Strays – our guarding angels

A peek into the life of strays and how we can help them.

We have to understand the fact that we have to co-exist with stray dogs and hence it’s better for us to adopt the policy of ‘Live and Let Live’. With this background in mind, befriending stray dogs who live around our houses is the way to go. Since dogs are known for their loyalty and faithfulness, one can say with almost 100 percent confidence that the dogs who have befriended would only protect the people with their heart and soul, says Vasanthi Kumar, of STRAW (Stray Relief and Animal Welfare), New Delhi.

“And she’s right. Four cooperative group housing societies in Sector 10, Dwarka, New Delhi are blessed with two street dogs, Dolly and Chotu. Both of these dogs have lived outside these four apartments for almost eight years now, making them the only two dogs in a human population of 2000. Initially there were only a handful of people feeding these dogs and taking regular care of them. But now, everyone feeds them and takes care of them – because they are the heroes – who have saved us from chain snatchers, thieves and other miscreants. Dolly and Chotu are often seen chasing rats, snakes, monitor lizards and so on,” adds Rishi Dev of Citizens For Animals Rights (CFAR), New Delhi.
Handling stray dogs…
“Each act of kindness works,” says Debbie of Precious Paws Foundations, Bengaluru. “Street dogs require only our tolerance and respect. It is not their fault that they are on the street. But now that they are, it is their home. We must respect a dog’s territory. If you are afraid of dogs, then please leave them alone. Do not throw stones at them, do not hurt them, and do not scream in front of them. Screaming, reacting with a jolt, running away only draw their attention, and dogs think of these actions as a game as best. At worst, you would be instilling fear in them and they may become aggressive. If you are dog friendly, then please go ahead and feed dogs in your area. You will find that they reciprocate most lovingly; they will come to you with their tails wagging. If you find a dog hurt on the road, call an ambulance. If there is no proper ambulance service in your area, first tie the dog’s snout before proceeding to pick him up and taking him to the nearest vet”, adds Debbie.
Extending a hand of friendship…
“Just feed the dog, may be even a few biscuits daily, for 4 to 5 days and he would start recognising you, waging his tail and over a period of 2-3 days, would also become one’s friend. After befriending the stray dog, his vaccination and sterilisation programme could be arranged through an NGO and he could live as a community dog for the rest of his life under the care of the people in that colony,” tells Vasanthi.
Making them disease-free…
“The most common diseases found in rescued Indian pup/dogs are fleas, heartworms, parvo, distemper, ear mites, throat worms and mange,” lists Debbie. When a pup or dog is rescued, it is very difficult to determine if he contains any diseases just by looking at him unless the symptoms are visible. The best way to determine if he has any diseases is to take him to a vet for a checkup.
What to feed them…
A street dog can be fed anything that you feed your pet. “Biscuits, bread and buns are commonly used,” adds Debbie.
“My request to people is not to throw their leftover foods into the garbage bin. But instead it should be fed to stray dogs. People should also put out a bowl of water outside their houses for stray dogs. A mud bowl is ideal because it keeps the water cool besides it does not get stolen,” adds Vasanthi as a matter of fact.
Taking care of dog-haters…
Sometimes, even feeding dogs become a problem… neighbours often ask to stop feeding strays. Kishore Deshpande and his wife in Mumbai were threatened by their neighbours to stop feeding strays. This is just one case… there are hundreds more. Following a petition from stray dog lovers in Delhi, the Delhi High Court had ordered creation of designated area for feeding and caring stray dogs in all colonies, which was a much-needed relief for all dog lovers.
To this, Debbie adds, “Nobody has the right to stop you from feeding a street dog. Nor does anybody have the right to chase dogs away from their territory. If you observe carefully, you will find that dogs stay in one place all their lives… one street… may be in front of one house.”
Benefits of having stray dogs….
Here are a few benefits that Vasanthi lists for having stray dogs around.

  • Stray dogs make the colony safer. They do not allow strangers to enter the colony and alert the guards by barking.
  • At nights when the guards are patrolling the colony, the stray dogs accompany them. If one talks to the guards, they would learn that the guards feel much safer with dogs because they are able to go after unscrupulous elements who could be hiding behind trees and cars.
  • Since the stray dogs feed from the garbage, they keep rats and mice away.
  • Since dogs are territorial animals they will not allow any other dogs to enter the colony. If the dogs are removed from an area, other dogs from surrounding colonies will take their place. Thus we will be back to initial situation within a few months.
  • Above all, all life is precious and all creatures including dogs have a right to live on this earth.

Message to readers…

“Be kind and compassionate to animals whom we come across in our day to day lives. Animals have feelings; feel pain when hurt and bleed when injured – just like it happens to us. The only difference is that unlike us, they do not have a voice and bear all the pain, in quiet. Instead of getting scared of a stray dog, people should try and befriend the animal. And lastly, if possible feed at least one stray dog near one’s house. To show his loyalty, the dog would sleep outside your door and safeguard your house with all his might,” advises Vasanthi.
“Precious Paws Foundation would like to emphasise that every contribution, small or big, counts. Go make a difference in a pup’s life, one way or another,” concludes Debbie.
(Inputs from Vasanthi Kumar, Co-founder & Chairperson, STRAW (Stray Relief and Animal Welfare), Vasant Kunj, New Delhi; Debbie, Precious Paws Foundations, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru; and Rishi Dev, Citizens For Animals Rights (CFAR), Dwarka, New Delhi)

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Experiences with stray angels

One day I saw a female dog running with a pup carrying in her mouth in the month of July. I was surprised to notice that she was our colony dog who gave birth to three pups recently. I named the mother dog Bhuraki. One day she came to me when I called her name and carried her little one to handover to me. I cuddled the pup and took him inside the house. After an hour, the mother dog barked furiously as her second pup fell into a drain. I rescued the little one. Since that day, they all lived with me. I sterilised the mother. This is indeed a happy beginning!
–Nishi Chand, Lucknow
Gori was her name! She was a Pomeranian abandoned by her pet parents. She delivered two litters in front of me. A total of nine dogs I adopted. I fed them twice a day, which included a Pedigree meal. They looked after our huge campus. Today, only two live! I have nick-named them Chingu and Mingu, they are just unique.
–Ranjeeta Nath Ghai, Hyderabad
I have semi-adopted a stray and named him Tilli. He is my pet’s best friend and they both love to play together. Whenever he meets me, he always greets me wagging his tail with a smiling face.
Love you Tilli!
–Kritika Manchanda, New Delhi