Two New Additions To Our Family

May 18, 2009

As though the twins weren’t keeping us busy enough, we decided to add another two members to our busy household.

We had gone to meet V, V & v a while ago and the twins took to a giant teddy bear there. So one day last week Amit said he’d like to get a couple of dogs for the twins. He meant stuffed toys, but I thought he meant the real thing. And of this simple misunderstanding, was a crazy idea born. We both got carried away with the thought of real dogs, and set about working out how it could be done.

On Monday, Saturday seemed very far away, but however slowly, time rolled inexorably on, and at last Saturday was here.

It’s never easy leaving home with the kids, but it’s so much more difficult on a Saturday morning, when you’re feeling tired and short of sleep, impatient, eager, just a bit tense, and in a hurry to get somewhere. Despite everything, we managed to leave home by 11, and reached the animal shelter, CUPA, by noon.

Of course, we had had other dreams: a golden retriever, maybe even an Irish Setter. Maybe even a pair! But in the end I think we always knew we’d end up picking up a mongrel pup from somewhere.

I’d been to CUPA once before, four or five years ago. That time, I’d been captivated by one particular dog, whose sweet brown eyes followed me everywhere. I’d also been shocked to see many amputee dogs, hopping around quite happily on three legs. This time, I was prepared for the amputees, and hopeful that we both – or all four – would be similarly captivated. But we were shown a small collection of scraggly mongrel pups, with nothing much to distinguish one from the other. There was particularly frisky pup, a few months old – but he was apparently “boarding” there, not for adoption.

Amit wanted tiny pups, but the staff there encouraged us to go for the bigger pups, perhaps not entirely sure that the tiny ones would survive. The one Amit liked looked particularly weak, small, and lacklustre.

I had decided that on the whole females would be better, so we picked two girls, not from the same litter. One was small, hairy, snub-nosed, and flop-eared, light brown in colour. The other was larger and older (about three-and-a-half months, we were told); she had the face of an Alsatian, with a long, thin, pointy snout and sharp, pointy ears. She looked intelligent and eager. Her expression, more than her looks, reminded me of Cassie. She was terribly thin, but her coat was sleek and black.

The first pup, the smaller one, we were told, had a skin infection and they weren’t confident of curing it, so they asked us to pick another. We looked around, but there wasn’t much choice. Amit firmly wanted two, though – one for each girl, he said. So in the end we took that girl’s brother, apparently from the same litter, instead.

There was some paperwork, then inoculations and de-worming, which we had to pay for, and then we were done. Altogether, we spent about an hour and a half at CUPA, which was not too bad.

I would have held the pups in the car on the way home, but Amit voted to keep them in the back of the car. It was a long drive, perhaps their first, and at least one of them was sick on the way. But we were home by a little after 2, and now we were six.

Going Astray

March 10, 2007

For those of you who haven’t heard, a few days ago, a pack of stray dogs attacked and killed a small boy.

The dogs weren’t rabid – as far as is known – but were hanging around near a meatshop, which might account for their unduly aggressive behaviour.

This is the second such incident in a few months. The first was in a different area, and without the added provocation of a nearby meat shop.

The powers-that-be, in this case, BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) have reacted predictably, by launching a stray-dog-culling exercise. To this, the dogs have reacted, also predictably, by biting people – not necessarily limiting themselves to the BBMP stray-dog-catching people.

This bodes ill for the dogs.

As far as I can tell, there is currently no plan to “euthanize” (to put it politely) the dogs. The BBMP plans to put them in compounds, but they simply don’t have the space.

As a passionate dog lover – the type who snaps her fingers at a passing stray dog and immediately has a new friend – I wish there were some better solution to the problem. The sterilization drive that has been ongoing for some years now, is clearly not going to bring about a reduction in the stray dog population unless many more people and a lot more money is pumped into it. I don’t – in principle – agree with the sterilization plan either, but I do agree that it is more humane than simply rounding them up and injecting them with something lethal.

The fact is that we do need to do something about the strays. They breed like rabbits, and while I don’t go so far as to blame the existence of rabies or other diseases entirely on the stray dogs, it is true that rabid dogs are a serious menace. That apart, there is the traffic problem – the not infrequent, gruesome sight of dog remains on the road is a visible reminder that stray dogs don’t always thrive for long.

And when strays start attacking humans, whether merely biting or actually mauling and killing, I can’t find it in me to say that they should still be allowed to roam freely. I do feel that it is highly unusual and unlikely for strays to attack humans unprovoked – in the absence of rabies – but, if that is what they are doing, for whatever reason, then it obviously can’t be allowed to continue.

I don’t know what the best solution is. Killing them off is inhuman; sterilizing them will take a decade to show tangible results; putting them into compounds will not only require huge area and infrastructure, but will also probably lead to social and health problems in the compound. Dogs, though pack animals, aren’t used to living in packs of hundreds, and there certainly will be vicious fighting, and perhaps starvation, in-breeding, disease.

Clearly, whatever solution is implemented will take a substantial amount of time, money, human resources, skill, and patience. And, in whatever solution, ultimately the dogs are the losers. It’s sad… this is our attitude to dogs, man’s best friend.

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