A dog or two or a thousand

It’s pretty obvious that we are animal lovers, otherwise we would not have been through the trouble of “importing” our two felines into the country. We like cats, dogs, cows, donkeys, ostriches, chicken, turkeys, sheep, goats, fish, about anything, except, for me, snakes. It is with great pleasure that I can inform you that the only snakes we have seen were at the zoo, in nice little enclosures. One year on and still no snake charmer. Good!

No snakes, but so many dogs.  Half of the following dog pictures were taken this afternoon around our neighborhood over a period of about 2 hours (click on an image to enlarge).  They’re everywhere! And they all look the same. There is a breed called “Indian mongrel”. It’s not a mutt from what I understand, but a full breed. They’re cute and they fit in perfectly here.  They are medium size, with a short coat. Most of them are brown, but we see a fair amount of black and (dirty) white. They have floppy ears and a long tail.

They live in packs and are pretty territorial. There is a group of 8 of them in front of our compound, and another group across the street in front of the hospital.  Whether in an urban or rural setting, they stick together.  They are quiet during the day, each minding their own business, but at night they gather again. Unfortunately, I often hear them barking and fighting in the middle of the night. Not fun!

They are not as skinny as I have seen in other countries. They find food. There is an entire well-oiled ecological system of animal food. Garbage dumps and street garbage piles are a smorgasboard for stray dogs and cows. There is always a vegetable peel, a leftover chicken bone, and if you live in a city, the occasional cookie. They rummage through plastic bags and we have seen a few carry the bags to another location, I assume to share with their buddies.  I have learned that they like to eat flowers, so they often munch on puja flowers!

And these dogs are so smart! They know where human food is: around the tea stalls and all the hotels (hotel means restaurant in India, don’t look for a place to sleep).  They also hang out in front of butcher shops!  And they favor white people over locals: there are a few dogs at the airport who will sit and wait around white people exclusively. They can cross a street better than I can. I have in total seen one dog that got killed in traffic. Considering that it took me a few months to feel comfortable getting to the other side of the street on foot, it is amazing that these dogs can do it without flinching. As I said, they are smart!

When they’re not looking for food, they sleep. And they can sleep anywhere: sidewalk, street, pile of sand, under cars. I saw one today nicely nestled in a pothole.  Yes, that’s how big the potholes are in Bangalore, a dog can use them as beds.

They also run a lot. It’s more of a trot than a full run, on the sidewalk or on the side of the road. They are not wandering, they clearly know where they are going.

They are not particularly friendly. They rarely come to us. They are not aggressive (at least during the day), but seem to have no interest in being petted. There are always a few exceptions as the ones we met on the beach in Goa, the black one with a collar that hangs out in front of the hair salon, and the little puppy that runs around the vegetable stand close to us. But he’s a puppy, he doesn’t know any better yet! People are not mean to them like I have seen in other places. I have seen once kids throwing rocks at a dog. I was none too pleased…  Here, I often see people feed them crumbs and bits and pieces of what they are eating themselves

Very often, their ears are clipped. It means they have been spayed or neutered through a government program of “catch and release”. This is obviously not working too well! We see a lot of doggie mommies, full of milk, looking for food. We were once chased by an angry dog protecting a litter of 6 or 7 puppies.  You also some dogs that have obviously found a mate that was not an Indian Mongrel. The results are some very fluffy dogs, and on the pictures below, some that look more like a Doberman and a Labrador.

Some wear collars, hence some have owners. We also see dogs on a chain. “My” school has a dog. They are trying to teach the kids to respect all creatures. Unfortunately that poor girl gets a bit overwhelmed sometimes being surrounded by 300 kids! I have heard she bit one. She eats chapattis soaked in water or milk, or rice, whatever was served for lunch that day. Only once I saw dog nibblets in her bowl.

Around ITPL dog

They are covered in fleas, which, aside from the risk of being bitten, is another reason why we don’t try to pet them too much. It’s not unusual to see a dog twisted trying to bite at those nasty pests. It is also not uncommon to see a dog that has been injured or has tumors.

And once in a while, we see a “foreign” dog, a non-Indian Mongrel, in a leash.  Dogs have become a status symbol. And the bigger the dog, the bigger the status. In our compound, we have a boxer, a beautiful German Shepard, several Labradors, a very old fat beagle, and a couple of Huskies.  Since they are confined into the homes without a doggie park or much of the required exercise for such big breeds, a few of them are becoming pudgy. We often see dog walkers, or should I say dog pedalers, who ride a bicycle with a dog in tow with tongue hanging on the side, panting.  That’s funny!

We have been trying to convince our driver, jokingly, to get a puppy for his children, but he doesn’t seem thrilled about the idea. Maybe we’ll get him one for Christmas!

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