A dog is a man’s best friend.
Oh wait, my bad. A Dalmation, a Pug and a Labrador is a man’s best friend.
Sereli, a stray dog in our colony gave birth to three puppies. My sister and I named them Pedro, Pogo and Drogo. We made tiny, cozy beds for them in cardboard boxes, got them home everyday, fed them, at times bathed them, powdered them and put them to sleep, returned them to their mother every evening.
Life was good. We had made plans to adopt Pedro as soon as our exams got over. But one morning the watchman told us that he was run over by a car. That day my sister, my mother and I huddled together in a room and cried our hearts out. Dad watched us. Immediately the next day one of my neighbors took the remaining two puppies to Blue cross (an animal shelter and rescue organization in Hyderabad) for adoption. Sereli howled all night in front of their house. One could hear the pain in her whines, she relentlessly cried for her puppies and my neighbor was forced to get them back. Pogo and Drogo were back!
But Drogo was found lying dead in a few days. Ever since then Pogo, the last survivor puppy became the entire colony’s unsaid responsibility. The duty to feed the puppy and his mom were were distributed among the families, every night some uncles tied a rope to Pogo’s leg so that he wouldn’t stray out on the road. Meanwhile my sister and I continued to bring him home and brush his fur, feed him in the new dog food bowl that mom bought especially for him. He became our community dog and in a way brought all the neighbors together. But another reckless driver on another unfortunate night killed Pogo who had grown three months old by then.
That was when my sister went to Blue cross along with my father and got Tony Shark home on 12th April 2015. Tony was a puny, brown and black puppy with a patch of white fur on his forehead. We realized the next day that he was suffering from diarrhea. When we consulted the vet at Blue cross, he suggested us to choose another puppy and leave Tony behind. But how could you abandon someone just because he was sick? It was a moment of impulsive self righteousness that made us keep him. After many visits to the vet, many IV fluids and lots of force feeding of medicines, Tony was back in good health!
He grew up to be an extremely smart, pampered and devious dog. He stole boxes of brownies, bottles of peanut butter and even packets of Kaccha Mango Bites. Dad took him out for walks every morning, mom played fetch with him every evening, I let him sleep next to me on my bed.
The first time I experienced breed based discrimination was when we took Tony to the Dog Park in Necklace Road. Before we could enter the place a young boy commented “Dekho jungli kutta”. Had I not been sensitized to accommodate bad behavior due to social conditioning I would have slapped the kid that day. Another time, an old lady in our neighborhood spat in front of Tony when dad took him out for his morning walk. Dad was too polite to slap foolish old ladies. My uncle couldn’t stop himself from commenting on the cons of raising a mongrel in a house (all in good faith ofcourse).
Little did my family and I think about all these things that our so called human society would shove our way the moment we adopted a cute puppy who didn’t boast of any breed.
Everyday, thousands of mongrel puppies get run over by cars, die of hunger or get killed in dog pounds. You love dogs, or do you love only “some” dogs? No offense to everyone out their raising breed dogs, I know it is a difficult choice to make unless there is a stimulus, which in my case was the deaths of Pedro, Drogo and Pogo.
But do think about this, when there are a million puppies struggling for life, is it really necessary to buy a select few because of their coat, size or ears? Afterall, you need a friend not a showpiece.
P.S: Even though Tony has faced a good amount of discrimination for wearing a collar despite being a mongrel, he has also received double the love. My grandparents, Deip, Lavanya, Lorry, Rohith, Aditya and all my college friends, the milkman, the maid, the E-kart delivery boys, Dr. Gangadhar and Sereli and her friends have been especially nice to Tony.