Archive for category Guest posts!
Rarely does one comes across a celebrated artist who is as approachable as the winter sun, caressing the tuft of grass peeking from the sidewalk. Spinning the yarn of tales, one bestseller after the another, ardent dog lover Preeti Shenoy wears many hats. In this exclusive guest post for Dog with Blog she shares of her canine camaraderie.
Any dog-lover will vouch that the world is sharply divided into two—those who love dogs and those who don’t understand the former. When I was travelling to the venue at a literature festival organised in Agra recently, I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow author and one of the organisers of the Lit-fest, both of whom are ‘non-dog-lovers’. They have both never had dogs, petted dogs or interacted with them.
‘Won’t it bite?’ asked one, as he had seen numerous pictures of mine with my Doberman.
I wanted to correct him and say that firstly a dog is never an ‘it’. A dog is always a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. But I let that be, as most people who have no idea about dogs make this mistake.
‘No, she won’t bite. In fact if she bites you I will give you a million rupees,’ I said.
‘In that case I would happily get bitten,’ he said.
‘That is precisely my point. She will not bite unless I give her a command to ‘attack’. And if that happens, I can assure you, she will go for your neck and your life will matter more to you than the million bucks,’ I smiled as everyone laughed.
The truth is,dogs can be trained to behave exactly how you want them to. It all boils down to the behaviour of the dog-owner. There really are no bad dogs—just incredibly stupid dog-owners who know no better.
Dogs like the Doberman, German Shepherd and Rottweiler have been used as Military and Police dogs for many years now and have cracked hundreds of narcotic cases. They are also used as ‘Search and rescue’ dogs to locate suspects or missing people or objects. Dogs also assist the law enforcement agencies to detect illicit substances or drugs or explosives. Many dogs are also used as guide dogs for the blind. Dogs are also used in therapy for treating disability, illness, disease and trauma.
Dogs have existed along with humans for thousands of centuries. In many cultures, dogs have been worshipped as a deity and a royal animal. Sadly, in some cultures, dog has also been maligned as ‘unclean’ and fear of dogs is instilled in people, right from childhood.
It would probably be a concept alien to many Westerners.
I have noticed so many people in India, are terrified of dogs. I wondered why, as I have always grown up with dogs.
I found this interesting question asked in an online forum:
Why are some Indian/Pakistani people so afraid of dogs?
I live in an area heavily populated by Indians and Pakistani residents, and whenever we take our dog out, they all cower away from him. A little background information, he’s a 12 week old puppy and weighs about 8 lbs. Is it something about the area that they are from that makes them afraid of dogs? I’m not being racist or stereotyping anyone (I mean I’m asian/white), but I’m just really really curious why they run away from a puppy??
I can imagine the puzzled bewilderment of the person who must have asked this question.
This was the answer chosen as the ‘best answer’:
In some 3rd World Countries the dogs are feral and wild, they run in the streets and they hurt people. Over time it has become a cultural thing to be scared of dogs you can because the dogs in their home countries are wild and mean. When the parents come over they imprint their children with this fear.
For me, dogs are an embodiment of unconditional, selfless, pure love. Such love is impossible to get from humans. My dog is always beside me. Always.
Even as I type this she is right next to me, at the foot of my bed. If I pause and go downstairs to make a cup of tea, she will follow me like a shadow, will wait till I brew my chai and then she will come back right upstairs with me, and she will do this even when she is in the middle of deep sleep!
When I eat,she lies on the floor, between by legs, under the table. When I go for a shower, she waits outside the bathroom. When I am on the treadmill, she waits patiently, watching me. She understands my mood so perfectly that even though I am a seasoned dog owner, I am still moved. If I am feeling a bit low or under-weather, she will put her head in my lap to ‘comfort me’ or give me a huge lick to say ‘Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter’.
When I work too much, she will close my lap-top with her paw and tug my T-shirt to take her out for a walk or a game of ‘fetch’.
She has her own personality and she can be very naughty at times. She would want me to play with her and if I refuse, she knows precisely what to do—she will take my pen or my T-shirt from the wash in her mouth and she will stand and look at me with her ‘bait’ as though to say ‘Come on now. Come on! I know you want it!’ and I will be forced to follow her. She will then proceed to run faster than Usain Bolt around the Garden and I will do a close chase. Must admit that this workout is much more fun than the boring old treadmill!
Having a dog is like having a child. In fact it is a lot harder than having a child—as children grow up and can do stuff for themselves after a while. Having a dog is a lot of hard work. You will be forced to wake up at 6.00 AM for the rest of your life.(or at least for the life-span of the dog). No matter how tired you are, you have to be up at the crack of dawn as your furry-companion has to be let out for their ‘morning business’. Having a dog makes you disciplined. It also makes you understand that it isn’t really that important to have your home in ‘perfect sparkling condition’ all the time. Having a dog, opens your heart in so many ways. Having a dog, brings unconditional love into your life. Having a dog, teaches you to live in the moment.
My dog has enriched my life in so many ways. As have countless dogs, all over the world, enriched the lives of those who have had them.
Dogs do make the world a better place. Whatever you give a dog, you get back exponentially, multiplied to the power of infinity. Dogs have that much love to give.
If only the same could be said of humans.
In this guest post, Amrita Paul reminisces fond memories of a pooch whose paw prints would never fade and laments over not having any photograph of her furry friend. Like a nascent time warp that refuses to fade. Never to be forgotten.
She took to us like a fish takes to water.
One evening, when I returned from a walk with my pet dog (then around a year old), a stray dog (I later realised that she was female) came up to the gate of my house and started whining to get in. Not knowing much about dogs then and being totally ignorant about stray dogs, I started shooing her away. I didn’t want a stray dog to interact with my house pet…how ignorant and silly I was back then!!!! Anyway, she refused to leave me. Feeling sorry, I went and got her some food. But she refused to eat that. All she was interested in was to get inside the gate and meet me. This happened for two weeks continuously, when she would meet me after my evening walk every day.
Finally, I gave in and started giving her some attention. My father started doing the same by then. She enjoyed all the love and affection from us. And, slowly, she even started to accept the food we would give her. This turned into two full meals a day and small snacks or biscuits whenever possible and a bowl of water that was always kept for her outside the house. She became our beloved outside pet. And, my father’s darling!
Apart from food, she would get shelter by being allowed to sleep on a mat at the end of our staircase. We would even get her treated for maggot-infested dog bite wounds (which, by the way, she got quite often and always on the neck) at the nearest animal welfare organization. We even tried to get her sterilized but got to know that she already was.
After a while, we got to know that there were few other people in our area from where she got food. Not with the kind of love and attention that we gave, but just the kind of people who leave food outside their house for any passer-by dog to eat.
She was known to be the most docile and calm stray dogs in our area. A dog who never barks, attacks, or creates a mess. She had beautiful hazel-brown eyes and a lovely brown-red colored coat. She had broken teeth, so could not really defend herself in front of other dogs which probably explained the frequent dog bites. My father often told me that when he defended her in front of other dogs, she would do a small doggy summersault…as though showing her excitement on being protected.Sometimes, it was very difficult to get her caught and sent for treatment for her wounds, but we managed somehow. I distinctly remember one time when we were out of town and she got bitten again. I returned before my father and panicked so much on seeing her. But the only way to get her caught was when she came for her night meal. I begged everyone from my mother to the animal welfare organization people to take her for treatment at 9:30 in the night. It was easier to catch her then; I guess she was just too exhausted from the wound that had badly deteriorated. That was her last visit ever to the animal organization.
She would follow me on my walks with my dog most of the times, and it was a pleasure to always have her around. Aunts who saw this would call her my bodyguard and that made me so proud! Many times, she would come and greet me when I returned from work and follow me to the local grocer and patiently wait outside the shop while I bought things.
One day, one of the ladies who also used to leave her food started having issues. It turned out that they just had a grandchild. They saw this dog as a threat because she would sit outside their house all afternoon and sometimes evening too. So they stopped feeding the dog, thinking that she will stop coming. But she continued to sit there.
One day, the man of that ‘horrible’ house complained to my father about this and told him to stop feeding the dog. When my father retaliated, this person threatened to file a report. My father retaliated again. Just few days after that, when I was walking my dog in the morning (and she was with me), this man complained to me too saying that I should have the dog sent away. I told him this was illegal to do. When he complained again, I tried to explain why the dog might be sitting in front of his house. Now, these people had a driveway where they would keep plants and their cars. Both were perpetually watered all day, which always kept the driveway nice and cool. So the dog just liked to sit there and cool off in the scorching summer heat.
But this man ignored my logic like I was some dumb person just blabbering away.
Two weeks later, when I woke up in the morning and went to our front balcony; I saw the dog lying motionless on a side across the road. I had never seen her lying in that position, and never in that place. I knew something was wrong and woke up my father. We checked her and realised that she was dead. Upon enquiry, a car washing man said that he had seen her struggling in the middle of the road late at night. When she became motionless, he dragged her body and placed her on the side. I was of course very angry with him. Since he knew that we were taking care of the dog, he could have rung our bell to inform us about all this. We may have done something to save her if it wasn’t too late.
Our only assumption was that she was either poisoned or bitten by some venomous thing. But I keep getting inclined to the fact that she was poisoned.
Two reasons for this:
(a) She died on a Sunday, and all day I did not see a single person come out of that ‘horrible’ house…in fact the man of the house who had complained about her did not go for his morning walk on this day and for few days after the incident
(b) Her water bowl mysteriously disappeared on this day, and reappeared the very next day…she was not the kinds who would eat or drink from anywhere, so it was quite possible that whoever poisoned her had put the poison in her water bowl with 100% guarantee that she will drink from there.
I didn’t know much about burying dogs back then, so we called the MCD to pick up her body. Until then, we covered her with newspapers. Daily workers in the vicinity also enquired. I could barely control my tears and explain to them what had happened. Some of them even mourned her death, saying that she was one of the best dogs they had ever seen around the area and this seemed like a sure shot case of poisoning. One kind driver even rushed to put stones on the edges of the newspapers to stop them from flying away.
The MCD person came by afternoon, and took her away in a sheet that we gave him. That was the last I saw of her motionless, hard body that he picked up as though it were a rock.
It’s now been almost 4 years since her death and I still remember her and cry. No one knows her age, but I’m assuming she must be around 3 or 4 when we met her. She stayed with us for around 4 years, so that makes her around 7-8 when she died. Later, we got to know from a neighbour that she was born right in front of his house and she had lived in our area ever since. Another neighbour told us that once she had littered behind their house, before she was sterilized.
The amazing thing is that the night before this happened, after feeding her, my father spent a good 10-15 minutes playing with her…something that he usually never did very late at night. It’s like this was meant to happen because she was leaving us!
I still miss her. Sometimes I think about her motionless body lying across the road. I will always regret not taking pictures of her, but at times I have images of her standing on the road and looking up at me in my balcony with those amazing brown-hazel eyes.
I love all animals, no matter what size or type, even those that scare people, like rodents. I had guinea pigs and cared for them as if they were my children!
But among all the animal kingdom, dogs hold a special place in my heart. I’ve always had dogs growing up and sincerely cannot imagine life without them. We, as a family, took care of them as if they were our own relatives, because in a way, they were. They would get the best canine food, the best medical care and of course, affection with no end. This is not a difficult thing to do since what they give back to you is so much more. You will never find a more selfless being, that will be there when you need someone and not ask anything in return.
We, as a family, had a particular affection for Rottweillers. People, however, seem to be really scared of them. You can’t really blame them, they are ferocious looking, but have great hearts. So it’s really no wonder that when it comes to dating and finding a life partner, someone that likes animals is a plus, and someone that loves dogs is a must. A lot of people in dating sites claim that they like dogs but it turns out that they just click on a box to make themselves sound caring. The real feelings will come across if you’re on a date and you come across a dog and you can see their real reaction to them.
I currently live in Argentina, and unfortunately there are a lot of stray dogs. I was out on a date with a man that claimed that he loved dogs, but when it came to the real deal, he failed the test.
On our way to the restaurant, we saw a car hit a stray dog and not stop. I screamed to the sight of this (I think anybody would have done that, even if you don’t love dogs as much as I did) and in tears I went immediately to see what the dog’s state was. Luckily he had only hit its leg, nothing too bad but he was in pain and there was no way I was going to leave him there. My date looked confused and not helpful at all. He mentioned our dinner plans, which were the least of my worries. I began to hail a cab to take the dog to a vet. He mentioned the reservations again. I did not listen; I was comforting the dog, trying to let him know that he would be taken care of. A cab finally got there and I climbed in with the dog wrapped in my coat. It wasn’t until I was already in the vet’s waiting room after the doctor had taken the dog in, that I realized that my date wasn’t there.
Had he been a person that really loved dogs, he would have hailed that cab and climbed with me. I lost a date and won a friend since the dog is still with me to this day.
Guest post by Eugenia Sincovich, an Argentine writer who can’t seem to stay in one place! She loves everything that reminds her that she’s alive and does her best to convey those feelings into her texts. She currently writes for iNetGiant.
If you can live without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him or her,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, or politics,
― Then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog!
PS The text(inspired from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’) comes courtesy an email forward from Geeta di’. Any leads on credible origin are most welcome.
Being a dog I rarely take a note of my meanderings, sometimes it is after the cat; at others the mailman but I keep roving. There is a pleasure in losing oneself to the serpentine paths of Himalayas. Take the word of this canine connoisseur – No fragrance bottled in ruby red and exotic name comes close to the wind that caresses rhododendron tree in full bloom. Perhaps Ruskin Bond knows what it feels like.
I hosted Cathie in the last leg of her Asian trip. She flew down from Montreal for a Vet volunteer progam to help homeless animal friends in Kathmandu. Having known her for three winters, the thought never triggered in me that this mild-mannered French speaking Greek-Canadian girl would rob me of all my hair. I wonder if she got a coat made out of it to brave the North American winds.
In this guest post, Cathie revisits her experience of volunteering at KAT
Tolkein was right. not all those who wander are lost. Some, like Cathie, discover themselves.
Anyone visiting Nepal will no doubt recognize the overpopulation of stray animals. There’s an overabundance of stray dogs and cats wandering the streets that have sustained injuries from vehicles or abuse from humans. The most common zoonotic disease seen in these animals is the life threatening virus rabies. Since my arrival at the center in May 2012 I have had the privilege to work with wonderful volunteers and staff members who dedicate their time effortlessly to make a difference. We all had our hearts woven with the solo song to help and provide comfort to these sick and injured animals.
Animal Birth Control or ABC as they call it at the KAT center is a cardinal program and has been proven to reduce the stray overpopulation of dogs in the Kathmandu region since 2006 with the staggering number of 36,000. Currently the numbers have reduced to 22,000 roaming dogs in the streets of Kathmandu alone. Every animal that comes through the doors of the KAT center is sterilized, tattooed and vaccinated against rabies before they are released or in some cases adopted. There are many cases of HBC’s (Hit-by-car) including dogs that have laid on the side of the road with fractures for an undetermined period before a Good Samaritan takes the initiative to transport them to the center. Unfortunately for most of these dogs as the days go by the extent of their injuries and damage to organs could not be reversed.
Thus far, empirical diagnosis is the way to go due to the scarce resources and lack of diagnostic tools. Accurate diagnosis is very limited therefore treating appropriately is very challenging. This is expected for the reason that the KAT center is a non profit organization based in a developing country. Unfortunately the center does not have the capacity to take in more than 50 dogs at a time. That is a very small number considering the amount of dogs roaming the streets that require some form of medical intervention. Adoptions are always an option but this is scarce in Nepal due to cultural beliefs.
Community dogs are common in Nepal as the locals feed them however the majority of dogs are not as privileged and are seen scavenging through garbage for any food scraps. Contrary to popular belief, most of these stray dogs are not aggressive. When approached in a gentle manner they wag their tail and seek for some attention (they roll on their backs and love to have their bellies rubbed).
It was amazing to have experienced all this love from people and animals in Nepal and I hope more people would turn up to do their bit. We all need not be a vet or write cheque for donation. Efforts like providing for food or a make shift arrangement to brave the weather or sterilizing through municipality/NGO help also go a long way.
Silly question, but do you remember your first birthday – not sure if you would remember the exact details, what dress you wore or what cake you ate or who came…but even as a one year old you probably do remember how it felt, right ?
18th September 2011, Satbir and I made the decision that we felt would lead to a heartbreak finally…but at that time, we really didn’t know, did we? A close friend called up to share that there was a 25 day old motherless puppy, found under a car…shivering, alone and lost. We loved dogs, but getting home one was really not in the picture, because we had hectic jobs and it was a big responsibility…you couldn’t take them out with you to most places, you couldn’t leave them alone for long, you knew they had shorter lives and their suffering was unbearable for you to watch…many, many valid reasons to not get one home. But only one single reason to get a dog home – we loved them! So we decided on the middle path – we shall foster the pup since she would not survive in the shelter due to her age and delicate condition, but when we found a loving home that wanted to adopt her, we would give her away.
On a nice bright Sunday, we met Simmy, our friend at Connaught Place and we got Elsa home…as the days were to pass we realized that she was true to hername – a little lioness from Born Free! Small indications such as the never –bending, white-tipped little tail and her anger at being force-fed Cerelac ( she actually hide in the corner for 2 hours and refused to look at us! ) should have given us clear signs of what was to come
Of course, since neither of us had managed such a tiny pup, our bewilderment at the massive task of doing the right things for her was natural…my biggest worry was like any other baby, she needed her natural mother to give her a sense of safety and no matter what I did, I might not be able to create the same sense of comfort in her little heart and soul…but I underestimated the warmth and openness that she had – without any reservations or hesitation she adopted us as her parents.
As we kept debating which home would be best for her, since we had got calls for her adoption, I started dreading the day she would go away..and whether her new parents would let us meet her in the future, would they understand our love for her, would she even remember us after some months…after days of conflicting thoughts, we decided to adopt her ourselves. At that stage it seemed like an impulsive decision which perhaps didn’t seem to involve assessing the responsibilities it entailed , but to be very honest, all we knew then was that we loved her and there was a reason she had come to our home in this manner…we also discovered that we were never meant to be foster parents, because that takes courage to be able to be able to give up the puppy you rescued for his or her betterment and we didn’t have it !
Our life actually did a 360 degree turn once Elsa came – we now had to reschedule our pre-planned holidays, work out our timings since she was too small to be left alone at home, become more active since she needed to exercise and to top it all, plan how to shift cities with a dog!
But we did all those things and more – because we loved her and she was our priority always, and we could do it because we had a supportive family…we could go on our holidays, because Elsa had a home to stay in with my parents and sister comfortably, rather than a boarding… We could shift cities, because my mother was able to travel with me so that we could ensure that Elsa doesn’t get uneasy (it was her first train travel)…
A lot of people might not understand it especially in the world we inhabit today where human life has no value (so the life of a little dog probably means nothing to several people)– but as Elsa turns a year old, I can proudly say that she taught me what it was to be a mother…the anxieties when she seems unwellor upset, the unconditional love, the pride when people love and praise her for her behaviour– but most importantly, the undiluted, unadulterated and unspoken bond that often gets lost in the noise and clutter around us. She made me realize that, that bond did not get defined by the boundaries of whether one was a human being or an animal…
I know that many of us think of getting a pet dog, but are deterred by the responsibilities, the changes it will require us to make in our lives, space constraints and also because we genuinely do not want to neglect him or her, due to our hectic work schedules.
But you may want to ask yourself the question I still often think of – what might have been Elsa’s life, if she was left on the road that day? Think of the possible answers and perhaps those will remove all the deterrents….there are always solutions to these worries we might have, they might not be the perfect solutions, but weigh those against the daily struggle that an Indian dog undergoes on the road each moment (to survive getting hit by cars and kicked by people, to scavenge for food in the darkest corners, to live in infection and disease, to just be picked up randomly one day by government authorities because someone complained that his or her friendly behaviour was a “menace”….the struggle is beyond our comprehension)
It really might be time for you to check – a little Elsa is also waiting right outside your house, perhaps under a car , you may want to bring her home.
~Guest post written by Simran Oberoi.