Best friends apart, dogs have always had a huge impact on the human race because of their gentle, loyal nature. Humans and dogs have always enjoyed the most widespread form of interspecies bonding. Keeping dogs as pets has its own long history.
The 1980’s completely changed the role of pet dogs; they started being kept for three reasons – as a playmate for the child, a walking companion or for providing emotional support. Another reason for the growing popularity of dogs among humans was also the fact that they began to symbolise a higher social status.
You will agree that there are people from all walks of life who find themselves a dog; then there are those who would spend a fortune on grooming their favourite breeds. There’s a new kind we see nowadays. The ones who will want a dog, haggle for the cheapest one and eventually abandon their old and sick dogs – pushing them out of moving cars or dumping them outside animal shelters. Next, there are those who, if they see a puppy on the street, will get it home...
The great debate
While rescuing a dog is the most humane thing to do, let’s not be too judgmental about why some people may want a pure bred dog. If that’s the case, it’s important to do some research and also go to a responsible breeder.
While adoption might give you the peace of mind, and of course, give the pet a second chance, if you are not ready to take up the challenge a shelter dog may bring with him or her, chances are that sooner or later the kindness will fade away, making the poor creature homeless again. Getting a dog home may seem easy but it isn’t. Many a time dogs have a specific behavioural issue which may not be suitable for a house with kids, aged people, or single person households where the dog may be left alone in the day.
A big advantage of getting a puppy is that one gets to enjoy seeing them grow up. If you buy your puppy from a breeder, you may be able to call on them for advice for any issues.
Also, you get to know the breed and lineage, and hence know what to expect from that breed — behaviour wise, medically — and can plan accordingly. This works when there is a child in the house because, along with the responsibilities of a child, there will be very little time to attend to a dog. It’s mainly because of this reason that people abandon dogs – unrealistic expectations. And therein lies the cruelty. So, if you think your house is more suitable for a pure breed, go for one, but do conduct research on the breeders and the breed.
Shelters are those places where lost or abandoned dogs end up – these dogs need a home the most. They are not puppy mill dogs (usually adorable puppies that have been strictly trained and bred for for their ‘cute’ factor); they are the abandoned dogs found wandering in the streets or parking lots.
- By Swati Tandon
Breeze made me a more compassionate person
As someone who has never been a dog person, I was not happy when my family decided to have a pet in the house. “Either this dog is going to stay or me, decide for yourself” is what I used to say initially... but all in vain. Everyone was quite excited to have a little pup in the family. And finally one day while at work, I got a message from mom who sent me a picture of a little Shih Tzu puppy. Thirty days old, it was resting on mommy’s lap. I couldn’t believe we finally got a dog in the house.
It was just the first sight of him and I was in awe. I thought to myself, maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is going to be fun. I rushed back home, super excited to meet the new member. There he was in his new bed, everybody surrounding him, trying to catch his attention. I held the little puppy in my arms and my hands started trembling. It was the first time in my life I was holding a dog. Trust me, it was an amazing feeling. A feeling that can’t be put into words. He was as delicate as a feather. I scratched his belly and ran my hands across his furry coat. White in colour, his eyes twinkling bright, we named him Breeze – he was as soft as the breeze blowing.
Time passed and I found a best friend in him. Literally, the best friend we have always read or heard people talking about. He changed my outlook towards dogs and pets. I became more compassionate and generous towards them and I can’t thank him enough for this transformation. My first question to mom whenever I was away used to be, ‘How is Breeze? Has he eaten? Did you take him outside?’
The last time I thought pets were fascinating was when I saw Hedwig in the Harry Potter series but now it was happening to me. Breeze turned one last month and guess who was most excited? Me. Ha!
I still remember the first day he was struggling to get out of his bed, and now he keeps jumping around. Always running around for food and being the first one to come and hug me as soon as I come home. I wish he could understand how much he changed me and how grateful I am for having him. So here’s to Breezey! You complete my family, eat all my favourite chips and cookies, take up all my phone’s photo gallery, ruin my socks and shoes, wake me up early on weekends and always steal the limelight. Thank you for making me realise that you are more popular than me and I will happily accept that all my life. I’ll always be your No. 1 fan. Lots of love.
Q. My Labrador is 2 years old. My problem is that he doesn’t bark too much. He is very friendly with strangers and gets happy when someone is at the door. How can I make him more like a guard dog? – Ambica Verma
A dog with good manners will not bark unnecessarily. What is your dog trying to communicate through his barking? He may be barking to express happiness or fear, to get attention, to warn you, or if he is bored or lonely. He may also bark to let others know that they are in his territory. Only good training and socialisation can ensure your dog is able to tell the difference between people allowed into the house and intruders. For that you may need a professional trainer. However, not barking much is normal.
— Dr Umesh Kallahalli
Are you a proud pet parent? Have a cute cat story to share? Maybe your guinea pig is giving you trouble? Whatever is your creature companion, we are here to listen to you. Send your photos, queries and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org