It’s those little acts of kindness that make all the difference in the world — giving a stray a home or adopting a dog that’s been abandoned. While pedigreed canines will always be popular, many animal lovers are now choosing to take home the much-mocked pariah dog, the friendly desi that’s such a ubiquitous feature on our streets. Constant posts on social media have also generated some awareness about the need to care for maimed and weak animals, at least among those who are receptive.
Hopefully, empathy is catching. There’s nothing as rewarding as gaining a new canine friend. Read on if you’re bringing home a four-legged friend of wildly mixed origins, if you’d like to care for the animals on your street, or want to volunteer to work with a shelter.
A good doggone life!
Once you take home a stray, make sure you don’t make the usual mistakes and “over pamper” your dog, in the words of dog behaviourist Prateek Kashyap. “People start treating puppies like human babies — putting them in AC rooms, talking to them in a certain way. That makes them aggressive. They need to be trained in a different way,” says Kashyap, who has been training dogs for about eight years now.
While stray dogs are usually healthier than those brought from pet shops, Kashyap says that people adopting them need to train the dog to prevent aggressive behaviour.
Home for their furry friends
The Fernandes’ farm house in Gurgaon’s Farrukhnagar is home to the 40 stray dogs that which the couple, Cress and Chrys, adopted over the last 10 years. Along with the couple, two staff members take care of the animals’ meals and medicines. “It costs us around Rs 30-40,000 per month,” says Chrys, who runs Bernardo’s, a Goan restaurant in Gurgaon with his wife.The couple started adopting stray dogs in 1994 when they lived in Palam Vihar. To get rid of stray dogs in the locality, people started poisoning them, Cress recalls. "That was when we started taking care of them. We became unpopular with our neighbours," Chrys says. "The initial idea was just to feed them on the streets and ensure that they were safe, But when we started doing that, we realised that dogs would come back to our house."
After eight years, the couple moved to a farmhouse in Farrukhnagar, which is isolated enough for them to be able to keep dogs without inconveniencing neighbours. Over the years, the couple has learned to treat animals too. “We read various books on the subject and have a veterinary friend whom we consult whenever there is an emergency,” says Cress.For advice on adopting animals and to volunteer with time, money or resources, contact Chrys and Cress at 9811571379