Anxiety on the other end of the leash

The last month saw major upheavals in our lives — I moved into a new city more than 4,000 kilometres from home — leaving behind Pippi and my husband, who is now tasked with all doggy duties. The conversation that’s on top of my mind during our daily calls is about Pippi — did he have his walks and was he a good boy today (he always is, and we love him nevertheless, but I still ask). So far, the reply has been a resounding yes and I am impressed. Of course, it isn’t the first time I am away from

A nightmare no one wants to go through

Pippi is no stranger to escapades: not that he is a runner, but he thrives on adventures. If we don’t take him on one often, he finds his own! When he started visiting our home before he adopted us, he came in and went out on his terms, squeezing his body between the compound bars. Once he was ours, we had closed those gaps with ropes in the hopes that he could stay safe inside. A couple of days passed and one morning, while out in the garden, he vanished. We went frantically looking for him on

Pets and neutering: To snip or not to snip?

When Pippi shows off his intelligent or goofy self, we often delve into how much we’d miss him when he isn’t around. To lighten our mood from the impending gloomy thoughts, we joke about having Pippi Jr continue the khandaan. A brief second later, reality strikes — Pippi can’t make puppies! When we first met him as an adult street dog, Bengaluru’s BBMP had already done the honours: Pippi’s ears (and testes) were snipped and he was neutered. Thankfully, we were spared from wrapping our heads arou

Let sleeping dogs lie, literally!

The pandemic forced our pets to become a part of the ‘virtual office culture’— from joining water-cooler conversations with their barks and whines to appearing on Zoom meetings to even making a celebrity appearance on live TV! (The Irish President’s Bernese mountain dog did not shy away from asking for some love during his live address!) But Pippi got into no such adventures! What he succeeded in doing was to figure out a daily routine that let him sleep — a lot at times — and we are extremely p

Have you thought about your pet’s pawprint?

T he world has around a billion pets — about one dog or cat for every seven people. Most of them were brought into this world by us with a ‘human-created’ stamp. That stamp has very little positive associations because much of what we have created — plastics, automobiles, agriculture and chemicals — have been disastrous for this planet. So, could our much-loved furballs be just as bad? Unfortunately, beyond the cuddly, innocent faces of our pets lies an inconvenient truth — our pets have a signi

Always game for more

A household with pets has a stash of toys — ropes, balls, stuffed animals, chew toys, puzzles, treat dispensers, squeaky toys, and so on. Online and offline, pet parents discuss the newest toy in the market and how much it’s a hit with their pets. Currently, ‘talking buttons’ and ‘flopping fish’ seem to be trending. Aisles of pet shops are filled with toys of all kinds, shapes, sizes, smells, and colours for every pet, including dogs, cats, fish, birds, rodents, and even reptiles. Just a few yea

But the beauty is in the walking

I am nowhere close to being athletic, but I am a sucker for long walks. It’s hard to kick yourself out of bed early in the morning to do it alone. So, when Pippi came into our lives three years ago, I was ecstatic about our to-be long walks. In my head, I pictured the two of us walking the picturesque streets in the town for hours on end! In my imagination, we’d meet people and dogs, discover interesting hideouts in our neighbourhood, and find buddies. Our long walks would rock, or so I thought.

Yelping to a different pitch

The quirky side of our pets swells up our hearts and eyes long after they are gone. Ramana, our Indie dog, joined the orchestra with his ‘singing’ (howling, ahem) each time we amateurishly played the harmonica. His divertimento sure won him our praise, and we performed on a loop, driving my mom to her wits end! One day, she decided to stop this craziness by hiding the prized harmonica. When we found it again, Ramana had crossed the rainbow bridge, giving us a glimpse of his Elvis Presley avatar.

Are dogs capable of empathy?

At home, no one reads the room better than Pippi does. A whiff of anxiety in the air unsettles him to no end. Although never a cuddle bug, he sticks to us like Velcro when we are in pain. He gets all ‘nosey’ during a family squabble, nudging us with his snout to calm us down, or so we think. A hint of despair, and he miraculously appears next to us, sharing his warmth. When we chuckle, his FOMO kicks in, and he joins us in an instant to know what’s up. Every time, his all-knowing-ness leaves us

A segue into the wild side

On our morning walks with Pippi, we don't meet people or their dogs but look forward to our encounters with squirrels, geese, gulls, rabbits and stray cats. On rare occasions, we have raccoons, skunks, turtles, and coyotes join us too. (If you are wondering, this is all in our neighbourhood park in Toronto). Of course, there are a thousand other tiny critters, but they don't seem to draw Pippi's attention. He has a characteristic way of interacting with each species. Sighting a squirrel means si

The hunt for a fetching name

What’s in a name?” asked Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. It may not matter for roses. For pet parents, however, the name of our beloved pet is an emotion. At times, many of them. We seldom have a chance in our lives to name something fun, wacky, silly and endearing — all at once. Our kids don’t fall into this bin, but our pets do! Ask any of us the name of our pet, and we’ll tell you one; spend a few minutes with us, and you’ll have more to count! What we call our pet comes fro

Caging the wild

My 12-year-old nephew called me up last month and had a bizarre ask — he wanted to know where he could get hold of an iguana. These lizards, I said, are from the Americas and he could see them at the local zoo. “No!” he yelled, saying he wanted to have one as a pet. When I asked him why he thought that was a good idea, he confessed to having watched a few ‘cute’ videos on YouTube and found these lizards alluring. I knew that in some parts of the world, owning exotic pets — from pythons to tigers

The science behind the sniff

On a warm night two years ago, we were out for a late-night walk with Pippi on the near-tranquil streets of Bengaluru. His favourite spot on that road was a pile of stones in a construction site, which doubled up as a ‘pee bank’ of all the neighbourhood dogs. As he checked out the different scents, with a lightning speed, he also caught a mouse in his mouth. While it was too late for us to rescue the unfortunate victim of the massacre, what struck us about this incident was how quick Pippi was i

A bon voyage with Fido!

My association with the word Chapati has completely changed in recent times. It’s no more the flatbread that I despise, but a gorgeous Indie who is living a dream life. Found as a starving three-week-old pup on the streets of Kochi in Kerala, he instantly robbed his parents’ heart — a couple from Ukraine visiting India at that time. His adventurous life thus began. Today, he has left his pawprints in more than 30 countries, rode trains, cars and planes, and has photos of himself snapped in front

The ugly cost of a cute puppy

When I saw her photo on Facebook, I could not resist getting her home,” professed Pari, showing me her 30-day old labrador retriever puppy. It was a dream come true for her, who had watched the movie Marley and Me numerous times and had daydreamed about her very own fawn-coloured Marley. Thanks to the pandemic, she gathered her courage to be a first time dog mom and ‘booked’ her Marley through a Facebook ad. “Isn’t she cute?” she asked. “Of course, she is,” I nodded. But the same can’t be said o

What pet parents don't (often) tell you

There’s no doubt Pippi brightens up our days with his antics. Chasing a squirrel, sniffing out a rat, snoring to no end, or just goofing around — all of these spark joy in us. I am sure other pet parents will vouch for how much these fur balls add meaning to our lives and make them bearable. But, there are times when they also drive us to our wit’s end and make us pull out whatever is left of our hair! I won’t complain, but here’s a little peek into the often-not-told-but-true side of pet parent

A dream city for pets anyone?

Elon Musk, the world’s richest (or, at times, second richest) man recently shared on Twitter his desire to build a new city in Texas, USA. When he said that it would also be dog-friendly, pet parents across the world jumped with joy, “hearting” his words. I don’t know what Musk’s version of a dog-friendly city is — perhaps it has broad sidewalks, huge dog parks, pet cafés and neighbourhood pet parties. Having grown up with dogs in Bengaluru, I could not stop thinking how a future ‘dog friendly’

It’s good to fuss about Fido’s food!

It was barely a month after Pippi adopted us when our neighbour, Padmaja aunty, came to pet him. She told me how Pippi would gulp down a bowl of milk that she would feed when he was on the streets. Now, she was curious to know what he ate and asked me if he still liked milk. Pippi, the smart dog that he was, made it clear to us that he preferred a carnivore diet. When I told her that he loved meat more than anything else, she was astonished and asked me, “Well, I thought you were ...” I replied,

Look beyond a carrot-and-stick policy

Late last year, a couple in my neighbourhood welcomed home a young puppy and named her Lucy. Sarah, their five-year-old girl, was ecstatic and came home running to break the news to us. She had elaborate plans made for her evenings with Lucy — walks, toys and play — all charted out. “I had asked for a dog two years ago, but mum and dad told me that I had to wait until we got a big house. Now, after moving here, we brought Lucy home,” she gushed. Last week, I noticed that Sarah’s favourite blue s

Don't make them pariahs

Madam, ee beedi naayina yelladru bittbidi. Chennagiro jaathinaayi mari tandkodthini!” (Ma’am, abandon this ‘street dog’ somewhere, I’ll get you pups of a pedigree dog!) “Ayyo! Beedi naayna maneyalli saakthira?” (Oh, you have a street dog as a pet?) “Idu best breed-u madam! Saaki, devru nimge olled maadthane!” (This is the best breed, ma’am. Have him as a pet and God will bless you!) “Your dog is so well-mannered around people. How have you trained him?” These are real words, uttered by real
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