Postal pooches

Good news for all the canine-crazy people. You can now write letters on the first day covers featuring Indian breed four-legged friends. You can even frame the doggies on the envelopes in the form of stamps.

What’s new?
The Indian sub-continent is the largest conglomeration of various breeds of dogs in the world. Through a long process of evolution, each geographical region in India has produced a distinctive breed, adapted to the local environment. Known for their sturdiness and loyalty, there is a need for creation of awareness about the variety of the canine population in India. The Post & Telegraph department of the Government of India has recently released postage stamps and first day covers on four breeds of dogs of Indian origin.

Featured breeds
The breeds that feature on the stamps include Mudhol Hound, Rajapalayam, Rampur Hound & the Himalayan Sheepdog.
Mudhol Hound : Primarily a desert variety of gaze hounds, it is generally found scattered all over Maharashtra and has been mostly kept by tribals. The Raja of Mudhol, a princely state, now part of Karnataka, trained these dogs for hunting. The Raja of Kolhapur also patronised this breed. Quiet, aloof, placid and reserve, they hunt with extreme concentration, equally well on dry and marshy lands.
Rajapalayam : Built on the lines of the Great Dane, it is an all white dog, though at times mottled white is also noticed. The eyes are brown, and the pink nose is distinctive. With his button ears and whip tail, he has loose hanging upper lips and is deep-chested. Though he is not a fast runner, but he is tireless and steady over long distances. Traditionally used as sheep dog and for hunting, he has also figured in battles. It is said that in the 18th century, Pudukottai regiment of Rajapalayam dogs was effectively used for fighting the enemies. Although he is used more for hunting hare and other small game, he is gentle and is everyone’s friend.
Rampur Hounds :They are most well known elegant Indian breed, featured in Mughul miniatures. These dogs come from Rampur of erstwhile Rohilkhand of Uttar Pradesh. They are medium sized, muscular, powerful built for great speed and endurance. They have long wide head, flat between ears, and powerful jaws with scissor bite. They have slightly oval, brown to dark amber eyes. They have long and tapering tail, and the body has short and firm coat. Every year in a mela in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, the best Hound exhibited is given the title Rustum-e-Rampur.
Himalayan Sheep Dog : Found in Ladakh and adjoining Nepal, they are strong and powerful dogs. Gentle and sensitive with humans, they are alert and have sharp reflexes. They are courageous and ferocious, making for excellent guard dogs for cattle. They are generally black or brown with patches of white on ears, legs and body. They have a thick coarse over coat and a thick smooth fur for under coat.

Formal release
Nasik Kennel Club and the Philatelic & Numismatic Society of Nasik recently organised a function in Nasik to mark the occasion. It was attended by over 50 participants and was presided by Dr. Arvind Choudhary.
Shantilal Hiran, President of the Philatelic Society, said that this would result in greater awareness about these breeds. Dr A.S. Kulkarni, Secretary of Nasik Kennel Club was glad that the Government of India has given recognition to dog breeds of Indian origin and that this would prompt dog lovers to consider owning a dog of Indian origin. He also mentioned, “We are quite casual about maintaining records and pedigrees of our pets and this has resulted in our fascinations for breeds originating in other parts of the world.” Dr. Shriram Upadhye, a local enthusiast of the Indian breeds, was present with his 3-year-old Mudhol Hound female, Ash.
(Inputs by Dr. A.S. Kulkarni, Secretary, Nasik Kennel Club.)