When Aarti Nair received a Boxer as a gift from her husband, she never knew that the loving and innocence oozing pet would invite ridicule. A few months with her Xena, the owner of her rented house was clear - either the house or the dog. For Xena, the terrace was her playground and her pooping hub. So as months passed, his stink too got heavy in the air, and the owner took her decision. And it was simply being logical.
For pet loving Bangalore, the footpaths (if at all), the parks (if at all), the lawns in front of the house (if at all), the potholed-ridden roads (aplenty) are the havens for the strays and the pets to offload.
Often teetered between repulsion for some and captivation for the pet and the owner, little do pet owners or localities which rear strays understand the health hazards that the poop brings upon them. (See box)
Other than whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, threadworms, they also breed some tough sounding parasites like parvovirus, campylobacteriosis, giardia and coccidia. A Google search will give you enough material on the hazards of letting your dog poop in the open. It is also 'listed as high as third on the list of contributors to contaminated water'.
Dr Hema Rudrappa, veterinarian practitioner with Dr. Pampapathi's Veterinary Clinic & Diagnostics centre says, "There is not much difference between the food that we eat and what the dog eats. The digestive system is not very different. So, the hygiene that we maintain in ourselves at home holds good for the dog too. Toilet training is a must and many people do try and train their dogs to use the commode. But the population of people who are unaware of the harm that the poop causes is high and they just don't know that dog poop is not manure."
According to experts, training is essential when you decide to have a pet.
And with pooping, it is more essential and the dog tends to regard discipline as a chore, a kind of order that sets him 'free'.
Amrut Sridhar Hiranya, a canine behaviourist and who runs Dog Guru which trains dogs says, "Potty training is a must and I think it is time people also know the importance of puppy pre-schooling, which is very popular in other countries."
Amrut stresses that it is important to introduce words like pee and poo and when they connect to these words, it becomes very easy to make them poop at the right place, which could be a patch reserved in your garden or a corner near the drain. "It is a myth that if you smack your pet on the head with a newspaper, he will obey you. Contrarily, it will never poop in front of you, and you will never know where it has done his job," says Amrut.
According to Amrut, potty training is not rocket science. "There are poop covers available in pet shops. You can also use normal plastic covers when taking a stroll. When the dog is done, you can take the plastic and keep the place clean without even getting in contact. This can be then flushed down the drain," he says.
Prithvi Jaykaran from Glenands Pet Store which even runs saloons says, "There are potty pads available which can be placed in a corner of the house, especially the toilets and the pets can be trained to use it. Training is essential. There are also deterrent sprays, which if sprayed in a particular area will desist the dog from going there. But these products, which have been in the market for the last five to six years, hardly find any takers. Awareness needs to be built first."
According to Madhu Das of Harshitha Enterprises, another pet store owner, there is a potty training spray available in the market.
"When sprayed on a napkin, it will lure the pet to it after having its food. A week or two of the same practice will ensure that he will use the same spot for his job."
While the pet owners have several options to train the pets and get educated themselves, one wonders what happens to the potty fate of the strays.
According to Rakesh Shukla, founder of The Voice of Stray Dogs, the potty issue is a much smaller part of the bigger picture.
He says, "These strays are scavengers and they eat edible food which are found in the heaps of garbage that surround every nook and cranny of the city. With about 600 tonnes of garbage in the city, these dogs consume about 250-300 grams, while their poop would be about 100 grams. Well, they are in fact reducing the pollutants which is in a mammoth size. What is the magnitude of dog poop in comparison to 600 tonnes of garbage. And the number of scavenging strays are as a result of the inefficiency of the city to control their waste."