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
Thursday, December 27, 2007
This incident is an eye-opener for the latter category.
I take my two dogs for a long and brisk walk in the early morning (5.40 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.) from Santacruz East to Vile Parle East near the airport. I had my doubts as to why a dog if taught “heel without leash” had to be taken for walks on a leash. I had even met one dog owner who told me that I was being cruel to my dog by taking him out on a leash. But my conscience said it’s not cruelty - but on the contrary, it was for the safety of my dogs.
Last week on our return home from our walk, we came across two ladies walking their small “pom” without a leash on the pavement parallel to highway (the same way we too use every day). As was natural, Tommy and Blacky wanted to sniff this new dog they were seeing for the first time. So they went near the dog. Blacky stayed calm, Tommy as usual showed his dominance, which the pom did not quite like, and barked too. I pulled Tommy away and we went our way, and the pom and his owners the other way.
Next day we met again, but this time only the older lady was there, with the dog walking behind her leaving quite a gap between them, without a leash. Again Tommy pulled me towards that dog in order to sniff him. This time however the pom reacted, and out of fear or some impulse I did not quite understand, ran directly on to the highway.
So many cars and trucks were moving at high speed, I thought that the dog would be crushed for sure, and started praying… I started calling for him to come back. He ran fast between the rushing cars, up to the road divider, and again ran back towards the pavement. We heaved a sigh of relief that he had come back safely. Still he did not go to his owner - she had to run towards him and she finally forcibly grabbed him and picked him up. She was sweating…just about any unpleasant thing could have happened!
All this could have been easily avoided if the dog had just been on a leash !!!
I request all dog-owners reading this to please keep your dogs on a leash - if you really love your dog, why take risks with his life?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Following Manik Godbole's interesting post "Are these traits common to all INDogs/Pariahs?" (29 November, 2007), I thought I'd show you what Lalee does when she meets free-roaming INDogs/pariahs in neutral territory - in this case, a beach in the Alibagh area which we often visit.
Lalee's constant companion there is Lucy, a little INDog-mix who lives in my aunt's bungalow. She's a bit older than Lalee, but Lalee is the dominant one. Whenever they see other dogs on the beach they both rush at them with hackles up, barking and often growling. If there are just one or two strays, my two usually manage to chase them off the beach into the wooded area nearby. If there are more than two, Lalee and Lucy are much more careful and don't show actual aggression. I never interfere in these little skirmishes, they all seem to sort it out perfectly well on their own.
Two weeks back there was this little group of three, one female on heat and two males (top). I was secretly a bit worried that Lalee might get bitten this time, as they were mating when she barged in (second and third photos - Lalee is the one with the collar of course). The fourth picture is of Lucy approaching the pack - very very carefully!
The point I'm trying to make is that both Lalee and Lucy have been interacting with other dogs right from the start, and understand how to go about it. In neutral "no dog's land" my experience is that INDogs are generally more defensive than aggressive. If I had tried to shoo off the strays, my own dogs would have interpreted it as support and launched a more ferocious attack - and would probably have been bitten in retaliation. It may seem risky to leave them to their own devices, but this way has worked for me for the past six years. Of course if my dogs had actually entered another dog's territory there would have been a fight. Also, the aggression levels of free-roaming INDogs may vary from place to place - so I'm definitely not recommending that you unleash your dog and let him/her rush at stray dog packs! I'm only describing what I myself have witnessed and I would really love to know other people's experiences.
These three gorgeous puppies are available for adoption. Read more about them on the Adopt-A-Stray blog
If you'd like to adopt any of them, please write to email@example.com
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Lalee and Bandra travelled like this all the way back from a seaside holiday recently. Of course I'd like to believe that they have finally become great friends...but it's more likely that Lalee was just so tired after all her running on the beach that she had no energy left to snap and snarl at Bandra...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The baby sharing space in the dog basket is my grand daughter Taamara (meaning Lotus in Sanskrit and Malyalam). We have four dogs and a cat in our family. Two Bharath Hounds (as I prefer calling them!), one Beagle and one Jack Russell Terrier - the latter sharing footage with the baby!
One of the BHs is Patch, a big, rangy 14 year old black and white female, who we adopted after she returned to our house after "escaping" from an animal shelter hospital run by an NGO. At my request, Patch had been picked up by the shelter ambulance from outside our gate (she was then a street dog), and sent to their hospital, a good seven kms away, to be neutered. Within four days, Patch was back outside our gate, having jumped the fence of her enclosure and walked back to our house, smelling her way home through Bangalore's teeming roads! She was promptly "legally" adopted by us after her Incredible Journey - that was thirteen years ago. Ragamuffin, the honey and white-coloured BH in the photo, is two years old, and again adopted off the streets as a two-month old puppy. She is very sharp and alert and is our family's 24x7 Watchman. Nobody can get into our compound because of Muffin's alertness, and my children say that she has replaced Patch, who has now earned her retirement!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Her story begins with her mother, whom I had named Pinky. I first spotted this female, very thin, agile, brown, with wrinkles on her forehead, around the end of summer last year, about ten minutes away from my house near the Eastern Express Highway. I spotted her amidst all the traffic and rush because she was on heat, and a few male dogs were after her, sniffing her. My first thought was to rescue this dog, already so thin, from the clutches of pregnancy. I immediately contacted my friend Chinmayi to discuss what to do, as spaying her too was a risk! At last we decided to try out the contraceptive “Saheli” and prevent her pregnancy. So every alternate day, and then according to the schedule, I used to go, with the tablet and some food for her, to her favourite spot at the bus stop. She was an extremely friendly dog and would follow me even after I finished the course of 21 days. Two or three days later I spotted a change in her activity, her tummy was looking slightly bloated, and her jumping on us had reduced although her walks continued.
Hearing this, Chinmayi went to see her, and gave me the expected bad news: Pinky was pregnant! We felt so guilty about trying to abort her, but that was out of ignorance, she must have mated right before I had spotted her. Then we were worried: Would the tablet have any effects on the pups? We would be the ones responsible!
From that day I started feeding her loads of food every night. Soon after, she went missing and we concluded that she must have delivered and needed our help. In the afternoon of 26 November 2006 I searched all the neighbouring lanes, then an old man pointed out where a dog had delivered pups. It turned out to be a private property. Right inside there was Pinky sleeping with five pups all cuddled up near her. Three were quite healthy and big and two were small. Of the latter one was Chinky and the other was a black and white male. Chinky was recognizable from the start due to her short tail – not eaten by rats, but congenitally short. We were told that the pups were three days old, so I consider 23 November Chinky’s birthday. The owner of the place and the neighbours were not dog lovers and continuously complained about them. By the age of one month they had all grown fat, and my Pinky too had surprisingly gained weight. Two or three more people were feeding her from time to time out of sympathy.
At the age of six weeks Pinky’s eldest son was hit by a speeding car. An x-ray showed internal haemorrhage. He was in intense pain, and in spite of medication that fat puppy was reduced to skin in three days. Finally we could take it no longer, and we took him to the vet and bade him a peaceful goodbye. That very day, a child took away one of the females to keep as a pet, we were told (God only knows what happened). So three remained. Twice a day I would feed them. One day I found the male pup Kalu limping. We were told a man had hit him. We started some homoeopathic medicine, I don’t remember which one right now. In four or five days he was better. One Sunday morning, I went with food and called out for Pinky, Chinky, Dinky and Kalu. Kalu was absent. That night an old man told me that someone had taken him as a pet to Bangalore. Again, his future is not known.
Now two remained. They used to come even if I called just called Pinky!! That ‘ky’ I think was well registered in their brains. By now they were over three months old, so I dewormed and then vaccinated them. Just one week later, after I had returned from feeding them as usual, a man phoned: “Apki kutti ko car ne udaya” (“Your dog has been hit by a car”). I went there - Dinky, the fat spotted pup was lying on the footpath very still. Slowly I touched her, but she did not respond, not even a whine of pain. I concentrated on watching her breath, but no, she was not breathing, she was dead. I felt like crying. She always used to come and sit in my lap to eat the chews I gave them. Just a few minutes back she had had a heavy dinner. I shook her many times, just in case there was the slightest chance she was alive. Pinky stayed with me all the time, sniffing her pup.
Chinky seemed to be upset for two or three days after she lost her companion. Now she was all alone. She was the most timid among them and always used to avoid my touch, unlike Dinky. Actually her cowardice saved her life. All the other pups, being healthier, were more adventurous and tried to follow their mother across the road, thus succumbing to accidents.
Meanwhile, Pinky fell ill with tick fever, and I concentrated on nursing her back to health and then getting her sterilized. Now Chinky was five months old, and was becoming brave. Her mother used to bring her food from bins and so on, so I reduced my feeding to only dinner. All these months were so hectic for me, you can’t imagine. Pinky had become skinny again, almost like a caravan hound. She used to run on highways in the mornings almost like a cheetah!
Now the rains had arrived. Whatever the weather, my sister Gauri and I saw to it that both mother and daughter never slept hungry! Both of them survived some days of torrential rain, but a week later Pinky just went missing. We called out for her everywhere, and I walked the whole Service Road up to Milan Subway, but there was no trace of her. Chinmayi still believes that a stall keeper on that road cooked her up. A saga of one-and-a- half years came to a sudden strange end.
Fortunately because of her new friend, a dog called Rani, Chinky did not miss her mother much. Now she was nine months old. Time for her to come on heat. I arranged for her spaying with an NGO, along with two other females. After eight days the other two were returned, but Chinky’s stitches had not healed because of her friendly jumps I’m told. After fifteen days Chinky came back. She was dropped on Service Road. I wasn’t informed about it, but on our night walk my Blacky kept pulling me towards Milan Subway although I wanted to go another way. Finally I went his way, and to my surprise there was Chinky playing with Rani. Chinky was reduced to ribs now. I started homewards to bring food for her, but this smartie started following me. Never in the past nine months had she attempted this! There were many other dogs on the way, but even to my surprise, she showed her teeth to any dog coming in her way and came to my building. I took food and lured her back to the highway, but at midnight Madam Chinky was back outside my building whining. For the next eight days the same thing happened. After that, I decided to settle her in my lane, but the new problem was that she could come in through a small hole in my building gate! I feel the disappearance of Pinky too had a role to play in Chinky’s following me. So finally now she sleeps in or outside my building at night and all day she is inside my house. I would have liked to adopt her, but my father doesn’t want to keep more dogs at home. He is very compassionate at heart, and himself feeds ten dogs in my colony, but thinks pets are a responsibility he can’t manage. We have had many arguments over keeping Tommy, then Blacky, and now Chinky. Also I have to take care of all three dogs myself.
The thing I admire most about Chinky is that after facing all odds she came to me…She didn’t come for food, she wanted to be with me!!
Chinky is a really beautiful and elegant INDog/pariah. She is available for adoption. As you can tell from Manik's story, she would make a perfect and devoted house pet. If you'd like to adopt her, please mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This poster was sent in by Bernadette, who has seven INDog/pariah pups for adoption. If you'd like to adopt a puppy, contact her on
91 9833097880 or write to email@example.com
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Meet Rhada and Otis Brown and Mahendra Singh Snoopy (nicknamed Indi). All three were adopted by Lisa Perrine Brown while she was living in Mumbai two years ago, and they returned with her to the US. Lisa rescued and nursed Rhada when she was a tiny pup - both her hind legs were broken in a car accident. Otis was rescued from a mud puddle in which he had almost drowned. Both now live a wonderful life at her home in Michigan, going for long walks and running around her five-acre lawn. Indi leads an equally happy life with
Lisa's friends upstate.
I love the odd sight of our Mumbai dogs sitting in snow!
Above left: Otis
Left: Rhada in a snowjacket
Below left: Indi and Rhada
Bottom right: Otis
Dr Manik Godbole had this great idea of posting a list of books which would help us understand our dogs better. I added some of my favourites to the list. Topics covered include dog behaviour, health, and the dog-human bond. I hope you'll add your own favourites - either post your list as a comment or email me so I can put it as a separate post.
Games pets play by Bruce Fogle
I wish my dog would do that by David King (for training purposes)
Pets and their people (Ins and outs of pet owning) Bruce Fogle
Pet loss - a thoughtful guide for adults and children by Herbert A. Nicberg
If you are interested in scientific research in the field of people-pet relations there are these text books:
The pet connection - its influence on our health and quality of life - R. Anderson
Interrelations between people and pets - Charles Thomas
New perspectives on our lives with companion animals - A. Katcher and A. Beck
The mind - R.H. Smythe
All creatures great and small, and all the other famous books by Dr James Herriot
(If only they could talk, It shouldn't happen to a vet, Let sleeping vets lie, All things wise and wonderful, All things bright and beautiful)
I'd like to add:
The truth about dogs by Stephen Budiansky - a great introduction to recent research and discoveries about evolution, the dog genome, behaviour, and the dog-human relationship. I really like Budiansky's totally unsentimental, common-sense way of looking at dogs, but some people might find it unpalatable.
The Indian Dog by Major W.V. Soman. This is actually a classic, published in 1963, and only two copies remained with the publisher (Popular Prakashan) of which I now own one. There is a chapter on "The pariah and the mongrel" from which I am quoting here: "there is evidence to show that the Pariah pups caught and reared up, have proved to be the best house dogs and have not only protected the owner and his property but have gone out to protect the other village dogs."
The nature of animal healing by Martin Goldstein (a graduate of Cornell University who became one of the world's best-known holistic veterinarians). The theory that disease is simply the body's attempt to heal itself somehow makes a lot of sense to me - it reduces one's fear of illness and helps one cure it better.
Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn - another must-read if you are interested in holistic healing.
Doglopaedia - A Complete Guide to Dog Care by J.M. Evans & Kay White. A mind-bogglingly useful introduction to this topic. I remember getting extra copies for WSD staff and volunteers. I don't know whether it is still available off-the-shelf. If interested, you can get it through Amazon.com. Check this link: http://www.amazon.com/Doglopaedia-Complete-Guide-Ringpress-Books/dp/1860540740
In tune with your dog - An owner's guide to training and improving behaviour by John Rogerson (a world-renowned authority on canine behaviour)
The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. The anthropologist author tries to answer a very simple question few dog lovers ever ask - "What do dogs want?" Her conclusions are often surprising.
A word of caution - books on pet care, holistic or conventional, often express extreme views on topics such as vaccination and diet. Personally I find it best to read everything I can and then make my own - moderate - decisions.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
All the articles I have written till now are about Tommy, but my Blacky is an equally intelligent boy, and I would like to appreciate his acts too!
His memory is just great! I used to take him for night walks in the beginning earlier than Tommy, according to his timetable for answering nature’s calls. I would take him via the Reliance Energy office, then travel along the Service Road, and come back making a full circle. It takes about 15 minutes at most for brisk walkers like us. There is a lot of traffic till we reach the Service Road, so I had marked for myself junctions where I would ask him to “cross the road,” the newest command my dogs had learnt.
One night I forgot to cross the road at a junction fixed till date for crossing. Blacky just stood there, not moving an inch. I was stunned by his act. “Why are you not moving ahead Blacky?” I questioned him. After two minutes he showed his willingness to move, but not in the direction we were walking - he wanted to cross the road where we always used to!
Even now, he remembers the spot where he had squatted yesterday, and will take me to that spot for the next few days, till his spot gets changed.
Once long back, I decided to teach him a trick - finding his treat hidden under one of several boxes lying in a row. I arranged five plastic boxes on our terrace and made him sit. In the first two attempts I showed him where I was hiding the small treat, made him sniff the boxes one by one, made him sit at the right box, and then picked up the box and showed him the treat and praised him.
He is a quick learner. For the third and fourth attempt, I juggled the boxes and hid a treat in the last box in Blacky's absence. I brought him in when all was done and asked him to “search” for his treat. He sniffed the first box, moved ahead, then the second one and stopped there and sat! I was frustrated, “This is not done, Blacky,” I said. To show him that he was wrong, I picked up the box from the ground, and to my surprise the treat was lying there! It must have accidentally rolled in there. So Blacky was right!!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
My father, way back in the '50s and '60s, was one of the earliest champions of the INDog - so Gaja was on his wish list, in spite of my mother's reservations about the whole thing.
The puppy Gaja looked like a bright little fox with his native born intelligence to match. Although he lived in the house, he needed to establish his territory regularly, and the stretch of Short Street - which is a very long street - was his to monitor. Those were the days when cities had community dogs quite naturally, and as children we played with these dogs without being afraid of being bitten or the thought of rabies even crossing our minds. And play with Gaja we did - our winter holidays spent much of the time in the sun-soaked courtyard of our rambling old house, my brother and I had Gaja harnessed to be sometimes Rudolf the Reindeer, sometimes Alexander’s favorite Bucephalus, at other times a canine Black Beauty. While our make-believe games went on for hours, Gaja was always patient and gentle - happy to be part of the team, with his jalebi-tail wagging in indulgence, and a smile always stretched across his brown and white muzzle. When we made tents and teepees out of old bed sheets, piling up potted plants to make believe a jungle, and disappeared inside in the hope we’d never be found, Gaja also gamely became our hunter dog. When rugs became boats, with stools and coffee tables piled up on either side, and our travels took us over the seas and far beyond, Gaja was our sea dog. Even if he did become bored all he did was put his face between his paws, heave a deep sigh of resignation and go to sleep.
When I see children playing these days, I seldom, if ever, see them playing games of imagination or in their games including animals or plants. If children would do that, then perhaps some of the irrational fears which our contemporary society has built up for the natural world would come to be reduced in greater understanding and empathy.