Street dogs in India are generally a much-maligned lot, but people who take the time to get to know them can easily understand and testify to their charm and intelligence. Although Indians largely tend to view them as an irritant and a nuisance, and they aren’t often the object of positive public attention, but lately, a few of these furry Indies have had their moments of fame.
1) Asha, sniffer extraordinaire
The Better India reported that in 2017, the police in charge of the Dog Squad in Barrackpore, West Bengal, took in a five-month-old stray pup who was being bullied by the local children. They had initially intended to keep her as a pet, but with the right training, diet, and exercise they had a success story on their hands: Asha, as they named her, became the only trained stray dog on the Dog Squad. Her handlers and superiors are proud of the fastest runner on their team, and she can easily keep pace with (and in some areas, outperform) the Labrador and Alsatian breeds (which are mainstays of the Dog Squads). This will hopefully provide a wake-up call to other K-9 units and the higher-ups who tend to see only pedigreed dogs as worthy of training. Asha’s work ethic says otherwise!
2) Brownie, paying it forward
A little stray named Brownie was fed and cared for two neighbours, Dr Ramesh Sancheti and Amit Shah, both living in an apartment complex in Pune. The Sanchetis were very fond of her, and nursed her back to health when she was on the verge of kidney failure. On 23rd January 2019, having put out some food for Brownie, Shah was puzzled to find that she wouldn’t eat. Instead, as Gulf News Asia reports, she kept stretching up to reach the window sill outside Dr Sancheti’s ground floor room. Suspecting that something was amiss, Shah peered in and found that Dr Sancheti had collapsed. The doctor was taken to the hospital immediately, and his family is extremely grateful for Brownie’s timely aid.
3) The ‘Puppy’ duo
According to BBC India, in 2017, two street dogs (both amusingly named ‘Puppy’) rescued a woman from a male attacker who had lost his job due to her sexual harassment accusation. S. Raman, the rickshaw driver who cares for the two dogs, said that they were able to draw attention to the scene so the public could keep the attacker under control while the police were called.
4) The dogsitters
In a particularly sensational story that might well inspire a short film, Deccan Chronicle reported that four strays found an abandoned baby girl in a dumpster in West Bengal. Being conscientious dogsitters, they sat with her and fended the crows off until people took notice and help arrived. The girl was taken to the hospital, and subsequently handed over to an adoption centre. This speaks not only to the fact that Indies can be quite alert to cries for help, but that they also have an emotional affinity for human beings and welcome positive relationships with us.
5) Guard dog Pingu
In 2015, HuffPost India reported that a mute stray named Pingu had become a Delhi locality’s unlikely hero. Although he enjoyed guard duty and liked to trot around the colony in Vasant Kunj, the locals didn’t particularly warm to him until a burglar was caught on the premises of an apartment complex there. Pingu was the first to spot the stranger; generally a peaceful dog, he must have sensed something was wrong, so he attacked the burglar and received a slashed hind leg for his trouble. Despite being wounded, Pingu dragged himself to the guardhouse which was 200 metres away to alert the guards. The locals refused to tend to him for some time, until Poornima Misra, who regularly fed him, took him to the vet. After Pingu’s act of valour, Misra has noted that attitudes to strays have started changing in the locality; people are more welcoming of street dogs and have even awarded Pingu his very own gold medal for his bravery.
In all these incidents, these dogs initially acted on instinct, and with the end goal (whether fully conscious or not) of human welfare. It is important to remember that these dogs might have had their fleeting fame, but their alertness and affection for humans is not the exception to the breed, rather, it is the rule.
Author - Lakshmi Mitra