A dog teaches fidelity, perserverence and to turn around three times before lying down.

Poochies!

Poochies!

So today, I thought I would discuss Indian ‘Street’ Dogs.

For some time now, my husband has been a man living on the edge.  This means, he lives in fear daily of whether or not he is going to come home to some (or many) strange dogs lounging on his chair or eating at his table or *gasp* laying in his bed!

Yes, I am a dog lover.  No, my husband is not a dog hater, it’s just that like most Indian’s he is what you can call either dog ignorant or dog tolerate or dog ignore.

The dogs are here, they are numerous and sometimes a nuisance and the people of India have learned how to either ignore them or chase them.  Depending.  My husband is now learning the fine art of dog loving.  Saying nice things to them like “Wanna treat?” and “Who’s a good dog?” and “Good Girl” in a way that makes the pooch in question fall all over themself with joy and happiness.  Or maybe just to get the treat we originally offered.

You see, I have ‘adopted’ a couple of stray dogs who live in our complex.  There used to be five of them.  But five got whittled down to two plus one pretty little girl from outside that just got adopted into the original litter.  Now that two is down to one and the pretty little girl.  What started as a litter of five plus one outsider is now down to two 7-8 month old girls against the 15 or so wild pack dogs that live outside our gates.  Our girl’s regularly kick those dogs’ asses.  I love it.

Almost every night I go down to feed the girls.  Bear and I purchase dog food and biscuits for them, as well as giving them our left over roti and subzi.  Sweat pea, the one remaining litter pup is a sucker for kichadi.  Princess, the pretty little adoptee, is stuck up and only eats the good stuff.  IE:  Chicken flavored biscuits, Chicken flavored dog food, potato and roti if that’s all that’s to be had.  A neighbor on the other side of us feeds them left over mutton and seriously, I just can’t compete with THAT.

The girls are both very intelligent, sweet dogs.  However, they are street dogs and as such people are afraid of them.  Here in India, it’s less common to find people who own pets and understand them.  If people own a pet at all it’s usually for the social standing more than the companionship, however you will find more people owning dogs for the latter now and days.  Because of this, the girls get threatened, kicked, chased, hit with rocks and are constantly on the lookout for runaway cars and motorcycles.  If I catch it happening, I generally say something to the person whether they understand me or not, but mostly it happens when I am unable to come downstairs and so the girls are usually on their own.  And yet with all this, they are essentially good dogs.  When you call them and speak to them in a kind voice, they fall all over themselves in pure happy puppy ecstasy.  Whining and licking and dancing about you to show who’s a better puppy.  I do this with other people around so that they can see that the girls are not the ferocious baby killers that some of the residents might like to think.  Watching two dogs fall all over themselves, wiggling and wagging their tails off, for one small white girl may stand to make a point with them.  Who knows?

**Added for clarification. I got a great comment on this topic from a friend and some not so great emails from people who thought I was saying something that I wasn’t.  I’m not saying that being afraid of stray dogs is unnatural and silly, even I am cautious around them.  What I am saying is that being afraid or even cautious should not entail chasing or threatening the dog without provocation.  If the dog is just laying there, minding it’s own business, then let it alone.  Chasing and threatening does nothing except teach the dog to be more aggressive to human’s.  They do not differentiate between “Oh, I was being naughty and deserved that.” and “I wasn’t doing anything, so what the heck?”.  To them, a threat is a threat and it teaches them to be weary of humans and perhaps even to become more aggressive.  I would even say, rather than being aggressive towards a dog, even an aggressive one, you start with standing your ground and making a sharp, unusual sound and do not look them in the eye.  Look in their direction but not in the eye.  Nine times out of ten they will be the one to back down.  If they don’t, then they wouldn’t have even if you had chased and threatened them anyway.

I recommend reading/watching the Dog Whisperer for further ideas and understanding.  I met him once in LA as I used to volunteer with a local German Shepherd rescue, he is knowledgeable and has excellent advice.  The National Geographic site is also full of good information and other resources for more information about dogs.

Either way, the girls have grown quite a lot since Bear and I started feeding them.  During the last two months especially so, and Bear has missed most of it due to the two surgery’s he had to have.  I also could not go down as often, but the girls know where our third floor bedroom windows are and they hang out down there waiting to hear our voices or for us to toss down some roti or chicken flavored biscuits.

I’m excessively protective over those two skinny little girls and they over me.  Whenever I or Bear go down, they perform their ritual happy puppy dance and then slip into their circle of protection.  One always in the front and one always in the back, circling us and watching.  When we stop to feed them, they eat heartily (as long as Princess got her Chicken flavored something), drink all the fresh water we bring down and then find a nice spot to lay down where they can keep us in view and protect our ‘flanks’.  I suppose, in a way, Bear and I have become the alpha leaders of their little pack.

If I’m alone, the girls are very protective and will growl at certain people.  I do not egg them on in these cases and sometimes tell them to settle down, but to be honest, the people who the girls growl at also give me an uneasy feeling so I let them do their protection bit and we are all satisfied.

They also come whenever we call.  Even if we call from our bedroom windows.  All we have to do is call “Giiiirrrrllllss!” and if you watch closely, you will see two streaks of brown and beige fur flying out of the night.  Tails high, noses up, ears back.  Pure joy written on their faces.  How can someone even think of throwing a stick or stone at something so pure and uncomplicated?

What those people don’t see, is that the girls protect out complex from the wilder and meaner dogs that live outside our complex.  The vicious older ones that life has been unkind to at every turn.  The broken ones with less fur to warm them on cold nights.  The hungry ones whose belly’s only get full of rubbish and cast away trash.  These are the desperate dogs that fight every day just to live.  And while they aren’t to blame for their plight, they also cannot help heading to the lessons that life has taught them.  Man = Pain.  So they bite and chase people and cars outside the complex.  The girls will not let them into our complex and if they manage to sneak by, the girls are always there, usually outnumbered and smaller, but standing firm and patiently working/worrying the other dogs out.  Sometimes the guards help them, as they understand that our girls are good, almost tamed.  Sometimes residents help them, as they also know and understand.  But mainly it’s just the girls fighting the daily struggle for what they see as their territory and I see as their home.  I wish more could see the goodness of them.

Some of my favorite dog quotes:

The dog was created especially for children. He is the god of frolic.
Henry Ward Beecher

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
Rita Rudner

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
Ann Landers

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Mark Twain

No animal should ever jump up on the dining room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.”
Fran Lebowitz

I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
John Steinbeck

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.
Dave Barry

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, “Wow, you’re right! I never would have thought of that!”
Dave Berry

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.
Phil Pastoret

I’ll end with this.  This was a speech given by a former American Senator of Missouri, George Graham Vest.  He delivered it in 1870 when he was acting as a lawyer in a suit against a man who had killed the dog of his client.  He won the case. 

ONE MAN’S SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO A DOG

The one absolutely unselfish friend that
a man can have in this selfish world,
the one that never deserts him,
the one that never proves ungrateful
or treacherous, is his dog.

A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity
and in poverty,
in health and in sickness.
He will sleep on the cold ground where
the wintery winds blow,
and the snow drives fiercely,
if only he may be near his master’s
side. He will kiss the hand that has no
food to offer, he will lick the sores
and wounds that come in encounter with
the roughness of the world. He guards
the sleep of his Pauper master as if he
were a prince.

When all other friends desert,
he remains.
When riches take wings and reputation
falls to pieces, he is as constant in
his love as the sun in its journey
through the heavens.
If misfortune drives the master forth
an outcast in the world, friendless
and homeless, the faithful dog asks
no higher privilege than that of
accompanying him to guard against
danger, to fight against his enemies.

And when the last scene of all comes,
and death takes the master in its
embrace, and his body is laid away in
the cold ground, no matter if all other
friends pursue their way, there by the
graveside will the noble dog be found,
his head between his paws, his eyes sad,
but open in alert watchfulness,
faithful and true, even in death.

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11 thoughts on “A dog teaches fidelity, perserverence and to turn around three times before lying down.

  1. I’v told my husband that if we ever have to move to India, I would adopt at least five street dogs. I hate that I can’t pet them when I’m there, so I have to resort to talking to them in baby-talk, which they seem to enjoy. I’m so glad that your puppies have a good home!

  2. Aditya’s dad loves dogs too (they had all sorts of pet dogs growing up) and has adopted the ones that live outside his house too. They get the leftover scraps from meals everyday. 🙂 When I went to India last, I ended up taking about 30 pictures of these two dogs!

    • I just love hearing about that! Spending more time outside with the two complex dogs, I’m meeting more and more people who like them and are interested in learning more about them but never had the time or opportunity (or were scared/intimidated). Now that I have spent time getting the girls more ‘behaved’, people are more likely to come up and feed them and speak to them. It makes me so happy!

      PS: I didn’t see any poochie pictures though….I saw all the other pictures….but no poochie ones. This should be rectified. Post poochie pictures! 😉 hehe

  3. Hi GR.,
    I have a guide dog.
    His name is Fallbrook and Imran is finally getting use to him.
    Imran still does not like him licking at all.
    Imran will jump every time the dog moves.
    But, Imran does like to tell my dog what to do. My dog is well trained, so he will give him a command. The prob is that…… well, Imran is a bit short on the praise portion.
    Imran was not sure about a dog being in the house.
    And, neither of us like dog hair.
    But, he does see Fallbrooks contribution.
    The other thing is that my dog does not get any table scraps.
    Imran does not feed him. I am the only one who should feed him. I have caught Imran petting Fallbrook on occasion.
    And, Imran likes it when Fallbrook is so happy that he thumps his tail.
    The other prob is that Fallbrook does not guard anything.
    Guide dogs are not taught to guard. If they guard, they do it by instinct. So, Fallbrook does not gard, growl or bite.
    He barks only when he is left alone and wants to be around people.
    But, the strange thing is that Fallbrook knows that Imran is hesitant and Fallbrook is usually quite calm and reserved around him.
    Yet, Fallbrook will still listen to him and obey his commands.

  4. Hey Gori Raj,

    I’m a dog lover myself. I don’t have much of an opinion about the strays considering that I’ve never had to deal with them, but I think it is nice that you and others have taken a liking to them. It seems as though it has worked out well with them becoming the guard dogs for the complex.
    I agree that it makes perfect sense that strays would be more likely to be aggressive to humans based on how they are treated.
    Adi adopted a stray Doberman when he was younger despite his dad disliking the idea. It worked out well because he seemed to have been previously trained to be a guard dog. He was loyal and kind to Adi and those in the house hold who took care of him, but he was quick to guard the house from outsiders. Before coming here to go to school Blacky left this world, but his memory has left a longing in Adi’s heart to have another Doberman when he goes back home to India.

    Kat
    P.S. Glad to see you posting again.

  5. I adore dogs. I have a little one who I baby. I know my cousin who lives in India thinks of dogs as just another animal, usually left outside, like a pig or a goat. Which is fine, but that’s not how I am with my dog. My dog sleeps in bed with me and sits on my lap while I’m at the computer and I share my food with her.

    I can’t remember who said it, but one of my favorite dog quotes is: “I strive to become the person my dog thinks I am.”

  6. we too have some sweet street dogs that hang out outside our gate. it is hard though to raise young children in this environment with dogs everywhere … most of which that we don’t know. so even though our family LOVES dogs to pieces (we are still broken hearted that we couldn’t bring ours with us to Delhi), we caution and advise our kids NOT to pet or get friendly with the dogs outside our gate …

    Only because if they did get comfortable with them, there’s no guarantee that they won’t also think they can pet the random and potentially more skittish dogs say, outside of the market or the park.

    Great post though! The pups look so sweet!

    • Hey Naomi, great comment and thanks so much for that perspective.

      I agree with you 100% when it comes to the kids. The girls are good with me but I realize that it’s because I also recognize their boundaries. A household pet is always going to be different to a stray dog with regards to limitations and acceptance. My girls are very good, put they rarely let me pet them and I only do so my holding out my hands and letting them to come me. If they don’t, then they don’t and I don’t get to pet them. I don’t force the issue with them. But a child, especially a young one, wouldn’t understand that concept. For a household dog, raised around people and used to the petting (and liking it), a child’s exuberance is understood by the dog and most times it takes it’s cue’s from the pack leader (you). If your cool with it, then he is. But most likely with an internal sigh as his ears and tail get yanked on and he is used as a furry jungle gym.

      I think teaching children a healthy respect for animals and their rights to exist is just as important and it sounds like you are doing that. I’m sorry you had to leave your dog when you moved to Delhi, I too had to leave my pet guinea pig with my best friend. It was hard, as Daisy was already 6 years old and I felt I was neglecting her in her golden years. But she’s happy and well cared for and knowing that helps a little bit. Don’t worry, I’m sure your pooch knew how much you loved her/him and how hard that was to decide. >:D<

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