About Me

My photo
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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Indy and the Cat - Kim and Mim







Kimaya and MiniPini (aka Mim) are not the best of friends. Except in one place: the kitchen.

A little history: Mini hates dogs, with good reason, having almost got killed by them at the shelter where she used to live earlier.

Since December 2007 she's been living at our Nagaon house with Tabbyrani, with short annual trips to Mumbai for blood tests.

She was never scared of Lalee, Bandra, Lucy or Brownie since they rarely paid any attention to her.

Kimpy is a different story. She was still a boisterous pup when we adopted her, and her idea of fun was chasing and racing, the kind of games cats don't like to play with creatures much bigger than themselves, specially when they're the ones being chased. Rough dog games could easily kill a cat, and Kim is yelled at whenever she tries to start them. Mini is so scared of her she starts hissing and fluffing up as soon as Kim is anywhere close to her, even if Kim isn't doing anything at all.

But - there's a strange transformation in the kitchen of our Nagaon house. It's kind of like a Zone of Universal Love!

The kitchen happens to be Mini's favourite place. If you are one of those odd people who don't like cats trying to trip them up, never step in here. Once in this room Mini has no enemies, and Kimaya becomes her best friend. She purrs and winds between Kimaya's legs, leaning against her affectionately.

Kim is a bit wary on these occasions because she never knows when MiniPini might suddenly have a mood swing and slap her.


Once out the kitchen door, all the love disappears and it's back to normal.

Strange are the ways of cats, specially this cat!

Nagaon

For cat lovers - check earlier posts under the topic "Dogs and cats"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mia needs a home urgently - Delhi



An appeal forwarded by Charu Shah:

Mia was abandoned Saturday night in a park in front of my house. I got to know this yesterday. She's been with me since Sunday morning. I came out of my house and found a collared brown puppy being chased by my dogs so I took her in. I would've left her on the road but she's a domesticated dog with soft fur and a fear of cars and two wheelers.

She seems around 3-4 months old. Intelligent, smart, active very friendly (teething) and is always ready to play with other dogs but my dogs are not the perfect ones to play with.

I can't keep her because of my dad and grandparents. Also I would never like a dog being confined to just one room (i.e. mine) with no space whatsoever. A loving home for her would be excellent. Shelter is not an option.

Contact for adoption: 9818944362 or 41720562

Thank you
I appreciate your help

Abhishek Gulshan
Delhi

Kullu needs a home - Mumbai







Another adoption appeal forwarded by Madhu Goyal:

Kullu is a 9 month old street dog in Mumbai
  • fully vaccinated
  • very good temperament
  • but not house-trained yet
  • very well mannered
Contact Fiza at +91 9810522244 for details

Mumbai


Flip for adoption - Delhi







An appeal forwarded by Madhu Goyal:

Flip is a female street dog, about 6 months old. She has hurt her right hind paw, she was probably hit by a car, but the vet says it's nothing serious, and she will be up and about very soon.

She does not require much care, one dose of a liquid medication once a day. She has been vaccinated.

She is affectionate, playful and sweet tempered and makes an excellent pet. She is not very demanding, and is content to spend time by herself. She is mischievous, like most puppies, though she already understands what 'No' means, and is full of life and lots of fun.

Please call Misha on 9810666008.

Delhi

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tommy, Canine Good Citizen!

We INDog fans know that our dogs are highly intelligent, trainable and safe pets. But believe it or not, there are many who still have misconceptions about them on all these counts. I've even heard a lady in Mumbai describe street dogs as "wild" dogs!

INDog owner Monique Nerman took the trouble to enroll her Goa-born Tommy in two obedience training programmes when she took him to the US. He didn't just pass, he did so with flying colours! Yay for Indies!!

Tommy is now officially an American Canine Good Citizen. He has also won another honour, first place and Trophy in the Huntington Beach Obedience Class.


Read about the Canine Good Citizen Program of the American Kennel Club here. As Tommy's trainer said, "It's not an obedience test. It's to show that he is a good and reliable dog." Skills include heel, lie down, meet other dogs and behave, and not to react to loud noises.

Hats off to owner Monique Nerman for proving that Indies can do anything other breeds can do; in fact they often do it better!


I asked Monique to tell us about Tommy's training, as it might provide useful insights to other Indy owners about teaching their own dogs.


Monique's story:


I enrolled Tommy in two obedience classes when he came to California. Tommy had barely even walked on a leash before, and I had to adapt him to a western life style and its different dog-social behaviors.

For instance, Tommy doesn't understand why dogs chase balls - when he sees dogs running on the beach chasing tennis balls he thinks it's a fight going on and then chases all the dogs and tells them to stop!


I went twice a week to classes where we had to learn basic skills with a group of other dogs. Tommy had to learn: sit, lie down, heel, come here and stand for inspection.






It got more advanced with "automatic sit" which means that every time you stop, the dog has to sit down.


Tommy quickly learned that he only had to do automatic sit in the class, and everywhere else it was business as usual...
It was very easy for Tommy to learn all the obedience skills; the problem was to keep him motivated. I had to make the exercises more difficult to keep him interested. Make the training sessions at home shorter - only five minutes at a time - otherwise he would get bored as he didn't need repetition.
For a street dog from India who has had to live a different life than western dogs, treats worked the best - there are very different opinions about this, most Kennel Club trainers don't agree with treats, but with Tommy it was the easiest way!

When we did "come here," one trainer taught us to hide in the house and call "Come here!" and then the dog will find you - and get a treat - it's a fun game and it works for Tommy. "Come here" is not about doing something wrong or getting punished, but it's about being happy when you run back to your owner.


He doesn't get a treat every time, but every time I call "come here" he comes back - I trust him with this command, which is something that we impress a lot of American dog owners with!

The advantage of an INDog is that they are very clever and smart, and usually can figure out things before the other dogs do.

Tommy has been exemplary in all his classes and tests. He knows when it's "show time" and when it's play time.

At the actual Canine Good Citizen test, we were 10 dogs, from Pit Bulls to Poodles to a Chihuahua.

It's a pass or fail test.

You have to display 10 skills that show the dog can cope with everything, from being handled by a vet or a groomer to being left alone with a trusted person.

Each one of us had to go up to the evaluator one at a time and perform our skills.

The dog has to sit politely while the evaluator checks ears, feet, coat, shakes hands, drags a wheel chair behind the dog, drops things to see if they get spooked. The dog should not react when other dogs walk by, and then it's the "lie down" and "sit down" on command.

The best part was, when we had to do the "Meet another dog and handler while your dog sits down," most of the other handlers chose Tommy as the dog to meet as he was so well behaved!


He passed on all the tests, and was complimented by the evaluator.

Four days later we had the exam at the obedience school...





...and Tommy won the Trophy for 1st place in the class!



I truly believe what the "dog whisperer" says, that a dog needs a job, to be fulfilled. Especially for INDogs and INDog-mixes.
Tommy's job as a street dog used to be to survive, and here in the West his job is to protect me but he also has to be a good dog. It's not about having a dog that's a trained monkey but about a dog that does things right and communicates well with his owner.

I can tell that it has made Tommy more focused and you can tell he knows when he does things right.

Positive reinforcement in a new life has been the key element.


Every time Tommy does something right he is a "good dog," from lying calmly in his bed to walk at heel.

In terms of being a "wild" breed - I can only say that dogs are pack animals, and again, by reinforcing his place in the family or home, and by teaching him what he is supposed to do and giving him lots of love, exercise and a job to do, the INDog can be an adaptable dog.

My vet here in California said that I would be most likely "very happy" with this dog as he would not have any inherited illnesses.


It's been an amazing journey with my Indian dog, from spending lazy days together on the beach in Anjuna, to flying across half the world and seeing him walk through Chicago international airport as calm as when he lies under a tree in the monsoon.




Below: Some pictures of Tommy in Goa and California











He truly has shown himself to be a Very Good Canine Citizen!

Thank you to Karah Night, Dog Trainer, Hacienda Hills Dog Obedience Club.
Thank you also to Marlies Meister, Anna Wells, Jan Palmer and Niklas Gummeson, for helping me with Tommy's journey to the US.


Story: Monique G. Nerman
Photos of training and test: Elisabetta Colombo

Huntington Beach

California
USA



Note: For other stories on training, read the posts under Topics "Dog Training" and "Canine Behaviour."


Friday, August 19, 2011

Changes

Obviously our lives have changed a lot in the last three months. Things were difficult at first, but then we started getting used to the new pattern, got out of old routines, got into new ones.

That's what dogs do, the most adaptable of creatures. It's one of the many valuable things we can learn from them.


A big change is that Brownie, our Nagaon best friend and part-time family member, has stopped visiting us.



This was a disappointment we really could have done without; however it really is our fault. We didn't go to Nagaon all of June, and he must have decided we were not coming back. He always got a meal at our place, but that wasn't why he came; he got good food at his own home too. He came to us for Kimaya. Brownie is extremely sociable and has many special friends, and Kimaya was perhaps the most special.
When we returned to Nagaon after a month, our caretaker told us Brownie's visits had become infrequent, and had then stopped altogether. He had moved in to a bungalow down our lane, owned by a Mumbai family like us; but unlike us they keep two or three dogs in their Nagaon house. The dogs were already Brownie's friends, and I know he used to spend some time there off and on, so the natural next step was to "adopt" the family.

He spends most of his time there now. I don't know whether he goes to his real home at all (a tourist cottage owned by a villager called Mr Athavale). We met him one drizzly evening on the beach, but though he was very pleased to see us he didn't spend much time with us and went off with his new friends. The family are obviously overfeeding him because he's put on weight.








We've met him once more after that, but this last weekend he didn't come to the beach at all.

Kimaya missed him a lot at first, and would keep going to our back gate to check whether he'd come. On the beach she'd keep looking at the place from which he normally entered. But when he finally came he was accompanied by his new dog family, and Kimpy was petrified of them and refused to make friends. The next time he met us he was alone, but he's fat now and disinclined to run, so after some fruitless attempts to make him play, Kimpy ran off by herself.


She still sometimes looks for him at our gate, where he was once a familiar sight; but there is no longer any Brownie there, whining to be let in. Now she looks for
him less and less and has got used to running solo.
She played with another dog recently, one she's known since he was a tiny pup last year. He and his family live next door, but they are never allowed into our garden because his mother is a cat-killer. He was a skinny leggy pup but he's grown into a really handsome dog.









Because of the rain he hasn't been coming to the beach much, but we hope to meet him more often after the monsoon.



Above: Tired after a good run. It's quite cool on these rainy evenings, specially if you've got drenched on the beach. Just the right weather for a light blanket.



One of the cute things Kimpy does is carry her toys to her favourite places. She often keeps the current favourite next to her when she sleeps, using it as a pillow. This racoon was one of her birthday presents (she turned three on 1 July).





Above: Favourite corner in the messy study



Tabbyrani and MiniPini have been brought to Mumbai for blood tests and check-ups a couple of times in the past two months. Tabby used to like Kimpy, but she doesn't like her boisterous style of playing. Here she is on her last trip to Mumbai.

One of the many good things about keeping cats is that dogs appear angelic in comparison. Even really naughty dogs. Cats begin where dogs leave off.

Coping with Tabbyrani's repeated attempts to type and MiniPini's determination to stand on the remote control and change all the channels, we almost began to believe that Kimpy was a very good dog.

Almost.



"I didn't do it. Must have been the cats."

Life goes on; we've started another month of training because we all love it; and we've signed up to attend a dog party on Sunday! I don't think Kimaya will enjoy it at all but she needs to get less nervous around other dogs, and this might help.

(Incidentally there are three cafes in Mumbai that allow people to bring their dogs. The problem is they are rather far from our place.)


That's all from us for now. If the party goes well I might post about it!

Mumbai, Nagaon

After Lalee

Lalee is now ashes, and pictures on the wall; but my heart and mind are full of her and always will be.

"Life is like a drop of water at the end of a leaf in the morning."


A blogger friend passed on this thought to me (thank you, Georgia's human). In a strange way it helped.

But I don't want to depress people with this post. I want to tell everyone how we're coping.
Before we lost Lalee, Kimaya had been off her food for two weeks, most probably because of the summer heat. She wasn't finishing her meals, and she skipped some meals altogether, though she was playful and normal in every other way.


After Lalee died, she stopped playing and her appetite almost disappeared. She didn't eat at all some days; on an average she ate one meal in three days. She slept a lot and was quiet and depressed.

This went on for twelve days.

So I pulled myself together so I could pull her out. I took her to an excellent canine behaviour consultant, a very inspiring lady called Shirin. Shirin has advised me in the past about my dogs, and I've always found her advice practical and useful.

She told me Kimaya was picking up my mood. Nothing seemed wrong with her health - the vet had already told me that. She told me some steps I could take to get her back to normal, and also to handle some other problems like mild separation anxiety.


I felt a lot more cheerful after this meeting. And like a mirror, my little dog cheered up too!




I started taking Kimaya to friends' homes, and out shopping with me, though of course on shopping trips she had to stay in the car with the driver. She used to be timid with strangers, but her confidence improved with all these new interactions.

My mother, brother and sister came to visit in June, so she had a month of pampering and non-stop attention that did her a lot of good.



Kimaya clicked by my brother

Then we started obedience training with a behaviour consultant trained and recommended by Shirin. Kimaya's two years of living in Nagaon had made her very independent and completely disobedient, in ways that could put her in danger. The worst problems were: not coming when called on the beach, eating absolutely disgusting things (poop, rotting fish!), and running out of the front door of our Mumbai apartment.

Kimaya took to her trainer immediately, and after the first lesson she bounced back to her normal mood and started eating properly again! Her training sessions were like games and she just loved the focussed attention, being treated and told she was a good girl every few minutes (she doesn't get called that a lot, normally).

She's not an early riser at all, but she'd bounce out of bed for her training sessions at 8 in the morning.

By the end of a month she had made a huge amount of progress. Friends have noticed her improved behaviour; she walks nicely on her leash instead of pulling, and though she still isn't obedient on the beach, she is definitely better than before and returns to us instead of behaving as though we don't exist.

We went to Nagaon in early July, but it wasn't as much fun as usual, because there were no other dogs to play with.






For the first time Kimaya and I were alone on the vast grey beach.


We hadn't gone there all of June; and Brownie's visits, from being a daily affair, had become increasingly infrequent. He must have thought Kimaya wasn't coming back. So he "adopted" a family living down our lane, because their dogs were his friends already. More about that in the next post.

With the pragmatism of all dogs, Kimaya has adapted to the new situation and doesn't wait for him like she used to. Life is short, every moment counts and there is a whole lot of running and playing to do!


People (domestic helps, friends, the building watchmen) sometimes call Kimaya "Lalee" by mistake, and then they quickly correct themselves. These things take time.


Above: Kimaya clicked by Kiran - favourite sleeping position
Below: With Kiran




Three months have passed since it happened...


Lalee, wherever you are, if you are indeed anywhere at all; if you are still Lalee or even if you are not -


You were my golden girl and all dogs will forever be compared to you.


Our decade together is over, the best decade of my life. I should let you go in peace instead of hoping you'll come back. I am trying.


Meanwhile, Kimpy and I miss you but we are doing all right, as well as can be expected.


For all the joy, the fun, the new doors we opened, the wonder of new worlds discovered, for the many glimpses into your mysterious doggy mind, for the zillion wags of your doughnut tail, for the funny squeaky noises you made when I came home, for your patience with all other creatures, for the warmth and comfort at my feet, for the afternoon-dreaming in a patch of sunlight, and above all for the deep peace of living with you - thank you, my beautiful red dog.

I love you always, always, more than words can say.