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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chilika Lake pup

Quintessential INDog! This brilliant image was clicked by dog enthusiast, wildlife conservationist and photographer Aditya Panda. The pup lives in the village Mangalajodi at Chilika Lake.
Photo: Aditya Panda

On the banks of the Brahmaputra...

Jayanta Chaudhuri recorded his encounter with this pack of beautiful INDogs in Assam. Cautious, alert, non-confrontational but wary - this is how the first dogs must have lived thousands of years ago, side by side with human society. The full sequence of photos is posted in the album of the INDog Club on Facebook. For those who aren't on Facebook, here they are along with Jayanta's captions: the "Dhekura Kukurs" of Assam.

"This is at Dibrugarh, North East Assam, near Arunachal Pradesh, on the banks of the Brahmaputra. I was visiting from NY. I was strolling along the banks of the river a few miles from the town, thinking about the mega dams in China and what it will do to this beautiful river, when suddenly among the sand dunes I met her - she was warily watching me approach.

"I looked around and I saw a pack.

"So here is a story of INDog river dogs, from the banks of the Brahmaputra...We Assamese call them DHEKURA KUKUR."

"Another member keeps an eye on me..."

"This lady is not amused...tells me to keep my distance...I was wondering why??"

"I looked around and got my answer...there were these beautiful pups - one looking at me and the other looking at his mother for orders. Alert, curious and very cute."

"Puppy is not too sure about me...and the other already went into his burrow...but she still does not want to go inside."

"One member of the pack patrols the river shore."

"While another patrols the grassy knoll."

"Someone is relaxing..."

"Someone else is a little more alert."

"Someone sneaks up behind me to pick up my scent."

"Someone else warily circles me..."

"A few others keep watching the action from afar..."

"Enjoying the sand dunes and the evening sun of a breezy winter day."

"There was one individual with a black coat who suddenly appeared from nowhere."

"Finally they decided that I was an unwelcome intruder."

"Before I left, the black dog and the yellow ones lined up to bid me adieu."

"Footnote: 300 miles away at Guwahati, Tuffy, my parents' INDog looks very similar. She sneaked from the streets through our gate as a 3-4 week puppy on a rainy night...and the rest is history."

Photos and captions: Jayanta Chaudhuri
Near Dibrugarh, Assam

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pinglu grown up

Remember little Pinglu who was up for adoption last year? Read her story and adoption appeal here.

Samir and Papia decided to keep her themselves (I'm not surprised!) So she never did go to a new home. Here she is, aged one year, alert and beautiful.

I've asked Samir to send me more pictures of her, so look out for more updates!

Photo: Samir and Papia Biswas

Samson in winter

Samson, formerly of Pune, enjoying his first snowy winter!

Video: Lee Sverkerson

Samson the hero

This blog celebrates those stories, unsung and unknown, that unfold unnoticed in our cities.

Starving waifs become handsome princes...Ugly ducklings become swans...Unlikely heroes overcome adversity and emerge victorious, beautiful and loved by all. Because some of us recognize that they are heroes inside and give them a helping hand.

We change their lives and they change ours.

So, once upon a time there was this very thin and sickly dog on the mean streets of Pune. He had mange and worms and other diseases. He was weak and nobody cared whether he lived or died.

Then one day a couple noticed him.

The bond between Man and Dog is a mystery, and nobody really knows how it works, not even Science. But sometimes when a dog tries to say something, humans understand. That's what happened on this day.

He was rescued.

36 hours after his first treatment - hope, and a sparkle in his eyes.

A month later...

And two months later...

Another month passes, and Sammy is transformed!

Confident, growing strong, happy.

Below: Four months after the first treatment - Samson is a pet dog and now lives in Minneapolis with the couple that rescued him.

Below: Eight months after treatment...Samson the handsome!

The moral of this story does not need to be spelled out, but here it is anyway.

Let's not, ever, give up on any street dogs we see, however miserable and weak and sick they may look. That INDog blood flows in them all, in some measure, whatever other breeds may have entered their family tree. They are all descended from thousands of generations of survivors.

Give them a chance, make one a member of your family...and it's your life that will be immeasurably more interesting, fun and beautiful.
Photos: Lee Sverkerson

Frisky and Lallu's family

INDog enthusiast Adnan Ahmad sent in these photos of Lallu's litter. Three of them have inherited their father Frisky's colouring. I hope they all get good homes!

Read about Frisky and Lallu and other Bangladesh INDogs here.

Photos: Adnan Ahmad

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sleep, little girl

Early on 6 January, our Puppy drifted into her final sleep.

Too soon, it's always too soon.

I've known Puppy since she first appeared in our street in 1997. So we go back a long way.

I think I secretly always wanted to bring her home, and I think she always wanted to live with me. I'd meet her at our gate, spend some time with her, and then she'd often try to follow me in and I'd have to gently shoo her out again. She was fed by my neighbours and other nice people, but it was understood that she was "my" special dog and that I was the person to call if she needed help.

The best moment of last year was when I finally brought her home with me, with Lalee wagging her tail as we entered the apartment.

My friends remind me that she was 14, that she spent her last days secure and loved as a pet dog and our family member, that her wish came true in the last year of her life, that she would have died earlier if she'd been left on the street, that she didn't suffer for very long. I'm grateful for the messages and I know that all these things are true, and that they will eventually bring some degree of consolation. But words don't mean anything much so soon after the loss. We all know that.

Earlier posts about Puppy's time with us: Teaching a 13-year old Puppy new tricks, The girls, Puppy's silent Diwali.

These are the last pictures we took of her. Of course at the time we had no idea that she had just a few days left to live.

December 14 - wrapped up on a chilly morning

31 December 2010: Puppy and Lalee, clicked by Kiran

Below: 31 December 2010 - Puppy and Lalee, afternoon nap in the sun. You can see the scars from an old burn wound on Puppy's side. She used to sleep under parked taxis when she was a street dog, and she probably got burned from the silencer or some other car part. That was about six or seven years ago.

I miss you Puppy sweetheart. Thank you for being my friend for so many years.

Rest in peace.


Puppy's tick fever titre test had shown positive, and I believe that was the cause of her death: the disease flared up and she showed symptoms in the last few hours of her life. In hindsight I think she had had a mild attack soon after her hospital stay, but it was not diagnosed at the time. In hindsight I feel I would have done many things differently, but we don't always get a second chance.

Lalee also tested "medium positive" for tick fever (ehrlichia canis). Her treatment is going on and her last blood test indicates that she is responding. She has never shown any obvious symptoms.

I don't want to spread alarm, but I urge dog owners not to take ehrlichia or any other tick-borne disease lightly. Dogs don't have to be loaded with ticks to get these diseases: a single tick could infect them. Mumbai has good facilities for detecting the disease, and good vets experienced in treating it. In ageing dogs or others with possibly lower immunity, it might be a good idea to get blood tests done routinely.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Urgent: Puppies for adoption, Navi Mumbai

These beautiful pups are the survivors in a litter of six. Their brothers are dead.

Animal lover Anupam Katkar took these little boys in to save them from being mowed down by traffic. Please help getting them good homes - circulate this appeal!

From Anupam:

"These pups were born in a heap of garbage. Their mother was/is in bad shape. She has half a tail and limps. They were a litter of six - ALL boys! Four were black and white, and two were white.

Whenever I would go to feed them, the mother would let the pups eat and wouldn't eat anything herself. By now, she had become skin and bones. The pups were in danger of vehicles running them over. People see pups and yet they just don't care ...

Yesterday, in a span of 24 hours, two pups died. One is missing, presumably dead. When I went to feed them, one of the black and white pups was lying in a pool of blood - roadkill. One of the white pups was lying dead in another trash heap - also dead.

Of the three remaining pups (these three), the one on the right had gotten run over by an MUV. He couldn't raise his lower body yesterday. He's standing and limping today and seems a bit stronger. I brought him home, then fed the mother, had her say goodbye to the two healthy pups (she understood, kissed them and then left) and brought them home too - before another tragedy.

Let's call them, from left to right, T2, T1 and T3. Why T? Well why not."

Contact Anupam:

Navi Mumbai

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Picolo snowfest

What a relief, after poor Ghattu's story, to read about a happy loved INDog and a caring owner with a conscience. It was therapeutic for me to post this, after the sickening case of Ghattu's owners.

Here's June's Picolo in Copenhagen, knee-deep in snow. Like many other Non-Resident INDogs, he seems to love the stuff!

Read Picolo's story here.

"We have lots of snow here in Copenhagen and temperatures have plummeted to the minus digits," says June. "The temperatures are the coldest Copenhagen has had in the last 20 years! Picolo's adaptability has surprised me. From a typical skinny short-haired desi dog, he has morphed into a furry winter dog."

"He loves the snow and can't stop playing in it."

"But there are days when he refuses to get out of bed and we have sumo wrestling competitions where we try to push him out of the door for his walk and he pushes back to remain inside."

(Sounds like what Lalee does in Nagaon early in the morning - without the excuse of snow outside!)

And here's a beautiful New Year card from Picolo. Thanks June and Picolo!

Photos: June Basar

Ghattu, victim of an inferior INDog-owner

Amid all the happy INDog stories, let's not forget that the third-rate low-life kind of dog owner is still flourishing all over the country (and of course the world), and many unlucky dogs of all breeds suffer because of this rubbish class of people.

It's a sad coincidence that this incident took place in Ahmedabad, because similar things happen everywhere after all. However, Ahmedabad seems to be particularly full of tragic animal stories, many about dogs and others about the mass butchering of birds during their famous kite-flying festival. Gandhi would have been proud of this city, wouldn't he?

Here's the story of Ghattu's sad little life, reported by my friend who witnessed it.

"It's a happy thing when a street dog becomes a pet dog and gets a loving home....but too sad when a pet dog gets abandoned and is forced to live as a street dog again.

"This happened to poor Ghattu....our 'animal-loving' neighbours' dog who was living with them since she was a small puppy. They'd been planning to move to Canada for a long time, and sometimes they talked about taking Ghattu along, and sometimes they said that a relative with a farm house will take care of her. I stopped asking them what would happen to Ghattu when they leave because I had the impression that they will take care of her or at least find her a place.

"On 4 December, the woman of the family asked me in the afternoon whether I knew anyone who would take Ghattu. She said she is worrying about her because they are leaving for Canada on the 5th evening. How stupid is that??? Hardly 24 hours before departure, it came into their minds to think about their dog....I couldn't believe it! When I told her that the idea of finding her a new home had come just a bit late, a day before leaving, she just ignored it and the next day, none of them said good bye to us."

"And Ghattu was on the road now. The very next morning, the grandparents kicked her out, kept a water plate and food plate outside the gate and locked it. That was it, Ghattu was thrown out after two years of staying mainly indoors, or semi-indoors, mostly on a tiny balcony...She was not toilet trained (that's why they kept her always on that balcony) and she was also not friendly with other female dogs, except the one in the colony who was her mother.

"Ghattu tried to enter many peoples' homes the next day, through any open door, she was inside...and was loudly shoooed off.

"Surprisingly, she didn't bark or howl at all after they left and after she was thrown out. I think she quickly realized what kind of people she had stayed with all her life and that they were not worth missing or mourning. The clever girl joined our society dog pack and the alpha male seemed to like her a lot, which meant that within a short time, she would have her own puppies because she was not sterilized. When I went for a walk with my dogs, she followed us but then spent her time on the garbage dump outside the colony gate or roamed around inside the colony. I hoped no-one would call the AMC again."

"And now she has passed away already.

"I hadn't seen her for a few days and when I asked the grandparents of the family, they told me she had had foam on her mouth and died the very next day. May she rest in peace. I hope she'll meet Bandra and other departed dogs and she can forget about the short and sad life she had among careless and hopelessly selfish people who pretended to like her but actually killed her by leaving her out on her own.
"Once again a sad Amdavadi dog story, one among plenty here. Let's hope for justice in 2011 and as you said, more respect for INDogs. But here, it has to start with the very basics such as that INDogs deserve to live...respect, care, recognition are still very very far away in this part of Gujarat...I never came across any Gandhian spirit here, it's nothing but ironic to call this city Gandhi's place."
I'm sure like most Indians (and unlike me), Ghattu's former owners are very religious people, observe all known rituals and consider themselves deeply moral. Here's my New Year message for all such hypocrites.
Read the Mahabharata, it begins and ends with dog stories. If you are barely literate, ask someone to tell you how this great epic ends.

The short version: King Yudhistir reaches Heaven after a long and difficult journey across the Himalayas. His brothers and wife have fallen on the way; his only companion is a dog who has followed him faithfully to the end. But the dog is denied entry. And Yudhistir refuses to enter Heaven because to abandon the creature would be profoundly sinful.

Fortunately the dog is actually the god Dharma in disguise, and this was a test of the king's character.

Would all Indians - god-fearing, scripture-reading, holier-than-thou as they mostly are - pass such a test of character?

Possibly not.
They fail it every day, every time one of them betrays and abandons an innocent animal. I piously pray for the same fate for all such human waste products.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

INDog in the East

This year's first "success story" is about Shanti: possibly the first INDog ever to have travelled to Japan!

Beautiful red Shanti belongs to Scott Rothstein. I have to admit, I'm a bit partial to red dogs, obviously because of Lalee!

"When I was living in Delhi (2000-4) we found this dog on the streets," writes Scott. "At that time, she was almost dead. You could see every bone in her body and she was very sick.

"We took her in and she has been with us ever since."

"After Delhi, she lived in Tokyo for four years and now lives with us in Bangkok...

"Very happy people are starting to care about these dogs !"

And I'm so happy to hear of another loved and cared-for Indi. Hoping to hear of many more this year!

Photos: Scott Rothstein

Hello 2011

Here's to a wonderful year, full of hope, and success, and fun, and friends, and lots of Indi adoptions.

A New Year kiss from Kimaya, for her best friend Brownie...

Brownie gets a kiss from Kiran too

My first post of 2010 was Lalee and Kimaya's "Salad" picture, which I also used as a card this year. Now here are Lalee and Brownie grazing on our lawn...

Read about Brownie in Lady and the Tramp

This dog is everything human men should be, but usually are not. Brave, chivalrous, very intelligent, strong, loyal, sweet-tempered and very gentle. Now if only he'd stop chasing cars!!! I'd have held him up as a role model for the human race.

Happy New Year everyone.