of these actions. We were already popular with the other members but with this we became the celebrities of the society!

One day I came back after dropping Sakshi to college and couldn't find Spotty anywhere. Elsa, Bosco, and her pups Goofy and Dufus seemed dejected and forlorn. I asked the watchman where Spotty was and he was nonchalant. As I sat down to have lunch with my husband I could not swallow or chew my food. For some strange reason I was filled with apprehension and dread. I told my husband that I wanted to go down and search for Spotty. I was sure something nasty had happened to him.

So I went down, caught hold of the watchman and started searching the four wings of the society. After quite some time we found Spotty. Someone had dumped him behind some bamboo bushes. He was hidden behind them and when I found him he was lying in a raised area behind the plants. He couldn't possibly climb down neither could any dog climb up to reach him. He was calm, hardly whimpering, had two thick tear stains down his cheeks and looked utterly composed and resigned. When I asked the watchman to lift him up, he howled and screamed! That's when I noticed that Spotty's lower back seemed depressed and his leg had shrunk up so that it looked like a tiny stub. I didn't understand what had happened. When I touched the stub it swung as loosely as if it was just a piece of skin.

With my husband's help we gently lifted Spotty down. He was moaning and trying gamely to put his weight on his legs when he buckled and collapsed. He looked drained, exhausted, had cried all night and yet was calm and resigned. As my husband said, he was waiting for the end and hoping it was close by. I couldn't allow it. I would not allow it. It turned out after much questioning that the society chairman had asked the watchman to beat up and throw out all the society dogs. The watchman (probably drunk) tried to chase away the dogs. Spotty being a puppy misunderstood the man's intent and tried to play with him...The watchman hit Spotty three times with a stick. Then stifled the pup's screams, picked him up and threw him behind the bushes leaving him to die in pain, hunger and thirst.

Not trusting the local animal welfare organisation, we looked up treatment options and came across a rather upscale animal hospital not far from our home. We took Spotty home, cleaned him and tucked him up in a blanket, fed him and stroked him to sleep. Poor puppy went to sleep and woke up in severe pain. But there was a strength in him. He refused to howl or cry. He would just lie there stoically and tried to co-operate with us in everything we were doing to help him. For example when we took him to the hospital to be x-rayed, Spotty lay there stoically not complaining and in fact curious about what was happening. After x-rays as we sat waiting for the doctor, Spotty at our feet, a dog walked by and stepped on Spotty's broken foot. Spotty screamed in agony just two or three times but lay back moaning and looked at us calmly after that. He seemed to be a super-strong dog!

The doctor showed us in the x-rays how the back had been fractured. Then another blow had broken Spotty's femur into two pieces. A third blow on his tibia had shattered it to pieces. The doctor explained that the only option was amputation and then hoping for the best. She apparently did not expect us to spend time or money on a street dog.

But we decided to do the best we could for Epic. We decided to rename Spotty 'Epictetus' because of his stoic demeanour. 

Later the doctor called us to tell us that a famous veterinary surgeon was coming from Pune to operate on the leg of somebody's collie, and would we like to get Spotty treated? She figured with two dogs being operated one after the other it would work out cheaper for us. We were ecstatic! But on hearing the cost we started having second thoughts. It was prohibitively expensive and Epic would need to be hospitalised for a day. When I discussed it with Sakshi and my husband, we all decided unanimously that the right thing to do would be to get the best treatment for Epic and worry about the money later.

True to his nature, Epic was stoic and calm throughout the night. He had to stay without food or water in preparation for the surgery. All he wanted was to be petted and to lie there watching us calmly. He had also figured out a way to drag himself to the toilet (balcony). Imagine the intelligence, no need for house-training, the little dog figured out that the right place to 'go' was the balcony!

The night went by in a half-awake, half-asleep state...every time I woke up, Epic would wake and wag his tail. He looked in some discomfort but was being quiet, calm and docile as always.

The next day was a haze and a blur...get through all the chores, get through a rushed breakfast...then bundling up Epic and taking him a rickshaw to the hospital. At the hospital the surgeon was finishing up the first operation and we had to wait for an hour and a half before he was ready. During his examination of Epic's injuries, we forgot to muzzle the pup but in his trademark style he just moaned, licked his lips, shut his eyes and bore the pain...The surgeon had good news. Chances were that Epic would make a near full recovery, and he would put the rods in such a way that they wouldn't cause problems for the pup as he grew up. He also said that Epic would take about four or five days to stand up, and would start limping around in a week. Possibly taking fifteen days to run and be normal again. He wanted a commitment from us that we would tend to the pup for seven days before returning him to his mother. Feeling glad that Epic would maybe become normal again we readily consented to everything and also gave assurances that we would take care of Epic for a week and regularly bring him to the hospital for physiotherapy.

The operation took about two hours. The surgeon told us it had gone normally, that Epic would come out of anaesthesia in another hour or so and then we would have to start drips. This turned out to be a whole-day affair...with Epic waking up gradually, looking around, moaning and whimpering, but otherwise not creating any problems. It was around 6.00 p.m. by this time and Sakshi came directly to the hospital from college. As she came to the table where Epic was lying, on his second drip, she whistled in a low tone. Epic had been looking comatose but woke up and started wagging his tail vigorously! What a relief that was...and what a dog he is!

Epic was not going to lie around waiting for recovery. He was standing on his fractured legs the very first night, and wanted to urinate the proper doggy way! He was limping around in a day, and four days later he was running full tilt! During all this, along with physiotherapy, he figured out where to potty, how not to bother us, and how to ask for food. Never did he howl, moan or raise a ruckus. We were completely caught up in Epic's charm and his antics managed to bowl us over. No-one had ever waited for me, or greeted me in the morning as happily as Epic did. We were reaching a point when at fifteen days we needed to take a decision on when to release him back to Elsa.

Should we release him to Elsa? As the day came closer I was agonising with conflicting thoughts. 
What if someone hit him on the legs? How will he forage for food? Meanwhile just days before we had to make a decision, someone smashed Elsa's leg with a bamboo stick making her limp and unable to take care of herself. That did it! We decided we had come too far to do a half-baked job, and also, Epic had started making our lives brighter. He would wake up cheerful, greet us with tail wagging, want to be hugged, was a low maintenance puppy and essentially made our days a little bit brighter. Did we want to dim our days? We decided to not do so! 

And that's how Epic became a part of my family.


~ Today, Epic is extremely friendly, handsome, loving, a fast learner (he is so intelligent he has mastered more than ten words already), and super-resilient. He is calm most of the time, yet can be a handful when he feels like he needs to run and play. He suffered from severe dermatitis after recovering from his operation and we had to get that treated too. He has received his vaccinations. We wanted to give safety and a better life to this darling puppy whose extremely short life has already seen such an ordeal - lost three siblings and experienced so much pain. Each member of my family has been involved in saving the 'Last of the Mohicans' as we call him (all his family members are neutered and this puppy is literally the last hope for their family line). But Epic repays us every day when he looks at us with joy, begs to be rubbed and wags his long white tail exuberantly. We are so blessed to have him with us that we can't imagine what our lives would have been like without him.

~ I also wanted to dispel one notion. It might seem that ALL the members of our housing society are wicked, cruel, dog-hating people. Not so! When we got Epic operated we had to spend roughly Rs 25000. I decided to do a fundraiser and put up a message in the society Whatsapp group. I wrote the entire story of Epic and how he was battered and thrown into the bushes to die in pain. I didn't expect any response. But quite a few people stepped forward and soon transferred money into my account. At last count some ten people had contributed around Rs 16500 in total. So the good news is, there are quite a few good souls in the world, and then some people are misinformed and misguided. I hope the latter, the M&Ms (misinformed and misguided), update themselves and join us folks in a bid to co-exist with our dog friends and make the world a better place than it is.

~ Even today, Epic starts limping when he has overexerted himself or slipped. Sometimes he starts limping when it's cold. We want to ensure he makes a full recovery, so we would like to show him to a specialist as soon as we can. If my readers know of any good doctors/surgeons, please contact me on aparna0112@gmail.com


Story and photos: Aparna Tiwari Pandey

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