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War of The Dogs

“Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.”

There is a war brewing and I’d like to make my stand.

***Warning: Long and slightly ranty road ahead.***

There are two types of people in the area I live in. The prodoggers wo like stray dogs and the other the despisers who despise them. The first is a minority but even in that small group there are varying degrees of passion towards stay dogs. Some will go all the way in a fight, while others feed and treat the dogs well but avoid confrontation with the despisers.

Now the despisers are a special people but even they have the varying degrees of passion. There are some who are willing to try and live together with the dogs, then there are those who think there should be only three dogs per lane and others who love pedigree dogs but hate mongrels so want a dog free zone.

For the sake of anonymity and saving my ass (and the despicers faces) from lawsuits I’m not going to use names. But let me tell you a little about these people.

Ms.L moved in about a year ago and passionately took up the doggy care. She lives down my street and feeds the dogs twice a day. She started with four and now feeds 8 to 10. She’s got so comfortable with them that the dogs allow her to medicate them and so she can keep them healthy. She has even vaccinated all of them. All the dogs she feeds have been neutered/spayed over time with the last one being done just a few days ago after she had weaned off her pups. Of course Ms.L also takes care of the pups and is actively looking for homes to adopt them.

Please Adopt Them!

She is fighting like crazy against the despisers who harass her quite a bit. The harassment is never one-on-one but rather a group of men who corner a women alone on the street. One time it even happened at night and some of the men were already down a few pegs. Drunk men and one woman – watta story!

The despisers is a big group that as a general rule avoids me, so I don’t know all of them or all that’s happening. But there is a Mr.B who is open to looking into ways to live and let live though doesn’t think there is much hope in convincing others about it and hence rather support them than fight them. Then there’s Mr.O, who in a short while will look quite ‘O’. He has been kicking and hitting the dogs for a couple of years now but expects the dogs to treat him well. Mr.C is a professor but his education falls short when it comes to dogs. He is adamant about the dogs being taken away, he just doesn’t want them here. Last but definitely not the least of our problems is Mr.M, who has 30 dalmatians in his home-town and loves them but hates mongrels. He believes as a race they should be exterminated. Sounds Nazi, no? And he’s a full politician, putting his finger into everything, screaming and calling the MLA at the drop of a hat.

Then there’s me. I have dogs of my own and love dogs – simple as that. When I moved to live here about 4 years ago, Che and I started feeding the dogs off and on. There was a dog with mange in the pack outside our apartment and one day we decided that she had to be caught and treated. I made a lot of calls but no one helped. Finally CUPA agreed to come and help as an exception though they don’t have jurisdiction here. We caught a couple of dogs but I can tell you it was a hell of a run around.

Then Che and I put together a plan; we started feeding regularly and spending time with the dogs. Over a couple of months we managed to get the dogs comfortable and put collars on them. At this point Mr.M made entry and helped us contact Sarvodaya (he switches sides like a politician too). We worked out a method to leash the dogs before the van came in and got a big batch of 5-6 dogs neutered in one go. That took care of most of the dogs at my end of the lane outside the apartment.

Blue and Jumpy who live outside our apartment

We continued feeding but over time we started to notice that the dogs were getting too friendly with us and hence assuming everyone who lived in the apartment were friendly too. This led to them getting hit and chased more, people complaining and dogs becoming dependent on us. After speaking to a couple of dog behaviourists we came to the conclusion that we had to get rid of the dependency and stop being over friendly to solve the problem.

We started feeding randomly (not every alternate day) when we got the mood. What happened was that after a few days the dogs went back to hunting rats and scavenging in the dustbins. This meant they weren’t around standing and waiting for food and spread out when hunting. It was easier for non-doggy people as they didn’t have to deal with a pack outside the gate. We also started distancing from the dogs. We stopped excessive play, we’d still give them a rub when going or coming in the gate but not too much. This over time led them to back away from people and their friendly overtures towards people stopped. This meant that they get hit with sticks and stones less as they stay away.

I love the dogs we have on our street and would do almost anything for them. Each one of the dogs here is amazing in behaviour and temperament (My Cuckoo’s mother lives on our street and I see so much of her in Cuckoo). But a balance has to be met when it comes to strays. We doggy eccentrics go overboard in caring for them and forget that nature has meant them to be a certain way. Hunting and scavenging is their way of life. If asked they most probably enjoy it so is it right for us to mollycoddle them or make them dependant on us. We have to help and support them but we shouldn’t be taking away their life skills or way of life on the street. They live full lives as strays, hunting, running and playing in the the little space they have after we have encroached with our fancy houses. We have to find a balance if we want to avoid human-dog conflict. That’s my stand – to find a balance where the humans are not in constant conflict with the dogs and the dogs are healthy and safe.

My Cuckoo

This of course puts me in a weird place. The doggy party thinks I’m switching sides and the despisers see me as the enemy 😀 So while I belong nowhere, I guess I’ll just continue doing what I can for the dogs as I watch the drama unfold.

And what a drama it is. Here’s the lowdown until now – Earlier I said Ms.L was being harassed so we did some searching and found that we could apply for Govt. Issued cards that authorise us to feed the dogs. We’ve sent in our applications and are currently waiting for the cards. Ms.L filed a harassment complaint at the local police station to keep them posted on the abuse. And we continued our feeding and neutering drive.

A couple of weeks back Mr.M made calls to the MLA and such and pressurised BBMP to take the dogs away. The only ones the Sarvodaya van managed to catch and take were three timid ones (one was a mother with her pups) who were petrified and hence didn’t run away when the van came. Ms.L then made some calls of her own and got to know that BBMP and Sarvodaya had no choice as some big shots had called them. However now that she had called they would observe the dogs for a few days and if they were not aggressive they would be sent back. At the end of the week the dogs were back and all were happy or at least all the of the non-despiser group. 🙂 The dogs and the prodoggers had won round one.

This led to an accidental chat I had with them a few days later on the street. Mr.B I think understood what I was saying however Mr.C refused to budge from his stand that the dogs had to go. After a lot of trying and explaining, I gave up. Didn’t look like they’d understand any time soon that the dogs were a part of our eco-system and can’t be removed just like that. So I told them the process of filing a proper complaint with BBMP and warned them that if they tried anything underhand I’d file a case against them.

Last weekend the colony seem to descend for a meeting as one (this is they only thing I’ve seen the people unite over in the last 5 years) and 200 people signed a petition that was submitted to the BBMP. I didn’t even know 200 families lived here, gawd where are all these people when we call for meetings over the garbage issue.

On Wednesday Mr.M along with two BBMP officials went to meet Ms.L. The officials told Ms.L that she should stop feeding the dogs but if she still wanted to feed them, she should feed them inside her compound and keep the dogs inside. They can’t be put back on the street. Now Ms.L has two dogs of her own, she can’t just adopt 8 dogs into her house. So, of course she told them she would do no such thing and if the dogs were a problem BBMP should take them away to the shelter. The BBMP guys baulked at the suggestion and promptly told her that they can’t do that. However they would send a van the next day to pick up the mother and get her neutered.

Ms.L in the heat of the moment forgot to take names and designations of the BBMP officials but were they really from BBMP and the Canine Care division. I have my doubts because they didn’t know anything about dogs, the Govt. Issued feeding cards and other stuff. Wonder who Mr.M pressurised to get someone from BBMP to turn up.

Anyway the van came yesterday morning and picked up the mother for neutering. In the evening they were back with the mother and a pup we had caught and sent earlier who had mange but had been treated and was now healthy. I was sceptical about the pup getting back as it’s been over three months since she’s been away and when we sent her she was just over 3 months old. But good news, she has settled in just fine. A few skirmishes still but mostly all good though it’ll take a while I guess before she gets all friendly with us.

The despiser group as always are late to react and only came out of their homes as the van was leaving. But I must give credit for their show of fitness in times of their need. They chased the van down and caught up with it a street away. Ms.L and I went to investigate just in case the driver needed help. He had no need for our help; he must deal with people like this all the time. He listened to Mr.M and Mr.O scream and shout about how they weren’t informed that the van was coming, etc. The van driver though calmly asked for their numbers, took them down and told Mr.M and Mr.O that he’d “inform” them next time and left.

The crowd of women onlookers(grudgingly: and a few men) and Mr.M and Mr.O formed a tight circle to discuss further plan of action while Ms.L and I slowly ambled back home. This is the way things stand as of now. No clue on what they’ll do next but looks like round two goes to the prodoggers too – not only did they not take any dogs away but rather brought one back to add to our numbers 😀

Like I said this is a fultu fun drama and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. Will keep you posted.

Have you got such drama in your area? Any suggestions for us on our next steps? Please do leave a comment if you support stay dogs. If not, do comment on that too. I’d love to hear your reasons for their extermination.

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