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Sammy….an angel, a compassionate pal and our Love

We all have one life, and its up to us to live it to the fullest, and those who are able to do that will always leave loving memories. Sammy, our loving pooch is someone we can never forget. Sammy, a German Shepherd, was the brightest amongst his siblings and at a tender age of three months, he was adopted by a family. But as the initial euphoria of bringing home a new puppy wore off, Sam became sad and lonely. He developed a small rash on his back. Soon Sammy’s inactiveness and the growing rash, made the owners abandon him into a shelter…all at the tender age of 4 months.

His first night at the shelter was lonely…Sam was tearful. He had to adapt to this new way of life and Sammy did it with courage and determination. It was then, that Sammy came into our lives when he was almost 5 months old…during a visit to the shelter; I spotted him like a lion amongst the rest of the flock, majestic, head high and shining eyes, the look of the future.

Sammy became a part of our household and a brother of other 3 boys (dogs), Nicky, Benji and Dumpy. Having been vulnerable as a young puppy, he really wanted to become part of the “boys” group and get their love and protection. He therefore began by sharing his dog bones and this act of compassion brought him not only the joy of sharing but motherly love from “Dumpy”, a truly, magnificent, loving and compassionate Labrador.

Sammy was the love of our life… just his presence allowed us to explore different lonely paths, which would have otherwise been unsafe. We walked together each day for the next 9 years. Sammy gave us a direction, a purpose, a reason for being. His love was so overwhelming; an unconditional love nowhere to be found.

Once during his daily walk, Sammy came across the family, which had adopted him as a puppy and abandoned him in a shelter. But, he was calm and composed…showing no signs of grudges, and we were moved.

Sammy died at the age of 9; due to a cancerous growth in his body…even the best of human and veterinary help could not save him. Even in the last stages, though his legs were gone, he held his head high, his face still looked like a lion yet his tired eyes would still talk to us, it was only his heart that was willing to play ball, to chase a cat, to jump on our bed… We loved him, cuddled him and could not let him go. But, it’s the biggest truth of life and we have no other option, but to accept it. So, we bid a tearful adieu to him, and wished peace to his departed soul.

Bhagyashree Ranade

Come Fall in Love with the magnificent Mastiffs

“What lion is to cat, the Mastiff is to dog,” goes a popular saying. If you happen to meet an English Mastiff for the first time, do not be scared of his large size as beneath his giant body, lies a heart of gold. He is a family pet in true sense. While his size will keep strangers at bay, his sweet disposition and friendly behaviour will keep your family happy. Here’s some more info about this exquisite breed. An English Mastiff is perhaps one of the most handsome breeds. His massive and muscular body, coupled with dark, hazel eyes, are admired by one and all. He is a rare combination of beautiful looks and sweet temperament.

“An English Mastiff is naturally protective and extremely possessive of his family and home. He thrives on human companionship and affection. Give him lots of quality time and, in turn, you will be rewarded with a loyal friend,” says Amit Gowda, a well-known breeder of English Mastiffs in Bangalore.

Journey down the lane…

Originating in Great Britain, the Mastiff was favoured by nobility as a hunting companion and revered by peasants as a family and livestock protector. Today the Mastiff is known for being a loving companion and a trusted guard dog.

The majestic look

The English Mastiff is a large and powerful dog with a muscular body. Large and heavy, he spreads an aura of grandeur and dignity. His dark eyes are set wide apart from each other and are hazel brown. Even his small, thick ears are set wide apart. Their muzzle is dark, short and broad, as is the nose which displays flat nostrils. The tail tapers down and is slightly curled at the end. He has large round feet, with black toe nails.

“The Mastiff is a double-coated breed. The outer coat is short, coarse, and straight while the under coat is dense and fits closely to the body. The colour of the coat can vary —apricot, fawn, or brindle while his nose, muzzle and ears are black. This breed is an average shedder,” tells Amit.

The average height of males is 31-34 inches while that of females is 27-29 inches and their weights are around 72 kg and 68 kg respectively. They have a life expectancy of about 10-12 years.

Docile and lovable

The Mastiff is a watchful, reliable, and intelligent breed. He is exceedingly loyal, patient and deeply devoted to his family. He thrives on human companionship and affection and does not do well if left alone for extended periods of time. He loves to please and needs a lot of companionship. Calm, steady and docile, the Mastiff does best in a home with older considerate children. It is important to socialise a Mastiff puppy to make him get along well with other dogs. This breed is naturally protective and is extremely possessive of his family and home. They are suspicious of strangers and will try their best to keep them at bay. However, they do not attack or harm them in normal circumstances. They excel in guarding, military and police work, weight pulling, and search and rescue.

Bringing home a Mastiff puppy

As a puppy, your Mastiff should not be allowed to do anything that you would not wish your full-grown Mastiff to do. “And because your puppy is going to be such a large dog, it is also a very, very good idea that he receives basic obedience training. You definitely would want your big fellow to listen to you,” adds Amit with a chuckle. Mastiffs grow amazingly fast and it is advised not to force their growth with artificial vitamins and calcium supplements. Instead, they should be fed with a nutritionally balanced diet. As it is, Mastiffs are genetically programmed to grow big and heavy and if they are allowed to grow at their own rate, they will become healthy dogs with minimum health problems related to joints and bones. Generally Mastiff puppies eat a lot of food while growing, until the age of two. An adult Mastiff generally has a slow metabolism and does not eat an exceptional amount of food. However, they should not be overfed as they can become fat, leading to problems with bones and joints, heart, liver, kidney, etc.

Mastiffs drink a lot of water. Hence, fresh water should be kept available at all times. During growth periods, a Mastiff puppy is subject to joint injury, hence excessive exercise should be controlled. Let him play at his own pace but do not encourage him to go for long walks, jumping obstacles, or any other exercise that will stress the joints.

Mastiff puppies also have a tendency to chew, or swallow, rocks and sticks. So, they should be watched closely and discouraged from doing so.

A Mastiff remains a puppy much longer than most breeds. Even though a Mastiff is already quite large by the time he is 6 months old, he is still growing and maturing rapidly. A Mastiff does not reach his full physical or mental maturity until around 3 years of age.

Life with a Mastiff

Early socialisation and obedience are crucial for this breed. “He is eager to please but may be difficult to train. He does not respond to harsh or heavy-handed methods. This breed does best with firmness, fairness, patience, respect, and consistency,” advises Amit. However, Amit cautions that the Mastiff is not recommended for the novice, inexperienced, or passive owner as they can be difficult to control.

Keeping him fit and fine

“The Mastiff is slow moving but daily securely leashed walks or a play session in a safe enclosure are highly recommended to keep him happy and fit,” tells Amit.

Styling and hygiene

“Brushing with a firm bristle brush will suffice, followed by wiping with a towel to give a gleaming finish. Bathing or dry shampooing should be done when necessary,” informs Amit. Their grooming schedule should also include cleaning ears and eyes and clipping his claws.

Watch out for health problems

The Mastiff is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, ectropion, cardiomyopathy, and gastric torsion. They also have a tendency to drool and snore. All in all, an English Mastiff is a very loyal and patient dog and if you own one, you will be blessed with his love and companionship, which is simply priceless.

(With inputs from Amit Gowda, a hobby breeder who specializes in Great Danes, Mastiffs, Neapolitan Mastiffs, American Cockers and Saint Bernards. His registered kennel is ‘Neomass & Amrolyn’, he can be contacted at: 9845070811.)

“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

A true love story…

Life is a mystery with its own twists and turns. Either you cry and get tensed about the adverse situation or you laugh on your worries. The philosophy of life at times becomes more philosophical when you have your dog travelling with you. I faced a difficult time when I happened to travel with my mother-in-law (MIL) and my loving dog TinTin by train from Mumbai to Baroda.
One is supposed to keep one’s pet in a case with a wooden shutter in the guard’s compartment. I did exactly that. As soon as TinTin went inside the cage, he started showing his power. Even before the train moved, he broke open the wooden shutter and came out with a winning smile and his tail swaying with full force like a flag of triumphant king!! Everyone around was stunned! The guard was terrified and got in touch with the parcel office. A desperate call was made to railway carpenter. They came rushing and decided to fix another shutter of a similar cage. I was happy to see the shutter, as it looked strong. But there was a twist in the story as the shutter was of a different size and it could not be fixed.
The guard panicked since one of the top most railway officials was travelling in the same train for inspection. He was not in a mood to compromise with the departure time but he could very well see love and desperation in my eyes for my darling dog. He asked me to board another train but I explained that my old mother was travelling with me and she had a blood pressure problem and she is diabetic. Also, she was in the coach almost 400m away and the train was signalling to move.
The guard finally came with a solution. He invited TinTin and me to his cabin. Although the actual ticket of Mr TinTin was Rs. 30, I had to pay Rs. 450. I was hesitant as I have never liked paying bribe to anybody, but my love for TinTin forced me to do so. I was given a piece of wood to sit, which my brave dog had broken. I was strictly instructed not to move.
There was no question of sleeping. TinTin was getting up at every station to find out whether it was Baroda or not. And after realising that it was not his destination he again used to put his head in my lap and literally start dozing. I was dozing too but of course my eyes were stuck to the gentleman who was staring at me and thinking whether he has done the right thing or not. He was wondering that how could I waste my confirmed ticket and sit on the plywood for the journey, besides paying Rs. 450 extra just for a dog. And probably he got his answer when he saw TinTin licking my face and sleeping in my lap. TinTin was my child, my love! I started believing that God always makes a way where there is true and unconditional love. I also learnt a very practical lesson that whenever you plan to take your dog in a train, you should always check whether the wooden shutter in the guard cabin is strong enough or not, or better still come prepared with a crate to carry your beloved in it!
– Hirath Pandya