Exploring Varanasi with it's dogs...and why Indian dogs are dying out...

They say a dog is man's best friend, and I completely subscribe to this theory. Having grown up with dogs at home, I was always been empathetic towards them, whether they were at home or out on the streets. You give them some love, and they give ten times of that in return.

There is a small personal story that I want tell here. When I was about three and in Champaran, Bihar, I was bitten by a street-dog and received 14 injections after that. Interestingly I was squarely blamed for the incident because it was me who was trying to force-feed an apple to the young mother, and she continued to visit our home after this little incident as well. I can easily imagine many other families reacting rather badly to this, and the dog getting all the blame and quite a bit of beating too. I can only thank my parents for being fair, which means I got the scolding and the dog some more food, but I also got an important lesson in life and fell eternally in love with these wonderful animals.

Unfortunately many a times, the streets of India are not conducive to Indian dogs; they are often abused and beaten up publicly, while the passersby maintain dignified indifference. Of course, there are wonderful stories of common people as well as animal activists who go out of their way to help dogs and other street-animals, but sadly they are too few.

street dogs of india varanasi
Pluto

So when I was in Varanasi I decided to spend two days capturing my favourite animal on it's ghats, in it's narrow alleys, by the numerous Hindu temples, by the tea-shop and everywhere else I went. Most slept through the shoot, while others came happily and played with me, while some simply barked and showed their displeasure about being photographed without permission :)

I never got to know their names, but decided to give them one anyway. So here is my photo-story on Dogs of Varanasi :)

street dogs of india varanasi
Chitkabra

street dogs of india varanasi
Kalua

street dogs of india varanasi
Monu

street dogs of india varanasi
Mishi

street dogs of india varanasi
Tagdu

street dogs of india varanasi
Ramua

street dogs of india varanasi
Bhuru

street dogs of india varanasi
Lucky

street dogs of india varanasi
Shraddhalu
But all is not well with these desi Indian dogs. With our polity's obsession with dogs imported from outside India, think Huskies, or even Labradors which have been around in India for a while now, the desi dog breeds are struggling to find families and people who would love them. The woman I met in a Bangalore market who was taking care of a family of puppies, was quite an exception. 

A recent conversation with a friend made me realise that today there was a complete reluctance to accept that breeds of Indian dogs exist too. But important was the fact that 'breed' of a dog is considered so important that we go to any lengths to get the most exotic one from the coldest part of the world. While huskies get the love and attention of families which can afford them, Indian dogs get beaten up or abused on the roads.

What's even worse is the fact that the Indian dog breeds which do exist are also dying out (read more) and only half of them survive today. If you are interested to know more, read this book, The Book of Indian Dogs, by S Theodore Baskaran.

I just ordered my copy :)


Comments

  1. Finally you wrote something about these friends of us

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  2. What a shame for the beautiful dogs. It makes me sad to think of them without families

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  3. Wow, I'm speechless :( Such a sad reality for those breeds of Indian dogs, I've heard that there is a big presence of street dogs throughout India, though I wasn't aware that they were so poorly treated, or that the breed was at risk for preference towards importing international dogs and leaving Indian breeds out on the street to die. Thankyou for your kindess towards them even after having been bitten, and thankyou for spreading awareness about the situation.

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  4. I love this post. Stray dogs are a real problem not only in India but also in many other parts of Asia and Latin America. I wish there was more shelters that would take care of them and give them a home.

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  5. Didn't know about your childhood episode. Taking 14 injections in tummy would have been painful. I also have one episode but which we I gonna tell you when we meet next. :)
    The coming week? :)

    Loved your naming conventions and the names... very aptly suited them. ;)

    Having said that I also grew up among dogs and wish there were more dog shelters and homes to adopt them.

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  6. My experience of dogs in India was of them chasing me along the beach whilst I was out running. I only went running once and was terrified I was going to get rabies!

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  7. How very sweet of you to name them! :) Dogs on Indian streets are ubiquitous , love the mountain ones the MOST! They guide you and lead the way always :)

    So nice of your parents to blame you and not the dog. Its a rarity, really :)

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  8. This is really a touching story...

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  9. This si such a sad post. It s so sad that dogs are mistreated in India. I feel so bad for them. Sadly, there is not much I can do from Europe about it.

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  10. I love dogs. Personally, I always have a special spot for the dogs. So whenever I hear news about dogs that are being abused are not treated well it literally beaks my heart!

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  11. Wow! love this.. I love dogs and the local indian dogs are so smart :)

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  12. This made me teary-eyed. I had no idea that street dogs in India are poorly treated. I just know that there's a lot of them. It's a sad truth that some people just keep looking for something they don't have. I mean, people can take care of these dogs than get some other breeds. Sad. But thanks to your big heart for sharing your kindness and this story.

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  13. What a great post Sid. I love your story from your childhood yet the street scenes today make me sad. It's a tough world for many, them included. I hope they will find homes and kind souls to take care of them.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  14. i so understand what you write! i live in Rishikesh now and i have met so many stray dogs... i finally took one home, when she ran into my scooty 5 days old abandoned by someone near a food stall. i named her Urmilla, like Karna's wife -my favorite warrior from the Mahabharata- she is super stubborn and affectionate and definitely different form any dog i ever lived with. anyway... thank you for writing. you can check my blog out if you like omdiary108.blogspot.com

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  15. Why hate to the nice doggy anyone in india?
    I look in village almost every second little doggy with one broken leg. Children have sport to throw big stones. So sad but not quite as sad like the 4 years old girl who was getting eaten alive by doggy in the street and half legs already finished . Then Bangalore govt decide - 100 per day will die by human hand. Many people (about 20,000 per year) die of rabies in India only so this is good reason to fear mad bad doggy.
    Pils-trips...Why Bara Shigri?

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