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, October 14, 2012

Champu and Jebo


To provide some context, I live in Pune but my family also owns a house in Goa which we often visit. On one such trip, my parents decided to let me adopt a dog. Something I'd wanted all my life. It just took about 26 years of persistent nagging.

So that fateful weekend in Goa my parents and I trooped into a Rotary shelter, determined to bring home a canine companion. A visit to a dog shelter is always overwhelming – this one particularly was a cramped space with over 50-60 dogs and a few cats. Amazingly the cats seemed to have a more generous space with soft bedding; none of the dogs had that luxury. Feeling extra-generous towards my mum, I let her do the choosing. Anyway I would have been completely useless in this pursuit; there wasn’t one dog I saw that I did not want to take home.

The first dog that my mum went gaga over – was this tiny, fluffy bundle of white. Barely about two months old, she was hurt, whining and pacing around the cage. The volunteers told us that she was abandoned at one of the busiest intersections of Panjim – obviously, whoever left her there, wanted her to be run over. And she was. However, the man whose bike she got under was kind enough to immediately rush her over to a vet and was then advised to take her to the shelter. She had been here for just over a week, and was undergoing treatment. It was quite a pitiful sight and you really just wanted to scoop her up and never put her down again. But the volunteers were reluctant; they advised that since she was still undergoing treatment, we should look at other 'healthier' dogs.

We continued down the line and asked to see several other puppies – details of which I would rather not get into. We finally got to the dog that we would take home. At first look, there was nothing remarkable about these two lanky puppies in this one cage. If you ask my mum why she chose the one puppy over the other, she wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Unlike some other pups, who were flinging themselves onto the cage doors in a desperate attempt to get out, this young pup was backed up against the cage, reluctant to get out. When we picked him up it was clear that he was petrified and would much rather be in the cage. But mum decided - this was the one we were taking home.

So with a new brown pup in my arms, we got back home. I immediately named him Champu, short for Champak Lal. To say he was afraid is an understatement. The minute we would put him down he would run away to the nearest corner and cower. Fear spilled from his big brown eyes. After his first bath he even tried to jump off the balcony – it was such sheer torture!

The first corner Champ found at home

While I got busy with Champ and his vet visits (he was malnourished, had a skin infection, refused to eat for the first few days), mum could not stop obsessing over the tiny, hurt, white bundle we had left behind. She couldn’t get her out of her mind. So the next day, she went back to the shelter and took the puppy to the vet to ensure she was getting proper treatment. The feisty little bundle even bit the doc when he dropped her by mistake. My mum was enamoured some more!

Taking her to the vet - broke our hearts to leave her behind

The puppy was dropped back to the shelter, evidently with my mum’s heart. She obviously wanted to adopt her too, but we were not prepared to take two dogs home – not immediately at least. Amidst this chaos, one of the doctors showed concern that Champu could be suffering from parvo virus. This put the house into turmoil. Other vets also showed concern that parvo was a possibility (none of the shelter dogs were vaccinated). So the shelter suggested that I should leave Champu back in the shelter and consider adopting another dog. I wouldn’t have it. Champu was now my dog, and just because he might be sick, I wasn’t about to leave him there to die. Worse still, there seemed to be no test available to confirm that he was sick. Looking back now, maybe that was a good thing; the doubt made my parents let me keep him.

Champu loved to sit on my shoulder and just hide

So there were many ideas being floated around – do we adopt both dogs, do we not adopt Champ or choose the other dog (who was doing much better than before). I kept updating a friend back in Pune on the conversation. My distress was obvious. Then he suggested that he could adopt one dog – hallelujah! With much difficulty mum agreed that Anoop would adopt Jebo, short for Jalebi, and we would keep Champu. Jebo was got home, both dogs were vaccinated, and then we were on the road back to Pune.

Jebo - getting ready for the road trip

Champ sleeping in the car on the way to Pune

However, this was not the happy beginning that we all hoped for. When we got Jebo home, she was, for lack of a better word, listless. She would not respond to any sounds or sights. She would just plop down and not move. If anyone petted her, she would get up and plop down at a distance. She did not like being held – she just wanted to be left alone. She even ignored Champu who was very eager to play with her. She was living with Anoop by then. A string of vets told us that she could be blind 
and/or deaf, or could have irreparable neural damage. Once again however, no one could confirm this.

Jebo at the Goa house. Despite all Champ's attempts, Jebo
refused to play. She actually looked sad.

So it was a wait-and-watch game. And time was very kind to us. Turns out Champu was just weak and malnourished and Jebo was in shock. All the vets were proved wrong. Both dogs are now perfectly healthy and extremely naughty. They love going for their morning walks together, love fighting with each other and rule over our families!

This is the short version of the story. There is so much more to it. The story of how Champu pursued Jebo relentlessly. The story of how of my parents turned into ardent dog lovers. The story of how Anoop’s world changed. And this is just the beginning – the happy kinds. There are so many more stories to come!

Both pups soon after adoption

Four-month old Jebo chewing the iPad. On the screen is her
own first picture!

Jebo baby pics - above and below

Champ - those big brown eyes

Champ in Goa

Champ strutting

Jebo now

Jebo - look at them ears!

Champ - anything for a biscuit!

Story and photos: Neha Arora
Goa, Pune

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