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.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dogs we met in Sri Lanka

Kiran and I have just returned from a short but excitement-packed trip to South Sri Lanka.

We went for just a few days because we've become rather paranoid about our dogs after Puppy's sudden death, and we didn't want to be parted from Lalee and Kimaya for too long, though they have no serious health problems.

So we left for our first destination - Sinharaja rainforest - as soon as we reached Colombo; and in the next few days we visited Yala and Bundala, two beautiful seaside national parks, and also twice sailed out into the Indian Ocean from Dondra Point to watch Blue Whales.

Lots of time was spent in driving from one place to another, which is always an enjoyable experience in Sri Lanka because it's such a staggeringly beautiful country. And of course we got to see lots of dogs along the way. I didn't click many of them - too little time - but here are the few pictures I did take.

Above: Reception committee at the harbour in Mirissa

A pack of dogs lives at the harbour. They are all solid brown or black. They've learned to meet the boats returning from whale-watching trips and ask tourists for leftovers from their packed breakfasts.

This young male dog had a notch in one ear, and had been neutered. He wanders into the Mirissa Water Sports office and is probably a semi-pet there. Another of the dogs, a brown female, had an ear-notch too, I mean the kind made by animal welfare organizations to mark a dog as neutered. Nice to know that someone is looking after these dogs.

I can testify that cheese sandwiches and cake make up a substantial part of their diet. I also saw one of them being fed a heap of rice by a worker there and this is probably another regular source of food.

Above: The dog on the right has erect ears. She'd lowered them in a submissive display because she was asking people for food.

Below: These dogs were near Sinharaja. Both exactly like our INDogs. Look at the red one in the background on the left.

Above: Another dog near Sinharaja. He didn't like my staring at him and ran away when we called him. You probably can't tell from this blurred pic that he has a ribbon round his neck.

Below: This dog had longer fur and looked like a mix-breed.

My impressions of these free-ranging rural/semi-rural dogs - of course my impressions are completely superficial since I didn't spend much time observing them:
  • As in Indian villages, many of the dogs might be free-roaming pets
  • The dogs we saw were mostly red-brown or solid black, some were white with brown patches, a very few were black and tan, some were black and white, very few had any other colour or coat pattern. We saw no brindled dogs. I got the impression solid black dogs are more common there than in India.
  • There were a few mixed looking dogs, but most of them didn't seem to be mongrelized at all and were exactly like our pure INDogs. Most had erect ears, some had the tips of the ears dropped, and some had dropped ears. I am not talking about dogs in Colombo (I didn't spend much time in Colombo) but the ones along the highways in rural areas and small towns, or near the wilderness areas we visited.
  • The dogs are rather small compared to the INDogs we see in western India.
  • They are all friendly and don't seem scared of people, suggesting that they are not generally persecuted
  • We didn't see a single thin dog, all looked well-fed
  • A few of the dogs had skin problems
  • I didn't see a single dog with a maggot-infested wound in spite of the hot humid weather. Could that mean there are very few (or no) screw-worm flies? In Indian villages I visit, there are always fewer flies than in cities like Mumbai, because there is less edible garbage lying around.
  • There is very little exposed edible garbage all along the areas we travelled (south-west and south), and we never saw garbage dumps with dogs feeding off them, a common sight in India. However we saw plastic waste wherever there were fishing boats.
  • Our driver told us that many of the dogs are fed by people, and we also saw a couple of dogs eating heaps of rice apparently put out for them.
Sri Lanka


Bea said...

How lovely to read about Sri Lankan dogs. I lived in the mountains of Uva Province for 18 months (where I got Hari from) and never saw any maggot infected wounds - I did see lots of mange though.

Black and tan dogs seem to be rarer than black, white, black/white and brown dogs there too. I have been told that black and tan dogs are quite prized, and they do exist because Hari is one such example.

In the mountains the dogs looked very much like pure Pi dogs, but in Badulla there were lots with very long fluffy coats - cross breeds of some sort.

many people do feed the dogs and they are often pets. Sadly the ones that are considered pets in Uva are often chained up all day or kept in small cages.

Rajashree Khalap said...

Hi Bea! How are you and sweet Hari?
Uva is where Yala is so I must have been quite close to where you lived!
Another thing I noticed but forgot to write here, is that we didn't see any dogs run over on the highways and roads, though we were being driven around a lot. At least in those 4 days we saw no such road kill. We went from Colombo - Sinharaja - Galle - Mirissa - Bundala - Yala - back to Mirissa - back to Colombo. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. But in India I don't remember a SINGLE highway journey on which I didn't see at least one dog carcass on the road. I don't mean Mumbai, most people are very considerate here and do try to avoid hitting animals. But our highways are a different story. I don't know whether it means people are more careful drivers in Sri Lanka? I don't think so! And the dogs certainly aren't careful, we saw many sleeping on the road. Or perhaps dog carcasses are removed at once after a hit? What was your experience? My views are really very superficial as I said in the post, since I was only there for 5 days.