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What’s your dog’s canine-ability?

Do you know your dog’s personality? “Of course I do!” would be your most likely answer. Just like those moments when you fail to understand the behaviour of a family member, you may at times be in a fi x to tell “What kind of a dog my pet is!” Though a lot has to do with his breed and genetic characteristics, many personality traits are acquired by nature and nurture. Here’s a simple quiz to decipher your pooches’ personality and bring you closer to understanding them.

1. When you have first-time visitors at home, your dog:

  1. Leaps, bounds and climbs all over the stranger.
  2. Hides under the table with his tail tucked between the legs.
  3. Takes a slow approach and sniffs before deciding to come closer.
  4. Barks, growls and bares his teeth.

2. Your pawed friend is happiest when:

  1. There is a party in the house.
  2. Left alone with a dog-biscuit or a bone.
  3. He gets to spend quality time alone with you.
  4. He gets to chase a mouse or play a rough game on the grass.

3. How often does your dog bark?

  1. Almost throughout the day.
  2. He doesn’t actually bark, he whimpers.
  3. Only when he feels like.
  4. Whenever he sees anything strange or moving.

4. What is your pooch’s favourite pastime?

  1. Being around with people and making new friends.
  2. Cosying up in a corner.
  3. Going out for a refreshing walk.
  4. Biting!

5. When you punish your dog for behaving badly:

  1. He sulks for a while and then returns with a bang…. in a few minutes.
  2. Gets traumatized and refuses to come out of a hideout for several hours.
  3. Sulks and waits for you to come, pamper and coax him.
  4. Doesn’t really care.

6. Among the neighbourhood kids, your dog:

  1. Is a celebrity.
  2. Is petted occasionally by serious dog-lovers.
  3. Is approachable but moody.
  4. Is a terror and makes kids scamper away even when he steps out to pee.

7. On meeting another dog, your dog:

  1. Rubs noses, paws the “new friend” and bites on the muzzle.
  2. Pushes his ears backward and lies on his back with the tail tucked between the legs.
  3. Sniffs up the new dog from all angles and makes calculated moves
  4. Meeting another dog? You must be kidding!

8. During a drive in the car, your dog:

  1. Loves to stick his head out of the window and catch the fresh breeze.
  2. Can’t help peeing and throwing up all the way.
  3. Has his initial hiccups but settles down soon.
  4. Catches up on sleep.

9. Your doggie’s soft spot is:

  1. Scratching on the under-side of the neck.
  2. A gentle stroke on the head.
  3. A firm rub all over.
  4. A wrestle.

10. Does your dog ever run away from home?

  1. Doesn’t really “run away”…but may go out for a stroll by himself.
  2. Wouldn’t even think about it!
  3. Sometimes, but doesn’t go too far.
  4. Yes! Stays out for days on end and comes back rotten.

Your Scores :

Mostly A’s: “Page 3 Personality”: This doggie survives on social contact and is the life of any neighbourhood. The “A-Types” like to welcome their guests with as much enthusiasm as the host and love to be the centre of attention. They tend to get cranky and upset if left alone for long. They are also more prone to attention seeking behaviour. They are good listeners and companions; especially for people who live alone. Full of energy and life, they revel in human or animal company. However, their over-enthusiasm may sometimes even land them in troublesome situations. Also, they have to be trained so that they don’t end up being too dependant. All they ask for is lots of love, food and a little bit of pampering.

Mostly B’s: “The Shy one”: These are overtly sensitive and reserved dogs probably bordering on insecurity and fear. They would turn into a bundle of nerves when faced with too many strangers (human and animals). They scare easily and prefer to play safe in every step they take. A harsh punishment can push them back into their shell and it may take long before you can win back their confi dence. These fragile beings need to be handled with utmost care and compassion in order to build their self-esteem. Think twice before scolding them and try to do with a gentle deterring technique. Use a lot of tactile stimulation as a sign of assurance. Nurture them so that they don’t grow up to be wimps. Physical activity with a lot of inter-personal interaction helps in most cases.

Mostly C’s: “Cool Dude/Babe”: These dogs are usually balanced in their everyday behaviour and not giver to extremes. They are cautious and careful with every move and tend to be moody at times. Being intelligent and alert, they are every dog-trainer’s delight. They adjust easily to new environments but may not be very social at times. They crave individual space and at the same time, need a fair amount of attention to keep them going. This brand usually knows how to chalk out plans and you may fi nd them playing by themselves, exploring around, taking a nap or chilling out in a cosy corner. The good news is that you have an independent dog who is co-operative, not too high in his demands. They tend to look up to their parents for leadership and guidance and your parenting will eventually determine what they become when they grow up.

Mostly D’s: “Angry Young Man”: Your dog is the leader of a wolf pack, not your regular pooch which kids go ga-ga over but a rebel who resists domestication! They love challenges, adventure and freedom. He is most probably a male and an alpha one at that! The D-types are less likely to appreciate too much petting and prefer to be by themselves. They derive thrills out of chases and testosterone driven encounters. These are internally motivated dogs and are not easily impressed by toys, treats and games, which make them diffi cult to train. They are usually unfazed in normal circumstances but can prove dangerous for an outsider if provoked. Fiercely loyal and strong, they make perfect police and guard dogs. Give them adequate exercise, food and space and they are good to go!

Understanding aggression in dogs

Like humans, dogs too have a personality of their own and their behaviour is often  determined by various internal and external factors and aggression is no exception. 

Out of the entire range of canine behavioural traits, aggression is one characteristic, which is by far the most misunderstood and mishandled by humans. For many ‘supposed’ animal lovers, signs of aggression or ferocity have often caused them to resort inhumane practices, such as abandonment, eliminating the incisors and even euthanasia. Then there are people who prefer to keep a distance from anything that looks dog-like. They mostly dread the idea of a dog getting close to them and commonly believe, that all dogs do, is chase and bite people. The fact is that dogs have better things to do in life than chase and bite people all day long. With relevance to the former case, it has to be learnt and recognized that there may be certain physical and psychological factors underlying aggressive behaviour in a dog.
Most people, unfortunately, remain unaware of the existence and outcomes of these factors due to the lack of appropriate education on dog psychology and behaviour. The knowledge of this would help a great deal in avoiding uncomfortable and unsafe situations for the family of the pet, for the animal herself and of course, a complaining neighbourhood.
The foremost thing to learn and understand about dogs is that, they too have personalities of their own. In this regard, it is also important to note that, each dog has a distinct personality, depending on the environment in which she has been allowed to mature. The conduciveness of this environment to the psychological and physical well being of the pooch, is what will determine the possibilities of her displaying varied forms of aggression. A proper recognition of these, go a long way in assisting a healthy co-existence between humans and their canine companions.
Protection: The sense of ‘protection’ is a very common instigator of aggressive behaviour. Dogs have a strong tendency to protect things that they find valuable, such as their food, toys, territory and even their human family members. This kind of aggression is in most cases directed towards strangers, (who, according to dogs, might snatch away or harm their valuable possessions) and normally protects houses from robbers or burglars. Dogs find growling or barking as their only protective weapons.
Fear or anxiety: Dogs and all other animals, are naturally fearful and apprehensive of things, environments and situations, which they are unfamiliar to. These unfamiliar things are often considered to have the potential of being threatening. For example, any dog who has grown up in a quiet and peaceful household, will feel startled and threatened amongst noisy, rowdy or overly active people. In such a case, a dog may bark or pounce to drive the chaos away and defend herself and her human family. From a dog’s point of view therefore, if the behaviour of an otherwise friendly passerby looks threatening or frightening, there is all the reason to act for the purpose of protection.
Ill-treatment: Closely associated with the above mentioned factor, is aggression deriving from ‘ill-treatment.’ In a case where the dog is frequently beaten or hit for varied reasons, the dog might one day begin retaliating through ferocious behaviour, due to the fear of being hurt again. It is, thus, common to see that people who are harsh with their pets usually have dogs who are aggressive in nature.
Maternal instinct: Maternal aggression is commonly observed in female dogs two to four weeks after they have given birth and derives again, from a sense of insecurity and fear. Even the most docile and friendly dog is most likely to display maternal aggression if she has the slightest intuition that her babies might be at risk. It is most advisable, therefore, to restrict any visitors to get a look at, let alone touching, those ‘Oh! So adorable!’ bundles of cuteness for the first few weeks. As far as stray mothers are concerned, it is best for doggy lovers to prepare a cosy and safe place for her and the babies in some corner in a lane, not forgetting to keep a safe distance.
Frustration: It can originate from various factors, prominent amongst them being long hours of confinement and chaining. Besides, certain ‘playing’ methods of pet parents also bother dogs. Imagine someone shaking you up while you are in deep sleep, or someone blowing air in your face, or tickling, poking or trying to stuff you in a pillowcase! One must realize that a dog too has ‘limits,’ a concept that people, mostly children, ignore when it comes to animals. This disregard is most likely to result in a rebellious response from the canine and the only way that she can express this defiance is through a show of aggression.
Play-fighting: As far as ‘play fighting’ between dogs and humans is concerned, it is symbolic of an affectionate exchange of fondness and trust. Here, we may slap and pull or grab our dogs playfully, while they playfully bite or tug our hands or clothes. ‘Play bites’ are extremely inhibited and harmless. Young dogs, however, who are still learning how to inhibit their bites while playing, might at times, unintentionally bite hard. This, by all means, must not be considered as an act of aggression, as it is nothing more than an innocent effort to return your affection.
Pain or sickness: A sick or injured dog often turns irritable and snappy. Snapping, showing of teeth or growling, however, are no more than warnings saying ‘do not touch!’ It is not surprising, therefore, for an otherwise gentle dog to bite a caring owner who is trying to examine, treat or soothe a wound or injury.
Old age: It is common for an aged dog to acquire certain age related medical problems such as impaired vision and hearing or a diminished sense of smell. As a result of confusion caused by these, a dog may not be quick in recognizing and accepting people or situations. Consequently, they tend to get startled and irritated quickly at being approached or handled too often. These reactions also have to do with another trait that is associated with the elderly, including those amongst humans, is the ‘lack of patience.’ We, therefore, see old dogs becoming snappy and less tolerant towards active puppies and ‘over-enthusiastic’ human lovers. Besides these factors, other age related problems such as arthritis also cause great discomfort and pain in old dogs, making a dog less friendly and intolerant.
Dominance: The victims here are usually the pet owners who, from the dog’s point of view, are the subordinates in the ‘pack.’ Obviously then, the dog considers herself to be the leader of the pack, or in literal terms, the leader or head of the family. The fact is that a dog is a pack animal and by natural instincts, will try to establish dominance within any pack that she belongs to. For pet dogs, the owning family, along with the other household pets, form the pack. What’s interesting, is that it is the owners’ behaviour towards the dog, which will determine the development of dominance aggression. If the owners have a habit of feeding the dog before they eat themselves, or allow him to sleep on their own beds, or submit at one bark of demand; the dog will establish a higher rank in the household and begin commanding wishes through a show of dominance aggression.
Redirected aggression: Here, a dog might attack his owner, a stranger or another animal because she is already enraged by another source or in another context. The most common example of this form of aggression is when a man, who is trying to break a fight between two dogs, grabs at the dogs’ collars, tails or legs in the process. The agitated dog will most probably throw a bite at the ‘interfering’ source, without realising who that source is and many times, even considering it a part of the other dog.
So, the next time you see your dog showing aggressive behaviour, try to understand the underlying cause, before labelling her as an aggressive dog. Remember, such behaviour can be controlled with the help of proper training.

Dog training

Allow dogs and puppies to explore

Dogs love to sniff and explore. We need to be aware of our dog’s amazing ability and need to use his senses.

Allowing dogs and especially puppies to explore, sniff and taste different safe objects helps their brains to develop, however be careful not to overload a puppy with too much or the puppy will shut down. A few minutes a day is enough for a small puppy.

Give the dog some pet toys or safe household junk, scattered around a room or yard for him to explore. You can even use an old cardboard box and hide some yummy treats in or under some of the objects.

If he is investigating an object, which is not doing any harm, then allow him to do so, as this will help him develop selfconfidence. Don’t pull him away. Give the dog space to explore, don’t interrupt and learn to keep quiet. Dogs need to explore their environment and find out what’s there. This nose work will cost him more energy than a long walk, it is hard work for the dog but it is necessary for his development and self-confidence.

Many problems in dogs develop through lack of selfconfidence, so do not stop him from using his senses. AfterTraining all this is what he was born to do. However do not allow him to chase and keep him on a lead unless in a safe and secure environment. They will view their new environment first and then their head goes down and they start to take in the information through their nose. We should never yank on the lead or pull the dog’s head up. This can damage the dog’s vertebrae or thyroid.

When walking your dog, make the walk an enjoyable one. Don’t walk your dog on a short lead, making him keep up with your walking pace. Allow him to walk slowly on a long lead, to sniff and explore the environment. This will be more enjoyable for your dog, more mentally stimulating.

As a dog uses his senses, he is taking in a lot of information, he is reading the daily post, who has been there, what has been there, why they were there, and so much more information that we, humans, do not know and cannot comprehend.

Some objects can be scary for dogs, especially for puppies. Allow them to walk up and explore in their own time and own way without pushing or rushing the puppy. Our intervention can do more harm than good in this situation. If the dog wants to go away from the scary object, then allow him to do so, its ok for him to walk away, he may be ready to deal with it another day. Also allow the dog to have an escape route from the situation, this will help him to feel more secure, knowing he can leave if things feel a little scary.

Take your time, walk slowly, enrich your dog’s environment, give him plenty of rest and enjoy your dog.

Scent work is fun for your dog so allow him to do what he was born to do. Understanding your dog’s needs is the beginning to understanding him and developing a good relationship with him.

(Nicole Mackie has over 14 years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications over the years such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience in veterinary nursing. She is a regular radio speaker and writer for magazines, works with behavioural problems in dogs and runs socializing groups for dogs with social problems.)

Beautiful dogs on stamps:a collector’s pride

Everyone has a hobby or two and if you are a dog lover and a philatelist, then what would you collect? Dog stamps! This is exactly what Vinayak Moorthy does. He has a huge collection of stamps featuring dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages from all over the world. Here’s a peek into his vast collection.

 

An avid animal lover, Vinayak Moorthy has a beautiful collection of over 300 stamps featuring dogs from various countries like India, US, Vietnam, Scandinavia, UK, Germany, China, Tibet, etc. Each stamp has a description of its origin and is filed neatly. It is a real pleasure to see some of the beautiful dogs on these postal stamps. This is indeed a superb way to celebrate our canines.

As Moorthy puts it, “Stamps of butterflies and different models of cars made my childhood colourful. Later, dogs became my favourite and in 1974, I started breeding dogs. My love for dogs prompted me to collect dog stamps six years back and now it has become my passion. The oldest among my collection is a Lhasa Apso breed stamp, issued by Oman in 1971. Besides this, two more stamps I treasure are – a 30-year-old Foxhound and Irish Setter stamp, issued by Cuba in 1976, and the other is issued by Mongolia in 1978, featuring GSD and Labrador. In spite of having stamps from different countries, my favourites are stamps featuring Indian breeds.”

So how do Moorthy collects stamps? “I have lots of friends in different countries and they play a major role in widening my hobby. I also buy stamps through Stamp Associations,” he added.

Moorthy has exhibited his collection in various stamp exhibitions and also at schools. How do dog lovers react to his collection? “Oh! It’s overwhelming. I received huge appreciation when I displayed my prized possession at International Dog Show, conducted by Kennel Club, in Chennai. I still cherish their warm response,” replied Moorthy.

Giving tips to people who collect dog stamps, Moorthy said, “Just like bringing up a pet, a philatelist also has thirst for collecting pet stamps. You should be aware of the breed and origin of the dog and then you can actually treasure your collection.” Just as Moorthy, who finds pride in his own collection!

My personal ordeal

One thing that I had never thought was that a small mistake would cost me so dear. It all started when one day I happened to see the main gate of my house left slightly open. I suddenly wanted to be adventurous and I ventured out for a little walk – all by myself.
I had barely strolled for a while when a burly looking man suddenly picked me up. I was rendered speechless by fear. In retrospect, I think maybe if I had screamed my lungs out, someone would have noticed.
Before I knew it, I was being taken away from the familiar locality to some strange area. He finally entered a house and I noticed to my horror, a woman coming towards me with a pair of scissors. Before I could react, she had chopped off my beautiful hair and I felt totally skinned and vulnerable. They then tried to feed me some milk but I was too frightened to eat. They then left me alone in a dark room and I slipped under the bed for some comfort. God, how I wanted to be out of there, and back in my cozy bed, in the arms of my family!!!
It went on like this for a few days. And then suddenly one day, I heard a familiar voice. “It’s papa’s voice!!!” I realized. But it seemed too good to be true. I waited for him to come up and rescue me, but nothing happened..
But the next day, I heard that same comforting voice again and my heart leapt up. I prayed to God and promised Him that I shall always be a good girl.
I think He heard my prayers because very soon, I heard that voice coming closer. Soon I was dragged out and lo and behold, it was Papa!!! He rushed forward to hug me and I was overwhelmed with joy. He took me in his arms and soon we were heading home. When I reached home, I got such a warm welcome that I couldn’t stop whimpering and whining.
For me, my rescue was nothing less than a miracle. I knew I was very lucky to have parents who left no stones unturned to find me. And now every time when I pray to God before sleeping, I thank Him for saving me and I also pray that all those dogs who are lost or have been stolen, have parents like mine, who Never Gave Up On Me!!!!

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2006

Ginger – a Friend, Partner, a defender…
Pets are wonderful companions and dogs are the best. He is friendly, confident and a faithful comrade. My pet, Ginger, a golden Labrador is a loving, playful dog, true to
his Lab characteristics; he is affectionate and hates to stay alone.
When I come back from school, he greets me with total exuberance. He jumps up and if I am not careful – I can be floored!! His eyes are very expressive and if we don’t give him the desired biscuit, he simply sulks.
The most comical antic of his is when he chases lizards and birds. I only have to say “Lizzi Bizzi” and he goes berserk. He barks and jumps and tries to catch the
lizard, and when he cannot reach it, he reacts comically. His antics always leave us in splits of laughter. He is  a great companion and we all love Ginger.
– Vrinda

Old tricks for new dogs!!!

GIVE ME FIVE or SHAKE HANDS!!!
By far, this is the most simplest trick to teach your pooch. Here it goes:

  • Get your dog’s most favourite treat and show it to him. Grab his attention with the help of that treat.
  • Ask him to sit in front of you and hold the treat in front of him, in one hand. Tease him a little with the treat to get him excited.
  • Mostly, by looking at the treat, the pup will start jumping up or barking or getting excited. Let him do that in the initial stages. You can even praise him, give him the treats if he lifts both front legs up in the air, initially.
  • When he is sitting, with your free hand, tap on his front leg and encourage him to move his feet with use of the treat. Keep saying Good Boy all the time. Do not force him or pull his leg.
  • Once he gets the idea of what you expect him to do, you can slowly start praising him only when he lifts one of his paws and give it in your hand.
  • Practice this 3-4 times in a day and for several days till he gets the idea.
  • Keep giving him the treats until he does it correctly. Afterwards, praise and treat him only for the best Shake Hands.
  • Alternatively, you can also teach your dog to give you a “hi fi” instead of a normal shake hand i.e. the dog touches his paws to your palm. For the dogs who are “toy driven,” you can use his favourite toy instead of treat and repeat the same exercise.

ROLL OVER

  • Your dog must know the command ‘Down’ prior to teaching him Roll. And then you can start like this:
  • Ask your dog to go flat on the ground. It’s better if your dog has a habit of lying flat on one side.
  • Hold your dog’s favourite treat in your hand and keep it close to his nose.
  • We want the dog to move his entire body from one side to another i.e. from left to right. So slowly move your hand from left to right as shown in the picture, and encourage your dog to turn his body accordingly.
  • Initially praise him even if the dog is just able to go flat on his belly but not able to turn his body completely to the other side.
  • Practice it step by step and give your dog some time to understand it.
  • Do not move your hand too fast or away from your dog’s body too much or else he will break the down position and might get up to reach the food.

BARK ON COMMAND

  • You have to understand your dog’s nature to teach him this command. You have to know what excites him i.e. treat/toy etc. We want to teach our dog a simple ‘Bark on command’  and not to bark aggressively/nervously at any object/person. Here’s how to teach him:
  • Get the dog’s most favourite treat and show it to him. Grab his attention with help of that treat.
  • Ask him to sit in front of you and hold the treat in front of him, in one hand. Tease him a little with the treat to get him excited. Mostly by looking at the treat, the pup will start jumping up or getting excited. Let him do that in the initial stages.
  • Praise the dog for any slightest of the noise he makes.
  • With some dogs you can even have the other person hold the dog and stand on a little distance from him. Then call him by his name in a happy and cheerful tone. Praise him with the treat or by patting him, if he barks.
  • Your dog will need some time to understand what you expect him to do and might as well try to do things which he already knows i.e. shake hands, sit etc. So, give him enough time to understand the concept.
  • Once your dog gets the idea, you can work on reducing all the unnecessary excitement i.e. jumping up etc. Once he knows how to bark, it is also important to teach him to be quiet when you want to. He should not keep barking as long as he wants to keep getting the treats.

Steps to teach the dog to be quiet :

  • Once he knows to bark on command, praise him only for one or two barks.
  • Ask him to sit after that, so that his attention gets divided from barking.
  • Start praising him by saying “Good Boy” in a low and soothing tone to get him to relax.
  • Ignore him if he keeps on barking for more treats and praise him only when he calms dow
  • Most importantly, when you are teaching anything new to your dog, please do not start using the command from beginning, because your dog does not understand the word automatically. You have to teach him the action first and then associate that action with the particular command.

(Pooja Sathe is trained under Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour and Training, UK. She can be contacted at: poojasathe11@hotmail.com, Ph: +91-9820596903, 022-24165358 – Mumbai.)

A Dog’s Life Moti from his home in heaven, Lynn de Souza

‘A dog’s life’ is narrated by Moti from his home in heaven. –by Lynn de Souza Till now…Moti was picked up by Golu from his littermates and brought to Brindavan building. He befriends Tiger, another dog and the kind-hearted Pinto girl who takes care of both of them. Moti is hurt and driven away from Brindavan, seeks refuge in drain but eventually with the help of Pinto girl gets acceptance at Brindavan. He meets Rani and fathers a pup. Facing other brutalities of life, he and Tiger are caught by death dog van but are rescued by the Pinto girl. Tiger gets ill and is driven from Brindavan and suffers a painful death…

I was eight years old when Tiger died, with still a couple of good doggy years left inside me. But I grew lonely, and missed him very much. Rani now practically stayed all the time at Brindavan, and kept me company.

The Pintos had started feeding her daily. When they came back from their holiday, and Harichander told them about Tiger, I was surprised to see how upset the mother got. The tears stood out in her eyes, and she rushed off upstairs. “Mum saved Tiger’s life so many times when he was little”, the Pinto girl explained to me.

Rani stopped having puppies. She too had started to age a little, and her wandering days were over. We both kept watch over the building at night, but our hearts weren’t in it, after we saw the shabby treatment Tiger had received.

But the Pinto girl reminded me that for every wrong act, there is a corresponding right one happening somewhere in the world, so I should not bear any grudges against Harichander and company, and be grateful that I still enjoyed a peaceful life. Peaceful it was, but that only lasted till Rex came along.

Rex was a German Shepherd who came into the building as a pup in the apartment immediately neighbouring the Pinto’s. By the time he was a year old, and I was nine, he was the terror of the building.

He had bitten other dogs, including one of the Pinto’s, and also some of the children. His owner had a special extra door with grills built, to prevent him from rushing out. But they secretly wanted a ferocious guard dog, because they were up to all kinds of shady business.

It was only a matter of time before he bit me. One of the Pinto’s dogs came into season and Rex got very excited indeed. On one of the days of her heat, he managed to escape past both the doors, and rushed down the stairs. I made a dash for the gate as soon as I heard his heavy breath and pounding feet, but it was too late. He went for my genitals and bit hard. Being much lighter and nimbler than he was, despite my age and broken hip, I pulled free and ran as fast as I could out of the gate, while the watchman quickly shut it past me, so that Rex couldn’t follow. The servant who looked after him came running down, and collared him and took him away.

Luckily I wasn’t too badly hurt, just the one bite, which hadn’t gone too deep, but it was still very painful. She came quickly with her dressing material and started to clean and bandage the wound.

The next morning her parents left for an extended holiday abroad to live with their son. While leaving her mother said to me, quite sadly, “Will you be well? Will you still be here when I get back, or will you too be gone like Tiger?” I couldn’t reply then, but like Tiger had felt earlier, I think we too said our silent goodbyes to each other at that moment.

Despite the dressing, the wound caught maggots. And I came down with a high fever as well. So she called the vet, who gave me a shot of antibiotics, and then attempted to puncture a vein in my left leg to feed in a special kind of injection, that would perk me up a bit. I think that was a mistake. He didn’t seem to have found the vein properly, and sent the medicine into the muscles around it instead. That is very dangerous, because these strong injections can destroy all the surrounding tissues, and in my case they did. My leg started swelling up, and by the next evening, I was unable to put my foot down.

The vet came again and tried to give me another injection, in the other leg, but I didn’t trust him anymore and for the first time in my life, I resisted, and wouldn’t stay still. So he went away without doing anything.

I had lost the will to eat, and she began to feed me manually, holding my mouth open and placing morsels of bread mixed with something sweet deep inside my mouth. The fever was still high, and she fed me little bits every few hours.

I could tell that she was exhausted from managing her home, and her own dogs, and her office, and now me all by herself, but did the best she could, sitting by my side all evening, and late into the night. When we dogs feel ill, we like to sit quietly away from everything preferably in a dark place, so I crawled under her car and tried to sleep.

I was suffering and in pain again after so many years. This time it was a little different though. When I was a young dog, pain made me panic. Now I felt no fear, just discomfort. I knew that I was in good hands, that Tiger would fulfil his promise to me, that from his place far away, he would exercise whatever power he had over mother nature to make sure that I would not have reason to be sad or scared.

On my last night on earth, she stayed with me till well past midnight. She gave me my last helping of sweet water and medicine, then wished me goodnight. “I’ll see you in the morning then, Moti. I’ll bring Mischief to see you as well, he’s been wondering why you haven’t joined him for the morning walk for so many days”. That was a good thing to hear. Mischief was a very sweet chap, a black long eared Cocker Spaniel, with a playful nature, who had also once been bitten by Rex. She had adopted him two years earlier, and he had quickly become her favourite. I liked him too, he loved walking with me, and I could tell that he would be very good to her when Tiger and I were no longer around.

It was an agonising night for me. The pain in my leg was intense, and despite the medicine, I felt alternately hot and cold with fever. My head and eyes ached, and I found it difficult to breathe.

At one point in the middle of the night I was so uncomfortable, that I let out a loud cry. She came running down to check on me when she heard me cry, but I had already settled down by the bench, and felt a little better. So she stayed with me for a while, and then went back upstairs.

Like Tiger, I knew when it was time for me to go. Unlike him, I was loved and cared for till the very end. But I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye to Mischief who, she had promised me, was coming to see me the next morning. So I kept on breathing for as long as I could, waiting and waiting for the early morning sun to rise.

She brought him right after his morning walk. Mischief kissed me, and licked my face. “You look all tired out, old chap”, he said, jovially. “Don’t worry, there will be no more pain and suffering in the place where you’re going. And you’ll meet Tiger again, and some of my friends too, I won’t be meeting you in a hurry, but when I do, don’t act like you’ve forgotten me already, okay?”

He wagged his stump of a tail joyfully, because I could tell that he was genuinely happy for me. He could see past my pain to the times that lay ahead, in that special way we animals have.

I did have a pretty good life, and here I was, having the best kind of death in the circumstances. Pain becomes much more bearable when you have someone around who gives you love along with medicines.

“I’ll be back just now with your food, Moti”, she whispered, and chucked me under my chin. She stroked my head a few times, but tears were already rolling down her eyes, as she witnessed Mischief and me sniffing each other for the last time. She gazed deep and searchingly into my hazel eyes for a long time. I think she was looking for something very important right then, and I hope she found it. Then she turned away, and went upstairs with Mischief in tow.

I filled my eyes with my last earthly sight of her, and then looked beyond into another world, a world where I could see Tiger, the stupid kitten, some of the Pinto dogs who had passed on too, and the dogs I had seen at the electric chamber, all beautiful and happy, and eternally alive. And full of the joy of living. In that instant I learnt that finding your home, and you can only ever have one true home in any life, is not an easy thing. It is always preceded by great suffering – like the night I was beaten up in the rain, and now the night of fever and pain.

Could that be why many of you never find your true homes ever – because you are not prepared to accept or endure the trials that must go before?

She came down again when the watchman informed her that I had passed away, and wrapped me up in a white towel, then laid me in the back seat of her car. She phoned her aunt and uncle who came over and drove the car to the spot at the beach where she had buried all her other dogs. She dug up a deep pit in the sand with a shovel, laid me down in it, and then crossing herself and me, she wished me goodbye. “See you someday, Moti”, she wept softly. “You have been the best friend I ever had, and I will really miss you”.

So that’s my story, the story of a dog’s life, sometimes happy sometimes sad, but a life I am always more than glad to have lived.

I felt the hardship of blows, but I also felt the tenderness of the human touch. I found that true friendship crosses all the boundaries and forms of life, and home lies only in the heart of a true friend.

And if there is one important lesson that I have for you, my human friend, it is that nothing is perfect. Where there is great sorrow there is also great joy, and the opposite is also true. It is only in discovering and dealing with the imperfections of life with eternal love and optimism that we live at all.

A dog’s life

‘A dog’s life’ is narrated by Moti from his home in heaven.
-by Lynn de Souza

Till now…Moti was picked up by Golu from his littermates and brought to Brindavan building. He befriends Tiger, another dog and the kind-hearted Pinto girl who takes care of both of them. Moti is hurt and driven away from Brindavan, seeks refuge in drain but eventually with the help of Pinto girl gets acceptance at Brindavan. He also fathers a pup. A death dog van catches Moti and Tiger and Pinto girl rescues them from the death chamber…

My first encounter with maggot wounds was when Tiger got bitten in a dog fight, on the inside of his thigh. Flies hovered around the bleeding wound, and laid their eggs, which then hatched into little white worms called maggots. These creatures rapidly ate up all the surrounding flesh, and formed a kind of crater like wound. When treated quickly, these wounds heal very fast, but if neglected, the maggots can eat away so much of the dog’s flesh that it eventually leads to death.
The most identifiable symptom of a maggot wound is the distinctive horrible smell. Tiger stank, oh did he stink!
As soon as the Pinto girl discovered his wound, she dragged him off to the vet. When he came back home, he ran round and round the building for an hour, chasing his tail and shaking his head with discomfort. “What happened to you at the vet’s place?” I asked him. “You seem to be in even more discomfort now”.
“That wretched vet poured a strong liquid called turpentine into the wound”, he answered. “It burned like crazy but it made the maggots jump out very quickly. He also pulled out some more maggots from inside with forceps. Then he dusted some yellow powder which doesn’t burn as much but feels all sticky. I want to lick it off, but can’t reach my tongue there, will you do it for me?”
“Oh rubbish”, I replied, “You’re such a fusspot. That powder’s good for you, why should I lick it off? Just calm down, and it’s bound to ease up”.
But I did sit down by his side and licked his face and neck instead, while the burning pain subsided. For two days after that, she dressed the wound herself, removing the remaining maggots with forceps.
Tiger was very cooperative with her, like me. Many dogs need to be muzzled during veterinary treatment, because the pain can make even ordinarily mild tempered dogs bite. But Tiger and I would let her touch us anywhere with anything, without a murmur.
He was up and about and his usual self in a few days, and the wound healed very well. I had stayed with him all the time, giving up my street roaming in the mornings to be with him.
It seemed to make him feel better, and we got the rare chance to just sit and talk about all kinds of things, from life in the drain, to the visit to the vet, to dog fights, to the problems of cats and rats, and wondered what it must be like to be living up in the Pinto flat with all those other namby pamby dogs. The one subject we studiously avoided was our tryst with death.
“Do humans also get maggot wounds?” Tiger asked.
“I doubt”, I replied, never having seen a human with one. Then came my turn with those slimy little worms. A minor dog fight in which I got bitten on my front paw, and soon enough the maggots came. She didn’t take me to the vet, but fixed me up with the turpentine and antiseptic cream herself. I was soon well.
Maggot wounds became a common occurrence, because there were many flies around the place. Even the smallest of wounds picked up while not necessarily fighting, but just jumping over the wall, would get infested with maggots, and she became quite an expert at treating them.
Some years later, however, Tiger’s right ear got bitten in a dog fight, and the maggots wormed their way right down the ear canal. There were several trips to the vet, but this wound took almost a month to heal, and repeated dressing took its toll on his ear.
Over the weeks, the canal closed up completely, and he lost his hearing on the right side. The vet’s treatment couldn’t have been too good, because the ear would still ooze a whitish liquid from time to time, which she would mop up and medicate. If she ever forgot, the maggots would start up again, because the flies loved to feed on this ooze, even more than on blood.
This unhappy state of affairs continued for nearly two years.
Tiger was now almost ten years old, and finding the whole situation pretty painful and uncomfortable. There was a constant bad smell around him, either from the dressing, or the ooze, or the maggots, whichever happened to be on him at the time. The building residents started to complain, and the Chairman’s wife wanted him thrown out. Though he was almost always in pain, and probably also had a constant low fever, he ate well, and went about his daily wanderings, shaking his head all the while. It reminded me of the time when I was a youngster and the rats had bitten my ears.
His eyes however took on a vacant stare, as if he were there but not really there. They had lost that mischievous devil may care Tiger look, and a human would have now felt he was a very sad dog. Which he was.
“It seems to be my turn to get the boot now”, Tiger said to me mournfully, when he heard what the Chairman’s wife said “What fair weather friends these humans are”.
The Pintos left the building every year for a month to go on a holiday. The Pinto mother would give Harichander a packet of uncooked dal, and money for bread before she left, and he was kept in charge of our daily meals.
Despite his earlier behaviour, Harichander had completely reformed, and kept us properly fed and watered while they were away.
When we wished them bon voyage, Tiger’s ear wasn’t bad. It happened to be during those rare days, when there was nothing wrong with it, not even ooze. But a few days after they left, it started oozing again.
This time, since there was no treatment, the pus formed very rapidly, and maggots multiplied by the thousands. The building residents were too selfish and miserly to do anything for us, when the Pintos weren’t around, not even Harichander who was Tiger’s owner. No one even bothered to call the vet, or the SPCA and have Tiger admitted to the hospital.
In a couple of weeks, the right side of Tiger’s head was a stinking rotten mass. There was no visible ear left, just a large red open wound, in which big white and yellow maggots kept crawling up and down. The wound now extended well over his forehead almost reaching his right eye.
He shook his head all the time to ease the pain and discomfort. The maggots had begun worming their way towards his brain, and he complained of a constant headache, and was slowly losing his vision too. And his sanity. Though he didn’t go mad, he began to lose his grip on reality and would drift off into a daze.
My faithful friend Tiger, was such a happy handsome smart dog – I couldn’t bear to see him now reduced to this indignity. If I could, I would have delivered him a fatal bite on his neck, but I didn’t even know how to do that. So I just sat quietly by his side, keeping him updated about what was going on in the streets, and reassuring him that the Pintos would soon be back, and then everything would be all right.
But no, it only got worse. The Chairman’s wife began to complain bitterly about the smell and ordered for Tiger to be thrown out of the building. So Harichander did as he was told, and sent him out.
Too weak to complain, Tiger went out without a sound, and sat outside the gate. I went out with him.
For two days, Harichander brought us our food outside as usual, and though I ate, Tiger didn’t touch a morsel. He grew sadder and weaker, so weak that even a tail wag became difficult. His eyes watered, and you would have thought he was crying. In his own way, he was.
“It’s too late for me now”, he said to me quietly, on the third evening. “Moti, you’ve been such a good friend, but I don’t think I can wait till she comes back for me to get some treatment. It is a bad and cruel thing that I have to live like this in my dying days, discarded in the street, when I have saved the people in this building from so many robberies, and played with all of them and their children over the years. But you must understand, that it is  better for me to die quickly”.
“Wouldn’t you like to wait to say good bye to her?” I asked.
“Moti, we did say our byes. She knew when she was going that she would not see me again, at least not on this earth. It will be a long time before I meet up with her again, but you Moti, you will join me soon, won’t you?”
“Oh I will, Tiger”, I promised him, and nuzzled his chest.
“Hey, but don’t you go having such a rotten death, okay? I will protect you from where I am, and see that you are looked after till the very end”.
“Thank you, my friend”, I replied, and licked his living face for the last time. “Have a good journey, and see you soon. Say hi to that stupid kitten for me, will you?”
Tiger breathed his last, and I licked the other side of his face for a long while after that. Then I came back into the building, heavy hearted and lonely.
I knew that life is never quite the same from one day to the next, but I had never lost a close friend before. My ears and nose could still pick up the sounds and smells of Tiger, but they came now from very far away and I wanted to be there.
The next morning, the municipality garbage van took his body away along with the other rubbish. No, the building folks didn’t even bother to give him a decent burial.
To be continued in the next issue…

A Dog’s LifeMy first encounter with maggot, Lynn de Souza

‘A dog’s life’ is narrated by Moti from his home in heaven. –by Lynn de Souza Till now…Moti was picked up by Golu from his littermates and brought to Brindavan building. He befriends Tiger, another dog and the kind-hearted Pinto girl who takes care of both of them. Moti is hurt and driven away from Brindavan, seeks refuge in drain but eventually with the help of Pinto girl gets acceptance at Brindavan. He also fathers a pup. A death dog van catches Moti and Tiger and Pinto girl rescues them from the death chamber…

My first encounter with maggot wounds was when Tiger got bitten in a dog fight, on the inside of his thigh. Flies hovered around the bleeding wound, and laid their eggs, which then hatched into little white worms called maggots. These creatures rapidly ate up all the surrounding flesh, and formed a kind of crater like wound. When treated quickly, these wounds heal very fast, but if neglected, the maggots can eat away so much of the dog’s flesh that it eventually leads to death. The most identifiable symptom of a maggot wound is the distinctive horrible smell. Tiger stank, oh did he stink! As soon as the Pinto girl discovered his wound, she dragged him off to the vet. When he came back home, he ran round and round the building for an hour, chasing his tail and shaking his head with discomfort. “What happened to you at the vet’s place?” I asked him. “You seem to be in even more discomfort now”.

“That wretched vet poured a strong liquid called turpentine into the wound”, he answered. “It burned like crazy but it made the maggots jump out very quickly. He also pulled out some more maggots from inside with forceps. Then he dusted some yellow powder which doesn’t burn as much but feels all sticky. I want to lick it off, but can’t reach my tongue there, will you do it for me?” “Oh rubbish”, I replied, “You’re such a fusspot. That powder’s good for you, why should I lick it off? Just calm down, and it’s bound to ease up”.

But I did sit down by his side and licked his face and neck instead, while the burning pain subsided. For two days after that, she dressed the wound herself, removing the remaining maggots with forceps.

Tiger was very cooperative with her, like me. Many dogs need to be muzzled during veterinary treatment, because the pain can make even ordinarily mild tempered dogs bite. But Tiger and I would let her touch us anywhere with anything, without a murmur.

He was up and about and his usual self in a few days, and the wound healed very well. I had stayed with him all the time, giving up my street roaming in the mornings to be with him.

It seemed to make him feel better, and we got the rare chance to just sit and talk about all kinds of things, from life in the drain, to the visit to the vet, to dog fights, to the problems of cats and rats, and wondered what it must be like to be living up in the Pinto flat with all those other namby pamby dogs. The one subject we studiously avoided was our tryst with death.

“Do humans also get maggot wounds?” Tiger asked.

“I doubt”, I replied, never having seen a human with one.

Then came my turn with those slimy little worms. A minor dog fight in which I got bitten on my front paw, and soon enough the maggots came. She didn’t take me to the vet, but fixed me up with the turpentine and antiseptic cream herself. I was soon well.

Maggot wounds became a common occurrence, because there were many flies around the place. Even the smallest of wounds picked up while not necessarily fighting, but just jumping over the wall, would get infested with maggots, and she became quite an expert at treating them.

Some years later, however, Tiger’s right ear got bitten in a dog fight, and the maggots wormed their way right down the ear canal. There were several trips to the vet, but this wound took almost a month to heal, and repeated dressing took its toll on his ear.

Over the weeks, the canal closed up completely, and he lost his hearing on the right side. The vet’s treatment couldn’t have been too good, because the ear would still ooze a whitish liquid from time to time, which she would mop up and medicate. If she ever forgot, the maggots would start up again, because the flies loved to feed on this ooze, even more than on blood.

This unhappy state of affairs continued for nearly two years.

Tiger was now almost ten years old, and finding the whole situation pretty painful and uncomfortable. There was a constant bad smell around him, either from the dressing, or the ooze, or the maggots, whichever happened to be on him at the time. The building residents started to complain, and the Chairman’s wife wanted him thrown out. Though he was almost always in pain, and probably also had a constant low fever, he ate well, and went about his daily wanderings, shaking his head all the while. It reminded me of the time when I was a youngster and the rats had bitten my ears.

His eyes however took on a vacant stare, as if he were there but not really there. They had lost that mischievous devil may care Tiger look, and a human would have now felt he was a very sad dog. Which he was.

“It seems to be my turn to get the boot now”, Tiger said to me mournfully, when he heard what the Chairman’s wife said “What fair weather friends these humans are”.

The Pintos left the building every year for a month to go on a holiday. The Pinto mother would give Harichander a packet of uncooked dal, and money for bread before she left, and he was kept in charge of our daily meals.

Despite his earlier behaviour, Harichander had completely reformed, and kept us properly fed and watered while they were away.

When we wished them bon voyage, Tiger’s ear wasn’t bad. It happened to be during those rare days, when there was nothing wrong with it, not even ooze. But a few days after they left, it started oozing again.

This time, since there was no treatment, the pus formed very rapidly, and maggots multiplied by the thousands. The building residents were too selfish and miserly to do anything for us, when the Pintos weren’t around, not even Harichander who was Tiger’s owner. No one even bothered to call the vet, or the SPCA and have Tiger admitted to the hospital.

In a couple of weeks, the right side of Tiger’s head was a stinking rotten mass. There was no visible ear left, just a large red open wound, in which big white and yellow maggots kept crawling up and down. The wound now extended well over his forehead almost reaching his right eye.

He shook his head all the time to ease the pain and discomfort. The maggots had begun worming their way towards his brain, and he complained of a constant headache, and was slowly losing his vision too. And his sanity. Though he didn’t go mad, he began to lose his grip on reality and would drift off into a daze.

My faithful friend Tiger, was such a happy handsome smart dog – I couldn’t bear to see him now reduced to this indignity. If I could, I would have delivered him a fatal bite on his neck, but I didn’t even know how to do that. So I just sat quietly by his side, keeping him updated about what was going on in the streets, and reassuring him that the Pintos would soon be back, and then everything would be all right.

But no, it only got worse. The Chairman’s wife began to complain bitterly about the smell and ordered for Tiger to be thrown out of the building. So Harichander did as he was told, and sent him out.

Too weak to complain, Tiger went out without a sound, and sat outside the gate. I went out with him.

For two days, Harichander brought us our food outside as usual, and though I ate, Tiger didn’t touch a morsel. He grew sadder and weaker, so weak that even a tail wag became difficult. His eyes watered, and you would have thought he was crying. In his own way, he was.

“It’s too late for me now”, he said to me quietly, on the third evening. “Moti, you’ve been such a good friend, but I don’t think I can wait till she comes back for me to get some treatment. It is a bad and cruel thing that I have to live like this in my dying days, discarded in the street, when I have saved the people in this building from so many robberies, and played with all of them and their children over the years. But you must understand, that it is better for me to die quickly”.

“Wouldn’t you like to wait to say good bye to her?” I asked.

“Moti, we did say our byes. She knew when she was going that she would not see me again, at least not on this earth. It will be a long time before I meet up with her again, but you Moti, you will join me soon, won’t you?”
“Oh I will, Tiger”, I promised him, and nuzzled his chest.

“Hey, but don’t you go having such a rotten death, okay? I will protect you from where I am, and see that you are looked after till the very end”.

“Thank you, my friend”, I replied, and licked his living face for the last time. “Have a good journey, and see you soon. Say hi to that stupid kitten for me, will you?”

Tiger breathed his last, and I licked the other side of his face for a long while after that. Then I came back into the building, heavy hearted and lonely.

I knew that life is never quite the same from one day to the next, but I had never lost a close friend before. My ears and nose could still pick up the sounds and smells of Tiger, but they came now from very far away and I wanted to be there.

The next morning, the municipality garbage van took his body away along with the other rubbish. No, the building folks didn’t even bother to give him a decent burial.

To be continued in the next issue…