Daily life

The park's cheerleader

12:40 PM

Street dogs are as much part of India as the cows many tourists marvel about, but unlike cows, dogs aren't that welcome, or even glorified. Many will pronounce them a menace, and swear of their aggressiveness and mean spirited nature. They are thrown stone at for venturing near human beings...even if they are just there because said human beings did dump edible garbage that will attract them in the first place. They are pointed at, little kids are told to fear them and run away from them (incidentally the worst advice you can give to someone...running away from a dog is the best way for the dog to stop ignoring you). There are aunties that will swear this and that dog attacked them, or is aggressive by nature (omitting the part where they threw stones at the dog first and trigger a growl from them of course). As a dog owner, I have dealt with strays a lot, they tend to ignore two legged being when they walk alone, but become a bit more alert when you have a canine companion by your side, and yes some do turn territorial and will put a show of showing teeth and could indeed attack, in ten years in India however I had to deal with a dog with clear intent to attack only once, and yes had to threaten to throw stones as he would not back up with me calmly and assertively standing my ground (Cesar Milan's fan will know what it is about). Once in 10 years! Meaning the rest of the time, just standing my ground and being calmly in charge calmed the threatened stray, and far far more intense of the dogs pretty much ignoring me or my own dog.

Then once in a while you have one or a couple of strays that happen to be people happy dog and love interacting with humans, there was one such dog in my neighbourhood in Bangalore, she was such a sweetheart people would feed her, and she would loyally tag along with her favourite people on their errands, she would go on walks with a neighbour whose dog she was fond of, she would tag along with me to the pharmacy and the kirana store, and would come toward me or any of her human pets each time she saw them, fall on her back begging for a tummy rub, that is how sweetly disposed she was, yet a few people still claimed she was vicious and aggressive mistaking her gently tagging along as threatening. Here in my new neighbourhood in Mumbai there are these dogs :

 

They are in fact a pack of 3 who have the jogging park as part of their territory, the white and brown one is the most shy around people, she likes being near humans, but she doesn't like being touched, she will simply sit near the track and watch the people pass by. The brown one is the ultimate happy doggy, he LOVES people, he can't get enough of people and he has made part of his routine to be on the track every morning and every evening to be with the walkers. He loves to run around, roll in the grass and will look around for his favourite human beings to greet them, be it doing yoga with some, and yes he will sit close to them while they do their pranayama, or saying high to the senior citizens sitting on the benches. His disposition is such that people greet him, pet him and talk to him, which is enough to make him wag his tail and feel he accomplished the best thing in the world. I am one of his favourite humans, and when he sees me coming he will do a round or two with me, expect a pat, jump to get more of a head scratch and be delighted when Ishita calls him.

He goes by many names, some call him brownie, some jumpy, one lady informed me his name was rancho, to me he is just happy doggy. One thing is sure his happiness is contagious, none of the people visiting the park are left with a frown when he is around, none soho him or feel scared by him, he seem to know what each of the park's visitor expect of him. He even likes being near kids and the other day, he was quietly supervising the dirt playing Ishi and her friends were into:

 

There is also a white male in that pack who while not being as eager to be around people as the other two will often come and when he does expect a little pat from some of the visitors as well, these three dogs have become the park's mascots and walkers cheerleaders, or at least that is what I call them.

 

10 comments

  1. apple1:20 PM

    We have heard stories in our childhood of someone getting bitten by a stray dog and having to take fourteen painful injections in stomach over a period of one week. This was indeed the remedy for rabies which was quiet common in olden days. If a dog bit you, you have to watch it for one week. If it dies, then it has rabies. These are certain myths associated with dog. This got well entrenched into our mindset . That is why people are afraid of dogs. Further, dogs are considered dirty and mostly carriers of diseases. It take hell of lot of money to keep a dog. It is like maintaining another member of the family. That is why the pet thing never took off in India. Animals are unpredictable even though domesticated.

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  2. It definitely takes a lot of time and money to keep a dog, having one it goes through as much food and money allotted to said food as us, and there are the vet visits and walking, and of course grooming.

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  3. Beatrx7:07 PM

    That's something Indians should teach their children- how to deal with an aggressive animal. (Since there are so many animals roaming Indian roads from dogs to water buffaloes).
    Turning your back on an animal is showing fear, the animal feels 'dominant' & will likely attack.
    If an animal is growling look the animal directly in the eye & stand still, do NOT show fear, do NOT turn your back, raise your hand as if to throw something, shout, whatever but NEVER turn your back to an animal. If you are really afraid of dogs carry a lathe or large walking stick.
    Step backwards SLOWLY if you have to.
    I've stared down dogs, water buffaloes, cows, a juvenile elephant, langurs & quite a few nasty monkeys before. The cows & buffaloes here in Nepal can get quite surly!

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  4. Beatrix7:08 PM

    that is LATHI not lathe!

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  5. Exactly! I have tamed menacing dog that way, calmly told my own dog to sit and mean it, then took a relaxed but assertive stance, chin up, assertive stare and body language pretty much telling "this is my ground buddy, move". Dogs get the message instantly, Cesar Milan explains it very well, most dogs aren't born pack leader, and will immediately yield if they feel authority somewhere, and real pack leaders aren't violent or aggressive they are just radiating authority. I have wondered for years if the reason we call them alpha dog could not have something to do with the fact that when you are calm assertive your brain emits more alpha waves. Dogs can sense these.
    Something tragic now, my neighbourhood here in Mumbai sees leopards on occasion, pretty much every year there is a sighting, yet over the past decade or so there have been only two death, in one of the two death it seems the boy that got killed was throwing stones at a "big cat" they just saw passing by because they wanted to shoo it away without even knowing it was a leopard, and the leopard didn't like the stone throwing and attacked....thanks to stupid accidents like this and people are convinced leopards are blood thirsty animals that will prefer hunting humans over anything else...sigh!

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  6. People keep Alsatians, Grey hounds and Rottweiler and other such dogs who are essentially aggressive hunting dogs. They can be highly unpredictable. Especially, Rottwelilers have been reported to attack people without provocation. I guess being guard dogs, they are territorial. We were always told in our childhood "stay away from dogs unless you want fourteen injections in you stomach". In those days injections in the lower part of the abdomen were really painful. It was the only prevention against rabies and it was a big nuisance. This fear became an established myth overtime right into adulthood. Other than that, the strict hindu dos and don't in households meant that dogs were a strict no no.

    Dogs are sensitive creatures like humans and understand everything. However, I would be extremely vary of something with fangs, nails with god knows what in the saliva. They bark and sniff strangers. I this their way of saying 'hello' which is not liked by many people. I do like St. Barnard breed. They are huge like bears but look like elderly gentlemen.

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  7. People seem to forget that there are breeds of dogs that exist because they were created for a purpose such as the aggressive breeds making good guard dogs. These dogs need a lot of training however and sadly many people take one without knowing what to do with them.
    Saint Bernards are from Switzerland, my homeland, they were bred as rescue dogs and their huge size also made them an ideal milk cart puller in the mou

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  8. Alexandra Madhavan3:52 AM

    OMG the stray dogs. My first trip to India, I said to my hubby, "Look at all these lovely doggies!" and he barked at me not to touch them.
    I love Cesar Milian too. We have always had a dog. Lots of our Indian relatives are scared of dogs. Luckily my hubby had a dog in India, a black lab, but he wasn't allowed in the house for some reason.
    My aunt is a animal-lover and on her trip to India, she saw an ice-cream vendor man kick a stray dog, and then she forced him to apologize and give the dog a scoop of ice cream. My aunt is 4"11 but very threatening, LOL.

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  9. Growing up DH had dogs too! the good old Indian breed dogs, and he said that duo was an energetic one that loved to run around and on the rooftop of their house, they were not allowed inside, but their house is pretty big and has a garden so the dogs had plenty of leg space. My in laws find our having a big lab inside our home a bit odd and aren't too comfy with the idea, but until recently they had a small pomerian

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  10. Yen12341:13 AM

    I was so happy to find this blog as i have been pouring over the internet trying to find information about living in mumbai with a dog. My current government job has an opportunity to go to Mumbai for a least two year term. It sounds exciting and if i need to partake i need to put a few other things in place. My only reservation is what will my dogs life will be like in Mumbai. He is a every person and animal is my good to be kinda dog and he loves to interact and play. I know i will be placed in decent housing but it looks like most housing in Mumbai are apartments (from my web search at least) so what is life like with having a dog? do you have places you can take them so they can socialize? is walking your dog stressful with all the stray dogs around?

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