The Indian dog is the perfect pet to have,” stated Amala Akkineni, founder of Blue Cross Hyderabad, a voluntary organisation that works towards animal welfare. The Blue Cross, which currently hosts about 500 stray puppies that have been rescued from across the city, has taken a more active role in reaching out to potential pet owners and convincing them that the Indian mongrel is as good, and actually better, than the more largely favoured German Shepard or Pomeranian.
Explaining further, the veteran actress said, “It’s actually a very interesting fact, something that I’ve noticed from personal experience, that the Indian dog is actually more resilient than its foreign counterparts. The other dogs would require a trip to the doctor say once or twice a month, complemented by a bag full of expensive medications. But the mongrel seems to just plod on and pull its weight together, and never fall sick. Besides the annual vaccination and the usual requirements like food and so on, there is barely any extra expenditure, making it a very economic pet to have.”
Speaking at a session with Dr Sandra McCune, a human-animal interaction researcher and Dr Richard Butterwick, a nutrition expert from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK (a fundamental science and research centre for Mars Petcare), Amala went on to point out the benefits of adopting a dog. While various pertinent points like having a pet would indirectly deal with the growing epidemic of obesity or that a canine pet would actually facilitate a more well-knit community, the issue remained that India still deals with the problem of stray dogs.
Said Dr McCune who’s been visiting various cities in the country for the past week, “This is my first time in India and there are quite a few things that struck me, the first being the number of stray dogs around. The culture shock is also another thing. But here or there, the interaction between animals and humans will remain the same and understanding that is the key.”
Commenting on Amala’s observation of the mongrel being a more resilient breed, Dr Butterwick said, “It’s an interesting fact that perhaps largely has to do with the environment in which these dogs have lived in. Breeding in a wasteland, their immunity must have surely developed and this is literally Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest in reality.” However he added that in the long run, the domestication of the mongrel would compromise on its resilience. “Maybe not the first or even the second generation dogs. But yes, eventually it is a possibility,” he opined.
The session also brought to light the growing importance of dogs as supportive therapy. With their companionship showing positive results in various cases such as autistic children, people with social anxiety, terminally ill patients, visually challenged people and so on, the necessity to bring a larger awareness on how to interact with a dog was stressed upon. “The natural reaction is to be weary of the dog. But if properly trained and treated, all the dog does is give unconditional love and show unwavering patience. Which is what makes it such a great companion and therapy solution,” pointed out Dr McCune. ENS