Most people we come across in our daily lives generally seem to like their pets. In fact most of my friends (those lucky enough to have pets of course) leave no stone unturned to provide every possible comfort for it – including the expensive, ‘nutritious’ diet, regular visits to the ‘Pet parlour’ (for the pedicure and haircut), funky accessories like ‘doggles’, coats, doggie-teddies etc. Some even like to sleep with their pet curled into a fur ball, at their feet.
It makes me wonder as to why do the same people who lavish their utmost attention on their ‘Labs’ and ‘Lhasas’ display a niggardly attitude when it comes to street dogs? Is it because they come without the exorbitant price tags that people proudly flaunt in their hybrid pugs? Or is it because that they are so commonplace that their existence becomes negligible in our eyes? The other day when I lifted a cuddly brown pup in my arms, to play with, my friends disgustedly exclaimed, “Eeew! That thing is filthy!” Filthy? But so is the food that most of us devour in the college canteens and so is basically everything else that is handled by bare hands. Since when have we Indians been so conscious about matters of hygiene? We don’t have second thoughts about shaking hands with people or even eating bhelpuri prepared by unclean hands. Then why this disparaging approach towards stray animals? This coldness, on the brink of animosity is not hard to find. Nothing seems to give more pleasure to young boys than to pelt stones at some harmless looking dog, or a scared kitten. Presidents of ‘Residents Welfare Associations’, so hesitant when it comes to complaining about erratic supply of water and electricity, lose no time in rustling up lengthy letters to the editor about the nuisance stray dogs are becoming. The MCD is quicker to pick up stray dogs than to clean up days of garbage rotting in street corners. One stray incident of a dog attacking someone in the vicinity, and the whole neighbourhood wants ‘immediate action’ to get rid of the “dog menace.”
Maneka Gandhi, in an article once appealed to the readers looking for pets, to adopt street dogs instead of going for any hybrid variety, “bred like a pumpkin or a tomato, for our pleasure.” A friend immediately acted on this advice, and picked up an injured mongrel on her way back from Shimla. Now, Wuffy (short for Waffadar) is her most loyal companion. Not only does he fetch the morning newspaper for my friend, he also keeps watch over the remote to see no one changes channels when she is not around!
Both my friend and I completely second the argument put forward by Mrs Gandhi – that the best way to get rid of stray dogs is by adopting them. And I appeal to every self-claimed “dog-lover” to do the same!!