About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels 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 natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Friday, May 28, 2010

In Memoriam: Life with - and without - Piccolo



To my friends around the globe who love dogs and know how much they mean to me...

Pickles, formally known as Piccolo Pachiavelli Chatterjee del Jagatpur, passed away very unexpectedly one week ago, on May 20, 2010, at our home in Ahmedabad.

I saw him first in the spring of 2009, lying on the road in the hot, dusty, village of Jagatpur outside Ahmedabad. In fact, what I thought I was looking at was a dead dog, lying as he was in a crumpled, emaciated, twisted heap. As fate would have it, I had to pass through the village on a regular basis to get to a class I was attending. The next day, I saw the carcass again, but further down the road. I thought some dogs had dragged it down there to eat it.

On my way through Jagatpur the following week, I came across a scrawny puppy near the village tea stall. I asked the driver to stop so I could feed him some biscuits. As I was doing so, I heard a dragging sound off to my right. I looked up and couldn't believe it. It was the crumpled canine heap I had taken for dead, straining to pull himself over to me -- or, rather, to the biscuits I was feeding the pup. I could see that he had been run over. His back was broken, as were his hind legs. He was bone-jarringly thin and caked all over with mud and filth. I was shocked to see a creature in such a condition. The top sides of his back legs were raw and bloody. They had no skin left on them as a result of dragging himself around. I couldn't believe he was still alive, let alone able to make it over to me. He devoured the biscuits and whatever else edible I could find in the car.

For the next two weeks I brought him a full meal each time I passed through Jagatpur. "Crumplestiltskin", as I initially called him, didn't seem to be friendly. It wasn't that he was aggressive towards me -- it's just that he didn't display any overt signs of warmth or appreciation, other than scarfing down the food I brought him as quickly and desperately as possible.

When my class was finished, I was terribly worried about what would become of Crumplestiltskin. How would he possibly survive? We had just moved out of a hotel in the city and into a house with a big walled garden. I decided that if he would let me pick him up and put him in the car without biting me, I would bring him home to our garden and give him somewhere comfortable to live -- or die -- with dignity. I would have the vet examine him; she could euthanize him there if she decided there was no hope for him.

My heart was pounding on d-day as I approached Jagatpur. First of all, I didn't know if Crumplestiltskin would allow me to pick him up and put him in the vehicle. Secondly, I knew I would have to do it fast. Unusually for India, the locals had not exactly been friendly during the previous two weeks whenever I stopped to feed the dog. Remarkable only for its bleakness, the village appeared deserted until I showed up. Then, out of nowhere the villagers would instantly emerge and converge, forming an intimidating circle around me while I fed the dog. They were pushy and curious in an aggressive, almost hostile manner. It didn't feel good. My plan felt like some kind of commando hostage rescue operation. I prayed my socks off all the way there and choreographed the whole thing in advance with the driver. We rehearsed in our heads: stop, jump out, driver opens back door, I grab dog. If dog bites me or tries too hard to fight, we abort the mission. If he doesn't, I throw him in the vehicle, driver slams door, we jump back in the van and wheel it out of there.

Amazingly and miraculously, it all went according to plan. When we got to Jagatpur, Crumplestiltskin was waiting for us in his usual spot down from the tea stall. We pulled over, jumped out of the van, and moved into position. I went straight to the dog, took a deep breath, and took him by the scruff with my left hand. To my immense and immediate relief, he looked at me with his deep, dark, beautiful eyes and offered not a shred of resistance. I then scooped up his hind end with my other arm, walked over to the van, and placed him on the quilt in the back of the car. The driver shut the door, we hopped backed in, and tore out of there before anyone knew what was going on. Wow, mission accomplished. Spent adrenaline flooded my veins and made me wobbly.

When I got Crumplestiltskin home, I put a folded quilt out in the shade in the garden on which I placed his emaciated body. He collapsed into an exhausted, relieved sleep.

Over the next two days I realized it was not that Crumplestiltskin was unfriendly; it was just that he hadn't a shred of strength left with which to do anything other than cling to life. The vet advised deworming, feeding and rest. As for the prognosis, we would just have to wait and see. What I also began to learn shortly after getting him home was that in this crumpled, broken heap of a skeletal dog was a well of love, devotion, gratitude and personality the depths of which I would be lucky ever to experience again.

As for his name, we knew "Crumplestiltskin" was only temporary. We were committed to "uncrumpling" him and blessing him with as good a life as we could, for as long as he was with us. On his second day at home, as he looked at me with those incredibly beautiful, dark, expressive eyes, it jumped out and practically screamed at me: "Piccolo!!!" I don't know why, but it was just perfect.

Over time, as perfection inevitably gets worn and tattered, "Piccolo" became "Pickles", which eventually became "Pickles the Incontinent of the Subcontinent" as we realized his bladder control was sporadic at best.

Within a matter of weeks we took in two adorable small puppies we found on a construction site near our home. Not to be outdone by the little charmers, Pickles made sure they knew he was top dog, and took pleasure in bossing them around. As they grew bigger, he grew stronger. In retrospect, getting our pups Button and Penelope when we did worked to renew Pickles' zest for life. He had a new pack to manage, and a new reason to live.

When Hugo, the skinny little pup who was eventually triumphantly adopted by Sarah and Ryan in Canada, joined the mix last fall, Pickles did a great job babysitting and playing with the little cutie. He adored little Hugo (now "Pete") and was so happy to have him in the pack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ji01b5nbTI

When the puppies were old enough, we began taking them for walks in our neighborhood. Pickles couldn't come, of course. He managed quite well dragging himself around the garden and the house as long as he had protective leg bands on, but the road surface was far too rough for him. He would wait at the gate, peering through the gaps, howling and whining until we returned. We knew we had to do something ... and we did. Pickles eventually got a high-tech, custom-made wheelchair from Doggon Wheels in the US. It was hand-carried from Texas to Ahmedabad by his Uncle Coke, and it was fabulous.

Here's an exuberant Pickles on his inaugural expedition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe5LtEjqcqQ

Pickles loved his wheelchair so much, he was absolutely ecstatic. Normally it takes a dog a while to get accustomed to a wheelchair (we had one before, for a paralyzed dog in the US.) Not Pickles. The first time we put him in it and took him out he was actually squealing for joy! I've never seen anything like it. Talk about gratitude. Whenever we would pass a street dog on our walks, or one would pass us, Pickles would break into a sprint and make chase. It was like he was trying to make up for the time he lost while he was incapacitated. It was hilarious. The street dogs were all afraid of him, even the tough and dominant ones, because in his wheelchair Pickles looked like something that had just dropped down from outer space. They would all run away at high speed, which made it even more fun for Pickles. He became quite a little celebrity in the neighborhood. His exuberance was a joy to behold.

Along with his new wheelchair, Pickles got from America another miracle of modern technology -- waterproof, breathable doggy diapers. Once we got his diapers, Pickles was able to enjoy the inalienable canine right of every house dog: that of lounging on the living room sofa. Formerly, due to his incontinence, he could only watch from his washable bed on the floor as Penelope and Button relaxed on the sofa or the easy chairs. But now that he was leak-proof, not only could he come up like them; he was given the prime spot ... on the couch with me (or was it me who now had the prime spot next to Pickles? Somehow I think it was the latter.) Daily sofa snuggles and naps with his mom became standard fare. Pickles was overflowing with life. To survive what he went through in Jagatpur and bounce back with such joy and determination was one thing. But it was a sheer marvel to watch him blossom into doggy exuberance once he had both his wheelchair and his doggy diapers. Andrew would say to me, "Is it my imagination or is this dog even happier than he was before?" These two items increased his quality of life to such an extent that he went over the top on the happiness scale. I could tell he felt like a real prince.

At night, when it was time for the dogs to go outside for a last tinkle before bedtime, I would carry him to the back patio while Button and Penelope, the junior Duke and Duchess of Squirtsworth, scampered on ahead. Piccolo would relax into my arms with no resistance and assume what always struck me as a regal stance, as if it was fitting and right that he should be carried. Only at this time would his ears go out sideways -- just like Yoda's -- and during this nightly procession it always struck me that I was carrying the veritable reincarnation of some ancient, high-ranking Buddhist sage or lama. "Kundun, Kundun," I would whisper into his ear, and kiss his face. (Kundun is a title by which the Dalai Lama is addressed.) In return he emanated sheer lotus-like bliss and tranquility.

Soon he became a celebrity in the greater city of Ahmedabad. Vasundhara Vyas Mehta, a journalist at the Times of India who has written some fabulous street dog stories this past year, arranged for Piccolo's story to run on the front page of the Times. It was great. All kinds of people wanted to meet him, and others wrote to me asking where they could get wheelchairs for paralyzed dogs. Then, just last week, Pickles' story ran state-wide on the Gujarati TV station, GTPL, as part of a feature about Indian street dogs. They came to film him at our house. Piccolo truly made an impact on people's perception of these noble creatures who, sadly, are poorly regarded in India.

Tragically, one night last week I received a devastating SMS while I was away from Ahmedabad: Pickles had died.

Nothing could have prepared me for the shock, for the detestable realization that Pickles, one of the focal points of our existence and the wholly unexpected light of my life, was no more.

Now, as I navigate my way through the potholes of grief, I'm starting to surface long enough to recount something of his effervescent life, and what happened to cut it short.

Three weeks ago, when I was still in Ahmedabad, Pickles got quite ill. It turned out he had eaten a dead rat that had been poisoned (not by us). He was vomiting everything, finally old blood, and got extremely dehydrated. He was on two intravenous drips per day, anti-biotics and so forth. I was scheduled to leave for Vietnam, but had decided to postpone my departure in order to care for him. After a few days his blood work came back ok, indicating that his organs were not damaged. His wonderful veterinarian felt that he was out of danger by that point, and cleared me to leave.

Our driver, who looks after the dogs when we are away, was staying in the house and taking Piccolo to the vet every day for his meds, rehydration drips and so forth. Although he had lost a lot of weight, Pickles was healing nicely and finally felt well enough to eat again -- plain yogurt was all he was interested in initially. I was so thrilled that he was on the mend.

However, within a few of days of regaining his appetite, Piccolo became very constipated and dehydrated and started vomiting again. The vet put him back on the IV drips and gave him a laxative. The next afternoon, at the vet's office again, Piccolo, although dehydrated and by now very thin and tired, was active and not in pain. The driver took him home, then went out to do some errands. When he came back late that night, he found Pickles dead. He immediately called the veterinarian, who was shocked and devastated. Piccolo's vet had walked with us every step of the way since we got Pickles, encouraging us and helping us nurse him back to health. Any other vet would have given up hope for him when I first plucked him off the roadside. Even I thought he was probably a euthanasia candidate at that time. It was his vet that convinced me otherwise, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her. She had helped renew Piccolo's lease on life, and here she was confronted with the shocking news of his death.

She rushed to the clinic in the middle of the night and had the driver bring Pickles' body in to do a post-mortem. She called me later to tell me that, tragically, it was not his illness that had killed Piccolo. She found that he had eaten one of his protective leg bands. It had become lodged in his digestive tract and caused a complete blockage. She could see from the condition of his gut that the leg band had not been in there for more than 72 hours. What must have happened was that once Piccolo was well enough to eat again, he was getting yogurt but was still ravenous (although he was refusing bread) and wanted something more. Somehow he got hold of one of the leg bands, ate it, and it soon obstructed his gut. When it finally got to the point of blocking his digestive tract, he would have experienced excruciating pain, and then shock, before dying. Apparently his mouth was filled with dirt and mud when the vet started the post-mortem. So before he died, Piccolo had been trying desperately to do something to clear the blockage and stop the pain by trying to eat dirt. A fighter till the end.

The permutations and contortions of grief are cruel and unpredictable. For instance, I cannot help but dwell repeatedly on the irony that Piccolo managed to survive terrible trauma as an ownerless street dog (being hit by a car), with no help from anyone, only to die as a pampered pet as a result of ingesting something I designed (the protective leg bands) to augment his quality of life. What's that they say about good intentions?

Oh the regrets I have, about not taking him for a million more walks in his wheelchair, which he loved so much; about not kissing him a million more times; about not letting him eat more rawhide bones. God, when death hits you like this, as a totally unexpected shock, it is a terrible thing.

In any event, these details -- the kind that threaten to drive one mad with remorse and endless analysis -- are now moot. My Pickles is gone, and I am struggling to deal with the devastation. Feelings of guilt, horror at the intensity of the pain he suffered, the needlessness of it all, how I never should have left him in the care of someone ill-equipped to look after him, that he died alone shrieking for his last breath, struggling to survive, etc. etc. -- these all emerge with monotonous regularity and pummel me into a quivering mass of anxiety, dread and nausea. The road from gut-wrenching grief to the beginnings of acceptance is not a linear one. One moment, you surprise yourself by managing to talk about it without breaking down. You think you're starting to heal, to get past it, when you slam into another unexpected chasm of pain and the whole thing starts all over again. So goes the mental torment.

In my grief while I was crying out to God about this, about why he didn't jolt me and make me think to ask for an x-ray or ultrasound of Pickles' abdomen in time to save him (something for which I'm having trouble forgiving myself), I got an overwhelming sense that "there is a reason", but that I'm not capable of understanding it. I said to God, "so you mean I'm too stupid to understand why?" "Yes, if you want to put it that way" was the answer, "and there's a reason for that too." (It often occurs to me how much damage we humans have wreaked with our current "intelligence" level. If we were any smarter, we'd really be in trouble.)

The notion that there is a reason why this happened, that it might just be positive in the greater scope of the universe, and that such things are beyond me at this point, gave me some consolation in my despair. But then, through the head games of grief, I started to think I had made it up just to let myself off the hook. A day later I got an email from my dad in which he wrote "I hope and pray that you will come to realise that what happened was not your fault or punishment, but rather one of those acts of fate or destiny or the Lord's will---however one wants to look at it---which we are not capable of understanding but can only accept." That, and the outpouring of love for Pickles that has come from my friends and family has buoyed me up just enough to start moving beyond complete despair.

Something for which I will be eternally grateful is the utter exhilaration and enthusiasm with which Pickles lived his life. He was so happy and so very funny that he has left me with a treasure chest full of memories that bring a smile to my face. Some cause me to laugh out loud, even now. The balance in the wineskin of sadness is tipping. With each tear shed it gets replenished with a happier tonic -- an elixir sweetened by our experience of Piccolo's sheer joy at living and loving and being loved.

I would have liked to bury Piccolo in a beautiful, peaceful place, but Ahmedabad has proven to be so very cruel a place for street dogs that it didn't feel right to leave him here, even in death. Piccolo has been cremated, and we will bring his ashes with us when we leave India next month. A few, however, will remain. With some of his ashes I will be anointing the heads of the Indian street dogs he loved to run with in our neighborhood in Kalhaar once he got his wheelchair. It seems a fitting tribute, and my prayer is that it will serve to bless those noble ones we must leave behind.

In love and sadness, and gratitude for his triumphant life,

Lisa Warden

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Lake of Swans











Deepa (Poyyayil) needs no introduction in this blog. This exceptionally handsome INDog has been living in Switzerland for a year and a half now, with Nicole's parents. She is a gentle sociable creature and has friends from across the animal kingdom (excepting mice, which she prefers to hunt). Here she is looking at a species that she wouldn't have met in India: the Mute Swan, a bird of ethereal beauty that has inspired ballet choreographers and dancers among other artistic souls. (I admire them hugely myself and am just a wee bit envious of Europeans for having them).

We have lots of earlier posts about Deepa here. Follow her life and journey through these links:
Her baby pics,Town dog, country dog, Deepa and friends,
Deepa, Bandra and Lalee, Deepa in christmas card country, Deepa and assorted friends,
The Indi and the cat, Part 3, Aggression, Deepa and the baby, Excavations, Sticks.

I have a special place in my heart for Deepa, not just because I've had a couple of nice meetings with her but also because of her close resemblance to Lalee. When Nicole sent me these photos I drew my husband's attention to them, a difficult task as he was glued to his laptop at the time. When he finally looked at my screen he said "What's Lalee doing there?!!"

I think apart from her build and general colouring, it's something in her expression that makes her very similar to my Red Queen. Dignity? Something like that.


Photos: Nicole Poyyayil
Doerflingen,
Switzerland

Smoke!

Recently I got an email that made me really proud.

It was from a dog lover called Pawankumar Singh, and here's what it said: "It was your blog and posts of people who really love dogs that helped me convince my wife and parents to adopt an Indi dog."

That put a really big smile on my face. Great to know our efforts aren't totally in vain and we are helping to change attitudes! Thanks, all you fantastic Indi owners who take the trouble to send me your pet's photos and stories. Let's keep showing off our wonderdogs in this space!

So here's Pawan's little friend Smoke (he also calls the pup Tinkaabell):





"During my schooldays I made several attempts to adopt an Indi dog but failed...my parents were against it," Pawan writes. "But this time after lots of persuasion they agreed and finally we got in a street pup from our neighbourhood. We named him 'Smoke' because my dad was fuming with anger at us for adopting a street dog. But now he loves and adores him the most."





Who wouldn't love this pup? Look at his expressions!









Pawan, I'm sure all the readers of this blog would congratulate you on your choice. Lucky little Smoke and lucky you. Indis are the best!!

Photos: Pawankumar Singh
Airoli
Navi Mumbai

Minnie-Me needs a home!







An appeal from Namitta Shankar:

This is Minnie-Me from Mumbai. She was found on the road in terrible shape, flea-infested, a burn wound on her back (apparently some school kids tried burning the mother and pups to have some "fun"). She was too weak to even open her eyes and absolutely not in a position to stand. Her siblings got crushed under a car and she was the only survivor.


I took her in and have nursed her back to health. She's been with me for almost a month and a half and she has shown very good progress.

Minnie-Me has a lovely temperament and is extremely loving and patient. She sleeps well at night without disturbing anyone. She has been dewormed and has been completely vaccinated (anti-rabies and 9-in-1). She is really playful and naughty and loves cuddling up and sleeping at night. If no-one is around she cuddles up against my dog and sleeps next to him, or even the pillow suits her fine. She is tiny in size but extremely brave and loves to bark with her tiny voice, whenever she wants to protest.

I will be leaving Mumbai soon and don't have anyone who can take care of her after that. Please help me find a good home for her. I don't want to send her to a shelter on on to the streets. She is an excellent dog and would make a delightful addition to any family.

Interested people can call me on +919820830463
.

Namitta Shankar
Mumbai

Pups for adoption, Thane



These cuties are in Thane. They live in Nolin Chitnis's housing society. The black and white one is male and the brown and white one female. Both parents are well-built with good height. The pups will probably grow up to be very handsome.

If anyone is interested in adopting them, please call Nolin on 9820927109 or email him at nolinchitnis@gmail.com

Photo: Nolin Chitnis
Thane


Monday, May 17, 2010

Pups for adoption, Mumbai



A male and female pup are available for adoption. They are about 6 weeks old and have been dewormed and treated for fleas. Both are healthy, playful and intelligent. Those interested should write to anisha.ratwani@gmail.com

Photo: Anisha Ratwani
Mumbai

Friday, May 14, 2010

Angel













Angel was one of the three or four dogs that I would feed biscuits, outside my office...she was always at a distance but at the same time the most trusting of them all (at least it looked like that).

She needed medical attention and I finally mustered the courage to pick her up from the street and take her to a vet, end of December '09. She stayed at the vet's clinic for a month as she needed medical attention for a venereal tumour and skin infections. It was the vet's grandchildren who gave her the name "Angel."

She has ever since been with me.


I did try, and every once in a while keep trying, to look out for a home that would do justice to her...I am a working person and I have to leave my dog and the cat at home for a while (separated of course) when I am at work. Somehow she has been true to her name, she's such an Angel...she has never been troublesome and has adapted to my life. Somewhere inside I know she will remain with me!

Sarabjeet Kaur
Hyderabad


Rajashree's note: This is so like my adoption of Lalee! I had admitted her to an NGO birth control centre to be spayed and she picked up Canine Distemper. I rushed her to the Parel hospital for treatment and she spent 10 days there, after which I brought her home to nurse her back to health. The plan was to return her to the golf course where she had originally lived. Then the plan changed and she was going to be our Nagaon dog. Then she got severe eczema and had to stay in our Mumbai apartment a little bit longer. Then of course it became obvious that she wasn't going anywhere! I used to work in an NGO at that time and would be out of the house for five or six hours a day. Like Sarabjeet I had guilt pangs about leaving her alone for so long, though there were two maids who came to the house at that time. But she isn't the kind of dog who needs company continuously and she adapted beautifully. Even now that she has Bandra and Puppy for company, she tends to sit apart from them most of the time.

Judy













Judy belongs to BB Singh of the Indian Air Force. One look at her pictures and it's easy to understand why she's the apple of his eye. Even Mrs Singh, who didn't like dogs earlier, absolutely dotes on her now (proof in the last pic!)

Judy was adopted by the Singhs in 2007. The PETA chaper in Coimbatore had put an ad for her in the paper The Hindu. For this staunch fan of desi dogs, buying a Eurobreed was never an option.

This is a very affectionate dog and also extremely playful and energetic. "Judy is the sunshine of my home," her proud owner writes. "With her love and affection, she has won everyone's heart. Her little acts of mischief keep the atmosphere alive."

Photos: B B Singh,
Coimbatore

Kaalu

The Sethi family have been trying to adopt Kaalu as a complete house pet, but there's one problem: Kaalu isn't co-operating! Deepak Sethi's story of this gentle and lovable canine. Here's hoping Kaalu will permanently join their household some day.









From Deepak:

I really wish that we could have Kaalu live in our house some day but my repeated attempts to make her stay in the house have failed, which is why I can't really refer to her as adopted. Still, me and my family consider her as our own! She is an absolute sweetheart and though her name represents black, she has filled our lives with colour!

My parents live in New Delhi and I have been in the US for sometime now. I've always thought of getting a four-legged pal but due to education and work commitments I would take a step back thinking I would not be able to give enough time and attention to my new family member especially since I stay away from family.

In November 2008, one day while talking to mamma, she mentioned that lately there's a street doggie who follows my father to our house every day on his way home from his morning walk. I thought God had finally answered my prayers!! And I was supposed to visit home around the same time for an extended period of time. As soon as we reached home from the airport, I was greeted by this lovely tail wagging baby, KAALU! Shiny black coat with amber eyes!!

Initially, my father thought Kaalu was a he until they noticed it was a she. However, Kaalu and we have gotten so used to her name that we wouldn't want to change it to something else. Kaalu is a gentle and friendly dog; it took me some time to really observe and get to know her. To understand her better, I got this book "How to speak dog" by Stanley Coren which talks about understanding a dog's body language and behaviour and that was really insightful.

Kaalu has been on the street since her childhood, I guess along with her mother and a brother. I was told by neighbourhood people that she and her brother were once taken away by the municipality. Her brother never returned but Kaalu was left back on our street again after a year. But ever since then, Kaalu has been extremely submissive and quiet; she rarely barks. Most people who visit our house get scared of her sitting in the lawn area due to her size and color, but she's never barked or bothered anyone.

The two things Kaalu loves most are milk and sleep!!

Every morning Kaalu waits in front of our gate to get in and have a bowl of milk for her breakfast. I tried to have some other additions to her diet like roti, bread, banana, biscuits, apple but she does not seem to like any of those. Hence, I finally just stuck with milk which I can see she really really enjoys!!! She then sits close to my dad's feet while he reads his newspaper and afterwards takes a long nap under his divan in the lawn. Late afternoon is when she gets up and starts stretching and wagging her tail. By the time it gets dark, she's ready to go on the street again and then return later to have dinner. This is something I tried to prevent so that she could stay in the house with us but to her the street seems to be her territory rather than the house. She would let out these tiny howls if I didn't let her out and would sneak out as soon as the gate opened for someone to come in.

Apart from her likes I also noticed over a period of time that she is probably scared of or dislikes water a lot. If I ever tried to water the plants, Kaalu would think she would get wet, and she'd immediately get up and hide underneath anything that she could find to protect herself. I have been really trying hard to find a way to give her a bath as she gets so dirty laying around in the street and it's probably not good for her skin too. However I just don't want to scare her and cause more agony. I once tried to wipe her a little with a wet tissue while she was relaxing but even the touch of wetness bothers her and she ran away again.

Kallu gets anxious with a lot of things which is why we always have to be careful about reading her body language. Since I knew that the municipality had once taken her away, I thought it would be a good idea to put a collar round her neck. With this, even though she roams on the street, people would think she is a house dog and wont take her away thinking she is a stray. I tried to introduce this with some treats so that Kaalu wouldn't get scared but as soon as she saw the collar, the poor thing immediately went into the submissive puppy pose. Hence, we always think twice before introducing anything new to her.

We always wait for early morning to go open the gate and meet Kaalu, her tail wagging is absolutely adorable! My sister was never a dog enthusiast and at first couldn't understand why I would always bring Kaalu up in my discussions and miss her so much when she wasn't around. Finally on her visit to Delhi when she met Kaalu, she's gotten so fond of her.

It's almost been a year and a half since Kaalu has been a part of our lives but I really hope some day she will trust us more and become a part of our house too!

Deepak Sethi
New Delhi

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dogs in leopard country







It's common knowledge in India that leopards have a special fondness for domestic dogs (as prey, obviously). Dogs in villages in and around forests are always at risk, which is why their owners in some areas try to protect them with spiked collars.

These interesting pictures were sent to me by Anil Juwarker. Anil manages the Vanishing Herds Foundation which works in Gir National Park, Gujarat. Apart from being the last remaining home of the Asiatic Lion, Gir has a thriving leopard population. This dog lives in a village on the forest periphery.

That's quite a terrifying contraption he's wearing. I love leopards (and all cats) so I certainly hope he is never attacked by one, or by another dog for that matter.


Thanks very much for the photos, Anil.

Photos: Anil Juwarker
Gir National Park
Gujarat

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Pi-dogs can't be trained...can they?"

It's half a century since the sun set on the British Empire. But in our country many colonial leftovers still remain, and I'm not talking about the High Court building or Victoria Memorial. I mean that large segment of people who still believe that only European breeds can be trained and disciplined, and that desi dogs are "wild." Yes!!! I've actually heard some people referring to INDogs/INDog-mixes as wild dogs!

This kind of attitude was common in my mother's generation (she's in her mid-70s) and surprisingly is still around today.

We Indi owners know that our dogs can be beautifully trained if we bother to train them. But perhaps we need to demonstrate that to the Fossils Of The Raj (any of you Fossils reading this blog? Nah, perhaps not).

So here's a demonstration, courtesy Sourabh Edwankar who clicked this picture and posted it in an e-group I belong to. It was taken at the IDA shelter in Mumbai.



From Sourabh's message:

"I had the good fortune to be at IDA (In Defense of Animals) today evening and witness the feeding schedule. I had reached there unannounced as I had some work in the area.

Krishna of IDA showed me the procedure...

The food was laid out in bowls (approximately 120 bowls). The dogs were disciplined like cadets and stood patiently for the roll call. As soon as the boys shouted for them in unison an amazing sight unfolded right in front of our eyes. A hundred dogs descended on the bowls of food (one to each bowl) and happily chomped away.

The food is dal and rice with some chicken legs. The smart and old residents selectively find the chicken legs from the bowls!

I was amazed at the discipline and the understanding of the signals. It was a truly amazing sight and needs to be shared among animal lovers."

Thanks Sourabh!

Years ago when I worked in WSD, the shelter dogs had been trained to feed exactly in this manner by two excellent wardboys, Hari Doraisamy and Ravi. Chance visitors would watch admiringly as over 100 dogs stood in queue and never jumped the line. No growls, no fights, no pushing and shoving.

Footnote: In concert intervals at the NCPA, struggling to reach the snacks counter but getting badly pushed about by the crowd, I would often wish the audience had been as well-behaved as the kennel dogs. Now I know what they need, all those diamond-and-chiffon clad Chopin fans: a little training from Hari, Ravi and Krishna.

Photo: Sourabh Edwankar (posted here with permission)
Taken at In Defence of Animals (IDA), Mumbai

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Portraits

















These were clicked by a friend, Kirti Chavan. One was taken in Mumbai and the others in Visapur Fort near Lonavala. Kirti's favourite subjects nowadays are flies and beetles but I think his dog portraits are superb. I nagged him into letting me post them here (and I'm also nagging him to click Lalee's portrait).

The top one is my favourite: life and innocence in a city of robots...

Thanks Kirti!

Photos: Kirti Chavan
Mumbai and Visapur Fort

Phoebe



Phoebe wearing her new Club tag. Pretty pretty pretty!

Click here for Phoebe's story.
Phoebe's on Facebook.

Photo: Sneha Koilada, Satya Kandala
Hyderabad

Picolo in Denmark



From the streets of Bombay to me...



...Bombay to Arunachal, a kidnapping attempt by boys in Arunachal who wanted to eat him and left him with a fractured paw and a permanent limp...



...a plane back to Bombay and finally to Copenhagen - it has been a long way for Picolo to get here to Denmark.



It is thankfully "spring" here and he seems to love the weather and had his first swim in the sea recently.





We get enquiries about his breed every now and then, people often comment on what a beautiful dog he is, especially his even brown coat, which I call curry coloured. Two people have asked me how they could get an INDog like him from India!



His foraging instincts are still strong so I am glad there is not much rubbish on the streets of Copenhagen. Picolo loves Copenhagen especially because people here are very dog-friendly, many stores allow pets inside, keep treats for them, and many parks and beaches allow dogs off the leash.



For all practical purposes, Picolo has been re-homed, since he lived with my sister for six months before I brought him here. He was very insecure and therefore quite aggressive towards other dogs and growled at people who approached him. We have been socializing him with other dogs and people every day and now he is finally a happy, well-adjusted dog who loves to play with other dogs and sometimes goes up to random strangers and starts licking them (perhaps a bit too friendly!)



Here he is having brunch with us at our favourite cafe. I hope I can say that I am a much happier dog owner in Copenhagen without meaning to compare it with Bombay. Pets are accepted as members of society and have access to more public spaces and public transport here. All outdoor cafes, like the one we usually go to, allow dogs. Picolo is turning into quite a city dog and loves riding trains, metro and buses.



When I was in India to pick up Picolo, the reaction I often got was "WHAT? You want to take this STREET dog with you?" Some eager ones advised me to use the money I would spend on bringing Picolo to Copenhagen on buying a "good breed" instead. My grouse here is not at their scorn at INDogs but at their attitude towards pets in general. I believe that once we adopt a pet, any pet, it is our responsibility to give them love, food and shelter for the rest of their lives. Owning a pet is not a hobby that can be discarded when it doesn't fit our schedule.

Unfortunately,
desi dogs seem to be lowest in the pecking order of pets that can be discarded or simply not worth the effort.

Getting Picolo to Denmark was a bureaucratic nightmare but well worth it. If there are others out there with questions on how to get your pet to Denmark, please post your queries on this blog and I will be happy to respond.

I would love to hear from others with INDogs in the Copenhagen area.

Text and photos: June Basar
Copenhagen
Denmark

Earlier posts on Picolo:
here and here.