Better than the best

Sometimes they are kicked or glared at. Other times, they are given biscuits. Once in a while, they are given love and a family. Yes, we are talking about our so-called stray dogs, who can become our wonderful companions.

Rini and Tapas Ghosh of Kolkata adopted Goti ten years ago. He lived in their apartment complex with his parents until Rini found him lying dehydrated in the middle of the road. She brought him home and arranged for medical treatment. When Goti was restored to health, the Ghoshs didn’t have the heart to send him back outside. Tapas had planned to buy a Labrador but he happily settled for Goti. Asked if he thinks his experience would have been different had he bought a pedigree dog, he shakes his head. “It would probably have been the same. Goti is the baby of the family.” Soon after Goti’s adoption, another resident of the same apartment complex, adopted Goti’s mother. Goti’s father also found a home, although in another neighbourhood.

Another family who decided to get their pets from their street was Dr. Ruby Sarkar’s. Ruby lives with her brother and has several pets – none of them pedigree. Queen, was her first adopted pet and now they have Gulti, who is one and half years old and the apple of everybody’s eyes. Starting from neighbours to the local rickshaw pullers, everybody stops to pet her.

Then there are Priyanka Ghosh and her husband who decided to get a pet soon after their marriage. Already a lover of stray dogs, the couple adopted two dogs from ‘People for Animals’ temporary shelter in May 2008. Now Hashi (meaning Smile) and Chinta (meaning Worry) are loved by neighbours as well.

Beautiful experiences

The decision to adopt a dog from the street or the pound is usually one that is made by people who have had previous interactions with these animals. “We’ve always had a bunch of dogs in the house since my childhood. We never bought them. What’s the need when I can give these beautiful, loyal animals a home instead?” says Rini Ghosh. Priyanka points out that some pedigree dogs are only suitable for cold climate–so why not adopt our great Indian breed. There is no difference in love and they are most suited for our Indian weather.

Then, there’s Sushmita Lahiri who has parented both stray and pedigree dogs. She’s had a few of both kinds, living together in harmony. When asked why she adopted dogs from the street, even though the family already had Golden Retrievers, Sushmita’s daughter, Rupin responds, “We’ve always loved stray dogs. We see no difference between them and pedigree dogs. Our experiences with our pedigree pets made us realize how wonderful dogs are. This resulted in us wanting to adopt more.”

A pet is a pet

Those of you who are reading this may wonder if adopting a stray dog is more complicated than buying a Labrador or a Pug from a well-known pet shop. It isn’t any harder or any easier. A pet is a pet. Regardless of the breed, the pet must be given due attention and care. Dr. Snehashish Banerjee, a well-known vet in Kolkata says, “Strictly speaking, there is no basic difference between the health care of dogs, be it stray or a pedigree one. However, there may be some difference in the management practices.”

Before you bring home a stray pup

  • Those planning to adopt a stray dog must be prepared for the responsibility it will take. It requires time and passion.
  • Make sure that the new family member is cordially welcomed by your family members so that he is at his best mental state during this transition to a new place. Remember, some rescued dogs may have had traumatic experiences before coming to your home.
  • Take the opinion of your vet whenever there is any issue. Listen to suggestions given by your friends and dog handlers, but your vet is the best person to advise you.

Pedigree or stray, a dog’s love is unconditional, he will always be by your side. It is up to you to be responsible for him. Keep him healthy and happy—he is God’s angel for you!

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