As a canine family coach I see several first-time pet parents who come to me. While all of them have a unique equation with their dog, one parent and her pet stands out in my mind -Smita Chowdhury and her dog Orion. She adopted him from an animal welfare organisation when he was about five weeks old.
I am curious about what goes on in the mind of a first time pet parent? I asked Smita: Being a first-time pet parent, what is the one thing you were least prepared for? Pat came the reply: “There is a reason it's called pet parent and not owner or lord and master. It consists of both joys and stress (toilet training, worrying about their physical and psychological health, etc.) of having a baby. The joys are actually innumerable and quite magical. You have to feel the love of another being to be able to articulate it.“ Her advice to other first time pet parents: go into it with eyes open, expecting immense joy and tremendous responsibility. How did Smita pick Orion? Prior to the act, did she mull over which dog to adopt?
Apparently, she was “not really looking for anything specific“. She wanted a puppy, “that's it“ and knowing that shelters were full of pups looking for home, she made her way straight to a shelter and picked this little brat (in the pic).
But, why did she pick an Indian dog? “I'm mighty glad we got an Indian dog for the sheer compatibility with our envi ronment,“ she said. “This translates to better health (no inbred issues common in human-bred pedigrees) and better comfort in our climate resulting in better tempers.“ It was clear that she had considered the welfare of Orion first and foremost.
Smita loves “everything“ about Orion. “From the nightly snuggles, the good morning kisses, the I'm-a-goodboy-now-go-get-me-some-treats-look, the mad, joyful running across the house, and finally, to the quiet settling down beside my feet whenever and wherever I may be.
Each day, just getting to know more about this mostly goofy and sometimes oh-so-solemn dog is a joy,“ says Smita. She is clearly smitten by Orion. Dogs are not a commodity for her -something to own or to `show-off'. I like pet parents like that. What do such pet parents desire for their dogs? “Dog Parks!“ says Smita promptly. “And Awareness! Awareness about community dogs and their stellar role in our lives. Irrational fear/contempt is passed on to unsuspecting kids and thus, the thankless cycle continues.“ The only regret she has is not having grown up with dogs.
Does it all boil down to what we teach our children? Vasudeva kutumbakam -whole world (and everything born of this earth) is one single family -is a major part of our culture. Do we really teach our children that? All people, all creatures -great and small -are to be treated with due respect. I wonder if we, by not recognising the soul within these beings (dogs), by not respecting them and teaching our children to respect them, if we are living up to our culture that we so proudly boast of.