About Me

My photo
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, 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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The red dog and the sea

Lalee HATES the sea.

She likes the beach and the sand, and marking spots where other dogs have peed, and she specially likes rolling in places where the sand smells horrible (rotting fish is a favourite fragrance).

But water and waves, she does not like.

The sea is for aquatic creatures like fish and cetaceans and octopi and Kimaya.
Lalee is determined to remain, exclusively, a terrestrial being.

Last week I tried to convince her that splashing in the sea is a joyful activity that every dog should experience. I had to lead her in on her leash, not too deep but just to belly-level. In fact I had to lure her with treats to even get her in that far. Getting a cat in the sea would be easier.

Kimaya adores the sea, as you may have seen in this recent post about Lalee's tenth birthday celebrations.

Above, below: Kimaya played in the sea with Brownie, as usual.

She tried to get Lalee enthused about the water...with no success.

She even tried to free Lalee from bondage, hoping it would be more fun for her that way.
It wouldn't. Lalee would have bolted to the shore in a couple of seconds.

Kimaya looks out at the sea; Lalee looks longingly in the opposite direction.

When will this torture end? Can we go back please?

Photos taken with my phone (except for the slideshow pictures)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reunion in Toronto

Last month Pete and Lisa met for the first time since his adoption and journey to Canada one and a half years ago.

Pete's mom Sarah is a wonderful photographer, so there are lots of beautiful pictures of the reunion. Here are a few I asked Sarah to share with us.

For those who haven't read about Pete in this blog, he started life as a scrawny pup on the streets of Ahmedabad. Then Lisa rescued him and made a video for his adoption. His name was "Hugo Boss" at the time. Sarah saw the video in this blog and fell in love with him.

I remember I was in Chorla Ghat, Goa, when puppy Pete was on his way from Ahmedabad to Toronto. I had no signal and I kept wondering how he was doing on the long flight.

Follow Pete's story in this blog: here are his adoption video, his journey to Canada,
his first winter in Canada, and here he is playing with Jorja.

You'll find more posts if you enter "Pete" in the search box.

Above: With Sarah, Jorja and Lisa

Pete is one of the very few lucky dogs who got away from Ahmedabad. If it hadn't been for Lisa and Sarah, this pup would have ended up being killed by the criminal, corrupt Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation; or else left on the Pirana garbage dump like thousands of dogs there. I've heard of even pet dogs being harassed in that lawless uncivilized city. Mumbai's citizens and corporation are a million times more decent and evolved in comparison.

Thanks Sarah for these very special portraits, and most of all for giving Pete this blissful life!
Photos: Sarah O'Neill

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Indies in watercolour

I love these! Fun portraits of Lisa's dogs in Vietnam, painted by her friend Annie Knibb. The last one is by Lisa.

Above: Penelope and Button, born in Gujarat, playing on the beach in Vung Tau

Above: Desi boy Shakespeare (Shakers) by the sea.

Above: Peaceful scene at home. In the bottom left hand corner is Ratatouille, resident rodent at the time this was painted. He was later dispatched by the other quadrupeds in this painting.

Above: This one, not so peaceful, is by Lisa!

Click here to see Lisa's dogs playing in the South China Sea.

Lisa and Annie, thanks for letting me share these!

Paintings: Annie Knibb, Lisa Warden
Vung Tau

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tommy, Chinky and Steffi

Manik just sent me pictures of Tommy and Chinky and I'm so pleased to see them again! It's been a while since they appeared in this blog.

Read about Manik's beautiful family in these earlier posts.

There are pictures of black-and-tan Steffi in this set too. She's a street dog who had a huge growth. Manik fostered her for two weeks and nursed her back to health.

Above, below: My favourites - Tommy sitting on a bench with his friend, Uncle Babu bhai, a milkman in the area

Above, below: Tommy, handsome as ever

Above: Chinky the brown beauty. Her left ear is ruined because of the identification notch made after neutering. A sad thing, but such identification marks are needed so the public, and NGOs, and municipal dog-catching teams, know that they are neutered and don't admit them for spaying again. Of course Chinky became Manik's house pet later, so there was more no need for this kind of identification, but a notch is unfortunately irreversible.

Above: Steffi, the guest. She developed a huge growth after a collision with a vehicle. At first it seemed like a malignancy, but the dog is blessed - it was just necrotic tissue. She was treated (absolutely free of charge) by Dr Umesh Karkare and the surgeon Dr Uttara, and thanks to them and Manik's care, she's absolutely fine now and back in her old spot on the street.

Stay out of trouble Steffi, and stay safe!

Photos: Dr Manik Godbole


This little doll is called Annie and she lives with Callie and Charles Maddox in Sonipat, Haryana. Callie and Charles, thanks for choosing an Indi and for being such responsible owners!

Callie sent in these lovely photos and Annie's story:

We didn't take the decision to adopt a street dog lightly. We wanted to make sure that we could return to the USA with a dog from India, as we had heard too many heartbreaking stories about expats adopting dogs and then having to leave them behind when they moved on. We certainly couldn't face that, so we researched the process thoroughly before making the decision to adopt a dog here.

We adopted Annie at the DLF mall in Saket, Delhi. There is a rescue agency that runs a puppy adoption stall outside of the mall, and we wanted to support the work that this agency is doing. So we stopped by the stall one day and immediately fell for Annie. She was so tiny, but she was climbing over the bigger puppies with an adventurous and curious spirit.

The volunteer working at the stall told us that her mother had been hit by a car and killed, so Annie was now an orphan. She didn't even have any siblings in her litter.

Needless to say, our hearts melted and we knew that Annie had to be a part of our family. We scooped her up, bought some supplies at the nearby pet store, and took her home to Sonipat.

Of course, she pooped on Charlie during the car ride home and then threw up on Callie. But we didn't care!

We were a bit nervous about adopting her so young, as it is illegal in the USA to adopt a puppy younger than eight weeks old. But we kept her warm, comforted her when she cried in the night, and fed her bowls of infant cereal until she grew big and strong enough to transition to puppy food.

Her favorite toy is a rubber chicken, she loves to eat carrots and bananas, and she enjoys cuddling on the couch.

Needless to say, she is an absolute joy. Full of energy, intelligence, and love.

Annie is making her first trip to the USA this summer, so we'll let you know what she thinks about it!

Photos and story: Callie and Charles Maddox

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

INDog at the lake, Kolkata

One more black INDog from Bengal, clicked by me this time. Black-and-tan actually. I saw this dog sleeping next to Dhakuria Lake on my last trip to Kolkata in December 2010. It's quite cold at night and early morning and the dog was curled up tight on a heap of dried leaves.