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Killing stray dogs is no way to control population

As an ardent dog-lover I find myself in the dog house (provoked by an article written by Baba Umar in the latest issue of Tehelka, entitled Who Let the Dogs Out? Khushwant Singh writes.

columns Updated: Feb 25, 2012 21:48 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times

As an ardent dog-lover I find myself in the dog house (provoked by an article written by Baba Umar in the latest issue of Tehelka, entitled Who Let the Dogs Out? It drew the readers’ attention to the alarming increase in the incidence of dog bites in Kashmir. The top of two pages had a picture of over two dozens dogs waiting in the snow for some hapless tourist to arrive so that they could make a meal of him or her. At first I took it lightly. I gave a copy to Begum Dilshad Sheikh who spends her winters in the neighbouring block in Delhi. She is a beautiful woman and the heart-throb of our mohalla. I hoped after reading it she would postpone her departure for Kashmir.

I remain as ardent a dog-lover as I ever was. I have always had a dog as a companion since I was a child. Not one of them had a pedigree. Even in my years in England I had a Cocker Spaniel but no certificate to prove it. My longest association lasting 14 years was with a German Shepherd Simba. We were as close to each other as any man and beast could be. He not only answered to his name as all dogs do but was able to talk to me in his own language which I understood. When he brought my walking stick and put it in my lap, he meant to say “take me out or a walk.” I obeyed his orders and drove him to Lodhi Gardens. When he did the same after dinner, he meant to say “take me to Khan Market and buy me ice-cream cone.” I did it.

He looked forward to Sunday mornings when the family went out for a picnic. We let him out of the car before we reached our chosen spot. He would race along the car, chase cows — or a hare — and give it a run for its life. He took out his tongue to lick people to show affection. He sued his teeth only while hunting squirrels. I could never get him out of the bad habit.

Simba was the most handsome dog of his species. But I had no certificate to prove his ancestry: he could have been a pi-dog or a mongrel. Yet owners of German Shepherd bitches pleaded with me to lend Simba’s services when their bitches were on heat. He carried out my orders with great zeal. At other times he would be accosted by a stray bitch on heat in Lodhi Gardens and obliged her with equal enthusiasm, while I sat on the lawn till he had finished.

Dogs come in many sizes ranging from the tiny chihuahua to the Great Dane or Rottweiler. It is only the medium sized dog which resembles a wolf which is prone to act like one when provoked or hungry. It is this breed which has developed a taste for human flesh and is on the rampage in Srinagar.

Most of my friends are dog-lovers. I find it difficult to befriend anyone allergic to dogs. Reeta Devi’s husband Bheem after retiring as a manager of a tea estate used to spend his entire day feeding stray dogs with buffalo meat. They waited his arrival in packs in different parts of the city. My niece Veena Balwant Singh goes out every evening after she returns from office carrying packets of dog food for strays in Lodhi Gardens. She also takes those who are sick to a vet for treatment.

We must not kill dogs to control their population. A more civilised way of keeping them in limited numbers is to have them sterilised. It costs around Rs800.

Will we ever know?
What a mystery, will we ever know?
When end comes, where do we go?
Who is the messenger of death that comes?
What he snatches from one, where he runs?
What is the embodied soul, where it lies?
What is its shape, how it goes when body dies?
Leaving body, where does the soul settle?
What is its time lag? Does it loiter or dabble?
None knows the reality, will know it never,
The mystery of God will remain for ever.
One who is born, is sure to die some day

One who dies, is sure to take birth one day
Yama is the Lord of death, who snatches the soul
Like old clothes, it leaves body and takes new one all
Individual soul is a part of the Supreme whole
Invisible, eternal, never born, nor dies such is the soul
On leaving one body, the soul passes into another one
Whether or not it loiters for sometime is known to none...
(Contributed by Bharat Bhushan Srivastava, Ghaziabad)

Kiss and Tell
A miserly husband gave his wife an IOU for ‘100 kisses’ as a Valentine’s Day gift. When his wife opened the envelope and saw what is inside, she smiled and said, “Thank you for this lovely gift. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to the neighbourhood gym.” “What for?” asked the husband. “To get this IOU encashed by the hunks who come here,” replied his wife.
(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi)

First Published: Feb 25, 2012 21:44 IST